Flying model aircraft via radio control (RC) has been a very popular hobby since the mid 1960s, with the advent of compact electronic radio control systems. However, in order to learn how to fly, all instruction had to be done with your model flying in the air. There was essentially no training that could be accomplished on the ground. As you can imagine, this method of learning to fly led to many accidents and crashed or damaged model aircraft.
With the availability today of powerful personal computers, practical radio control model airplane flight simulators are an everyday reality. For a very modest cost, you can purchase RC flight simulator software and hardware for home use. The hardware is a realistic replica of an RC transmitter (usually called the controller), plugged to your computer via the USB port. An RC flight sim produces extremely realistic images of flying sites, and the computer generated aircraft look and behave virtually like the real thing. You can even see the flight control surfaces move to your control stick’s input.
The aspiring model airplane pilot uses the controller to taxi the airplane to the RC simulator’s runway, increase the throttle, and take off just as if you were at the airfield. Of course, all engine sounds are realistically produced by the RC flight sim. The airplane becomes airborne, and the computer monitor’s scene is automatically orientated such that you get a great view of the airplane in flight from your position “on the ground.” It’s just as if you were really at the field.
When learning to fly a radio control model airplane, it is always a very good idea to have an instructor for your first few actual flights. The RC flight sim, however, is invaluable in minimizing the time needed in the air to become an accomplished flyer. As a general guide, you can easily cut your flight practice time in half when an RC flight sim is an integral part of your training strategy.
Another model flight training area that RC sims have changed forever is learning and practicing advanced maneuvers. In the past, learning a new stunt had to be done at the field. You always risked a crash when practicing loops, rolls, inverted flight, etc. With the availability of the flight simulator on your computer, you can now safely practice these new maneuvers as much as you like in the privacy of your own home, without fear of damaging your aircraft. It is almost impossible to describe how quickly you can acquire new flying skills via this method.
In addition, most of the new RC flight sims have very useful video clips from experienced model airplane instructor pilots on how to perform these new flight maneuvers. They include maneuver descriptions of what you will be doing on the RC flight sim, as well as a discussion of common errors. They even discuss what you will be doing with your control sticks to perform these stunts.
New aircraft are constantly being added to RC flight sim programs. One can experience flying a wide variety of model aircraft with a click of your computer mouse button. These planes can range from lightweight electric powered park flyers to turbine jet fighters. The sounds, control feel and performance of these various airplanes within the RC flight sim are very accurately reproduced.
Whether you are just starting out learning to fly radio control model aircraft, wish to improve your flying skills, or just want to have some fun flying indoors on a cold, windy winter’s night, the new generation of RC flight sims is an ideal way to enter the fascinating world of computer flight training.