Learn to Fly With RC Flight Simulation Software

Download a Demo or Load Up a Free Flight Sim

RC Helicopter
Ken Wewerka/Flickr

Man has been fascinated with flying throughout history but his many attempts to create flight-enabling contraptions often met with disaster. Yet, even when we have created successful flying machines, human error has kept us grounded. Staying in the air is not easy. It takes practice. Flight — including RC flying — is a gravity-defying feat that requires patience.

What? Don't want to read about the thrill of flying? OK. OK. Fly right into the RC Flight Simulators:

Everyone else: keep reading, take the poll, and get some tips on using RC flight simulators. Oh, and then go look at all the free, demo, and commercial software for learning to fly RC aircraft.

Thrill of Flying

When Daedalus crafted wings of feathers and wax for his young son, Icarus, he warned the boy before taking flight over the sea, "don't fly too close to the ground for your wings will get wet; but, don't fly too high for your wings are made of wax and the sun will melt them and you will surely fall." But Icarus, caught up in the thrill of flying, flew too close to the sun.

Daedalus' warnings are just as applicable to today's radio controlled airplanes. If you fly too close to the ground, you're likely to crash. If you fly too high your RC plane will be out of range and you'll be unable to control it. Your RC plane will fall from the sky and crash to the ground. Like Icarus, though, it's easy to get caught up in the thrill of flying.

But that thrill is short-lived when you crash your RC plane after only a few minutes of soaring.

Skill of Flying

Before you take your new RC plane out for a test-flight, or even before you buy your first RC plane or helicopter, it would be worthwhile to invest in some flying lessons. I want to fly but, as luck and skill would have it, "I am no pilot!" I've crashed every plane I've owned, some within just minutes of take off.

Learn from my mistakes. Earn your wings with RC flight simulators and a virtual plane.

I have found several RC flight simulation titles that are free to download. Some are entirely free. Others are demo versions. Or, jump in feet first with a full-featured commercial RC flight simulator such as RealFlight G4. Try one of these and learn to fly RC airplanes and RC helicopters from the safety of your computer screen.

  • These RC Airplane Flight Simulators include the free FMS and the very basic (but free) Manuel's Radio Control Flight Simulator. There are also demo versions of RC Plane Master and several programs featuring airplanes and helicopters.

     

  • These include demo versions of ClearView, RealFlight G4, and RC Flight Master eXtreme64.

Try to Fly Before You Buy

Buying multiple RC airplanes and helicopters and then learning to fly with them is costly and likely to be disappointing. Training yourself with RC flight simulators is a more practical approach to learning to fly RC airplanes. So before you go out there and buy RC aircraft and spend a ton of money replacing it time and time again due to multiple crashes, study up and train yourself in the principles of RC flight. This preparation can lead to a long and enjoyable experience in flying RC planes.

Next: Simulate an RC Plane Controller

Everything About Radio Controlled (RC) Vehicles
FAQs:Frequently Asked Questions About RC Vehicles, Answered
Basics:Types, Key Parts, and Operating RC Vehicles
Buying an RC:How to Choose the Right Radio Controlled Vehicle
Repairs & Upgrades:Maintaining, Fixing, and Modifying RC Vehicles
RC flight simulation software comes with models of RC airplanes and flying sites that help you virtually recreate RC flying conditions. But part of the RC flying experience is the tools you use the control the aircraft — your radio controller.

Simulate an RC Plane Controller

If you use FMS or other RC flying software that supports it, I suggest using a controller that has two analog joysticks like those found on a PlayStation. These operate more like the controllers for real RC planes and helicopters. The game pad controllers are around $15-$20 in the electronics and games department at your local retail stores.

Some of these RC flight simulators will also work with your own RC controller as long as your controller has connections for an interface cable (such as USB or serial) that connects the controller to your computer. Others come with real transmitter controllers or cable adapters for various types of transmitters.

Or, you can go to your local hobby store to buy a training controller which has its own training software for flying RC planes. RealFlight Flight Simulators by Great Planes come with thousands of miles of flying fields, flight recording and playback features, add-ons for more aircraft and flying sites, and an InterLink Plus controller that acts as your RC aircraft controller or can be connected to your own transmitter.

It has a demo version that is controlled by your computer keyboard. Not great for real flight practice, but it lets you sample the software. Check out it and other RC Airplane Flight Simulators.

Simulated vs. Real RC Flight

Flight simulation software doesn't guarantee you'll never fly too low or fly too high. It won't totally eliminate all crashes. But it is one way to help you get more enjoyment from your RC flying experience by giving you more confidence, some "safe" practice, and allowing you to get comfortable with controlling an RC airplane. When you do take-off on your first real RC flight you'll be better acquainted with how to control your RC plane or helicopter.

Virtual Flight, Real Fun

RC flight simulators, just like RC racing software, aren't just for learning how to use your RC plane or helicopter. During breaks at the office, after dark, or on rainy or windy days when you can't fly the real thing, crank up your RC flight simulator for some real virtual flying fun.
Rate Your RC Helicopter Skills
  • I don't fly.
  • I'm strictly a toy helicopter pilot.
  • I'm learning to fly RC helicopters.
  • I'm a pretty good pilot.
  • I'm an expert RC helicopter pilot.

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Your Citation
James, Michael. "Learn to Fly With RC Flight Simulation Software." ThoughtCo, Oct. 10, 2016, thoughtco.com/learn-to-fly-with-rc-flight-simulation-software-2863166. James, Michael. (2016, October 10). Learn to Fly With RC Flight Simulation Software. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-to-fly-with-rc-flight-simulation-software-2863166 James, Michael. "Learn to Fly With RC Flight Simulation Software." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/learn-to-fly-with-rc-flight-simulation-software-2863166 (accessed November 24, 2017).