lewinr

advice for teaching flying with VR

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Hi All

My son (13 years old) wants to learn to fly using a flight simulator.  I bought a VR headset (Samsung Odyssey+), yoke (CH Products), and rudder pedals (Saitek Pro).  Our PC is relatively good and we have a GTX1080 GPU, so I think we're set hardware wise.  (Not even sure we'll use the physical Yoke instead of the VR Yoke.)

I'm having difficulty choosing the best software for the task.  I can use your advice is about which flight simulator provides the best lessons for an absolute novice who has never flown before, or taken a lesson, and who has minimum knowledge of the aircraft, keeping in mind that we'll use VR.

I was told that FSX (Steam Edition) has the best "out of the box" flight lessons for a novice, and is better than XP11 and Aerofly FS2.  Is there consensus on this, or is there any other flight simulator which offers good lessons for beginners with VR support?

I'm looking at https://flyinside-fsx.com/ but I lack enough experience to understand if I really need it, or if it will even work or not with the FSX flying lessons.

Thank you for any advice you can offer!

Ron

 

Edited by lewinr

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Hi Ron,

I would say that you are definitely on the right track in terms of the hardware -- a yoke and a proper pair of rudder pedals are essential for gaining a proper sense of the co-ordination skills required. I confess I am not experienced with VR (and I acknowledge that this is the VR forum!) but I would imagine that using the physical yoke would probably be better in terms of being able to feel the pull/push forces involved in trimming the aircraft which I imagine would be lost if one were to use a "virtual" yoke?

I run some basic sim flight instruction courses within the Virtual Airline I'm a member of (BAVirtual); we largely use FSX/P3D (though as much as anything probably a legacy/compatibility thing; the software we use to connect instructors and students historically was a lot more reliable in FSX and within our organisation the vast majority of members are using FSX or P3D but it's possible that will change in the future). Certainly from a flying point of view FSX is more than suitable to provide a solid grounding in the basic principles of flying if used in a structured way. FSX Steam Edition would be the version to go for and it is often available cheaply if you catch it in a Steam sale.

The built-in flying lessons in FSX provide an excellent grounding; it is worth looking at some of the basic theory of flight and navigation alongside them as well. One area where VR may fall down slightly is that learning to navigate using map/compass/stopwatch/plog will almost certainly require being able to refer to physical paperwork whilst flying which may be more difficult in VR; however I do have at least one student on our course who uses VR and manages very well so there is certainly no barrier there (I know that you can have floating 'virtual windows' in VR and whilst I'm a bit old fashioned and find it much easier to read/write on/refer to real bits of paper I imagine that your son will be a lot more adept at managing other windows etc in VR than I would be!).

Good luck and I'm sure others will be able to advise more on the VR aspects of your question!

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For best VR support AND also best flight fluidity (very high frame rates even with VR) , quick scenario loading, and photo-realistic scenery flying with good image clarity, I suggest Aerofly FS2 available on Steam. (I have this very system - Odyssey+) . As you probably know, you need to  download both SteamVR and Windows Mixed Reality for Steam VR. You need to have build 1809 of Windows 10, a 4 core or better cpu at 4.5Ghz or so, and the rest of your gear - I have the Thrustmaster HOTAS 4 instead of the yoke . I extended the length of my Samsung cable (not so much for sim flying but other small room scale apps) by getting the Vive link box and it's power supply (from Amazon), and the required male-male USB3.0 and HDMI 1.4 cables. I have Prepar3Dv4.4, X-Plane 11, WarThunder, and Combat Air Patrol 2, and they all are fun flying but I would definitely recommend Aerofly FS2 - especially because they have Flying Lessons and easy VR. It does have support for "virtual hands" using the Odyssey+ controllers but I still prefer actual yoke/joystick/throttles.

The training will be a lot of fun - and then...

Dave W.

Edited by whitav8
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great information, thank you!

I was specifically told that FSX flight school is very good... so you feel that Aerofly FS2 is better?

