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Now that got your attention, didn't it?

It's quite true, though. Aviation is boring. It promises, and works very hard to deliver, safe, predictable results - the minimum fuel used and the minimum gin spilled, as airline types put it. Aircraft older, and in some cases better qualified, than their pilots take off, fly to somewhere and land on it, untouched by human hand except possibly to dial another number into the autopilot.

And we seem happy to simulate this safe but uneventful state of affairs. Of course there are those who simulate fast jets and air combat - often unsuccessfully, in my view, as the lack of inertial feedback is far more obvious if one indulges in turns above rate 1.

Instrument training has always been the most satisfactory form of simulation because instrument flight is (or certainly ought to be) stately.

Unfortunately now it is also terminally dull thanks to the computer and GPS. In a twin-engined aircraft there is now little to do (in a single-engined one, of course, one spends all of one's spare time in gloomy contemplation of the harsh earth beneath, wondering where to forced-land).

Simulator programmers always try to be ahead of the game. For example, Denham (EGLD), where I trained, is a small and unpretentious little field just inside Heathrow's control zone, but is represented in X-Plane 11 as a major airport with all kinds of things it never had, still hasn't, and might never have. Therefore designers will doubtless be just as keen promptly to 'switch off' VORs and other traditional navaids provided in the simulation as budget-conscious aviation authorities are with the real ones.

While this is of course correct from the training point of view I have to say that pressing the 'Direct-To' button on a GPS - simulated or real - is pretty poor entertainment.

What I would like, and would be prepared to pay a reasonable price for, is an historical flight simulator, preferably based on X-plane or, if not, as good as.

For example, I should like to try flying at night around the USA (perhaps carrying the mail) in a suitable period aircraft like a YB-10, using only airway light-beacons and four-course 'A-N' radio ranges, assisted no doubt by a copy of Mr. Jeppesen's famous notebook.

Would this not be more difficult, more demanding, and therefore in general more fun?
 

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You can do that with FSX, FS9, and P3D. There are a lot of very well modelled historical aircraft out there with which you can fly in old-fashioned style. A2A Lockheed Constellation, PMDG DC-6, Flight-replicas DC-4, a lot of historical Boeings from Captainsim, and some nice models from JustFlight, for instance. A very good freeware model is Manfred Jahn's DC-3. And if you want to fly even pre-VOR navigational challenges, the Milviz Bobcat is equipped with a 1930's navigational system. 

I recall I've even read about historical scenery, but that may have been for FS9 only.

Peter 

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Man simulation encompasses so much more than just pressing the direct-to button and flying to a "destination". While the task of pressing a button is boring; pressing the button gives me the ability to explore places on a daily basis that would cost me an incredible amount of money and time that I do not get in real life which is in turn exciting. And it gives me the sense of accomplishment when I get there (in real time, no fast forwarding) in the sim. Which if you have done an actual 4 + hour flight is a difficult task in itself, just to stay occupied and engaged and requires a ridiculous amount of self control. Maybe not the kind of difficult you want but difficult non the less. I have flown places in the sim that I dream to go in real life. I have created photo scenery and shot approaches on the sim that when I was able to do the same thing in real life was identical and that place was not foreign to me because of simulation. For me simulation has made me a better airline pilot and so spending "x" amount of time is not a waste of time for me. It is able to be tailored to each individuals needs and wants and you never beat the game, because the user creates the game and sets the parameters. 

Ultimately while "cruise" and "autopilot" and "button pushing" is in itself a boring task. It's just the means to explore a place, or environment that you don't normally get to explore in daily life. The difficulty is it is always different "ie real weather, time and season" and flights while they may be similar are not ever the "same".  

And for yourself you have the ability to fly the constellation or a 747 that you may never experience in real life. 

Just my view on the subject. 

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Very much agree with the other commenters regarding the OP's points.

If you truly try to simulate the real world experience of flight planning, pre-flight, full air traffic control, and real world weather, the GA experience is far from boring.

Should all that work not be enough, try military flying with all of the above AND having other people shoot at you.

Simulating the air mail flights of the 1930's in real world weather across the Rocky Mountains is a great idea.

There is more than enough to keep flight simulation from being boring.

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To the original poster - respectfully, not sure if you are a real world pilot or not, but I suspect not. Real world aviation is never boring... Not even the simplest flight in the pattern in my Cessna is ever boring. While the sim is an amazing thing to have on a home computer, it hardly comes close to truly simulating a real word flight, and the multitude of dynamics that occur when flying a GA aircraft, or an airliner. 

