Hi, my name is Matt, and I enjoy flight simulators. There – I said it, and I feel better. Okay, seriously, it wasn’t that long ago that “real” pilots wouldn’t admit they “flew” a computer simulator. Well, outside of FlightSafety anyway.
But today, that’s all changed. Heck, I’m a real pilot with a bunch of real ratings, but with the demands of work and family, I can’t afford the time and money to go flying. But, I can afford to invest in flight simulation systems and software.
Besides, how else would I have the chance for some serious combat time in a F4F Wildcat chasing a flight of Betty bombers or shooting approaches to Hong Kong Kai Tak airport in a 747? There is a sim out there for any kind of flying that you would like to do. No checkout or insurance necessary. You don't even need a pilot's license.
While there’s a lot to be said for the value of the fun-and-games side, there are also a lot of serious benefits to having a new-generation flight sim system at home. If you haven’t seen them recently, believe me, today’s flight sims are nothing like what was out five years ago. With the ability to add real time weather, air traffic, virtual ATC and even iPad interfaces, the sky is literally the limit with what you can do.
Today’s sims and software are amazingly realistic and incredibly capable. And their increasing popularity with student and serious pilots is the reason Gulf Coast Avionics offers a wide selection of the industry’s best.
While this all sounds really great, I get a lot of calls from prospective ‘sim-pilots’ wanting to know if it’s hard to set up the hardware and software with their computer. First off, the really good news is, you don’t have to try to “fly” using your keyboard and mouse – whoever thought pilots wanted to fly like that??
Today, you can hook a rather realistic yoke, throttle quadrant, instrument panel, and even rudder peddles, to your favorite PC and shoot a few practice instrument approaches – to minimums – without leaving the comfort of your home.
While they are incredibly realistic, educational, and yes fun, today’s simulator systems, and software are really easy to set-up and use. Gone are the days of needing an IT degree to enjoy Microsoft Flight Simulator. Which, by the way, I hear was just released with a serious upgrade. I can’t wait to try it out.
I have to add that, while the ability to fly just about anything virtually is fun and the ability to practice realistic instrument approaches are both great benefits to a new sim system, the thing that I like most about the new simulators is the online opportunity. I “fly” with the same squadron every week. Being able to "fly" with other individuals from around the world that share my passion for aviation, whether they have a pilot's license or not, is really what makes flight sims special for me.
So you’re asking: Matt, how much does it cost to get into a flight simulator? As with anything in aviation, it really depends on what you want to do. If you have a good computer, a basic yoke and software will cost you around $350. Check out the Honeycomb Yoke for one of our top recommendations that provides a realistic flight sim experience. If you want to go all-in, there’s a really cool simulator called the Redbird Jay, for under $2,600. That’s serious stuff, but it allows a literal "plug and play" experience and gets you up and flying in about five minutes. But between keeping your piloting skills sharp and being able to climb into your favorite warbird for a quick ride, flight sims will deliver a lot of training and fun.
As always, if you have any questions, give me a call at 863.709.9714 (ext 112). I’m happy to give you real-world guidance to help you get the most out of your new simulator.
Until next time, fly safely and have fun,