X-Plane 10 Global is a flight simulator created by Laminar Research; it is available in two versions, a consumer version, and a professional FAA certified version. It is also available for desktop, iPad, iPhone and other mobile devices. It is available for Windows, Linux, and Macintosh.
What Makes it Tick?
- Over 40 aircraft, including a Cessna 172, the Space Shuttle, a B-2 Bomber and a Bell 206 JetRanger. Also, there is another 1,400 aircraft, both for commercial and for free, to download.
- Over 33,000 airports, there are oil rigs, helipads atop buildings, aircraft carriers, frigates that roll and pitch with the waves!
- Plane Maker for designing and editing an aircraft, including supersonic and subsonic dynamics. A user may also design and fly their own aircraft.
- WorldEditor is an airport editor to create or edit world scenery.
The Package by Definition
X-Plane is a serious flight simulator for serious flight simulation fans who want to simulate flying as close as possible. If you want a flight simulation which is fun, immersive and engaging but still simulated flight reasonably well, then Microsofts Flight Simulator might well be the simulator for you. Regardless of its current affiliation, Dovetails Steam or Lockheed Martin Prepar3D.
X-Plane is about flying indeed “As Real as it Gets,” an old promotional catch cry from Microsoft from years gone by. It’s the flight modeling that sets X-Plane apart, not the scenery, the weather, multi-play or other features that you might find in MSFS. Once you have that fixed in your mind, you can then evaluate X-Plane for what it is, a professional flight simulator, for home!
“X-Plane however, is a real flight simulator, and it has certification to verify that it is”
One needs to do this right from the start, particularly those of us that have been around flight simulation for a long time, we are naturally going to make comparisons. X-Plane however, is a real flight simulator, and it has certification to verify that it is. That then being the case, there is no competition for a flight simulation outside of those which are being used by airlines. However, with everything I have just said now behind me, many of the areas that are often compared by simmers, the scenery, in particular, are being improved upon with every release.
These improvements will always be welcomed by X-Plane enthusiasts, but accurate flight modeling I am going to suggest will always take precedent over other features in this flight simulator. X-Planes detractors have always made comparisons between MSDS and X-Plane, and most likely always will. Of course, this is understandable; they are both advertised as flight simulators.
X-Planes creator, Austin Meyer, is the person who wrote the code and established the philosophy behind X-Plane and is what continues to drive the sim forward.
A few comments about installing this simulator. When you initially install the software, you are presented with an installation screen which displays a graphical map of the world. Not all of the world is represented, be aware that if you were to download all of the scenery, check the space required, it’s going to be quite big. My recommendation is only to install the areas you plan to fly; this is done by selecting the areas represented by squares from on the map displayed. Anything not selected will be represented by water; the runway will be there, but no terra firma!
Ready to Fly
When your installation is completed, you can fire up the sim; select all the various parameters and set the airport where you wish to fly from. You will notice there is no option to start from the gate or anywhere else except the runway. However, once on the runway, you can then select another area and move there, quirky!
There are options for times of day, which are Day, Sunset, Twilight, and Night. You will have a choice of eight different sets of weather scenarios; Clear, Overcast, Cirrus, Low-vis, Scattered, Foggy, Broken, and Stormy, or tick use real weather!
What about the Aicraft
The default aircraft in FSX for example, have multiple liveries, in X-Plane, it is in reverse, just one livery, but many more aircraft. I quite like that! I like the default C172 because it was the plane I did my initial flight training and pilots license in.
I have over 100 hours in the real C172, so for me, it makes for a good benchmark. I also used the C172 in FS2004 I think it was? (It’s been a while) While I was doing my flight training, I firmly believe it was at least partially responsible for getting through my training in less time than most.
I would practice flying circuits in the simulation, and did so very seriously; I would say all my checklists and procedures out aloud from start-up to shut down. I still get a kick in flying the 172, and if you are someone who has flown a 172, you will know how they love to float when landing. X-Plane does an excellent job of replicating this trait. Flying in this sim is, as it is in real life, operating forces are accurately reproduced and feels so very real!
This is the essence of X-Plane!
The default C172 in this sim is excellent, not just in how it fly’s, but in its presentation, it is gorgeous! Internally and externally.
One area of contention in X-Plane is the scenery when compared to FSX, it does leave a lot to be desired, as I said earlier, this is a pilots simulator. It’s all about flying, but I still want to prepare a new user for this simulators scenery being so stark.
Many airports are just plain barren, devoid of anything. It’s not like that everywhere, but if one is accustomed to FSX for example, then X-Planes representation of scenery may well disappoint.
There is a lot of scenery which can be downloaded for the major areas, which very often is excellent.
While the flight dynamics for all of the default aircraft are consistently all top notch, the same thing cannot be said for them graphically. There are lots of aircraft available for download. Fortunately, many more commercial add-on companies are now offering aircraft for X-Plane, this is a great thing. Particularly PDMG, who are already famous for their beautiful planes and excellent flight dynamics, can only take X-Plane forward. Other companies like Carenado and Aerosoft are also offering up more add-ons for this sim; it ‘s all good to see.
X-Plane’s community is strong and proud! They have supported the simulation making the sim even better by providing free files for anyone to download and install. All helped along in no small part because of the tools made available from within the package.
It is a fact that the tools provided by X-Plane, when combined with the dedicated fans are primarily responsible for the high quality of the add-ons. The tool adds in another field of enjoyment from designing and flying your aircraft, albeit with a significant learning curve.
FSX is a fun simulator, no mistake; it ’s a great simulation, but when the aircraft models and the flying of them are compared to X-Plane, then FSX is a game, and X-Plane is a bonafide flight simulator as a FAA certified training device, in the proper context of the term.
X-Plane is not a walk up and kick the tires and let’s fly game, it takes some patience and comes with a learning curve to work out all its idiosyncrasies.
If one does that, then you going to experience flight simulation which is as close as it can get to real life flying, and from at home!
You are not going to look back!
When compared to FSX, one is not better than the other, unless one gets into specifics about the components of each simulation.
They are both excellent!
(n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Plane_(simulator)
How X-Plane Works – X-Plane. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.x-plane.com/desktop/how-x-plane-works/
Interview With Austin Meyer. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2016, from http://www.flightsim.com/vbfs/content.php?13599-Interview-With-Austin-Meyer/