X-plane is a series of flight simulators developed by Laminar research.
It was first released in 1995 and has been in constant development. There is also an excellent support base and users are invited to participate in beta-testing.
The strongest point of X-plane is the flight model. Also it is easy to create your own scenery and aircraft, development tools are supplied with the simulator.
A free demo can be tried at https://www.x-plane.com/
If you have purchased the sim via steam it automatically updates to the latest version.
It is not necessary to install all the global scenery, for example, if you only fly in Europe, you don’t have to install Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas.
In steam, find the properties for X-plane, the DLC tab, and you can check or un-check which global scenery is installed.
Note that via steam you can install add-ons, called DLC. However you can also still install add-ons purchased on the developers own website or from freeware sources.
X-plane is performance heavy and may not run well on laptops or low-end pc’s, when first launching the sim, you will see a scenic overflight of a busy airport. If it runs smooth, enjoy the sim and skip this performance section,
However if your PC is starting to sweat and that scenic ride looks more like a scary accident waiting to happen to your PC, there are a few performance sliders you can adjust to improve performance. First thing, just set all sliders all the way to the left, and see if your PC is up to the task. Then you can try the sliders, one step at the time and see how that setting affects your PC’s performance.
Note that with texture quality, you can see the MB of textures loaded. Try to set this slider when running your heaviest aircraft at the busiest airport during sunset. Then it can only get better from there on.
As with any sim, a high frame rate is paramount, but unlike FSX, low performance will not result in lower frame rates, but rather it will slow down time to keep an acceptable frame rate.
In an extreme case, when your performance is low, you can still fly at 30 frames/second, but it will take twice as long as usual to fly the approach. the you watch the clock and see the seconds hand going really slow…. you know you’ve gone too far with those performance sliders 🙂
In the latest version of X-plane, joystick mapping has been greatly improved. you can now move an axis and assign a command from a drop-down menu.
The same with buttons, click a button on your joystick, see which one highlights, click the Edit box and select a command from the list. you can also use search phrases for example search ‘flaps’, click on ‘Flaps down a notch’ and your joystick button is mapped.
After you have setup your joystick, you can customise the setup per aircraft.
For example, open the glider aircraft. It has no engine so throttle is a useless axis.
On the bottom of the joystick page it says Active Profile [User Profile]
Click on the drop down menu and pick ‘Save as new profile’.
Now you can assign the speed brake to the throttle axis of your joystick.
Yet when you revert back to the Cessna, the axis is again used for the throttle.
Learn to walk before you can fly.
View controls are a bit different than in other sim’s. here’s a few pointers:
- Switch views with [Shift] and [1-0]
- Shift-2 Flyby view
- Shift-4 Outside view
- Shift-7 2d cockpit view
- Shift-9 3d cockpit view
- hold the right mouse button to pan around. scroll wheel to zoom.
- arrow keys to move around (move your head in the cockpit)
- Control + numbad numbers to store a viewpoint.
- numpad numbers to quickly access a viewpoint.
So; get into your favourite aircraft and adjust the seat till it’s snug
- press Shift-9 to access the virtual cockpit, use the mouse and arrow keys to position your eye reference until you are happy. Press Control-Num1 to store that position.
- Use the arrow keys and mouse to look closely at the overhead panel, Press Control-Num8 to store it.
- Press Shift-4 to have a look outside. use the mouse to pan around, press control-num9 to store it.
- press num1 to return to the pilot view, press NUM8 to look at the overhead panel, etc.
You can store up to 9 view positions, think about the co-pilot seat or a window view, it’s up to you.
Now one feature I really like, you can ‘walk’ in and around your aircraft. start in the virtual cockpit (shift-9) and walk forward or backwards with , and . keys. hold the right mouse button to aim where you walk. you can run by also holding shift.
Go ahead and have a closer look at the landing gear, don’t forget to kick the tires!
Starting a flight
When you select an aircraft from the menu, click Customise. on the right hand lower corner of the next screen you see a tick box for starting with engines running or not.
In the list with locations, find your favourite airport (search box). in the top right corner click customise. now you can select a starting position either from the ramp or a runway.
once the aircaft is on the tarmac, hold the mouse at the top right corner of the screen and select the droplet icon to open the map.
on the map you can see where you are, click on your aircaft icon to drag it around (slewing). or throw it in the air by sliding the altitude up. don’t forget to add some speed to or you’ll stall!
you can select any radio beacon on the map and even conveniently press the button to tune the radios for you.
To tune an ILS you must set the MODE to IFR low Enroute. If you press the ILS Approach button, a new flight is started and your aircraft positioned at the ILS. Great for practising your landings!
Xplane.org is the main portal for finding add-ons (freeware and payware).
Here are my most recommended freeware add-ons for X-plane
Better Pushback by Skiselkov
This plugin will allow you to plan a pushback maneuvre. there is a nicely animated tug with a driver and voices that match the region.
- Download Better pushback here
- In the Github list, click the betterpushback.zip to download the plugin
- unzip the file and copy the ‘BetterPushback’ folder to the plugins folder
- X:\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\X-Plane 11\Resources\plugins
- Start x-plane, in the top menu bar click on
- Plugins/Better pushback/Pre-plan pushback
- Move the ghost aircraft with the mouse, scroll wheel to rotate, drag left mouse to move the view point, left click to place, enter to complete.
- When the doors are closed, call the tug driver to do the job:
- Plugins/Better pushback/Start pushback
- It will take a minute or so to connect the tug, and will tell you when ready.
- Release the parking brake [b] to start the push. enjoy the show!
NOAA weather downloads the actual weather and sets X-plane accordingly. Always fly with real world weather. (you can still switch it off to practice low IMC on a sunny day).
- Download pyton script interface here
- Download NOAA weather plugin here
- Extract the pythoninterface folder to the plugins folder
- X:\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\X-Plane 11\Resources\plugins
- In the same plugins folder, create a new folder called PythonScripts
- copy the content of the noaa weather .zip file to the pythonScrips folder
- Find the settings in x-plane/Plugins/XP NOAA Weather/Configuration
That should get you going for now. I hope you find this useful. Let me know by leaving a comment or drop an email to say hi! at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bye for now!