Pro Flight Simulator–Honest or rip off?
I blog about the flight simulation hobby for many reasons. Mainly to share my enjoyment of the hobby, but also to share knowledge with others. While I don’t claim to know everything about the hobby and if you’ve read some of my blog postings you know I’m also learning or sometimes re-learning along the way. Bottom line is I’m loving my re-entry back into the hobby and love sharing my experiences with all of you who read this.
As I shared waaaaaaaay back in blog post #1, I’ve been flying computer sims since the early to mid 80’s. I started on the Commodore 64 with just the computer, software and a joystick. The Commodore 64 version of Flight Simulator was rather crude in comparison to FSX today, but it was certainly in-line with the video games of the era. By the way, yes I had the original Pong.
As time has passed from those days of the C-64 and flying around Meig’s Field, the versions of Flight Simulator have truly become “As Real As It Gets” and while I have no direct experience with X-Plane, I know many fellow enthusiasts who swear by it and there is certainly room for two major developers of software to support the hobby.
While the concept of freeware,shareware and open-source has been around for many years (even as far back as the C-64 days), in this hobby we’ve really only seen that in terms of add-on scenery, aircraft etc. As far as I know the first true open-source flight simulator software package didn’t show up until around 1996 when FlightGear.org developed and released their version of a flight simulator. Since 1996, FlightGear.org has offered their software (frequently updated) absolutely free.
In recent months a new flight simulator package has been advertised throughout the flight sim community, on Twitter and even Facebook titled Flight Pro Sim or ProFlight Simulator (perhaps other names as well). I’ll get back to this in just a minute.
With exception to Microsoft FSX, my GoFlight hardware and a few other software add-ons just about everything else I use (including most of my aircraft fleet) is freeware or shareware. Yes I do own a lot of scenery packages which I have purchased (I don’t support software piracy) but again most of my aircraft (especially the big iron) are all freeware/shareware models. I routinely fly several POSKY models and before the breakup of POSKY, I did occasionally donate a few dollars here and there to help offset their web hosting expenses.
Software piracy is a big deal not only in the flight sim community, but all over the software industry. In my opinion, knowingly downloading and installing pirated software is just as bad as walking into your neighbors house and taking something of equal value. It is stealing….there is no other way to say it.
Now back to ProFlight Simulator. If you frequent Facebook or follow some flight simulator enthusiasts on Twitter, you may have seen the ads for this software. Hopefully you have also read the warnings from others about avoiding this software. But why?
First of all, it is widely believed that the ProFlight Simulator software being sold for anywhere from $49.00 up to $89.00 is just a re-branded version of the absolutely free FlightGear software. Remember, I told you a few minutes ago that FlightGear.org has offered their open-source software free since 1996. Now…just don’t take my word for it. Read the information here direct from FlightGear on how they believe this is their software, just re-branded.
I’m not a lawyer, I don’t play one on TV and I didn’t sleep in a Holiday Inn Hotel last night (inside joke on a TV commercial that airs in the US), but according to the guys at FlightGear, what ProFlight Simulator did is not illegal….just unethical. In my mind this just infuriates me even more.
Again, while I touched on the issues this hobby and community faces with regards to software piracy, what ProFlight Simulator has done really doesn’t fall into that category and I’m not making a direct comparison to that issue. The issue is ethics…plain and simple and yes people are getting hurt in the process.
First, any consumer who purchases or has already purchased ProFlight Simulator for any price has been hurt and mislead. The reason is because it is widely believed the software ProFlight Simulator is selling is merely a re-branded version of FlightGear which is and always has been available for Free.
Second, the folks over at FlightGear who from day one have worked hard to develop and provide to the community an open-source flight simulator software program for free have been hurt by this.
Third, while I’ve never installed or used FlightGear (and perhaps many of you never have either), but the entire Flight Sim Community has been hurt by this. The reason is because this selfish action of ProFlight Simulator could cause others who want to develop freeware, shareware and open-source software for the benefit of all of us to re-think their plan.
So what do you think? Honest or Rip Off? Well….only you can decide for yourself. If you are looking at getting into the hobby then please do your homework. While I’ve not researched what either of these software packages can fully do, I don’t think they are supported to the extent of Microsoft Flight Simulator or X-Plane when it comes to the various add-ons available and for example VATSIM. My advice in this case is to read the info available from all software packages and make your own decision on what is best for you.
In closing, the purpose of this blog post is to just help get the information out there. This is not a new issue as again I say this topic has been blogged about by many. But if just one person learns the truth from reading this blog post then it has been worth the effort to put the information out there for all to read.
Finally, you’ll notice I did not provide the direct link to the ProFlight Simulator website. Since this is my blog I can decide what I want linking from it. In my own mind I believe what ProFlight Simulator has done is unethical, misleading and hurtful. If you want to visit their website…Google is your friend.
In the spirit of Hill Street Blues….