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Flying around on an autopilot may be boring, but aviation itself could never be boring, it encompasses such a vast subject that you could never know all of it or fail to find a new challenge offered by it. And that is probably even more true in simulation than it is in the real world, since you can fly pretty much anything you like, where you like, and even when you like historically with the aid of some suitable scenery. You should probably check out places such as Golden Age Simulations, which makes a number of the very mail aeroplanes you desire and the scenery to go with them, many of them are available for FSX and P3D.

Here is a review of one of their old ones I did a few years back - the Boeing Model B40 - which was an aeroplane specifically designed to carry mail in those early days of aviation. It should give you an idea of what to expect of those Golden Age Simulation aeroplanes: https://www.avsim.com/pages/0809/GAS/B40.htm

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It's important to introduce variables to aviation. A good sim will have real weather, some probability of failure, a challenging environment, and a purpose. That purpose could be to fly from A to B efficiently, on time, and safely. Or delivering cargo to some exotic destination. Flying with live ATC is extraordinary and challenging.

More importantly, aviation is about the dream of flying, so it's letting one's mind and fantasies take him or her into a world full of possibilities.

For me simming is like reading a good book. Some pages are great, and some are good, but one must read all the pages in order to enjoy it.

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If one plans and flies a modern airliner correctly, there are so many NOTAMS to read/consider, position reports, monitoring of systems/real weather, and if possible random failures/emergencies are set it can be a busy situation. These things require add-ons, but the closest thing available today to what you're referring to is in MS Flight Simulator 2004 (FS9) A Century of Flight in a simulator package. Though its possible to create something like you describe, for it to be that limited, will doom it from the start, because its such a small corner of aviation. Aviation grew fast from the beginning and continues to grow leaps and bounds. Light beacons had to be replaced very quickly, because of how unreliable the method was. VOR's are very reliable, but in comes GPS and suddenly VOR's become more and more extinct. Who knows what will replace GPS, but there will be something. 

 

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3 hours ago, mrchrsrider said:

. Which if you have done an actual 4 + hour flight is a difficult task in itself, just to stay occupied and engaged and requires a ridiculous amount of self control

Especially with the wife lurking around with that "is that all you're going to do today" look .:mellow:

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Thank you, all, for your replies.

qqwertzde, alas, I have ruled out M$'s flight simulator, in all its versions, because I have never in all these years been able to get it to work at all, never mind properly. I have never tried P3D because AFAIK it is a re-skinned FSX, with all its faults, and definitely very expensive and with absurdly restrictive Ts&Cs. X-plane attracted me because it allows one to make one's own aircraft, and its performance and reliability seem to be generally much better than the others. I'm aware of the large amount of investment people have put into M$'s product but regrettably life is too short to struggle any more with what has always been a difficult application to use and which now many see as a 'dead product'.

mrchrsrider, roger your point but as I mentioned the simulated interpretation of the place where I qualified is so wildly different from reality that I certainly wouldn't trust the programmer's idea of what any other places look like. As to 4 hour flights and so forth I greatly admire both your skill and your patience; I would not be an airline pilot, driving busloads of drunks to Torremolinos, for a pension.

Mr. Street, I always have X-plane on 'current time' and 'current weather', and have joined VATSIM in the hope of being able one day to use their simulated ATC - I bet they haven't got anyone who is anything like as rude and unhelpful as the real Luton Approach. The time will come but at the moment I'm still working on the hardware.

busdriver, I am a qualified but medically grounded pilot, formerly at the Pilot Centre, Denham Aerodrome, when I worked at Martin-Baker, which is a mile or so from the field. One's view hinges I suspect on one's definition of 'boring'. For example, the company's old CTP, who egged me on, was not boring, having been in the same squadron as the fellow who was busted for flying a Hunter through Tower Bridge, and is still flying the RV-8 which he built, at the age of 80 or so. His eventual replacement, however, despite having ejected from a Hawk and done all kinds of other stuff, was as boring as hell.

