The Flare Path: Don’t Buy VirtualPilot3D

By Tim Stone on August 24th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Hello potential VirtualPilot3D, ProFlightSimulator, Flight Simulator Plus or FlightProSim purchaser! My name is Tim Stone. I’ve been a flight simmer for thirty years, and a flight sim critic for 4369 days, 9 hours, and 37 minutes. In all that time I don’t think I’ve ever loathed a piece of software as passionately as I loathe the game you are currently thinking about buying. If you can spare a moment I’ll explain why.

Six Good Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Buy VirtualPilot3D, ProFlightSimulator, Flight Simulator Plus or FlightProSim

1. VirtualPilot3D is actually FlightGear, a free (FREE!) open-source flight sim, developed over the course of the last 15 years by a band of dedicated, talented, and splendidly altruistic hobby developers. The shabby hijackers attempting to sell it to you under the VirtualPilot3D, ProFlightSimulator, Flight Simulator Plus or FlightProSim name have contributed nothing to this marathon endeavour. They seek only to profit and deceive.

2. The ‘official’ websites of VirtualPilot3D and its equally poisonous predecessors are scattered with clues to the trustworthiness and character of ‘the VirtualPilot3D team’. Amongst images used to advertise the sim are FSX and X-Plane screenshots, photographs masquerading as screenshots, and concept art cheekily pinched from the likes of Boeing. In their desperate attempt to convince you of VirtualPilot3D’s visual verisimilitude ‘Mark Duran’, ‘Ozil Aguirre’ and ‘John Irwin’ will purloin anything they take a fancy to – even entire FSX user videos.

 

3. They’ll also lie through their teeth on occasion. As this official X-Plane page explains, FAA certification doesn’t come easily. Even Mr Meyer’s magnum opus needs to be modified and combined with approved hardware before it can be used for real pilot training. FlightGear has been incorporated in expensive FAA certified simulator set-ups but to suggest that VirtualPilot3D is a government-approved training tool is poppycock plain and simple.

4. When Mark, Ozil, and John get tired of boasting about their sim’s extraordinary accomplishments, I have a sneaking suspicion they concoct satisfied customers to do the boasting for them. If Virtual LLC can put me in touch with Mr Tom Rosales of Midlothian or explain his striking similarity to one Bernd Lenz then I’ll happily withdraw this damaging accusation.

Assuming, of course, they can also explain how Victor Giles, an ‘AOL editor’ from Texas, came to share a face with a YMCA secretary from Westphalia, Germany…

…and shed light on how staggeringly identical identical twins Trey Godwin (Colorado) and Andrew Bundeff (North Carolina) ended up with different surnames.

5. FlightGear fans have been on the trail of the rebranders for years. (Most serious simmers are well aware of this scam.) One particularly dogged investigator may even have put a name to the cove behind the thicket of websites and depressingly high-profile advertising campaigns. It appears FlightGear isn’t the only project this open-source opportunist has sought to profit from.

Purchasing VirtualPilot3D isn’t just stupid, it helps a career cad misrepresent and parasitize other labours of love.

6. While rebranding and selling open-source software isn’t illegal Virtual LLC’s dubious marketing techniques and reluctance to mention FlightGear should make any sensible punter’s skin crawl. If talk of “over 200 different aircraft”, “over 25,000 real world airports” and “FREE lifetime updates” sound enticing then rather than lining the pockets of a freeloader (“$67. That’s a 50% saving if you order today!”) Flare Path recommends you pop along to www.FlightGear.org and download a gratis copy of the real McCoy.

Trust me when I say there’s never been a better time to try FlightGear! (Gosh, some of Virtual LLC’s snake-oil smarm seems to have rubbed off). This week the sim was boosted with an update that revamped random scenery placement, introduced seasonal and regional texture variation, overhauled flight dynamics (with a little assistance from JSBSim) and added subtle shadowing effects.

Though the latter development – Project Rembrandt - is still in the experimental stage, it’s worth enduring the odd glitch (expect a few opaque prop discs) to see window strut patterns slide across virtual panels and building/terrain shadows stretch as night approaches. X-Plane and FSX still have a definite edge when it comes to visuals, but in the right situation, the misused pretender is only an iteration behind.

 

 

The Flare Path Foxer

Back to basics today. A glass FP Flair Point filled with a stratified selection of Alum Bay sands to the first de-foxer to name the aircraft type and explain the topicality of this delightful image.

