Want to practice flying, but can't make it to the airport? Fire up your computer and run a flight simulator. X-Plane, a favorite among aviation diehards, lets you take command of dozens of realistically modeled real-world planes, from a tiny bush plane to the Space Shuttle, and fly them around in a photorealistic version of the planet. The aircrafts' behavior is based on continuous calculations of the physical forces acting on each of its elements, so a plane doesn't even have to be real: You can design your own airplane using a built-in application and see how it flies. Companies like Precision Flight Controls sell ersatz cockpit controls and wraparound displays turn the simulator into a surprisingly realistic rendition of an actual flight experience.
Gear of the Year
The best tools, tech, and toys of 2013.
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