Chock, thank you but as I mentioned I've given up on M$'s flight simulator, which is in my view no better than their operating systems. In the 1970s I worked for a company (Nascom Microcomputers) which had Bill Gates as a subcontractor, writing our BASIC interpreter. I had to do the documentation half of his job for him because the lazy so-and-so simply wouldn't. I've never met him, but I've spoken to him on the phone a couple of times, and so can't really summon up enough of the awed respect in which the wretched fellow now seems to be held to spend any more time trying to make his stuff work.

flyforever, believe it or not I've never subscribed to this 'dream of flying' story. My experience of aviation (which started in 1963 in a Vickers Viscount) has always suggested to me that here in the UK at least it is largely a matter of paperwork and radar, a sort of aerial chess. I view aerobatics as mere Blaginism and have never attended an air show, except Farnborough in professional or semi-professional capacities.

pracines, at Martin-Baker there was the story of Sir James, who, having bought an airliner (a BAC 111), stepped into the cockpit during a flight and quickly returned to his seat, muttering "They're not doing anything in there. They're just sitting there, throwing switches."

Thanks for the recommendation but as I mentioned I've never been able to get M$'s product to work at all - before settling on X-plane my computer expert and I spent nearly a fortnight trying to get two different 'editions' of FSX to install on either of two high-end systems; eventually, having spent a lot of time on forums, he said "Apparently this is a 'known problem'." and I said "Well, that does it, then; it's sacked."

 

 

 

Edited by Lionel Mandrake
typo
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The challenges, itineraries and fun to be had by armchair pilots, are as varied as the armchair pilots themselves.

To fans of tecnological wonders like the 777, the thought of toddling along in a Tigermoth, keeping ones eye out for visual reference points would perhaps be as boring as driving through Chipping Norton in a 1958 Morris Minor. 

Horses for courses as they say. 

As a fellow X-Plane user, might I suggest that you would perhaps enjoy something along the lines of the fairly recently released DC-3 from Vskylabs.

http://store.x-plane.org/VSKYLABS-DC-3C-47-Flying-Lab-Project_p_660.html

It is not a 'study level' model but it's vintage offers the opportunity to make some seat of the pants, eyeball-reliant flights.

Cheers.

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1 hour ago, Lionel Mandrake said:

I have ruled out M$'s flight simulator, in all its versions, because I have never in all these years been able to get it to work at all, never mind properly. I have never tried P3D because AFAIK it is a re-skinned FSX, with all its faults, and definitely very expensive and with absurdly restrictive Ts&Cs.

Hello Lionel,

since I don't know exactly what your FSX problems were, I cannot make any claims. However, for me personally, the reason to switch to P3D was precisely to avoid the recurring problems I had with FSX. To me, P3D is FSX without issues, but a lot more powerful when it comes to graphics rendering.

I have only tried the demo of X-11, but from what I have read it appears that, at least for the time being, P3D is the way to go if you want to fly complex airplanes that are not GA. If you are sure you want to use X-11: the PMDG DC-6 was even first released for X-11 and then for FSX/P3D.

Peter

 

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7 hours ago, Lionel Mandrake said:

Aircraft older, and in some cases better qualified, than their pilots take off,...

I LIKE that statement LOL! :cool:

I've got FSX:SE to do what I want it to do, more or less. :blush:

Sometimes I do enjoy getting the big iron into the sky, hand flying for a few thousand feet (doesn't take very long given today's powerful engines!) then pressing buttons and letting it follow the magenta line. I'll just watch the terrain roll by below me and enjoy some basic weather effects. Most of the terrain has a decent mesh, some of it is even photoreal, but at least with an atlas I can see where I am (I know GPS gives me lat and long, but they are just numbers sometimes).

Conversely, I've recently enjoyed taking a C-46 Commando for a couple of flights (the freeware one, not the recent Just Flight release). It seems to behave quite nicely, given that I'm a layman with only a few (non solo) hours in gliders. Couldn't get the radio to tune in to Glasgow's NDB for some reason. I'd just taken off from Manchester VFR, requested flight following from the default sim ATC, and just meandered up north to bonny Scotland, no doubt flagrantly busting all kinds of airspace restrictions growling around at 5000 feet most of the way :biggrin:

About the modern navigational crutch that is GPS, sometimes I wish all the satellites could be turned off, especially when HGVs try and go down roads not meant for them! :anonymose:

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2 hours ago, PATCO LCH said:

Especially with the wife lurking around with that "is that all you're going to do today" look .:mellow:

OMG...no kidding, brother. ..heavy sigh.

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Dear all, what a kindly crew you are.

