Reid, John


Flight simulators have become an integral part of RC flying. They are excellent tools for those who are just learning how to fly, and they save users money by allowing them to crash virtual airplanes instead of real models!

In addition to their usefulness for beginners, flight sims are a boon to experienced fliers who use them to keep their thumbs nimble during the cold winter months when outside flying isn’t practical. Expert pilots also use sims to learn new maneuvers and to practice their routines for competition. One of the newest, the Reflex XTR, is now available from MRC, and it’s one that pilots of all skill levels will enjoy.


The Reflex XTR flight sim was designed using photographs of actual flying fields and model aircraft that you can select to fly. The package includes a CD with the program on it and an interface USB adapter cable for your favorite transmitter. Using your own transmitter on a sim gives you the same control feel for the simulated model as you have for your real model.

After you’ve installed the program, simply plug your transmitter into the computer using the interface USB adapter cable, and you’ll be ready to go. When you start the Reflex XTR program, a pop-up menu asks you to center all trims and control sticks on the transmitter for calibration. When you’ve done this, the program opens with a picture of a plane sitting on the runway; it is now ready for your flight inputs. Before taking off, be sure to assign the transmitter channels to their proper control surfaces by going to the radio menu and selecting Assign Channels or pressing the F7 key.

Once you’ve started to program, you can use the extensive instruction “manual”; just click on the Help button at the top of the screen. Formatted like a Web page, the manual is extremely easy to navigate and can also be printed if you want a hard copy.


After I had loaded and launched the program, I was immediately impressed by the scenery and airplane graphics. Because of their realistic shadows and lighting, I almost felt as though I were standing at a flying field at midday and ready for my first flight. I started the simulation by pressing the F4 key, and the aircraft’s ground handling also closely duplicated reality. If your plane rolls off the runway’s short grass, you’ll feel additional drag on the wheels as the plane is slowed by long grass. Once airborne, the sim plane’s flight characteristics are very true to what you expect when you’re actually flying a model; when you fly around the field, the direction of the light changes as it . does during an actual flight. all of the objects in the scenery interact with the model, so collisions are a real possibility if you fly too close to them. You can also fly around and behind ground objects.

Because of the graphics’ high demands on your PC, some computers might not be able to run the program smoothly with the photo-based backgrounds (see the “Specifications” sidebar). If your computer balks, switch to the Reflex scenery with Selectable Pilot Position. This offers a wide selection of variables such as rain, fog, clouds, sun and sunset that you can add to your flight sim. You can even adjust the length of the grass, the density of the trees, the type of terrain, the number of structures and some orientation aids (see the next section).


The Reflex XTR simulator offers a vast selection of learning tools to help new pilots advance their flying skills. Novices can first concentrate on developing the hand/eye coordination necessary for controlling RC aircraft without risking an actual RC aircraft, thereby saving time, money and “the agony of defeat.” The Reflex XTR accurately reproduces the handling characteristics of a model as it taxis over a variety of surfaces, e.g., short grass, pavement, tall grass. If you aren’t careful to apply the right power/elevator combination, the plane will nose over.

For many new pilots, flight training at the field begins with the instructor’s handling the takeoff and getting the plane to a safe altitude before turning control over to the student. The Reflex simulator can duplicate this by having the plane begin at a specific altitude every time. As the novice develops his flying skills, he can change that to make the plane start at the end of the runway so he can practice taking off. To practice landings, you can program the plane to start at a designated altitude and distance away from the runway and then practice landing approaches repeatedly until you perfect them. With a simple click of the mouse button, you can have a dotted line trace a typical landing approach through the sky-a great teaching aid.


The Reflex XTR offers typical weekend pilots an easy way to hone their skills without having to leave the house. There are a number of flight-training extras such as flying into a strong wind and into glaring sunlight and having to deal with engine failure. Better to learn on a sim than to crash your model! Among the wide variety of simulated weather conditions, I found that the fog was as real as it could be.

The ability to practice new maneuvers is probably one of the best reasons to use a flight sim, and the Reflex XTR offers a good selection of acrobatic planes. To this end, the program offers two training modes:

* Torque Training. This starts the plane in a vertical hover and lets you focus on one control (throttle, for example) while the computer takes over all the other controls. When you’ve mastered keeping your plane in one position, you can add another control. As your hovering skills improve, you can continue to add controls until you can hover in one spot using throttle, elevator, rudder and ailerons.

After you’ve mastered the torque hover, you can move on to the second training mode:

* Promenade. In this mode, you seem to be walking around the plane and viewing it from all possible angles. This requires different control inputs as your position changes. I found this training mode quite difficult.


Pilots who compete will truly appreciate the accuracy and feel of the Reflex XTR. You can practice planned flight maneuvers repeatedly until they are perfect and vary the weather so that you’ll learn to fly in any condition. You can even design a plane to look like your competition aircraft, so you’ll have the advantage of practicing with a plane that behaves and feels like your actual model.

You can adjust all of the airplanes’ characteristics, physical parameters and general data, such as the efficiency of the ailerons, elevator and rudder and lift performance; you can even adjust engine sounds and how each model looks. Because you can alter everything on the simulated aircraft, it is relatively easy to design a virtual plane that performs just like your real competition model.


MRC’s Reflex XTR flight simulator has something for everyone, regardless of flying ability. For helicopter and fixed-wing fliers, the Reflex XTR offers breakthrough technology that takes virtual flight training to a new level of sophistication.

MRC (732) 225-2100;

Copyright Air Age Publishing Aug 2004

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