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I never tried FSX Flight school so I can't compare. You said that you wanted to use VR for your flying but I don't think that FSX is a great VR environment. Maybe you could use FSX Flight school for regular monitor usage at the beginning and then Aerofly FS2 later.

EDIT: I looked at the FSX Flight School and it does look quite impressive ( http://www.fsflyingschool.com/ ). It could be used with Prepar3Dv4.4 or maybe even Xplane 11 with VR. I still like AeroflyFS2 for VR ease and other reasons but try them all!

 

 

Edited by whitav8

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Sorry, I guess my message was confusing.  By "FSX Flight School", I didnt mean  http://www.fsflyingschool.com/ but just the standard flight lessons in FSX.

(However I did look at  http://www.fsflyingschool.com/  and even exchanged some emails with them, and it does seem impressive, but as I understood it is more meant to be used by somebody who already has the basics of flying...)

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The lessons in Aerofly FS2 start from the VERY basic. The first lesson is just ailerons. The other dimension/orientations are held fixed and you simply bank until the pointer agrees with a commanded "wedge" graphic. Then pitch to 10, pitch to -10, etc. with no roll / yaw. There are 21 lessons before you get to landing. The vocal feedback is OK for younger students ("you are doing very well", etc.) but maybe a little annoying for older students. You are inside (or outside) a Cessna 172  near Watsonville Muni south of San Francisco with photorealistic scenery with mountains nearby. with standard instruments and you can ask the instructor to demonstrate or just fly it yourself and get a rating.

https://www.aerofly.com/dokuwiki/doku.php/manual:flight_school

https://www.aerofly.com/dokuwiki/doku.php/manual:beginners3

 

You can see what the tutorials are like on youtube - search for "aerofly fs2 flying school cris explora"

Example: 

 

 

Edited by whitav8

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I'm about to make a decision and I have two more questions, I hope you can advise me:

1. Flight Schools:

About Aerofly, I read that indeed it has the best VR support.  But I've also read that the lessons are not very strong.  From the reviews: "This game does has a flight school that teaches you some basics. However, I would have preferred a better fleshed out tutorial. I think some missions to start the game and learn each aircraft would have been nice. So far, I've just been doing random stuff but no real structure. I would prefer if the game encouraged you to set real flight plans and had a guiding hand for those of us not experienced with flight simulators." and " There is a flight school, but it does not cover anyything more advanced that take-off/landing/pattern."   

Since this is for my 13 year-old son who has zero experience even with a flight sim, I want to ensure that the flight school is as strong and structured as possible, even if the VR experience is not as strong (without impeding the ability to learn).  In this case can anybody advise how the FSX flight school compares against the Aerofly flight school?

2. Controls in VR:
I'm wondering how using cockpit controls work in VR when we have the physical Yoke.  How do you work with the yoke (which will require putting down the physical controllers that track the hands) and then flip switches, etc, in the cockpit?

It seems that if you want to use the virtual controls, you'll need to let go of the yoke, to feel/fumble around for the physical controllers, pick them up, manipulate the virtual controls, then put them down again and take the yoke.

Or if we buy one of the boxes with controls similar to a physical cockpit, then you can see those switches with the VR headset on, and I dont think taking the headset off is a good idea, so you'll again need to feel/fumble around blindly for the switch you want, and then you also dont learn the position of the controls in the actual cockpit.

So what is the best way to manage this?  If anybody has any experience with this, it will be appreciated...

 

Thanks

Ron

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Hi Ron,

I'll leave the VR questions to others for answer, but one thing I could suggest is, instead of using virtual flight lessons, to buy a book titled "Microsoft Flight Simulator for pilots - Real World Training", by Van West & Lane-Cummings. It is certainly a lot more complete and extensive compared to the virtual flight lessons of FSX & C. The book content could probably be perfectly applied, other than to FSX, also to P3D or X-Plane. Probably not 100% to aerofly fs 2 though, due to its more numerous limitations.

