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AeroFly 5 – Flight Simulator

Posted by: Fly RC Staff
One of the most significant advances in RC over the last 10 years or so has been the remarkable melding of RC and computer technology to create the flight simulators we enjoy today. Many components of the dazzling performances we see from top aerobatic pilots flying both airplanes and helicopters are first worked out on a flight sim, for the same reasons why flight simulators are great for rank beginners. You can fly whenever you have a moment to sit down at your computer with complete disregard for the weather and time of day. The near-instant, costfree recovery after crashing a virtual model allows you to take great risks as well, advancing your skills without the threat of countless hours or dollars spent repairing crash damage between flights.
For many years Ikarus AeroFly from Germany has been one of the most popular flight simulators available. Well known for its realism and the ability for customers to design their own models and even flying site scenery, AeroFly is the best selling flight simulator throughout Europe. It offers a realistic representation of flying a model, and plenty of variety of models and flying sites. AeroFly is also available here in the US, and its most current rendition is complete reworking of the program with more realism than ever before.
The Multi-Pano options of the Golden Gate Bridge scenery let me fly the Robbe SeaBee park flyer from the San Francisco waterfront and a few minutes later….
be slope soaring above the Marin Headlands with a large-scale vintage ASK-13.
UPDATES
The first sign of AeroFly5′s significant changes came as soon as I started it for the first time. Gone were all the familiar flying sites of past versions, replaced by new high-definition panoramic photo sceneries and Ikarus’s new 4-D virtual flying sites. Several of the photo sites offer Ikarus’s Multi-Pano technology, giving you the ability to fly from multiple locations within the same basic locale. For instance the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge scenery lets you fly from a pier along the city’s western waterfront looking up at the bridge, as well as a couple of locations in the Marin Headlands looking back past the bridge to the city in the background. The Multi-Pano option effectively turns each one of these sites in to several flying locations.
The realistic CH-46 gave me quite a challenge while flying around the famous tufa tower formations of Mono Lake in California’s Sierra-Nevada mountain range. Flying the Sea Bee was also a lot of fun at Mono Lake.
The 4-D sites offer near-photo realism combined with the ability to move throughout the scenery while flying. As before, you can still fly from the cockpit or from behind the aircraft in a follow-along mode. AeroFly5 also brings you the chance to fly from beside your model or also while strolling along as if you were walking about the site while flying. Flying from the cockpit or from behind gives you the chance to fly in and around the various scenery elements such as between buildings, through trees and to explore the sceneries with a
Parker Mountain is well known as the home of RC dynamic soaring, and with a little practice I was soon carving circuits with this Kinetic 100. Yes, you can display your speed on screen, but humility prevented me from bragging. Let’s just say I won’t be threatening the big guns of DS anytime soon!
bird’s eye perspective. The 4-D sites feature extreme attention to detail with animated features such as leaves moving in the wind, flowing water. These and other fine details make it very easy to forget that you are flying in a rendered environment instead of a photo-realistic scenery. The 4-D sites also allow you to adjust the time of day, moving the sun to suit your preferences.
When you get too far away at the flying field a lost model is often the result. AeroFly5 features a binocular view to help you maintain orientation and bring it home. Other instrumentation shown is the transmitter stick positions, performance specs, speed and heading. The data can be positioned wherever you want on the screen.
Another nice feature of AeroFly5 is the free download to upgrade to AeroFly5.5. Once I installed this update I had over 110 models available, with 35 photorealistic flying sites from around the world and 6 4-D sceneries. You can manipulate the models extensively by adjusting the power, control throws, balance point and aerodynamic moments. If that isn’t enough, you can download new models created by other enthusiasts or even make your own! The environmental parameters can also be manipulated by adjusting the model’s smoke output, wind and clouds/fog as well as time of day. In addition to the improved rendering of the 4-D sceneries, the smoke and engine exhaust are also much more realistic.
Working on a low-level rolling harrier circle at the AMA national flying site in Muncie, Indiana. I doubt you will ever see me flying a model this aggressively, but it sure is fun to try it out on AeroFly!
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
Of course the more sophisticated features means that more demands will be placed on your CPU and video card power. The Ikarus engineers have your back though, so you won’t have to spring for a new computer this weekend. Many parameters can be dialed down to reduce the resource load and speed up the performance. The overall graphics quality, resolution and anti-aliasing can be adjusted to several levels to tune the performance on your computer. The nice thing is that the practical quality level doesn’t suffer too significantly if you need to tune it down for your computer. You will still be able to appreciate AeroFly5 and most of its capabilities as long as your computer meets the minimum requirements.
Burning up the desert outside Phoenix with a vintage Grumman F9F Panther.
I recommend using the highest quality settings that still give acceptable video performance without worrying too much about the actual frame rate. The frame rate changes constantly depending upon the resource requirements, and of course the more you ask the more it will slow down. For instance, running heavy smoke close in can slow the frame rate by 40-percent or so. This isn’t an issue with an optimized machine, but if you see the image starting to slow, just know that you can turn down the quality a little to regain the speed you want without investing in a new video card.
AeroFly5 has made a giant leap forward in one important area. It is fully compatible with the latest Apple Macintosh computers running on Intel chips. While PCs dominate the market in terms of pure numbers, once you remove the large number of office and other industrial installations, the total market share of Macs is much larger than many suspect. It is refreshing that a major simulator producer has finally acknowledged this and has ported their sim to this platform. It has been a long wait for Mac users, one that is thankfully over.
The minimum requirements for a Mac are:
- Intel-based Apple Mac computer
- OSX 10.5 or 10.6
- 1 GB RAM
- 10 GB free hard disc space
- DVD-ROM drive
- OpenGL Version 2.1 compatible 3D-graphics card from NVDIA or ATI with 256MB RAM, at least as fast as NVIDIA 9400 or ATI Radeon HD 2400
- A free USB port to connect the USB Interface/GameCommander
The recommended Mac system requirements are:
- Intel-based Apple Mac computer
- OSX 10.5 or 10.6
- 2 GB RAM
- 10 GB free hard disc space
- DVD-ROM drive
- OpenGL Version 2.1 compatible 3D-graphics card from NVDIA or ATI with 512MB RAM, at least as fast as NVIDIA 9600 or ATI Radeon HD 4850.
Please note: 4D sceneries only run on the recommended system platform.
While I was at Triple Tree, I also made a few laps with this large scale Tiger Moth and…
…practiced my inverted hovering with the T-Rex 700.
The minimum requirements for a PC are:
- Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon64 compatible CPU 2.4 GHz or faster
- Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7
- 1 GB of RAM
- 8 GB free hard disc space
- DVD-ROM drive
- OpenGL Version 2.1 compatible 3D-graphics card from NVIDIA or ATI with 256MB RAM – A free USB port for the USB interface or Game Commander controller
The recommended PC system requirements are:
- Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2
- Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7
- 1 GB of RAM
- 8 GB free hard disc space
- DVD-ROM drive
- OpenGL Version 3.1 compatible 3D-graphics card from NVIDIA or ATI with 512 MB RAM
- For optimum sound quality, a high quality stand-alone PCI sound card is suggested
What RC pilot wouldn’t jump at the chance to fly a full scale P-51 at the Triple Tree Aerodrome, home of the annual Joe Nall Fly-In hosted by Pat Harness?
SETUP
AeroFly5 has a new feature called Quick Calibration that allows you to set up a transmitter almost immediately. I plugged in the included controller, selected Mode 2 control, wiggled the sticks for what seemed like only a second or two and was ready to go. Truly I was caught off guard by how quickly it was ready to go. You can also use the advanced radio calibration mode to dial in exponential throws and many other traditional radio functions for the models. This makes using a simple transmitter much more satisfying to use than before. If you are inclined to manipulate the model parameters you will like the new ability to save multiple configurations under a single top level rather than having to create a whole new plane for each setup.

