How Realistic is VR

I’m about to launch into a real PPL, but wondered how realistic the VR environment is by comparison to real life. I’ve a decent rig, with a 5690x, a 3090 and G2. I find the general view in no way comparable with the 4k. 2d image I’m used, but it’s very immersive and seems to be closer to the real thing.

Hi, I’m a non-current real world VFR pilot and can say emphatically that flying in VR (assuming you have a rig capable of running it) is the best environment for learning to fly or practice flying.

I’m still using an Oculus Rift CV1 and enjoying the experience but the quality of Headsets has improved significantly and the HP G2 is the one to attain for best results at present (according to the feedback from users). The BIG FACTOR is the computer you are running VR on. You need plenty of grunt to support the VR experience. I “surprisingly” am still using a 4 core I7 6700 processor (which I will upgrade at some point) but would suggest one of the up to date 8 or more core processors. Get what fits your budget but aim for the best you can afford. Next is the GPU, I was using a GTX 1060 with 6gb VRAM. This was supported in VR but I noticed VR tended to max it out, often sitting constantly on 100% utilization. I upgraded to a GTX 2080ti, which has 11gb VRAM. Now I typically utilize at 70 to 75% and the additional VRAM allows for a better experience. Finally, ensure you have at least 32gb of System RAM. I found upgrading from 16gb made a difference in the performance of the sim.

I appreciate that MSFS has “bugs” but I’ve been using it since alpha testing and the experience out ways the occasional issues that generally are short lived, as the development team are actively improving the sim.

Best of luck with your aviation experience.

Regards, Paul


Thanks both of you. It confirms my view, just being to scan instruments or look outside is so different to a static monitor view. As I say I my original post, I have perhaps the best setup possible right now, though I also know that six months time there will be better kit out there.

My thinking is to try and do twice/three times the practice on the sim as I do in a real plane, thus minimising th3 hours I have to pay for. Just need a decent yoke an switch oanel , and rudder pedals , oh and for COVID to allow flying in the first place , of course :slight_smile:

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That is cool! I am reading ppl and cpl to for a while now. I use VR with motion simulator and I love it. Only negative I must say is I cant get yoke and rudder sensitive to be realistic due To I haven’t been in a plane yet. Any one have good sensitive settings? Cheers

I’ve sat in airbus cockpits and boeing plus various others. This is as real as its gna get. Its insane. I’ve been simming 20 years plus and ill never go back to 2d flying now. Vr is insane!


Though I want to upgrade, I don’t have VR. But I do have TrackIR. A lot of the benefits that people talk about in VR is the ability to move your head around to look wherever you want. A simple TrackIR type solution lets you do that for a heck of a lot less cost than VR. It isn’t quite as natural but it takes maybe 10 minutes to get used to it.

As far as I’ve read VR has a couple of issues:

  1. Less sim detail. That’s not an issue for flight training but it is still a consideration.
  2. Expensive in hardware requirements and even with great hardware some find the frame rate too low.
    3.A small field of view.

So if you are happy with your PC on a 2d display then it may be worth trying a cheap TrackIR type system to see if that does the job for you.

I only have a rec aviation license and I’m happy enough with my TrackIR until more of VRs limitations go away. OR my TrackIR dies :slight_smile:


VR will give you 3D depth perception that you will never get on a 2D monitor. It doesn’t really compare.


i enjoyed face tracking for months but gosh, VR is a total different league!

Let me describe what VR is like: When flying El Capitan in VR. I landed on a road in the valley. Landing itself was much easier in VR with full situational awareness, so my landing was near perfect. Then I “exited” my plane by switching to external view. Suddenly I realized that I stood right below the famous El Capitan cliff, and I had to raise my head almost to extreme to see the peak which was 1000 meters above. At that very moment my acrophobia (fear of height) kicked in, and I felt dizziness in shock and awe!

Is VR real? Not really, but it’s something we can get closet to reality other than reality itself. Learning flying in VR is especially beneficial, because you can be pretty sure that you will feel at home on a real fly training. All those views, perceptions, feelings, even fears and excitements will be quite real, and no huge screen flying or TrackIR can ever give you that!

About the low graphic settings in VR, I had a pleasant discovery: in VR it’s more important to stay at a lower but stable FPS. In some cases you actually have to push visual settings higher to avoid jiggering and wobbling brought by higher but unstable FPS reprojections. I used my below minimum 1660 Super card to settle down at 18 FPS in VR but with mostly HIGH some MEDIUM none LOW graphic settings. The resulted flying experience as well as visual is fantastic! I guess I owe my thanks to one guy who commented on YouTube that he could fly VR with 1660 Super.


Depth perception is great but I and many many others have no trouble t all doing flight training without that extra depth perception so as far as the OPs post goes that really doesn’t matter.