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2 hours ago, lewinr said:

2. Controls in VR:

I'm wondering how using cockpit controls work in VR when we have the physical Yoke.  How do you work with the yoke (which will require putting down the physical controllers that track the hands) and then flip switches, etc, in the cockpit?

It seems that if you want to use the virtual controls, you'll need to let go of the yoke, to feel/fumble around for the physical controllers, pick them up, manipulate the virtual controls, then put them down again and take the yoke.

Or if we buy one of the boxes with controls similar to a physical cockpit, then you can see those switches with the VR headset on, and I dont think taking the headset off is a good idea, so you'll again need to feel/fumble around blindly for the switch you want, and then you also dont learn the position of the controls in the actual cockpit.

I did a bit more research, and it looks like the answer to my question is Leap Motion.  I know that it works with Flyinside and as far as I read it doesnt work with Aerofly FS2. 

So this is pushing me to lean towards FSX + Flyinside, now I just need to double check that the FSX flying school can be used with Flyinside (and Leapmotion)...

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1 hour ago, Murmur said:

Buy a book titled "Microsoft Flight Simulator for pilots - Real World Training", by Van West & Lane-Cummings. It is certainly a lot more complete and extensive compared to the virtual flight lessons of FSX & C. The book content could probably be perfectly applied, other than to FSX, also to P3D or X-Plane.

Thanks for the advice, I ordered it.  I'm worried that it might be a little over the head of my 13yo, but I think it is worth getting for him anyway, maybe it can help and without him spending more time in front of the screen...

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Hey,

I bought a leap motion when the current version became available and quickly stopped using it.  Whilst it was excellent for experiences that were designed for it, I found it too fiddly for use in a cockpit - especially once I graduated away from the really simple default aircraft to more realistic models.  I should probably give it another go some time as that was a while back now, but please be aware that it may not be quite as great as it appears.  Personally I just keep my mouse next to my flight stick and move my hand from the stick to the mouse to click buttons in P3D, DCS or FlyInside Flight Sim..

I'm also keeping my eye on development of these:

https://forums.eagle.ru/showthread.php?t=218861

They're designed for DCS but should work in any sim where a mouse cursor is used.  To save everyone ploughing through that thread, they're a method of tracking your index fingers in 3D space.  Whichever finger is higher takes precedent.  There's a set of buttons on the side so basically what you do is point at the switch you want to change as you would in real life, then click the switch on the side like you would with a mouse.  Even works with rotaries.  Feed back from the small number of test users so far is very positive, so I'll likely order a set as soon as they're available.  I'll report back to the hardware forum here once I've got them.  Supposed to work outside of VR too.

Graham

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 Hello,

 

My experience is that watching YouTube videos created by:the following were very helpful.

doofer911

Countryflyboy

Flighsim481

Matt Davies

I own the fsx book you talked about and I have read it. It starts with the cub and the c172, then twin engine. Having a book in front of my computer screen was never a happy combination for me. Learning the instruments was much easier watching some videos. I'm a worthless pilot tbh, just an hour in the weekends.

Let me emphasize that fsx and flyinside is not very stable. I used the demo and it crashed Everytime within 15 minutes. The smallest change in settings caused ctd. I bought flyinside for p3dv4 however and it is working pretty good. The a2a c172 is very good to start with.

 

Xplane11 is also wonderful but it is harder on the hardware. I have a gtx970 and i7 2600k and run xplane11 at the absolute minimum settings. P3dv4 is a bit more flexible.

 

I also own aeroflyfs2 and although it looks fantastic it lacks weather, atc, and a lively environment. A lot of planes fly about the same for me. To start learning a c172 it is probably pretty ok. It has quite some lessons. Their helicopter is fabulous btw and some bigger planes look pretty good also.

 

The fsx lessons are interesting and do work with flyinside, however I kept crashing the software quite often...

