Keeping your flying skills honed and ramping up your flight experiences is a great way to gain confidence in yourself as a pilot.
While you have a bit of downtime, you should still put in a few hours of practice, even if you cannot get to a physical aircraft.
That’s where the best home flight simulator comes in and you can make it as realistic and immersive as you want.
Without the right home flight simulator, you may be losing out on some precious opportunities to really test yourself in the cockpit.
If you have aspirations towards flying certain aircraft or trying specific airfields then you should at least try to gauge what it would feel like to fly it in a realistic setup.
Practice makes perfect and with the best home flight simulator, you can truly test yourself against the most challenging of flying situations.
That does mean some homework on the components you need which will depend on the aircraft you fly.
There is a range of bundles and packages that suit various flying techniques and aircraft so you should choose wisely.
Best For Training
Best For Immersion
Best For Simplicity
Best For Training
With a single 32-inch screen, you can take in the forward view and still have room to spare.
A 22-inch instrument and cockpit display are well-merited when it comes with rudder pedals, a throttle quad, and a yoke which all mount to the frame.
You can also enjoy the curriculum that comes included which can help any training pilot or student learn the ways of flight leveraging.
The huge range of airfields and aircraft gives this flight simulator hours of enjoyment and the chance to test yourself with some challenging scenarios.
Those hours spent should be done comfortably and a cushioned Pilot In Command seat almost guarantees a realistic feel to your flying.
Fully immerse yourself in a six-speaker 5.1 Surround Sound setup with all the noises you would expect to hear in the cockpit.
- Huge 32-inch Screen - Stunning HD allows you to see the forward view in awesome detail
- Comfortable Pilot In Command Seat - Make sure you have a few hours to spare as the seat is so comfortable
- Range Of Aircraft And Airfields - Choose from every available airfield with over 50 aircraft, even gliders, helicopters, and drones
- Included Curriculum - Ideal for training pilots and students who would want to learn the principles of flight leveraging yet similar to a video game
- Lack Of Built-In Motion - While this looks like a video game, the lack of built-in motion would be warranted for that realistic experience
Also Available At Stempilot
Best For Immersion
Another home flight simulator that complements all the hardware you may already have is the GTR Simulator – GTM Motion Flight Simulator Cockpit.
Though it could be used for racing simulation, the realistic 2DoF motion platform frame with a seat gives you the immersive experience you need to feel like you are in the cockpit.
Enjoy the motion too as the platform even replicates movements you should feel in the sky by applying pressure to your body.
It should not be uncomfortable though with padding and a seat that slides but also tilts.
This is the ideal setup for Logitech software with predrilled mounts for all the devices you need.
Once you have the powder-coated steel frame up and running, use the monitor mounts for three 39-inch screens.
- 2DoF Motion Platform Frame With Seat - The immersion is complete with an induced motion to replicate movements in the sky which are applied by pressure to the body
- Comfortable Padding - Enjoy your hours of simulation with a seat that can slide forwards and back, even tilt
- Racing Simulator Compatibility - You could use the same setup as a racing simulator too
- Monitor Mounts - With the potential to hold three 39-inch screens for a full visual experience
- Logitech Compatible Holes - You may need to drill some further holes if you use different hardware
Also Available At GTR Simulator
Best For Simplicity
Having the right seat can be ideal for completing your home flight simulator setup.
The Playseat Air Force Flight Simulator has been developed with pro pilots and other flight simulator enthusiasts to bring a realistic experience.
The powder-coated tubular steel frame is both strong yet lightweight and comes equipped with a high-tension system to mimic the intensity of flying.
If you have limited space in your home then this might be all you need from a pilot seat that proves comfortable and durable.
Find your right position too with a reclining feature and an adjustable side-mounted lever.
The seat is easy to set up and compatible with PC, PlayStation 3, and 4, as well as Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
No matter which platform you use, the one you sit on should be easy to store and the Playseat Air Force Flight Seat is just that.
- Powder Coated Tubular Steel Frame - A frame that is strong and lightweight with a high-tension spring and wire system for added intensity
- Comfortable Durability - With top-quality vinyl material, this seat should last for years no matter how many hours you use it for
- Easy Storage - The fold-down system means that the seat and setup can be easily put away in a tight spot
- Lack Of Motion Capability - This is simply the seat with mounts and a top-quality frame so lacks the motion capability that comes with a lot of home flight simulators
Also Available At Playseat
Best For Cockpit Chassis
If you already have the hardware you need then get the right chassis for that top-quality frame design.
The Volair Sim has pre-drilled mounting locations for all the accessories you may desire including the flight yoke, switch panel, radio panel, and a variety of instrument panels.
Not only that but there is compatibility for either a single 50-inch monitor or the full setup of three 32-inch monitors.
Feel free to add your favorite pedals with an adjustable base that can fit Thrustmaster TFRP, Logitech, Ruddo, and CH Products.
A fully-adjustable articulating keyboard and mouse tray are essential items.
One of the few things lacking, apart from the hardware, is a set of armrests but you may prefer the setup without them.
- Screen Compatibility - You can use the setup for either three 32-inch monitors or one 50-inch monitor to suit your ideal cockpit
- Pre Drilled To Fit Hardware - Little is needed to get the frame design ready for use as it is already made for aviation hardware
- Adjustable Pedal Base - Find your ideal pedals as you can choose from a wide range
- Articulating Keyboard And Mouse Tray - For anyone wanting to simulate a flight, having a fully adjustable keyboard with a mouse tray and essential
- Lack Of Armrests - For an essential aspect of comfortable sitting, you would feel obliged to buy your armrests separately
Also Available At Volair Sim
Best For Customized Simulation Rigs
For true flight simulation with minimal fuss, you want a yoke system that you can just plug in and play.