JYW, thank you very much for the DC-3 link; should I ever be able to afford it I would love to have one. However, more important than the a/c type for me is the navigational environment, but the thought occurred that it might somehow be possible to generate navaids in the same sort of way as one generates scenery, and I wonder whether anyone knows about this.

qqwertzde, I did look hard at P3D, because as you say effort has been made to rid it of MSFS's difficulties, and Lockheed Martin are as it were an old acquaintance, but what finally sold me X-plane was the ability using Plane Maker to design one's own aircraft and then try to fly it; this sort of aeronautical engineering simulation being quite absent from those of X-plane's competitors which I could conceivably afford. I already have a drawing on the board of something like a cross between a King Air and a P-38, though the idea of transcribing and testing rare birds like the BV141 is perversely attractive.

High Bypass, roger your point, I tried hard (and paid a consultant) to get MSFS to work, as it is the 'industry standard' and has such a huge support base, but alas it was not to be. We never did find out why and have now disposed of the software and modified the computers. As to fun, for myself I fancy an O-1 (flight model roughly similar to C172; cockpit, as we euphemise here in the UK 'as crude as Aerospace'; and about as safe as 'district-visiting in the Apache quarter of Paris' [Saki]), but doubtless it is now Politically Incorrect so much as to mention Charlie, never mind Willy Pete. As to Gliders, you (and my old boss at MBA, also a glider pilot) will not get me up in one of those things. Every landing a forced landing, and all that. I grant that I did nearly buy the old CTP's Kitfox but at least that has a kind of engine, even if it did once belong to a lawnmower.

busdriver, many thanks indeed for the kind thought but regrettably in this I am up against at least four general practitioners, a consultant neurologist, Martin-Baker's company doctor and all of his chums at the Institute of Aviation Medicine at Farnborough, who are unanimous in the view that I am now and will hereafter remain unfit to fly a desk, let alone one of those balsa wood thingies with a rubber band for an engine. You guys are stuck with me now.

 

 

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Take a look at www.dc3airways.com. We are a complete VA with regular MP flights, an active forum plus all the bells and whistles to keep you happy and occupied.

 

Sherm

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One thing that will NEVER make aviation boring:  Landing any plane in swirling crosswinds, be it a heavy, or a small prop...

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Since its unlikely there will be a flight sim released fitting your specifications, may I suggest fast paced/action packed games to keep you engaged. Aviation is only going to get more and more "boring"; that's exciting to me. :-)

The great thing is nobody is required to use an autopilot on any plane, and dead reckoning/pilotage is possible in X-Plane. However, as long as you know your life is not on the line, you will likely be bored with any flight simulator after a few minutes. 

I moved my flight sim PC to a secluded, quiet, dark part of my basement, and found that immersion works much better there, than in a well lit bedroom or office in the home. I have no trouble with being bored flying any kinds of flights from pattern work to 16 hour long hauls which I will sleep/rest for part of the flight (like in reality). When I add VR into the mix, reality is encroached upon and boredom is simply not possible for me.  

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shermank, very many thanks, bookmarked, looks brilliant. I liked the bit about 'It's 1948'. At MBA we always said that within the perimeter fence it was 1947, and would remain so until further notice.

I liked even more the bit about Radio Range 4.0 which is exactly what I had in mind but as usual with such things it is M$ only and for a variety of reasons I've now settled on X-plane. Ho hum.

If I may I will first get my single-engined setup going, as I now have a queue forming (including some people whom I would never have suspected of a conspiracy to commit aviation).

Once I have done that I intend to do a twin-engine cockpit suitable for a variety of types, using interchangeable modules of my own design, one set of which could certainly be for a DC-3. I have downloaded SkinMan for Windows with which it is possible to make the graphical bases of one's own Air Manager instruments, and will look into what is required for this type.

I note the availability of gorgeous instrument panels such as the NH but am convinced that having scenery and instruments in the same focal plane is a dead loss ergonomically, which is the reason for using Air Manager to drive internal instruments, while X-plane, on another machine, drives the external scenery - thus ensuring that one has to refocus one's eyes when looking from one to the other. I hope eventually to use projection for the scenery, to make it even more different from the interior, but having spent some time theorizing and experimenting it seems that I do not own a projector with a wide enough lens to make the optical geometry work.

overspeed3, of course you are right, but I do feel that in the present state of the art, the further one gets in simulation from sedate, rule-bound IFR, the less satisfactory it becomes.

