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If you are new to flight simulation you may be surprised, and somewhat confused, about the amount of software and hardware there is about. What do I really need to learn about and enjoy my flight simulator? Here are some Flight Sim Essentials.

We'll start with the flight simulator software itself. Which is best continues to be a hot topic amongst flight sim users. These fit into three basic categories: Microsoft based software, X-Plane software and bespoke software. The latter is only available for professional simulators and the cost alone is likely to rule this out. So the Flight Sim Essentials in this category will be chosen from:

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X Steam Edition
  • Lockheed Martin Prepar3d
  • Laminar's X-Plane
The first three use Microsoft's Flight Simulator engine whilst the fourth, X-Plane, has been produced from the code up.  It is generally considered that the latter has a higher degree of realism to the way the flight dynamics are reproduced. Whilst this can be considered a good thing it can be more difficult to master, require more computer resources (i.e. a more powerful computer) and can be more expensive.

My own choice (and it is a personal one) for beginners is Microsoft Simulator X Steam Edition.  It is run mainly in the cloud (no pun intended) making it easier to set up and there is a massive community of help available.

It may surprise you when I suggest you only need one other piece of equipment to get you going, and that's a joystick. (Other than your computer of course!) I know that you can control the sim using your keyboard only but that's so laborious it might put you off flight simulators forever. You needn't spend to much but I found the Logitech Extreme Pro to be an ideal starter.

So that's it. I will write more about the next steps in due course.

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