A few years ago, some people thought that flight simulation was on its last legs. Development of Flight Simulator X ceased thanks to Microsoft closing their Aces Studio and X-Plane 9 didn't capture the public's imagination due to lack lustre graphics and an arcane front end. Shops ceased to find shelf space for flight simulation add-ons and some developers shut up shop.
After all this bad news, it turns out that the flight simulation hobby wasn't dead after all and rumours of its death have been premature at best. Dovetail Games got the licence from Microsoft to develop FSX for the consumer, this is distributed via Steam*. They have said that they are working on a 64bit version of FSX but at the moment the completion date of this is completely unknown.
*Steam is an online way of purchasing some software.
Lockheed Martin, the World's biggest defence contractor licensed a version of FSX for the training and educational market. They called this Prepar3D which is now on version 3.4 and only available directly from their web site, www.prepar3d.com.
There are currently unsubstantiated rumours that they will be bringing out P3D version 4.0 which may be 64 bit but at the moment that is all it is, a rumour.
P3D Version 3.4 with custom scenery in a military training environment
There are currently unsubstantiated rumours that they will be bringing out P3D version 4.0 which
may be 64 bit but at the moment that is all it is, a rumour.
X-Plane 11, available in a box with additional airports £59.95
The most exciting recent development is X-Plane 11. This marks a radical departure from the previous versions with most objection to the earlier X-Plane version either currently addressed or shortly to be addressed.
The key improvements are many but include the long awaited graphic user interface. Laminar Research tasked programmer Tyler Young to develop the new GUI and it is good. It makes the whole front end of X- Plane 11 look very modern and extremely ergonomic. Some may complain ( some always do) but I like it. In version 10, X-Plane became a 64 bit program, thus allowing better use of computer resources in that you are no longer limited as with 32 bit programs to only using 4GB of RAM. Now if you have 16GB or more, X-Plane will use it. This means less slowing down and more program reliability.
X-Plane 11 is currently running under Open GL (Microsoft FSX and P3D use Microsoft Direct X). OpenGL is getting a bit "long in the tooth" now, so expect X-Plane 11 to migrate to Vulkan* (API) over the life of X-Plane
11. Nvidia and ATI cards already support Vulkan drivers. Users of X-Plane 11 can expect even better visuals than the ones at the moment ( and they are very good at the moment) when this happens because of the efficiency of Vulcan. *For more information on Vulkan check Wikipedia.
Flying our Tutor with VFR Scenery in X-Plane 11
Laminar Research's Austin Meyer is currently working on very improved ATC and as we speak Laminar Research are optimising the efficiency of the their graphics as well as including native VR support for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.
As a new X-Plane 11 user you can expect a pretty bug free and therefore reliable flight simulator that will get even better over time.
Get X-Plane 11 from us for only £59.95 including postage and join in the fun.
Talking about virtual reality, I have an Oculus Rift. I have spent quite a bit of time using it with all the popular flight simulations. Quick off the block was some software called Fly Inside. This allows you to select any menu within X-Plane, FSX or P3D. It also allows you to see your own hands in VR environment and operate virtual switches with your fingers. For this you need a bit of hardware called Leap Motion. This fits on the front of the Oculus Rift and acts like a camera. If you are into virtual helicopter or light aircraft flying nothing and I mean nothing will convince you that you are up in the air as much as VR.
A new world of Virtual and Augmented Reality
In my opinion it is impossible to imagine what virtual flying is until you try it. You get about 110 degrees of peripheral view in true stereo vision. The cockpit appears to you to be full sized and you appear to be sat in the real seat. The head tracking has zero lag and the Oculus Rift does a trick internally to draw the graphics at high speed (ideally they should be running at 90fsp in the headset).
Well no, but I think that it is good enough at present if you have a high spec PC and graphics card to create a believable flying experience. We will be attending the helicopter Expo at Wycombe Air Park on 1st, 2nd and 3rd June where you will be able to try VR in one of our Jet-VR, motion cockpits.
I would expect, during the next 18 months or so, to see an improvement in the resolution of the displays. At the moment, you can clearly see instrument gauge needles but things like button captions and setting subscales etc whilst not impossible are not as easy to read as you might want them to be. The hand tracking lacks a bit of peripheral range and technology exists to create an accurate 180 degrees field of view with this both vertically and horizontally. Lastly these latter-day headsets will likely incorporate eye tracking for the final touch in realism.
I think that in the near future VR will be a much more accessible option for many than building physical cockpit but time will tell!
If you are considering VR ( btw, we don't supply VR headsets) and think that you might be interested in our complete Jet-VR motion solution, an appointment can be made to visit our new office for one of our demonstration days, come and experience it, it is unbelievable how realistic it can be.
I would like to take this opportunity to announce a new, ground breaking product:
If you have used the Dodosim Advanced 206 Bell helicopter add-on for Flight Simulator X you will know that it was the first helicopter made for FSX that actually flew like a real helicopter, even modelling turbine hot start and vortex ring state. Well now the bar has been raised again with this new version. Based on advice from senior military helicopter instructors with thousands of hours experience, it has been possible to refine the flight model in the Pro Lite version to a previously unseen level of fidelity on a home PC. The new version includes significant visual improvements when used in VR for which subtle changes have been made to ensure optimum readability with the instrument panel and switches etc. . This new version will demonstrated and on show at the Heli UK Expo. The target audience for Pro Lite are real pilots who wish to practice their skills at home and enthusiasts who want the very best helicopter simulation available. The simulation element is further enhanced when flown in Virtual Reality The cost of this new version is an affordable £49.95.
Dodosim Jet Ranger is getting a makeover ! (existing version shown).
Air Force seat
This is a great gaming seat. This seat is extremely will made. The back is adjustable and there is a bracket either side pre-drilled to screw on a Thrustmaster A10 Warthog Hands on Throttle and Stick. There is even a platform that fits to the front so that you can fit a yoke as an alternative. People who have bought these say that it is the best investment they have made as far as their flight simming is concerned. When you don't need it for your sim, you can instantly remove the brackets and use it as a comfortable chair. It will even fold in half so that it can be transported or put in a cupboard.
On the Horizon
This is an interesting piece of software that works with X-Plane 10/11 and FSX/P3D. Check Ride is based on professional work that we have done for a military flight training provider. It can be tailored to provide almost any training requirement that involves or requires a synthetic instructor.
Works with P3D, FSX or X-Plane 10/11, more details to follow.
Talk to ATC like a real pilot when using FSX or P3D and after a little while, if you are a real pilot your RT will make you sound like a pro.
Check out the demo of VoxATC 7 for free.
Heavy Duty steel rudder pedals designed for the Jet-VR cockpit and the 2 seat Tutor style cockpit, more info soon.
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