[cars] Taking the Pilot's Seat
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Ever dreamed of flying? No crowded streets or traffic jams, the freedom of moving in the third dimension, way above all daily grind and earthly worries, the endless horizon in front of you - and the technical challenge of controlling an airplane...

In the early teenage days, I had the lucky chance to actually take control of a small sports plane twice. The rest of the time, however, I currently enjoy flight simulation, on PCs and - by the chance of an absolutely staggering present - the professional "real" ones (see here).

For PCs (and Macs, of course :-), I can highly recommend X-Plane by Laminar Research. It's the most versatile and the most realistic flight simulation I've seen -- and believe me, I've seen a lot! If you really want to fly, forget these games like MS FlightSimulator, Flight Unlimited, Fly!, ProPilot, and so on. Some of them are not bad at all (I especially like the graphics of Flight Unlimited III, and, of course, the newer MS FlightSims), but in the sum of its features, X-Plane is a class of its own. Especially the accuracy and smoothness of the simulation, even on slower hardware, is unmatched.

The main difference as compared to all the other flight sims is that X-Plane actually calculates all physical effects on the airplane in real-time. While other sims use hardcoded data and specifically tweaked behavior for the individual airplanes they ship with the package, X-Plane just applies the laws of physics -- on any aircraft you can image and design! Given accurate models of the airplanes, X-Plane is as realistic as it gets! This is one of the reasons many aircraft companies (e.g. CarterCopters, Piper) are using X-Plane to design and test-fly their new planes. With the simulation performing within 1% of the airline book values, it's no wonder that X-Plane is the first (and still the only!) consumer-priced flight simulation to obtain the official FAA approval for training pilots towards their Commercial Certificate, Instrument Rating, and Airline Transport Pilot Certificate!

  FAA Approval  
FAA Approval  
FAA Approval  

Ok, maybe the standard out-of-the-box graphics are topped by some other game or scenery pack (although there are very nice sceneries for X-Plane as well). But X-Plane's incredible accuracy (in flight model), scope (in aircraft and terrain coverage), versatility (in aircraft type and weather conditions, including real-time weather), add-on programs (aircraft and scenery editors), user-customizability, downloadable aircraft, and downloadable scenery really make it the ultimate flight simulator for Mac and Windows PCs!

Recently I was able to prove X-Plane's outstanding simulation accuracy by having the chance to "fly" a real 747-400 simulator at the Lufthansa Trainings Center in Frankfurt. I really have to say X-Plane is not far off the "real" experience! But read for yourself...

  Motion Sim
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