 

You can buy fsx for almost nothing and you can download flyinside demo.

 

 

P3dv4 native vr is very good imho.

 

Flyinside flightsimulator (the standalone sim!) Looks amazing as well but it lacks a simple starter plane right now.

 

There a plenty options and if you like to extend the hobby and are able to spend some cash 1 or 2 Sims might be worth checking

 

Cheers

Jozeff

 

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Jozeff, thank you for the great feedback.

I'm sure my hardware is quite capable and I've already invested a reasonable of money, and dont mind investing a bit more if it really helps.  But most of all I want to be sure that i choose the right environment for my son to be really able to learn about flying in a way that most closely resembles the real world, especially in case he decides that he ready for real aircraft in a few years.  (We did get him an "introduction to flying" lesson at a local flight school for his birthday last year, which he really enjoyed and was the catalyst for trying to enable him to learn to fly in his free time at home...)

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Well I think that p3dv4, active sky, a2a Cessna 172 and ORBX global are what you are looking for.

 

Try native first before flyinside.

 

This is just my opinion at the moment. I'm not telling you you must do this, it's just a suggestion.

 

The a2a is great and there are hundreds of instruction videos for that one on YouTube.

 

Active sky is a fantastic weather add-on

Atc I have no clue, I never used it to be honest....

Good luck.

 

 

Jozeff

 

 

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For learning purposes, I believe XP11 is a much better solution at the moment when using VR. Using the touch controls to interact with the aircraft switches is really something that adds a whole lot the experience when we have this context in mind.

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Posted (edited)

Jozeff, GCBraun, thank you for your suggestions.   Do you know how the flight lessons in XP11 and P3Dv4 differ from FSX, especially for a beginner with even no flight simulator experience?

And do both of those solutions support Leap Motion so my son could use a physical Yoke and then manipulate controls in the cockpit by reaching for them without needing to pickup the VR handheld controllers ?

 

 

Edited by lewinr

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You have a point there gcbraun. It's a personal experience of course. The native c172 in xplane11 is very good and the rep version by simcoders is extremely good. My computer barely runs xplane11 so that's why I am thinking towards p3dv4.

 

I use a yoke, thrustmaster warthog stick and throttle. Also a decent rudder.

 

The fsx lessons are pretty good. P3dv4 is way less in lessons, they cut out a lot of material unfortunately.

 

Xplane11 has only a few lessons, very basic.

 

 

Cheers

 

Jozeff

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FSX lessons are very good. I would go non VR for learning and stick with the basics. Doesn't need fancy scenery 

real controls are a must IMO

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Posted (edited)

lewinr,

      You say you've spent a lot on the hardware - then I suggest you try out some of the different flight sims. Many of us have several and we use them in different scenarios and for different reasons. I think one of the responders already suggested that Leap Motion doesn't work too well yet for some flight sims - just make sure you have a good joystick / yoke with a separate throttle along with some buttons for gear/flaps/etc... Get your feet wet - get one or two sims and see what your son likes best. VR is a little challenging to set up and get good enough performance - and issues like IPD, clarity, comfort become issues to deal with as well. The flight sim seems to be a custom thing for each individual.

 

Edited by whitav8

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Thats perfectly true, I spent like 2000 Euro on hardware and bought fsx for 5 Euro on steam. Xplane11 is 60 Euro and p3dv4 well, I got that one in a way I will not further xplane here😙😙

Flyinside has a great trial you can use over and over again when you restart it so a lot of time to try.

 

Xplane11 has a trial also

I took a look again at the lessons in fax. They look pretty good but nowadays there is a lot of stuff on YouTube that explains it perfectly well.

 

Fsx is worth the few dollars alone for the lesson material however.

Cheers

Jozeff

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the things I used to make sure students learned was feel. Unfortunately you simply cannot get this with Flight Simulation games. Unless you go get a Brunner Yoke.... 

I'm saving up for one. Unfortunately Mrs H's car replacement comes first.

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