Great Planes RealFlight Drone w/InterLink Elite Review
Image Credit: Hobbico
Review by Adrian Apodaca, RealRCReviews Owner
- Comes with everything you need
- Included transmitter feels like a real transmitter
- Ability to rewind to before your crash
- Realistic flight characteristics for drones
- Fun challenges
- Tons of variables to play around with
- Compatible with major brands transmitters
- Low system requirements
- No ability to adjust camera angle on race style quad
- No native way to install on a Mac, read below for more Mac information
If you are hoping to get a drone this holiday season and have never flown an RC aircraft before, you should probably read this. If you bought one already and are still a bit nervous to fly it, use it for FPV or taking some video, it might be a good idea to read on also. Veteran pilots are likely already familiar with Real Flight since it is probably the most popular RC aviation simulator and always has a nice line-up of some of our Hobbico/Tower Hobbies favorites. New guys can rest assured that this simulator is from a solid company with a long, strong history.
In the Box:
Opening the box, you will find everything you need to get started.
• RealFlight Drone Flight Simulator Disc
• InterLink Elite Controller with Adapters for use with trainer jacks
• on most Futaba and all JR, Spektrum and Tower Hobbies systems
The requirements are pretty low in terms of hardware so this should work with your computer. If your computer is on the older side, you may have to adjust the quality settings, which even set to lower settings, still look good. I personally am running the software on a very new, top end iMac (yes a Mac, see below), running Windows 10, so it really looks great. Software-wise, you need to at least have Windows 7. Make sure you check the requirements against your system before purchasing though.
Mac owners… YES YOU CAN RUN THIS SOFTWARE! Most people say these sims are not Mac compatible… but that statement should have an asterisk by it. You can use this software and any other PC software by using Bootcamp (free from Apple) and purchasing Windows. You’ll need to partition your Mac and install Windows on the partition. You can then opt to start your computer in OSX or in Windows. Once in Windows, you can install this software like you would anything else. I personally already had the partition because I work from home from time to time and have to use specific PC software on occasion. It’s not as complicated as it may sound, so don’t be afraid of this workaround. That and you will never have to say “Dang, this software isn’t Mac compatible” about anything else ever again.
Those familiar with RealFlight, will find getting started as easy as usual. For the new folks, it’s a pretty simple affair also, pick an aircraft and a flying field and start flying. Spend some time browsing through the menus to see what kind of options you have. It will help you add variables later when you want to start challenging yourself.
I was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the flying characteristics of the drones in this simulator. Having flown a large variety of them myself, these are pretty accurately depicted. Other RC plane simulators have added a few drones to them, but none of them have felt very much like the real thing. You’ll find the larger camera platforms in this simulator to be very docile and controllable, so these are a good starting point. For all simulators, one of the biggest skills you’ll gain is learning the orientation of your aircraft and how to avoid confusing your control inputs when the aircraft is facing you… this is truly one of the cornerstone skills of successful RC flight.
So once you’ve buzzed around a little one of the camera platforms, you might want to change the view to FPV or Gimbal to get a view from the drone itself. If you bought or plan on buying a drone for filming purposes, you’ll want to master this kind of flight. A cool feature of this system is the knob on the upper right corner of the transmitter controls the movement of the camera up and down. There is also a switch to change the flight mode, from stability, to altitude hold, to acrobatic. Many of them are really NOT acrobatic in that setting, but a few, like the HeliMax Voltage 500 are really crazy acrobatic. With that one, I like changing the camera to CHASE and getting more of a video game feel as zip through the obstacles on the flying field. The chase cam is not a realistic part of RC aviation, but it can serve as a way to expand the fun between real practice.
With the amount of obstacles on each flying field, you can have a good deal of fun practicing fpv racing and also getting a good feel for your depth perception. One of the biggest surprises in RC aviation is thinking you are far away from an object you are passing, only to find yourself slamming against it as you try to pass it. When you find yourself getting better to the different ways of flying the drones, you may want to start the challenge mode. In the challenge mode, you are given precision tasks to complete in an allotted amount of time. The first few were a breeze, but even I found myself struggling with some of the latter challenges. These are fun and frustrating (in a good way). Each time you crash, you feel pretty thankful that it was just a virtual drone, and not the drone you spent a ton of money on. I never crashed my camera quad, but because I was so new to the idea of sending a GoPro up on an expensive drone, I was really nervous the first 20 or so flights, I wish this software had been out back then!
That said, if you are new to drones, your best bet is to grab this drone simulator from Tower Hobbies using their coupon codes (posted on their site), the $129 price tag immediately drops down to $116. While you’re at it, and I hate to sound like an advertisement, but grab a Dromida Vista UAV $79.98, our review on it can be found here. If you get them together, you can use a higher level discount code and get $24 off your purchase… $185 for a bunch of virtual drones and a real one is a great start.
Again, sorry to sound so infomercially (guys that know me know how much that drives me crazy), but this is good, accurate software that you can learn a lot from, and the Vista is a great platform to get some real world experience before plunging in to the high dollar stuff. RealFlight Drone definitely gets our seal of approval on this one. So get flying!