Flight Simulators


Amongst my many interests is flight simulation, not a pursuit that interests the majority of people. Well you do need a computer and quite high powered as well. A basic laptop will not do. The level some people take flight simulation to is quite staggering in terms of the time and resources they put in.

Start a conversation in your local pub about flight simulators and you may get some strange looks, laughter and negative comments, sometimes the odd one or two in the group will be interested, usually those who have had flying experience.

A lot of people of my age group do not understand, and worse, do not want to understand computers and what they can do for you. Anything that appears to be games or playing are considered a waste of time.  Many people see any simulation type situation to do with a computer as ‘a game’, I can assure you it is not. Have you seen the levels of graphics in modern games now. Try F1 you end up stressed and sweating, believe me.

For a good few years I sat along side my son ‘playing’ on combat flight simulators and Microsoft Flight Simulator in its many variations.
This example raises the most laughs ….

“We took off from Heathrow (well you should) and followed the flight plan to J F Kennedy New York in Concorde in real time! ” if you did something wrong, critically the climb and getting to Supersonic speeds Mach 2, the simulator failed (the plane crashed) that was in 1998-ish!

Beyond that I used to create and edit scenery for him (mostly military airports) constantly downloading and installing new aircraft and scenery. To do this I had to learn some coding, and manipulation of the software.

Of course doing the real thing is a different experience altogether, I have flown a light aircraft out of Sywell EGBK in Northampton.  The real thing costs money (lots of it) and I guess I would fail the medicals now. So a good flight simulator and computer can get you close to the real thing and if you crash! you do not die. (This is why simulators are used to train pilots now)

Later in his life my son went on to have flying lessons, his tutor said he was a natural, well, he had put in hundreds of hours flying! he got top of flying class at RAF Cadet flight school.



Early Flight Simulators 1980’s and 90’s  were wire frame at best and ran slowly, still, it was better than nothing, and I remember being amazed then. Of course with something like Flight Simulators the chase is always on for better technology ( more ram, more processing power, bigger hard drives etc) Developers will always push limits of what is available. 

To combat the slowness, techniques years ago (2010!) would be reduce the graphics for flight and turn them back up to appreciate the scenery etc. On approach to a large airport like Heathrow the frame rates would plummet. When you consider what is going on inside your processors you might not be surprised. The number of instructions going on every millisecond is frightening.


Between 2000 and 2015 I used Microsoft Flight Simulator mostly as well as a few combat sims.   Now I use Xplane.  Coupled with modern computers it allows full on realism. Some Aircraft that you can purchase do follow the exact same procedures as the real thing. With a special license Xplane can be used to log real! hours towards pilot training.    I have experienced an industrial flight simulator (not motion, yet) and apart from the fact the cabin was “real” my software gives almost the same experience, in fact in some ways better.


An early F16 combat sim (note the realism!)

Early Microsoft Flight Simulator

Screenshot from Xplane using the Orbx plugin


like other full on simulators Xplane has global air traffic, interactive ATC, Ground vehicles that move and can be called to attend to plane, Working flight plans, Variable weather and times of day. You can if you wish join virtual airlines and fly missions around the world. More importantly some of the planes available model in almost every detail the real thing in the way that they must be operated. 


https://www.x-plane.com/  for the main Xplane site.

Currently I am ‘flying’ a Boeing 767-300

(Product information “Boeing 767-300 ER Professional”  The Boeing 767 is part of the Professional Series, the most in-depth sim add-on for X-Plane to date. Systems depth, the most important aspect of flight simulation – are taken to a whole new level. Be ready to be blown away by the list of features available on this aircraft, most of them are new and exclusive.    Brought to you by a team of professional coders, designers and pilots with years of experience in X-Plane.   Officially licensed by the Boeing © Corporation)

I have recently installed the Zibo Boeing 738 and am on a very steep learning curve trying to get to grips with the full simulation that this plane offers.

it is offically freeware but you can donate and I will.

I have taken! this plane for a quick very unreal flight and it is excellent, I cannot wait to get to learn more about it. 1st problem … Start it without cheating.  I am watching an excellent Youtube video to help me. https://youtu.be/Kfl6GHAbZYI


Return to this page to see updates on my progress.