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July 28, 2016

Toss Out Your PC. The Best Flight Sim Experience is On Your Phone

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By: Phil Derner Jr.
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Swept wings, afterburners lit, cruising past San Diego Airport. I may or may not have accomplished this from in the bathroom. (iPad Pro)
Swept wings, afterburners lit, cruising past San Diego Airport. I may or may not have accomplished this from in the bathroom. (iPad Pro)
Note: The following post is NOT a sponsored article, but a genuine review. The author received no compensation or free access of any kind in trade for the below. All illustrations are screenshots from the author’s use.

I spend so much time working, all across multiple devices (Galaxy Note 5, iPhone 5, iMac, MacBook Pro, iPad Pro), that I made it my New Year’s Resolution to give myself proper rest and play time for the betterment of my own health and so that I may be able to be more efficient when I am working. Obviously, one thing I turned to during play time was video games. Because I need more time in front of a screen, right?

I did some research into aviation games (because, again, I needed more aviation in my life, too, right?), and quickly came upon the Rortos series of flight games. I downloaded Carrier Landings for free and was impressed by the graphics and accuracy of the game on my Galaxy Note 5. I quickly spent the $10 for the upgrade to Pro, and still, this game cannot become boring.

The aircraft types were the first thing that made me fall in love with it. I could adjust the swept wings of an F-14, toy with VTOL action on a Harrier or F-35, or even lumber around the skies in an A-7 Corsair, replaying scenes in my head from The Final Countdown movie I grew up watching over and over on VHS. With a couple add-on options, you have 14 real aircraft to choose from.

Just landing a C-130 on an aircraft carrier. No big deal. (I've never successfully landed it)

Just landing a C-130 on an aircraft carrier. No big deal. (I’ve never successfully landed it)

The aircraft controls made it a ton of fun in itself. Holding onto my device horizontally, the motions of rotating and twisting my phone to fly an aircraft, the phone’s sensitivity and response to my inputs being so perfect in doing so, is what gives you that feel of realism.

The gameplay options give you just that…options. Primarily landing on air bases and aircraft carriers, you can also play challenges they present to you such as flying as close to something on the ground as possible, racing to takeoff and land in the fastest time and more. You can do quick landings or even open up a Flight Simulator.

The Flight Sim give you options to literally fly to many hundreds of major airports around the world, conducting mid-air refueling to make it from Hong Kong to Ireland if you so desire. In real life, I fly between San Diego and JFK almost weekly, so what’s most logical thing to do? Of course, let the simulator load realtime weather and land an F-16 into the airport I’m descending into (only when I’m in a passenger seat, not the cockpit, of course!).

The missions were fun, but I decided to then go ahead and download AirFighters Pro, a more combat-oriented version of the game. Dogfights and ground attack missions using different aircraft, it is so much fun and impressive to have a handheld version of games I grew up with on consoles, oddly now with better graphics and something I can play on the subway.

This 4-holer has an altimeter failure. Thankfully visibility is good!

This 4-holer has an altimeter failure. Thankfully visibility is good!

On the airline side of things, Rortos offers a game called Extreme Landings, which uses real aircraft designs and features, but not their real names (they totally have a Concorde, which they call “R-145S”). From a private jet to a super jumbo, you fly similar challenges and also receive a Flight Sim option. One fun part is that the game will give you mechanical issues to deal with in flight, using various cockpit panels to do things such as shut an engine, valves or just do some stick and rudder work to wrangle your aluminum beast back to the ground safely.

I recent obtained my iPad Pro, and when I downloaded these games, I saw the graphics were even better than on my smaller (smaller when compared to full tablets) Galaxy Note 5. The same great motion control, but on a bigger screen.

But last week brought me my favorite part of the entire Rortos series. I was playing both of the above games and wondered why I had never noticed anyone make an air show game, where you can fly your aircraft in an air show and get points for properly conducting various maneuvers. By freak odds I saw that Rortos had already done this, with the Blue Angels Aerobatics Sim game. Learning maneuvers, scoring points for accuracy and completion, all at real air show venues. It is a ton of fun, but what’s best is what this game accomplishes for aviation.

Controlling the Blue Angels through maneuvers, trying to keep it as accurate as possible and rack up points is a ton of fun.

Controlling the Blue Angels through maneuvers, trying to keep it as accurate as possible and rack up points is a ton of fun.

The game is officially licensed by the United States Navy. The game has a calendar of air shows, and the realism in the gameplay of the various venues serves a purpose beyond being just for fun. It is a powerful marketing and recruitment tool for young people to participate and engage in aviation. Promoting a love and passion for aviation, getting kids to tell their parents to take them to an air show, and possibly inspire future pilots. Smart move by the US Navy for getting involved in this!

After having played Microsoft Flight Simulator for years, having had it slow down my computer and being 10% fun and 90% pain in the ass, it blows my mind that a more simple, yet still incredibly in-depth, fun and challenging game, can exist on a mobile device that I can play anytime.

Snapped rudder on this jumbo while descending into Raleigh. Will I make it?

Snapped rudder on this jumbo while descending into Raleigh. Will I make it?

I didn't make it.

I didn’t make it.

The HUD view is a lot of fun for accurate, full view flying.

The HUD view is a lot of fun for accurate, full view flying.

Phil Derner founded NYCAviation in 2003. A lifetime aviation enthusiast that grew up across the water from La Guardia Airport, Phil has airline experience as a Loadmaster, Operations Controller and Flight Dispatcher. He currently runs NYCAviation and performs duties as an aviation insider for the news media. You can reach him by email or follow him on Twitter.


  • Robertdiaz123

    This is a fun game, I’ve used it before. But if you want a better simulated experience, take a look at Infinite Flight. It is by far the best simulator on the app stores and has a dedicated community!