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59 Comments »

  1. ElvisNeedsBoats says:

    Is it the Spruce Moose? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3cdEIsXFJ4

  2. Julhelm says:

    No, it’s a Saunders-Roe Princess passenger flying boat.

    • SooSiaal says:

      Yes it is the princess, that had its first flight 60 years and 2 days ago..

      • JB says:

        And Princess Anne just celebrated her 60th earlier this month…

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I had not heard of this boat/plane until today, but it’s one of the most amazing looking aircraft I’ve ever seen. I wish all planes looked like that.

      • JB says:

        Likewise. I’d love to see the Princess up close, I’ll have to make do with my upcoming trip to RAF Hendon , at least I can get inside the Short Sunderland there. Not quite the same though =\

    • Fishbreath says:

      I’ve always wanted a big flying boat of the old school, but alas, I am not an eccentric billionaire.

    • distantlurker says:

      took me 20 minutes of frantic googling and when I came back, wiki link in hand, you.. you just knew didn’t you? how dare you Sir!

      on a related note, is it true the Americans wanted to buy them and make them nuclear powered planes?!

  3. trjp says:

    Ah, there aren’t many websites like that anymore…

    Oh how we will all miss things like “Buy Today and receive 3 extra copies for your family and pets” and “also included is a CD cleaning cloth – $50 value!!” and “But Now for your free mini Giraffe” etc. etc.

    Whoever is spending all that time tracking down this scumbag should probably be hunting around the markets of the world – he’ll be selling things with ‘Miracle’ and ‘Magic’ in the name and shouting “not £10 and not even £9″ a lot (in the local currency and language of course).

  4. Kaira- says:

    I wonder if you get the source code with VirtualPilot3D. If not, that is a license violation and a good reason to take them to court.

    • frightlever says:

      And if he IS including the source code and whatever other conditions are on the open source software then he’s well within his rights to sell it, AFAIK – IANAL. The deceptive advertising is a different issue.

      • Kaira- says:

        Well obviously if they give the source code and license etc etc there’s nothing FSF can or should do.

        And if VirtualPilot3D has made some modifications to the original source, they could be then incorporated back to the “main” tree.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Ah, but the blatant lying, that’s for the trading standards! :D

      • roryok says:

        IANAL. Never heard that one before. Sounds uncomfortable.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          I Am Not A Lawyer.

          Also, even if selling an open source project isn’t illegal, using people’s likenesses without prior consent and deliberately deceiving people using false advertisement probably are.

        • c-Row says:

          Apparently you missed that year’s keynote.

  5. scorcher24 says:

    This is actually going on for years. But nothing the FSF can do about it.
    It is just a dick move..

  6. Troll says:

    You´re being a bit hard on them I think. Scammers have kids to feed too…

    • sberg says:

      How dare you call them scammers?

      http://www.virtualpilot3d.eu/virtual-pilot-3d-scam

      Virtual Pilot 3D™ NEVER NOT SCAM…

      oops

      • Troll says:

        Oh sorry I missed that :/

        • trjp says:

          What language is that written in? The words are English but they’re not in any order I can fathom…

          • ArcaneSaint says:

            I believe this text may be written in a dialect known as “Googol translaet”, it’s a quite recent phenomenon. It resembles English is some aspects, such as the vocabulary, but it seems to use an entirely arbitrary system of grammar and tense. Linguists are currently studying it, hoping they might one day translate these words to English and discover the meaning behind them.

          • Prokroustis says:

            My eyes bleed…

          • Skabooga says:

            Well even if the selling of re-branded open-source software, the false advertising, and the misuse of likeness isn’t a crime, that grammar sure is.

          • Shodex says:

            This is my favourite one:

            “’World War 2nd’ has said that there was as effective as plane game. But of course it never does fake.”

            With testimonies from WWII, how could this possibly does fake?

      • Shooop says:

        Words can’t describe how I feel about that. But this gif comes very close.

        http://i1101.photobucket.com/albums/g436/lacry2/fxmacrogif-bahahaha.gif

      • Harlander says:

        “Virtual Pilot 3D is clearly a plane game.”

        Now that’s a quote for the box!

      • asshibbitty says:

        What’s happening here is they hope you’ll google “is *product* a scam?” and it’ll land you on that page. Or here: http://e-review.tv/virtual-pilot-3d-review-download-works-scam-or-legit/ I’m now thinking it may be connected to that pyment system they all use, most of the stuff on its marketplace is crap like this. Way too industrious for just some guy.