TRAINING
As always, initial training and advancing your skills is one of the main reasons to get a flight simulator and Ikarus products have always shone brightly in this role. While some sims throw you in the deep endand let you learn to fly by your own wits, AeroFly5 features training modules that hold your hand as you learn to walk and then run. For instance, the new landing trainer guides you through a stabilized approach and smooth touchdown, something that many experienced pilots undervalue while wondering why their models often need repair and look so ragged. Most experienced pilots will agree that if you can’t land smoothly and consistently you really haven’t mastered flying. The landing trainer will help you achieve that success as quickly as possible. Once you are landing consistently, you are ready to move on, and AeroFly continues its support with incremental hover training for both fixed wing airplanes and helicopters.
After attending SEFF last spring I couldn’t help but put in a few flights on the famous Hodges Field with this Model Z Gee Bee.
TAKING A BREAK
The other side of simulators is for more light-hearted entertainment, and AeroFly has a full suite of options here as well. Balloon busting, pylon racing, limbo flying and a heli autorotation contest will all test your skills, while building them at the same time. If you want to fly with friends, AeroFly also now supports multi-pilot flying both over a local network as well as the internet. Now you can literally fly with up to eight friends all over the world without leaving your own home, and chat with them at the same time! You can also connect two transmitters to your computer for local flying with two people in the same room. Such risk-free flying is sure to inspire rounds of follow-the-leader, racing, combat and other hijinks that will build your skills as you log stick time.
These 16 jets are mission ready for your next session with AeroFly5.5.
ENDLESS OPTIONS
I have only had room to touch on AeroFly5′s innumerable features on these pages. To fully explore and utilize its capabilities could take many months of active exploration. For instance, two additional areas of RC with great appeal that many consider intimidating are flying from water and soaring, possibly because these realms demand more specialized models and specific flying sites. Access to a calm body of water or a high alpine slope is not a problem with AeroFly. You are just a few clicks away from many great adventures with numerous unique models for these disciplines. Following a seaplane across the wilderness as a bush pilot, flying under the Golden Gate Bridge, or simply relaxing on the dock while perfecting your water landings are just as accessible as practicing aerobatics at the local club field. Pilots of sailplanes and gliders are sure to find much to keep them busy. From flatland thermal sites to dynamic soaring in the rugged mountains, with hand and winch launches, along with scale aerotowing there is plenty to help you hone your skills at powerless flight.

CONCLUSION
Once considered a novelty, RC flight simulators are now an integral part of the hobby for anyone looking to advance their skills quickly and maintain them at the highest possible level. AeroFly 5 is a great way to enjoy this hobby when time, weather or other factors prevent you from getting out to the flying field. Precision aerobatics, 3D, scale, sport fun, helis, trainers, turbine jets, indoor, night flying and more, it is all here in AeroFly, waiting for you to sit back and explore. For about the cost of a new model, this latest offering is a tremendous value in virtual RC flying.

Links

AeroFly5, distributed by Ikarus USA

www.aerofly-usa.com (239) 540-0067