In particular the thing which I find least satisfactory is the hat-switch.

When flying VFR one is always peering over one's shoulder or craning one's neck into the windshield, trying to see the lunatic on a collision course at ramming speed (one day I'll tell the story of my first solo) or to locate something plausible upon which to land.

Gazing sedately into a computer screen and urbanely wiggling one's hat-switch is IMHO not really much of a substitute for this, in particular as it fails to develop any of what a doctor might call 'spinal memory' or what we call 'a crick in the neck'.

Accordingly I designed a cockpit with a field of view that really is restricted to 60 degrees horizontal, to match the default setting in X-plane; the assumption being that for today windows other than the wiped one are unusable. It is this which is currently under construction. I am trying to obtain an old but large TV which I can modify into a monitor (TVs are heavily taxed here) to use for this as I don't have a suitable projector, see above.

Ideally, though, for VFR one would have an available FOV of about 300 degrees, the only way to provide which being cylindrical projection using several projectors and the costly professional version of X-plane which can drive them. And even this wouldn't really do for a helicopter, or fixed-wing a/c with glass noses.

pracines, you may well be right - my favourite computer game of all time was the eight-bit original Atari Star Raiders from about 1977, which being written in machine-code was as fast as lightning; the sixteen-bit replacement was rubbish, and I haven't done computer games since. I can't be bothered with 'creating a character' or 'trading assets' or any of that stuff; for me it's straight out of Harry Harrison's Bill, the Galactic Hero:

GREEN LIGHTS OUR SHIPS. RED LIGHTS ENEMY. FORGETTING THIS IS A COURTS-MARTIAL OFFENSE.

I too moved my apparatus, in my case to the garage, but it was so cold there, and the local wolf-spiders so territorially belligerent, that I moved it back again, having first removed from it sufficient weight to stop it from falling through the floor.

You are clearly knowledgeable about VR; I have never experimented with this, as (a) it is expensive and (b) I cannot help but wonder how long it would be, were I to don one of those totally exclusive headsets, before the carefully crafted immersivity was ruined by one of our cats leaping onto my unguarded lap.

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In or with VR or any PC software/hardware, "expense" is relative. I buy an expensive drumstick because I like the specific characteristics, I know it costs me more than other sticks, but I don't care, so it is not expensive to me . Same with anything, for me. For others price alone dictates everything.

I have no animals, but in my household, if I'm downstairs, I'm either on the drums or virtual flying. I'm never disturbed unless there is a real emergency....in 25+ years of flight simming there has been no emergencies while I was flying or drumming. I have a very peaceful life. :-)  

 

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Lionel, the Bird Dog does seem like a fun little aeroplane, with or without politically incorrect drug references.....   ooh, you mean Charlie in the other sense!!  LOL!

What's wrong with mentioning Willy Pete unless there's another euphemism I've missed and it doesn't mean white phosphorous?? Bird Dogs were out there for a military purpose, but that shouldn't stop anyone having fun in civvy street with its flying characteristics.

(I wonder if anyone does an early AH-1 Cobra, say 1968 vintage for FSX? Not the later -G and -S variants which are available?)

A glider is at least an aeroplane without an engine, unlike one of those duvet-like contraptions known as a paraglider! By all means use something like that for evacuating a proper aeroplane suddenly rendered unserviceable in mid air, but to consider beginning a flight under one of those??  (shudders!) :biggrin:

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1 hour ago, HighBypass said:

wonder if anyone does an early AH-1 Cobra, say 1968 vintage for FSX? Not the later -G and -S variants which are available?)

The AH-1 in 1968 was the G models.  The only changes made to the G was when they moved the tail rotor to the right side (tractor).  I got my tail wheel endorsement in an O-1 and first type rating in a C-47 (DC-3). :smile:

1 hour ago, HighBypass said:

mentioning Willy Pete

No mystery about WP, it was used as a marking round.  

blaustern

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Sorry Wilhelm I was thinking the G was the one with the flat cockpit glazing. Thank you for your correction. :cool:

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59 minutes ago, HighBypass said:

Sorry Wilhelm I was thinking the G was the one with the flat cockpit glazing. Thank you for your correction. :cool:

I'm inclined to agree, a nice Huey Cobra would be cool to have, and preferably one of the very early ones.

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