Flying like a Condor
The view of your glider as you fly is one of the views you can toggle between in Condor.
By Glenn Gore-Brown
I was recently at Flight Level 230 in Chile doing a 300km task in wave flying a Ventus 3 in the 15m configuration. How was I doing this under lockdown? Let’s have a look.
As these trying times continue to keep us grounded, locked up in our homes, looking up at the sky, reading the weather, wondering when we will be able to pull the gliders from the hanger and enjoy this wonderful sport – well, there is a solution. We can still fly!
Many of you may have heard of Condor Soaring Simulator, and maybe some are currently using it or have heard about it but never tried it. It is really simple to setup, and you will be surprised at how few resources this simulator actually needs. It can run on almost anything.
This screen shows the glider Glenn chose to fly, in this case a Ventus 3 18m.
Launching with Condor
Talking about the hardware and set-up process, as mentioned above, Condor is a low resource simulator that provides a realistic soaring experience. From the comfort of your home, you can be ridge running through the European Alps to flat land soaring in NSW, enjoying wave in Chile or having a mixture of it all in Nephi, USA. Several sceneries are available to download and they are all completely FREE. Although most are quite large and may take some time to download, they are well worth the effort.
A program has been developed by the online community that automatically installs the sceneries you select. This program is called Condor Updater and is available free from Condor Club. Condor itself, though not free, requires a small, worthwhile investment of 49.99 EU + VAT for the standard version or 157 EU + VAT for the pro version. The main difference here is that the pro version comes with 22 gliders. Personally, I would recommend the standard version. A few gliders are already included, and you can then buy any others you may want to fly
You can see your task in Google Earth view.
This leads me to the gliders. They are impeccably modelled, from their visual appearance to their handling qualities, and are all different and very accurate. You can add water or ballast weights and adjust the CG bias to make your glider perform as it should on any particular task.
For my personal PC, I've been building high-end water-cooled gaming computers for several years, and if you are into eye candy and fluid performance with high frame rates, a good system makes an amazing experience.
Glenn's flying rig at home is very well spec'ed. However, you can also fly Condor from a laptop with a mouse.
The view from your glider. The amount of reflection on the canopy can be adjusted.
There is a plethora of online multiplayer servers to test your soaring skills with the best in the world. These can be accessed from Condorsoaring.com Multiplayer tab, or if you just need some practice on your own, there is a lot to keep you busy in single player mode as well.
I have been in a multiplayer server where there were over 20 gliders in the sky at any one time, with gaggles everywhere, all getting the energy they need to begin their task over the Alps. It is recommended to have several landscapes installed and a few gliders in your hanger in oder not to limit yourself with whatever task might be available online. I have a glider for every class in my virtual hanger, allowing me to compete in anything. This adds flexibility and improves the overall experience. Glider prices range from 7.99 EU to 11.99 EU + VAT, and unlocking these gliders in-game is very simple.
This screen shows the weather selection page where you can set the amount of thermal activity and many other parameters.
Controllers, Headsets and More
Controllers! A controller is important and a must-have. Flying your glider with a keyboard is just not up to the task. There are several joysticks that you can buy, as always ranging from extremely high-end realistic devices such as the Thrust Master Warthog HOTAS priced up towards the USD500 mark, through to the more mainstream sticks such as the Logitech Extreme 3D Pro, which has a price tag of about AUD85. Cheaper ones are out there was well, but it is important to have a joystick that has a ‘twist’ axis on the stick itself so you can bind the rudder axis to it. Otherwise you will be adverse yawing all over the sky! These joysticks are USB and normally plug and play.
If you want to take your flying to the next level, Condor Soaring Simulator also can be flown in Virtual Reality. Several VR headsets are available to buy. I can talk more on this to those that wish to explore this option. But remember, with VR, you will need a relatively powerful PC to render a smooth enjoyable experience. Otherwise it can make some players initially feel a bit nauseous. If you do not wish to explore VR, another option is a head tracking device called Track IR by NaturalPoint, costing approximately USD130. Clipping this onto your headset or wearing a cap and attaching the sensor to the brim, gives you the freedom to look around as you would normally do, without using your keyboard. It’s very handy indeed for those close races, dense gaggles and also to gaze at the incredible scenery.
And for those that want the Epik experience – yes, that’s Epik with a K – the ‘close as I can get to real life’ platform to soar? Well, I am involved with a secret project that’s currently in development to bring you just that. A truly affordable, full motion VR system with replica glider controls… Stay tuned for more on this soon.
Your competitor identified and joining your thermal in multiplayer mode.
Proficiency and Value
As an airline pilot, I have been involved with training departments and synthetic training devices throughout my professional career. I have a keen interest in training standards, training to proficiency utilising affordable flight simulation system technologies. I have also been involved with gaming Flight Simulator platforms ranging from civilian through to advanced and incredibly detailed military sims like Digital Combat Simulator.
The proficiency you will gain from these platforms is priceless, from thinking ahead, strategies and handling to multitasking. From a personal standpoint, I have noticed significant improvement of my real-world general aircraft handling skills from gliders through to large transport jets.
Flight simulation is an amazing tool to keep pilots proficient, current and engaged during this lull and for continued use. On an economic standpoint, this will minimise the time and resources that would be required by a club to requalify, retrain and release proficient confident pilots into our skies. This could even be a recruitment tool to promote the sport. You’ve got to be happy with that!
Feel free to contact me on the email below if you need any help with the set-up.
See you in the virtual skies!