RC Airplane Flight Simulators

Software for learning to fly RC airplanes

If you want to hone your RC airplane or glider skills, flight simulation software lets you do it in any kind of weather and you can even fly outdoor planes in the house -- virtually, that is. Don't risk hurting your RC airplane by learning to fly it on your PC first. These RC airplane flight simulators feature either RC airplane models only, or both airplanes and helicopters.

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Flying-Model Simulator Flight Simulator (FMS)

FMS - Flying-Model-Simulator Flight Simulation Software - Screenshot
A slow-flying electric airplane model. FMS - Flying-Model-Simulator Flight Simulation Software - Screenshot

FMS from Roman and Michael Mõller is an excellent piece of software. This RC flight simulator is a great way to get the young one into the hobby. For one reason it's totally free! It's not difficult to setup with your own controller or a two stick analog game controller like the one for PlayStation 2. The flight characteristics are dead-on as long as the minimum PC requirements are met. Not a whole bunch of models to choose from -- mostly planes -- but you can find 3D models online that were created by users for use with FMS. Watch a video. Download the software.

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E-Sky 4 Channel Flight Simulator Training Kit

This kit actually contains the FMS software on CD along with an E-Sky transmitter that plugs into your PCs USB port. If you don't already have an RC airplane or helicopter, this is an inexpensive way to get the feel of RC flying with a real transmitter but without spending a lot of money on an RC and radio system that you might not be able to use.

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RC Plane Master

Reality Craft Flight Simulation Software - Screenshot
A nitro airplane model. Reality Craft Flight Simulation Software - Screenshot

An afforable flight sim from Reality Craft, this one focuses on airplanes. It comes with a USB controller, has 12 models including electric, glow engine, and jet-powered aircraft, and a split screen mode for 2 pilot play -- even dogfights. 

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Manuel's Radio Control Flight Simulator

Manuel's Radio Control Flight Simulator Software - Screenshot
Model graphics are simplistic, not truly realistic. Manuel's Radio Control Flight Simulator Software - Screenshot

Not much on the graphic side of things, this free flight simulator is geared more towards the basic principle of flight control for an RC airplane. It's a great place to start if you're less concerned with cool images but just want to get a grasp of what it takes to fly RC planes. Download the software. There's also a little fancier commercial version called AeroSIM RC.

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ClearView RC Flight Simulator

ClearView RC Flight Simulator Software by SVK Systems - Screenshot
A large scale nitro airplane model. ClearView RC Flight Simulator Software by SVK Systems - Screenshot

I was so impressed by the demo of the ClearView RC Flight Simulator from SVK Systems that I bought it immediately after the time had expired. The demo offers easy and expert versions of one airplane and two helicopters. Or, purchase the full version for even more electric and nitro-powered RC aircraft. You not only have a lot of RC models to choose from but you can even create and import your own aircraft and flying fields. On their website you can download user-submitted models to add to your collection. Fly with a friend in multi-player mode over the internet. I also highly recommend using 3D LCD shutter glasses with this flight simulator. Watch a video of the ClearView RC Flight Simulator.

By far the most realistic flight simulator on the market, and perhaps the best known, it's also a little expensive -- but well worth it for serious flight training. RealFlight from Great Planes has such an extensive model RC aircraft library to choose from that you won't grow tiresome of this software for quite awhile. It comes complete with a transmitter controller by Futaba, and features like training aids, virtual coach, night flying mode, active and reactive backgrounds, and multi-player modes. You can also check to see if your local hobby shop has a demo model up and running to get a more detailed look at the software.

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RealFlight G3.5 R/C Flight Simulator

RealFlight G3 Flight Simulation Software - Demo Screenshot
360 degree photo-realistic scenery. RealFlight G3 Flight Simulation Software - Demo Screenshot

Earlier but very good version of RealFlight. Since it's been around longer there are tons of add-ons and RC aircraft models for it. Includes 3D flying sites, scale planes, sailplanes, sports planes, and plenty of helicopters too.

Reality Craft RC Flight Master eXtreme64 Flight Simulation Software - Screenshot
Example of a somewhat realistic crash. Reality Craft RC Flight Master eXtreme64 Flight Simulation Software - Screenshot

This is Reality Craft's more expensive professional flight simulation software for some serious training in flying RC airplanes and gliders as well as helicopters. Purchase this one with a controller or save money by buying the software only and use with your own controller. Graphics for the 3D flight model aircraft are just OK but the photo-realistic scenery makes up for what the 3D modelling lacks. Like RC Plane Master, it has a split screen mode.  More »

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PRE-Flight Standard Edition RC Flight Simulator

PRE-Flight RC Flight Simulation Software by Transcendental Technologies - Screenshot
Example of a realistic model from the flight sim. PRE-Flight RC Flight Simulation Software by Transcendental Technologies - Screenshot

While Transcendental Technologies offers multiple RC helicopter editions, the standard edition of PRE-Flight features several kinds of aircraft -- and you can download additional models such as a DC-3, an RAF SE5 biplane, or a Korean conflict era MASH Helicopter. It comes with the software and a USB interface for use with your own transmitter. Download a demo.

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FS One

From Hangar 9, this flight simulation software comes with over 30 popular RC aircraft models including foamies, jets, and helis, has photo-realistic skyscapes, 2D and 3D flying sites, and comes with a controller. Or, for a little less get it without the controller and use your own JR, Futaba, or HiTec transmitter. The FS One with controller comes in 2 modes. Mode 2 is the most common in the US where the right stick controls elevator and aileron while left stick controls throttle and rudder. Unfortunately, there's no free demo.

This RC flight simulator is visually stimulating with its life-like RC helicopter and airplane models and scenery composed of photos of real locations. The control aspect is as real as the graphics. If you own a pair of stereoscopic LCD shutter glasses, CRT monitor, and a Nvidia 3D graphics card you're in for a real treat. If you have a LCD flat screen monitor be sure to check and see if the 3D LCD shutter glasses suport it -- if not you can still enjoy this flight sim without them. Get the demo. Watch a video. More »

This is a graphically-rich visual experience in RC flight simulation. Although you can download a free demo, it doesn't allow you to actually testdrive the program. You can navigate through the demo like you would if you had the real thing but it only will give a description what that section would do if you had the real thing. It does give you three internal videos to watch though showcasing the product. Phoenix offers over 100 RC airplanes and helicopter models including gliders, trainers, electric and nitro models, and amphibious aircraft. Watch a video. More »

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easyFly 3

From Ikarus, makers of Aerofly Pro Deluxe, this flight simulation software comes with 31 model airplanes, helicopters, and gliders. Use the Interface version with your own transmitter or get the game commander version with a controller. 

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Radio Control Flight Simulator 2001

Judging strictly from the information on the Website, this flight sim looks promising. RCFS2001 features 10 airplanes and 3 helicopters, comes complete with a SimStar 2-stick controller. Despite it's age, there's a great plus for those that don't have a monster of a computer to run today's graphic intense programs: The minimum system requirements are small enough that even on a cheap budget machine you can still enjoy the RC flight experience -- which is why this older flight sim makes the list. Unfortunately, there is no free demo.