Print this articlePrint this article



Sharpen your skills with the same SLT transmitter you take to the field
Article and photos by Chris Savage.
Read the full article in the July 2015 issue of Model Aviation Digital.


A long Midwest winter and an EDF jet given to me late last flying season has me getting the urge to get back into the air. I consider myself a rookie pilot and as my third plane, I think that jet will be a handful for rusty thumbs that were frozen all winter and didn’t do as much flying last summer as they could have.

When I got the opportunity to review Knife Edge Software’s newest edition to its 15-year-old family of flight simulators, RealFlight 7.5, I hoped it would prove the perfect way to get my thumbs back.

My review package was the RealFlight 7.5 Flight Simulator with the Tactic TTX610 radio—a fully-functional 2.4 GHz, six-channel Tactic transmitter that can be used with an actual model! An included USB receiver allows the computer to receive a signal from the transmitter wirelessly for use with the simulator.

The Installation Guide recommends that new owners become familiar with the digital user manual available from within the software, and I couldn’t agree more, but more on that a little later. After installing the software, I couldn’t wait to get into the air and RealFlight 7.5’s interface is intuitive enough that I was able to satisfy my craving right away.


Wireless simulator control is convenient. The is a true 2.4 GHz radio helps offset the cost of the software.



First Flight

Two clicks of the mouse were all it took to find my way into one of RealFlight’s “scenarios” and start flying. Scenarios are pre-chosen combinations of flying sites (called “airports” within the software), aircraft, and weather conditions, and 36 scenarios are included. With the same ease, one can choose any of the 120 aircraft to fly or one of the 46 available airports. If you find you’ve created a great combination of aircraft and airport, you can save that configuration as a scenario to revisit.

After satisfying my initial craving for flying, I opened the digital user’s manual. The manual carefully describes each piece of functionality in the software, from basic to complex. After reading the first three paragraphs, it became clear that RealFlight 7.5 truly provides a model-flying simulation.


Although the software hides a plethora of configurable options within its menus, the Welcome Screen is indicative of the easy-to-use interface provided by the software.



The Aircraft

The selection of aircraft is broad, and each is accompanied by a brief overview, sometimes even including a bit of history and detailed specifications. For a newer pilot, the aircraft information is interesting and educational.

Some aircraft have different color schemes that can be chosen from the aircraft menu and nearly every component of the aircraft can be tailored to the user’s liking, allowing for experimentation of configurations. Modification options on my Cessna 182 included a seemingly endless number of choices such as propeller diameter and the turning radius of the steerable nose wheel.

Users can share variations on included aircraft or even their own custom designs on Knife Edge Software’s website. A designated area, called Swap Pages, allows users to post their designs for download. Instructions are provided for adding user-contributed elements into the software. Expansion packs with more aircraft and airports are also available for purchase.


Nearly any component of a real RC aircraft can be changed within the simulation and changes affect the aircraft’s performance.



The Airports

A variety of airports are available providing flat land, slopes, water, and nearly any environmental variable you can think of, and users can even control the weather! The beautiful, fictional settings are dotted with a few models of actual fields, such as Carl Henson Field in Lane County, Oregon, and by far-out fantasies such as an apocalyptic wasteland.

Pilots can edit the airports’ landscapes or can even create their own airports using the included FlexiField airport editor, managing each detail from the structures that appear on the site to the placement of lights, windsocks, and even the runway surface. When finished, users can save their airports to revisit at any time and, as with aircraft, can export their airports to share with other pilots.


The FlexiField flying site editor allows users to design a custom flying site. The author created this one. Three pilot stations dot the paved runway and a windsock (just off screen) keeps pilots informed of wind direction.



Committed to Education

Aside from the stunning graphics, lifelike sound, and accurate flight characteristics that one would expect from a simulation, the most impressive—and for me, the most valuable—component of RealFlight 7.5 is the developers’ obvious focus on the education of RC pilots. RealFlight 7.5 provides three realism settings to accommodate pilots of varying skill levels and can even simulate system and mechanical failures. Instructional flight videos, led by well-known pilots, cover topics ranging from knife-edge flight and point rolls, to the performance of a complete aerobatic routine—specifically the one flown by Jason Noll at the 2007-2008 Extreme Flight Championships.


Pilots can learn flying techniques from well-respected pilots in prerecorded flying sessions. Here, Frank Noll teaches the author to fly knife-edge. How cool is that? The radio icon shown at the bottom right of the screen shows the instructor’s inputs while the playback function at the upper left allows the user to control lesson playback.



Challenges

Another way to keep improving flying skills, RealFlight 7.5 provides challenges to keep pilots pushing their limits. Challenges are perhaps an unconventional way of setting flight goals, but they can keep flying sessions interesting.

A brief set of instructions outline the goal of the challenge and new challenges are made available as performance improves.


Challenges provide users with fun, goal-oriented flying sessions designed to improve flying skills. This shows the Ring Race challenge in which the pilot is timed while navigating through a series of loops.



Gadgets and Views

As part of its educational value, the simulator offers a number of on-screen “gadgets” that pilots can enable during flying sessions. Gadgets can provide additional information about the flight, such as telemetry data, a real-time display of their transmitter and control-stick positions, or can provide conveniences such as binoculars for a closer view of the aircraft.



Capturing Community

For many, aeromodeling is only as much fun as the people with whom it is shared and RealFlight 7.5 offers a way for pilots to enjoy the camaraderie that comes with model flying.

With a broadband Internet connection, users can fly with other pilots in real time and talk with one another using a microphone (not included) connected to the computer. Online flying can include open flying sessions or combat environments.



Conclusion

Flying with RealFlight 7.5 has been a blast, but it’s important to note that this software is a true simulation of the RC flying experience, meant to be practiced with and not necessarily played as a video game. The simulation is real enough that the habits practiced in this environment will likely be learned, intentionally or not, and repeated in the real world, for better or for worse.

I’ve read and been told about the benefits and limitations of flight simulators, but I only had only limited experience with one until now. I suppose I was hesitant to spend money on a simulation when I could spend that money on actual gear instead.

For the price of my review package, $179.97, a pilot not only receives amazingly engineered software, but also a fully functional six-channel 2.4 GHz transmitter! Other packages are available without the transmitter. An upgrade from RealFlight G4, G5, or G6 software is priced at $49.98.

After exploring myriad features, experiencing the attention to detail in realism, and revealing the abundance of educational information within RealFlight 7.5, I would recommend the simulator to pilots of any skill level. I’m more excited than ever for the start of this flying season because I can now hone my skills at home!



Manufacturers

RealFlight
(800) 637-7660
www.realflight.com



Sources

Knife Edge Software
www.knifeedge.com


Add new comment