Top Gear

AeroflyFS 2021

Control interface is clean with adjustable transparency

The lack of real-world GA flying has forced many people to find creative ways to either keep skills sharp, or just enjoy the sensation of flying. Enter AeroflyFS 2021, which is the latest in a line from developer IPACS. It sits in a rather small world of mobile flight simulators, but offers ease of entry and a simple, yet pleasurable flying experience. 

What’s great, and piqued our interest here at FLYER, is that the 2021 version has been updated to include UK photographic scenery and around 180 of our airports and grass strips. 

Part of AeroflyFS’s strength lies in the fact that it has a ‘big brother’ simulator on the PC and Mac. The ‘FS’ series are slightly stripped back but retain the stunning visuals and believable flight characteristics of the full product. 

From a pilot’s perspective it offers noticeably convincing flight dynamics. If you open your Cessna’s window (or even door!) in-flight, you will feel the effect on the aircraft and watch the slip ball swing out. Pull too hard during a loop in the Extra 300 and it will flick, forget to apply the correct recovery techniques and that flick will become a spin. 

While losing some 3D scenery elements from the main simulator, the developers have kept highly detailed cockpits with clickable switches, buttons and touchable screens. With some aircraft you can start from cold, dark cockpits and bring them to life, just as you would in the real thing. The clickable cockpit functionality makes for a more immersive and accurate experience, as the on-screen control overlay only includes the basics like throttle, gear and flaps.

The list of flyable aircraft is varied, with many photogenic viewpoints and a comprehensive ‘co-pilot’ autopilot system that works on all aircraft and will follow your planned route, or your selected speed, altitude, heading and vertical speed. 

The current aircraft list includes: Airbus Helicopters EC135-T1, Robinson R22, Cessna 172, Beechcraft Baron 58, Learjet 45, Bombardier Dash-8 Q-400, Airbus A320, Airbus A380, Boeing 737-500, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-300ER, King Air C90 Gtx, Extra 330LX, Pitts S-2B, McDonnell Douglas F-18 and F-15E, Aermacchi MB-339, F4U Corsair, Lockheed P-38, Sopwith Camel, Bücker Jungmeister, Marganski Swift S1 and Schleicher ASG 29.

The initial download includes scenery covering California and Nevada, and users are offered a number of additional regions, including Switzerland, UK, Southern Florida, Utah, Colorado, plus a high-resolution version of California/Nevada. These additions are all free to download, which actually does a lot to justify the £9.99 cost of the app (available on Google Play and Apple App Store). There is a lot of flying to be done in these areas! These regions will also take up a significant amount of storage on your device with each one clocking in at four gigabytes. It is also worth noting that smaller devices make reading certain things quite tricky, (this test was carried out on a 2020 iPhone SE).

The UK scenery feels a lot like Flight Simulator X did with the first iteration of VFR photographic scenery. Down low the detail is lacking, but from 4,000ft and above it looks good – and don’t forget, we’re talking about a simulator on a phone that you can literally carry in your pocket and fire up at any time. A decent navigation planning system is included, which will let users plot routes over airfields, IFR waypoints, VORs and NDBs (some of which you may notice are no longer active in the ‘real world’).

The list of UK GA airfields is impressive. While some aren’t instantly recognisable, their inclusion should be commended. Places like Deanland, Manchester Barton, Eshott and Bodmin are included. When combined with the photographic scenery, most look very convincing (see if you can guess where the overhead screenshots are).

If your favourite airfield closed any time in the past 15 years, you might be in for a chance to visit it again. Bristol Filton, Chivenor in Devon and Plymouth are a few that still exist within AeroFlyFS. We’ll overlook this inaccuracy and view it more as a wishful desire for the reopening of UK airfields.

The price point may be at the higher end, but AeroFlyFS 2021 is a visually impressive and technically accurate piece of software that is beyond the gimmick some might expect from a mobile-based simulator. The bigger your screen the better the overall experience, but it offers hours of potential enjoyment in a much more accessible format than traditional flight simulation. Of course, we would all rather be flying for real…

Did you guess those airfield locations?
1. Gloucestershire
2. Compton Abbas
3. Brighton City



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