The Logitech G X52 H.O.T.A.S. Pro Flight Control System is adept and precise should you want to fly private planes or commercial airlines.
There are 25 programmable buttons with switch positions to get your setup just the way you want it. Even create your profile with their range of downloadable software.
The Pro-Grade Yoke is the real star of the show with a stainless steel shaft offering realistic bearings and smooth control.
For multi-engine aircraft, you even use the Throttle Quadrant for advanced control. The throttle is adjustable so you can tailor it to suit just how you fly.
A dual-spring centering mechanism feels like the real deal as it moves back to its neutral position as soon as you let it go.
- Custom Profiles - Use the downloadable software to make your profiles and interactions with the multi-function LCD
- Plug And Play - The setup is ready to be used with Microsoft Flight Simulator without too much time setting up
- Adjustable Throttle - You can dial up or down the throttle’s resistance to suit your flying
- Dual-Spring Centering Mechanism - The joystick will return to the neutral position once you release it
- Rudder Pedals Sold Separately - Some users have noted that the setup lacks rudder pedals which could add some significant realism
Also Available At Logitech
Best Home Flight Simulator Buying Guide
Finding the right home flight simulator setup can make a real difference to your training as a pilot and for any downtime when you simply want to try a specific airfield or aircraft.
You could want to try how flying a certain aircraft may feel but most software can only go so far.
The comfortable seat, the complete cockpit chassis, or the most ideal yoke system can make the experience seem so realistic.
The amount of space you have in your living space can also make your choice that bit easier.
If you only have room for a single monitor, make sure that the mount can fit a large one. You may already have the chassis and simply need the right yoke system to complete it.
For the purists out there, motion capabilities and adjustable settings can take the immersion up a notch.
As well as having the experience of a cockpit, you should also have the capability to feel like you are up in the air.
That means built-in motion that can mimic movements in the sky so you will know just what to expect.
A three-dimensional movement can allow you to fully immerse yourself in the roll, pitch, and yaw that you could experience during real flight time.
This could be achieved by applying pressure to your body via the seat so your muscles are stimulated, just as they would be if the sky had moved the plane as you were controlling it.
Such an experience would help you understand what it takes to fly smoothly and to have complete control.
While the seat is all-important and being able to have a forward view from multiple screens is helpful yet so are the foot controls.
Having rudder pedals on your seat can be a crucial factor in learning how you should position your body.
This works in tandem with the seat so having the right length and reach is a crucial factor to understand which features of your setup you need to adjust until it feels like you can stay in the correct position for hours.
Number Of Monitors
A lot of home flight simulator setups come with the option of a single monitor mount, in which case a 50-inch screen should suffice.
However, if you want the all-enveloping experience, you should opt for two or even three screens.
A lot of setups will come with monitor mounts and some can hold three 32 to 39-inch screens.
You should still have room for your various displays including a sizable instrument and cockpit display.
The number of displays can all add to the realism so you should ensure that you have the right space to mount them.
This could also include the radio panel and switch panel which could prove to be crucial aspects of your simulation.
The size of your monitors may depend on the cockpit you are used to. For instance, flying a Cessna will be largely reduced to what you can expect in a commercial airliner.
Then again, you could simply want to surround yourself with as many monitors to create the realistic and immersive experience that you desire with limited distractions.
Three monitors that are each upward of 30 inches should suffice though if you want a single monitor then look at 50 inches as a benchmark.
You should be prepared to dedicate yourself to plenty of hours of home flight simulation which means finding a comfortable seat.
High-quality vinyl should help for durability yet the adjustable settings are also essential to make sure you find your correct position with the right posture.
If you have the rest of your chassis and components already set up then a Playseat Air Force may be all you need.
Those adjustable settings should include tension adjustments as a must. The cockpit seat can have a crucial role to play in the built-in motion and should work with the frame.
You should also look at buying armrests as some setups do not see the need though you might if you are used to them in the cockpit.
You should get used to using your joystick as this could be the most crucial component of all to ensure some steady flying.
One with a 3D twist can add to the realism though you may prefer a lock. In either case, the joystick should be accurate and a precision centering mechanism should be included.
If you do want to improve your control then the constant spring force on both the X and Y axis is essential.
Find the joystick that has the right number of commands that you can program.
It should be versatile for hundreds of them yet you may only want a couple of specific ones depending on the aircraft you are used to flying.
The joystick should also work well with the yoke and throttle to let you experience the different elements that are required for controlling a variety of aircraft.
A stainless steel shaft and the most precise of bearings can make the yoke on your simulator feel pretty damn close to the real thing.
With the joystick and throttle, quickly enough you can gain the right feel for your pitch and flaps with a variety of controls.
Best Home Flight Simulator - FAQ's
Do The US Military Use Flight Simulators?
Yes, the Army, Navy, and Air Force all use flight simulators when they need to train their pilots.
They can use the setups for learning how to recover in an emergency, how to fly in battle, or simply how to coordinate their air support along with ground operations.
These flight simulators are not widely available as the military will use hardware that is developed themselves with the help of some third-party vendors.
Do Pilots Use Virtual Reality (VR) To Train Pilots?
They do. You may have thought that flight simulators are immersive enough but the latest in VR technology is being used by pilots and the military as part of their very own training systems.
The use of VR is known to teach flying skills in challenging situations yet remains wholly safe.