Have you tried VR yet? You said you don’t have it so I assume you haven’t. I have been using VR and it seems that actually flying and landing seems much more natural to me.

I have also used VR in auto racing simulators and that depth perception makes a big difference.

That said I am not a pilot and I haven’t ever flown a plane so I can’t say how it compares to real life, but for me VR is the best way to experience the simulator.


I’ll chime in here because we’re kind of similar places…I just started working on my PPL (just a few training flights in). I’ve been simming my whole life (I’m 48 years old) so I have a ton of “head knowledge” but not a lot of “feel.”

The one thing that has hit me really hard in the real plane is the movement. And the fact that I’m scared of heights (I know…weird that I want to be a pilot). The bounces, the turbulence, they spook me in the real plane.

Simming in VR has helped with a ton of stuff. It’s helped with sight pictures (I train in a C150 and fly the C152 a lot in MSFS). It helps with spatial orientation and even to some extent just getting my brain used to the idea of looking down at the ground 2000 below me. On my monitors (I have two 32" screens), I never got the sensation of altitude. In VR, I still will regularly look out the window feel my heart race just a little (especially when climbing out and I’m looking straight down out my window). I was skeptical about VR when they first announced it. But we got my son a Rift S for Christmas and I decided to borrow it and try it out. It makes a HUGE difference.

I really do believe that flying more in VR will help me get over some of that air anxiety because it gives a great visual of what it looks like, even if I can’t feel it. And I know it will help with precision on maneuvers (I could tell that between lessons after just an hour or two in VR).


I have not tried VR yet. Yes I heard its more immersive over a 2D experience. I won’t doubt but the biggest difference with the real thing is feel which imo is the biggest thing that stands out with real flying. Something you won’t experience ever in VR or a desktop sim.
Have been trying to get the QUEST 2 but they are sold out here.
Enjoy the real thing is a lot more fun and rewarding!

I’m a real world pilot with a commercial, multi engine and instrument rating. I have not flown in a while but I can tell you that VR is way, way closer to the real thing than 2D at any resolution.

VFR flying the pattern I use my head just like I would in a real plane. The spatial awareness in VR is the same as real life. 2D flying can not replicate that essential element of natural spatial awareness. Immersion and 3D perspective to judge distance and height are other essential elements of VR that 2D can not replicate. For me there is no comparison to how superior VR flight sims are over the 2D portrayals. I won’t use 2D unless I didn’t have access to my VR rig for whatever reason.

I wish I had VR this when I was going for PPL/CPL/ME/IR.


You won’t ever go back to 2d screen flying thats for sure. I know i won’t. Myself and the Austrian alps were at one today. Incredible ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!


Again thank you to everyone who has contributed to this threat, particularly the real world pilots.

I guess the second question relates to peripherals, as trying to use a mouse in VR doesn’t really cut it. Assuming a yoke , pedals and throttle for a C152 what’s required that can’t be addressed by a button ? My list includes mixture control , carb heat and trim control. Anything else that can’t easily be simulated on a keyboard .?

Oh and I guess a question around realism settings

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Depends on what you call realism!
Following my RL flights I can reproduce the flight in Xplane and it looks close enough to be convincing. Haven’t flown IRL since MSFS2020 released, so can’t speak for that.
No realism as far as controllers IMO, and that includes FFB, rudders, throttles, yokes etc. Anyway, I purposely swap my hands for controller and throttle in FS to prevent any muscle memory habits forming. I also use a joystick instead of a yoke for the same reason. Main purpose of FS for me is navigation, procedures and sightseeing. NOT ‘flying a plane’. I do have ‘Andre’s Jetseat’ and FFB2 yoke, but they’re just for fun and mostly used in DCS.

Xplane allows manipulation of all switches and pull levers like carb heat etc using your VR controllers as hands. Assuming MSFS2020 decides to go the same route then youll be OK. I am a trainee on a Ikarus C42 and find the awareness and position of items - flaps, throttle, ASI, RPM etc is invaluable s you get 100% used to what to look, where to look and how to react phyically. My other VR flightsim is set about 80% as real as IRL.

How do you check charts, manipulate controls, and other things that I think would require removing or lifting the VR device to do? I use TrackIR with an ultrawide screen and have access to everything without even thinking about it. Of course, at 77, I might just fall out of my chair!

I mostly practice my lessons so dont fly far enough to need charts, however, if I do then I use GPS. Oh I should add if i need to look at my knee board, there is a gap in my nose that allows me to glance down and see my notes.

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I’ll add my 2 cents:

VR can be so immersive that very often when doing a 60º bank turn, I have a remnant sensation of the G force from when I was flying IRL, especially if I look up ever so slightly to see where I’m turning to!