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.