The Techy Bit
I have now owned Aerofly Professional Deluxe for about 3 months, and have extensively tested (played with) it. You may not have heard of this product before, especially if you are new to the hobby. It’s a flight simulator, specifically aimed at model aircraft. To run this on your PC you need to have the following specification (See bottom of page) to run it, however if you have a faster, more powerful PC you will notice the difference. I know this because I have tried it on two different machines.
In The Box
So, what do you get in the box? In addition to the CD and Manual, which has around 50 very concise pages, you get a USB Interface. This allows you to connect your transmitter directly to the PC. This comes with an adapters which allows you to connect various makes of transmitter, notably Multiplex, Hitec and Futaba. Aerofly do a version with their own controller, but I felt it would be more beneficial to me to use this version. This way I’d get used to my transmitter quicker than just flying on weekends. One thing to note however, if you have a new Futaba set with the square connector, such as the FF9 or 6EXA you will need an additional adapter, which you should be able to pick up for about £10.
Installing Aerofly is straightforward, as all good programmes should be. Once installed you will need to calibrate the software so you can use your chosen transmitter. If you get stuck the manual is useful, as is the Aerofly website! There you can find a support section where you will find any tips or patches you may need.
You can also use a standard PC joystick which is good if you’re transmitter is not supported, but to be honest, is unlikely. I used this mode initially as my LMS did not have the adapter for my 6EXA in stock and I found it fairly simple to use this way.
You can fly in different views, either standard mode (Like when you’re at the strip!) This has been very helpful to me as I am currently practising the manoeuvres required for the BMFA ‘A’ Certificate. You can also fly in follow mode, with the viewpoint place slightly behind the plane (or helicopter) or you can fly cockpit mode with an option for a simplified instrument display .
You get a choice of around 50 different aircraft and various different locations. You can chose from a basic trainer, gliders, 3D aircraft, jets and various helicopters. There are also some shock flyers included, along with an indoor arena.
The outdoor locations vary in their detail of terrain. These are either computer generated or adapted from photographs for that ‘almost real’ effect which works very well. The detail also varies in it’s complexity, you will find some sites a lot easier to fly from than others. There is even the option of flying from an aircraft carrier with a Harrier Jump Jet!
All the aircraft in Aerofly Pro are customisable. You can change any number of settings. These include wingspan, dihedral, C of G and weight. You can alter each part of the plane (Or Heli) separately. This is an excellent feature as you can effectively fly your own models, with your own transmitter without the risk of crashing. The weather is also customisable, you can set wind speed, turbulence as well as fog and cloud settings.
There are also various flying games included such as balloon bursting, spot landing, and pylon racing amongst others. All will test and improve your flying skills. You can also add smoke effects in any colour of your choice! Once you feel that you are getting the hang of things you can take screen shots (like the ones in this review) or even record the full flight to playback later.
One particularly nice feature is the glider tow so you can have a friend (using either a joystick or the transmitter) tow you up and then release the glider. I found that it was best to use the joystick on the tow plane and use the transmitter for the glider. The in-flight effects are very accurate and you can certainly tell when you hit turbulence, or are flying into the wind. The wind is affected by the terrain, this is especially noticeable with slower aircraft and of course gliders.
Another option available that is useful, especially when gliding is the option to display the Wind and Variometer. This is a graphical display showing the attitude of the aircraft in relation to the wind, and also if the glider is gaining or losing energy. The manual has a section that deals specifically with gliding and explains things very well.
The Flying Bit
So, what’s it like to fly I hear you ask! Well, personally I have found it immensely helpful and fun (It’s also a cheap way of flying those big jets you see at the shows)
If you decide to get this product, I would highly recommend visiting the website for any patches you may need. On the website you will also find extra scenery and extra models, most of which are free to download and simple to install.
Crash As Often As You Want!
In summary, this an excellent piece of software that many will enjoy using, from the beginner who is just starting out to the expert pilot who can do all those fancy tricks that you can only dream of! Personally, as a relative newcomer to the hobby I would recommend this simulator, not only as a fun product, but also as a training aid.
You can crash as many times as you want without ruining your model or risk of injury. It’s also something to do when the weather’s rubbish outside and you don’t have anything on the building board! You can find Aerofly Professional Deluxe in most good model shops. If not you can order it direct from J Perkins.
1 GHz Pentium III or AMD Athlon Processor
1GB Free on your hard drive
CD Rom Drive
64MB Graphics Card Open GL compatible
Windows 98SE/ME/2000/XP with DirectX 9.0b or higher
Free USB Port