I’ve been flying virtually since I was a kid. Through simulators, I’ve piloted tiny trainers like the Cessna 172 to massive behemoths like the Airbus A380. But, there’s one category of aircraft that I often never bothered with: gliders.
Gliders are exactly what they sound like: they’re built to take advantage of wind currents in order to fly. To achieve this, gliders have huge wings, slender fuselages, and are also very lightweight. They’re essentially the sailboats of the skies. The reason why I didn’t bother with them much in any sim before is because gliders just seemed kind of boring since they often don’t fly under their own power. But, after spending some time with them here in Aerosoft’s World of Aircraft: Glider Simulator, I have to say, my flight horizons have been widened a bit.
Sailing the seven skies
World of Aircraft: Glider Simulator focuses exclusively on providing an authentic experience for glider fans. With there being five aircraft, only three of them have motors; one of which is just a tow plane. It’s actually through this selection that I’ve learned that there are some powered gliders after all. Although they’re a lot slower than a traditional plane, the real joy comes from shutting the engine down and just letting the wind carry you. And quite appropriately, World of Aircraft: Glider Simulator captures that experience nicely.
The flight mechanics and attention to detail are what really make the experience. These metal birds will drag and shake in the wind, allowing you to ride the currents in an authentic-feeling way. Pointing the nose too steeply and going into a stall will result in a realistic shake of the flight stick and rattling of the cockpit. And speaking of the cockpit, the interiors are well modeled. It must be noted that most of the instrumentation is really used, however. World of Aircraft: Glider Simulator is a pure VFR experience, so the most you’ll be paying attention to is your airspeed indicator and altimeter.
Back to the basics
It’s kind of a shame that none of the knobs, handles, levers and buttons are interactive. But important elements such as the flaps, aileron trims, and even opening/closing the canopy can still be controlled using a keyboard or peripheral,.
The simplicity of World of Aircraft: Glider Simulator also translates to the overall title as a package. It features a single map located in the non-descript European countryside, and there are only two airports. Nevertheless, the surrounding area is more than large enough to explore in an aircraft and is surprisingly quite detailed.
The ground texture appears to have been pulled from satellite data. There are vehicles on the road and even ships maneuvering through the map’s many canals and rivers. While you won’t see any fellow gliders in the sky, you will be joined by flocks of beautiful birds soaring high above. All-in-all, the sim’s world feels decently alive and packed, which adds to the immersion factor.
Easy does it
While World of Aircraft: Glider Simulator’s graphical prowess pales in comparison to that of Microsoft Flight Simulator, it still has some charm to it. The texture work is well done with both the aircraft and the world environment. The sound design is also great, and the effects are high quality and dynamic. The huge wings of the gliders bend and flex in the wind, clouds cast vast shadows on the world below, and the water gives off a good reflection of the sun. While it may not look as striking as Microsoft’s offering, it’s certainly a whole lot easier to run. I was able to consistently get 70-80fps+. While high framerates aren’t essential to any flight sim, the smoothness is appreciated.
One downside to the visuals is that there’s not much variation. There’s no dynamic weather or day and night cycles. You’re essentially stuck flying in the same daytime, fair weather conditions in every session. This isn’t a huge problem per say, but considering that simulators have offered such features for several years now, the lack of it really stands out.
The right flight perspective
Some players may also be bummed to find the lack of overall content compared to larger sims. As stated, this is a simple package that’s just focused on offering the experience of glider flight. There are no missions or unlockables. It’s just you, the five aircraft, and some achievements to earn. You can take the experience online, but beyond that, Glider Simulator remains as simple and lightweight as the planes that it simulates. That said, this doesn’t make it bad.
Aerosoft explicitly states that its World of Aircraft series is by no means meant to compete with full-scale simulators like Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane 11. In that sense, going into it with the right frame of mind will allow you to enjoy the sim for what it is rather than what it could be.
At only $30, which is less expensive than some add-ons for the larger sims, this a really great package for younger/more casual players who can be introduced to the world of flight sims through this. That’s really all I could think about as I played: it’s so simple and unintimidating that I could easily hand this to a younger person and let them build some skill. Considering that gliders are used as training aircraft in the real-world, World of Aircraft: Glider Simulator really does hit the nail on the head after all.