Let me tell you a little story about the development of an insane plane enthusiast. Not the craziest mind you but never the less, crazy. It all started with a little film called Top Gun. If you have never seen or at least heard of that movie you should probably crawl back under your rock because you are dead to me. If you have seen it then I’m sure scenes of fighter pilots and making out on motorcycles with hot chicks are running through your head right now. Needless to say, I am that crazy person. I had a passing interest in planes because most kids do, they are just cool. Add speed, hot chicks and cool high fives, coupled with a budding teenage libido and you have the perfect storm for an obsession.
That movie solidified my lifelong flying insanity. As I matured, the responsibilities and actual work of being a military fighter pilot set in. I was no good at math and the idea of shaving my head just didn’t seem like like a thing I would care for, it was the late 80s and long hair was in.
My actual fighter pilot obsession gave way to a much more insidious beast. I became obsessed with becoming an airline pilot. No reason really, I mean, they aint cool or nothing. Did I meantion that airline pilots get all the chicks? ALL OF THEM. Just look at this picture.
After flying actual airplanes for awhile, I gave up the RL hunt and started looking for a great simulator. My first flight simulator experience was Flight Simulator 4.
Not exactly “As real as it gets”. It put a real strain on the Mac I had at the time. Blocky, no AI or ATC. Just the most basic thing you could get. I got bored fast. It was no more than a passing occasional hobby. I just couldn’t imagine myself as an airline pilot flying in a Minecraft-like blocky studdering world. The other thing that made it boring, is there were NO AIRLINERS. I mean, who wants to fly around a Cessna on a computer? OLD PEOPLE that’s who.
Then in 1998 everything changed. Flight Simulator 98 came out and my obsession had an outlet.
THEY ADDED A 737! A 737! This was the plane that I would go and see at airports. I knew every type of 737 there was and what type each airline flew. Along with MD-80s, Dc-9s, 757s, the list goes on and on. I managed to get a PC built by a work friend, I bought the game. This would be the beginning of what would become a 19yr love and hate relationship Microsoft Flight Simulator.
I wasn’t the only person that had this passion. Over the next few years, I discovered an enormous community of people that were as crazy, ney, far crazier than I. They built scenery to improve stock in-game visuals. They built every kind of plane you could ever imagine in every airline livery there was. There were endless tools you could install to improve realism. There is even a network of controllers and pilots that play in a multiplayer environment to simulate real-time ATC at airports all over the world. For several years flightsim.com & avsim.com were my top destinations on the internet. I had a BLAST but there was something always missing for me. It just never looked or performed like the real thing for me. It’s not like it was impossible to get realism but it took and incredible amount of time and effort, very expensive computer parts, dedication and technical acumen to accomplish. I just wasn’t up to the task. I could learn checklists, ATC procedures. I studied and learned the AIM and FAR and had a pretty good knowledge of Federal Aviation Regulations but I never had the money or time to make my simulation experience what I really wanted it to be. I finally gave it up for several years. In that time Microsft got out of the Flight Simulator business. They retired FSX and made some crappy (anyone can fly this) game that was free but had in-game purchases. I tried it. It was a real joke.
I wanted my MS flight sim back. In 2013 I bought Flight Simulator X on steam and also got my hands on X-plane 10. These were vast improvements over anything I had used before but still took so much manual tweaking that it was annoying. I think I spent close to $600 on the games and various add-ons, planes, flight yoke etc. to try to get where I wanted to be. I was able to get close. I had some good flights but after a short period of time, the technical issues started again. I started experiencing errors and crashes. I was spending hours and hours chasing down each issue. I was able to get most the issues fixed but it was so time-consuming, that it took the fun out of it for me. Who wants to fly when you want to throw your computer out the window? At the end of 2016, I was feeling rather done with it all again. But then something magical happened.
I got a wild hair one late night and started to read around about different simulators. I kept seeing references to Prepar3d. After a bit of research, I discovered that Lockheed had purchased Flight Simulator X and redeveloped the game. It’s more geared toward professional training but still had the bones of FSX and people were making add-ons for it. I dropped the $60. It was the best decision I have ever made.
The installation was easy. I was able to get up and flying in less than an hour. I was completely in awe of how well it ran on my machine with no tweaking. The odd memory crashes that had been experiencing with the Steam version of FSX were gone. It was a dream. I quickly identified some great add-ons to add weather effects and improve textures and I was flying and for the first time EVER, I simply enjoyed flying. Not only do I enjoy it, but I feel like a real airline pilot when I fly.
Prepar3d has changed everything for me. It’s the real deal. If you have ever wanted to fly, try it out. Prepar3d is everything I wanted FSX or X-plane to be. The only reason I don’t give this simulator a perfect 10 is it’s got quite a learning curve. You are gonna have to spend a significant amount of time with it to get comfortable. You should plan on spending $300+ to get realism. the stock textures are better than FSX but they are still pretty BLAH. I highly recommend you buy some add-ons to improve the overall experience. Below are my system specs and add-ons.
CPU: Processor Intel Core i7-770K CPU @ 4.2GHz, OC to 5.2GHz, 4 Core(s), 8 Logical Processor(s)
MOBO: ASUS ROG Formula IX
RAM: Corsair Dominator Platinum Series 64GB (4 x 16GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz (PC4-25600)
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 TI 11GB
SSD: 2x Samsung 850 EVO – 1TB – 2.5-Inch SATA III Internal SSD
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit)
Prepar3d V3 -Simulator
HIFI TECH – ACTIVE SKY 2016 P3D – Weather Add-on
FTX GLobal Base Pack – Scenery Add-on
FTX Global Vector – Scenery Add-on
FTX Global openLC North America – Scenery Add-on
FTX Global openLC Europe – Scenery Add-on
FTX Global Trees HD – Scenery Add-on
FTX Global NA Northern Rockies – Scenery Add-on
FTX Global NA Central Rockies – Scenery Add-on
FTX KCGX Merrill C. Meigs Field – Scenery Add-on
PMDG 737NGX Base Package 737-800/900 – Airliner Add-on
PMDG 737NGX 737-600/700 – Airliner Add-on
MYTraffic 6a – AI traffic Add-on