        • BubuIIC says:

          What the hell is that site? I don’t even… when the title reads: “Honest, Unbiased Product Reviews – Real Reviews by Real People”… something might be wrong here.
          And then they single-handedly violate every last web usability rule I can think of.

      • Mattressi says:

        I think this quote definitely sums up that link:

        “Virtual Pilot 3D™ NEVER NOT SCAM…”

      • brulleks says:

        “Fully adapted to real life…”

        I beg to differ.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Man, I’ve got 5 kids to feed.

  7. asshibbitty says:

    That guy has a bunch of similar sites it seems, like http://www.tedswoodworking-review.com for example. Turkish?

    edit: so today I learned about affiliate marketing. Wish I fucking hadn’t

  8. Llewyn says:

    Reply fail.

  9. max pain says:

    I love the wing flex on the last screenshot. Go FlightGear!

    • The Infamous Woodchuck says:

      Thats actually the Boeing 787 dreamliner, and thats not a flexing wing, thats the real fixed angle of its wings :)

      • Brun says:

        Indeed. Switching to composite materials does let you get rather fancy with shapes.

  10. mrmalodor says:

    Re-branding and selling open-source software that you did not create is NOT illegal? Why???

    • Zelius says:

      I was wondering the same thing. Shouldn’t they at least need permission from the original authors? Why isn’t that a copyright violation, even if the original software is available freely?

      • Kaira- says:

        It’s part of the copyleft and free software. You have a complete freedom to do as you please with them as long as you grant others the same freedoms. However, when you sell it you must also make the source code available.

      • pepper says:

        That all depends on the license under which the software is released. If its GPL(2, maybe 3?) then you are free to redistribute the software. But, any modification, and the source code itself must be freely availible to your customers. So there are a few pitfalls, and company’s have been punished for breaking the license in the past. I dont remember which product it was, but it had to do with a implementation of linux for routers.

        Ah, there you go!

        http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Cisco-sued-for-Linksys-GPL-violation/

        About the license:

        http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html

        So, if you could find a way to stop this company within the legal means then by all means contact the FSF(Free Software Foundation), they jump on company that violate the GPL like hungry sharks.

        EDIT: I think they also need to redistribute the GPL license with the product.

    • BubuIIC says:

      You can read this, where Richard Stallman discusses the problem: http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html

      Basically you can’t sell software licenses as you would with a commercial software but you can collect a distribution fee. This is often done with linux distributions shipped on CD. Or i.e. Joomla (the web framework) extensions are required to be GPL licensed but are sold by the developers regardless.
      But I think they must state the original authors of the software and include all source code licensed under GPL.

  11. Llewyn says:

    One good thing to come out of this for me – I’d never heard of FlightGear before, and now I have.

  12. Shodex says:

    Checkmate, Tim. They’ve addressed the FlightGear issue,
    http://www.virtualpilot3d.eu/virtual-pilot-3d-is-not-flightgear
    As you can see from this wonderfully written argument, you are clearly in the wrong. VirtualPilot3D is the only right choice to exit skies.

  13. x-jay says:

    This is on the website. No mention of flightgear. Seems source code is available on request. Someone request it! :D

    License:
    Please note the game, some content and images has been released under GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991 .

    Source code of these images, content and files available on request.

  14. LionsPhil says:

    Nicely covered, Mr. Stone.

  15. Durkonkell says:

    What a shame utter disgrace. Thank you for covering this, Mr. Stone.

    (Incidentally, I’m one of those people who really enjoys your articles but very rarely comments. We exist!)

  16. SpakAttack says:

    Good catch – What a bunch of scumbags!

  17. nihm says:

    I love investigative games journalism.

  18. Ruffian says:

    I would hope people wouldn’t buy anything from a website put together so obviously shoddily.

  19. mwoody says:

    Another bit to add to this story: I just ducked into my gmail spam folder, looking for a missing e-mail, and discovered a flood of advertisements for this crappy knockoff. These bastards are spamming on top of everything else.

  20. chhopsky says:

    Hadn’t heard of flightgear before this, downloading and getting back to my gaming roots. Man, I was all about flight sims. B17 Flying Fortress, F117A, F-15 Strike Eagle. Knights of the Sky AHHHH BEST

  21. Herbaceous says:

    Surely, even though the law doesn’t protect the distribution of the freeware, the blatant theft of identities for the customer reviews and the greatly manipulated images that misrepresent actual in-game footage, all add up to fraudulent marketing?

    Can’t this guy be arrested and charged/fined/executed using that proof alone?

    I really despair how the law works these days…