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Phoenix R/C V5 Flight Simulator from Runtime Games Ltd./Horizon Hobby

By Don Coe
Published: September 15, 2014
Phoenix R-C V5 Flight  Simulator
Product: Flight simulators have been around for a long time, and the Phoenix R/C unit has always ranked high. The new Phoenix 5 continues that tradition. Horizon Hobby offers a software-only version or a version with software plus a Spektrum DX4e flight controller. The DX4e is a fully functional 2.4-GHz transmitter that can be used with many “bind-and-fly” airplanes, helis and quads offered by Horizon.

The 10-by-12-by-5-inch, full-color product box is eye-catching and offers a great deal of information about the Phoenix 5. Inside are surprisingly few items: A DX4e transmitter with four AA batteries, a USB connection cable and the Phoenix software CD. There are no instructions for installing the flight simulator anywhere on or in the packaging.

A 71-page user’s manual, available at ww.phoenix-sim.com, will answer most customer questions. Given the full range of features, aircraft and flying field options, downloading and printing the manual is worth the effort.

Performance: Following the software installation, the calibration of the transmitter/flight controller is the first and perhaps most important step. Phoenix is compatible with a huge number of transmitters. Some makes do require a special USB adapter, which is available from Horizon. During the calibration process, it’s critical that the throttle stick and all trim levers are in the middle position. Once calibration is completed the user can jump in, select an aircraft, pick a flying field and start flying. It’s that simple.

Phoenix offers 28 2-D flying sites ranging from grass strips to water and snow-covered landscapes; from an indoor gym to a night-flying site; and even international sites such as Stonehenge. There are four 3-D sites where the pilot can climb into the cockpit of the airplane and fly through the Alps, over lake-covered highlands and even over the desert at sunset. In addition to choosing a flying site, the user can designate wind conditions, set a landing target and invite “buddies” to further enhance the flying experience.

Choosing among the 150 available aircraft could be a daunting task, but Phoenix provides several options to sort them by class, style, experience level, type of power and manufacturer. Navigating the aircraft lists might cause confusion for some, but it’s fairly straightforward: Simply click on a triangle along the left edge of the list, which either expands or contracts your choices in a given category.

The View function manages how the pilot sees the aircraft and field; various on-screen “widgets” display altitude, airspeed, etc., as well as a number of toolbars. The Camera menu controls how Phoenix displays the model being flown. If chosen, it will automatically zoom in to keep the aircraft in view when at a distance. In Normal View, the camera is positioned at the pilot’s shoulder. The camera will pan left and right, keeping the aircraft in view at all times. The Keep Ground In View option displays the ground under the aircraft. This function is helpful for beginning pilots to maintain orientation to the airstrip. The Free Look option mimics the movement of the pilot’s head. There are two camera options that are grayed out: Chase and Cockpit.
Although it’s not mentioned in the user’s manual, these can only be used with the 3-D airfields.

Phoenix does not limit the Training function to novice pilots. Although there are plenty of videos and techniques to satisfy beginners, experienced pilots can learn advanced airplane and helicopter maneuvers as well.

The Competition and Multiplayer functions are for experienced pilots only. Although Phoenix 5 operates as a full-function flight simulator without them, these functions do provide additional fun and excitement for serious pilots.

Some Phoenix users may have aspirations of creating their own aircraft or flying field. A companion software product called Phoenix Builder is provided at no extra cost just for this purpose.

Marketing: Phoenix R/C V5 aims at the full range of R/C pilots, from beginners to combat-crazed Internet competitors. Experienced pilots can use it to improve their skills without risking an expensive airplane. They can also safely try something new, such as gliders, helicopters or quad-rotor aircraft.

Based on personal experience, novice pilots can use flight simulators such as Phoenix to master sufficient skills to fly real model aircraft with little or no additional training. The investment in Phoenix V5 is money well spent, and the DX4e can also be used in conjunction with a variety of BNF aircraft available from Horizon.

Finally, consider pitching this to an experienced pilot who is looking to purchase a new aircraft. If it’s one of the 150 included in Phoenix V5, the customer can test-fly it and compare it to similar models before making a purchase.

VITAL STATS
Product: Phoenix R/C V5 Flight Simulator
Maker: Runtime Games Ltd.
Stock number: RTM5000 (software), RTM50R4400 (software and DX4e)
MSRP: $149.99 (software), $179.99 (software and DX4e)
Availability: Horizon Hobby

BOTTOM LINE
• High quality
• Realistic, detailed graphics
• Satisfying for novices and pros