Why not buy the Sting, it really is an excellent plane, and then get the VL3 915is freeware mod? I’ve been flying this for the last couple of days and it’s very good, some external and internal modifications to the asobo variant and incorporates the flight model from the other mod.
Time to revisit my list and it has changed somewhat after me switching to VR. I read another thread questioning Carenado aircraft and I’m flying a fair few of these since in cockpit beauty is one of the contributors to the experience in VR. This is all coming from someone who is not a real life pilot, only flown a Cessna 152 before so strictly sim as a hobby. I also have limited time so normally stick to sessions of around an hour with a couple of short flights during that time. Most of my time is flying GA.
Not sure I can put these in any kind of order so just my current top ten:
Just Flight Hawk T1 - Looks and sounds fantastic, fun and challenging and just a sheer joy to fly. This one is epic in VR!
SWS Kodiak 100 - A very finely crafted aircraft but has a fantastic flying experience to back it up. Something naturally organic about how it handles.
Just Flight Warrior - Could just as easily be one of the Arrows but I think the Warrior feels just a little more accessible for those times when you just want a simple but pure flying experience.
Carenado M20R Mooney - One my first and most flown aircraft. Had a few minor issues along the way but still holds up really well today. Great detail, engaging, quick and fun to fly.
Carenado C337 Skymaster - Something keeps pulling me back to this aircraft. Looks and flies great, twin complexity but fantastic views from the cockpit. Ground handling seems a bit off of late when landing though.
Carenado/Asobo V35 Bonanza - Another aircraft that is just a great place to be in and fly with nice visuals and flight dynamics.
Gotfriends Wilga - A favourite of many and easy to see why. Great visuals and sounds. Very accessible and simple/fun to fly.
Just Flight BA146 - Not a big airliner fan but this one sings to me due to its mix of old and new technologies wrapped up in a regional format.
Blackbird 310R - could easily have been the Carenado Seneca here but this one has a bit more to it and is very slick and a great all round twin.
Carenado PC-12 - Seems I’m one of the few that haven’t been cursed with progressive performance drop with this aircraft although that may be down to my bite sized approach to flying in the sim. Looks and flies really well for me and just seems a very well behaved aircraft that I enjoy. The mixture of gauges and screens are also really clear in VR.
I’m going to explore a few other types of aircraft now I’m in VR and using the HF8 haptic seat.
DC-6 aka “Super Six Clipper”
The most involved plane from start-up to landing, nothing better in terms of an engaging plane to fly and learn. One of the only planes that will punish you for flying unrealistically. All realism on- keep those engines healthy! By far my favorite plane.
The best jet airliner. Great FPS/performance for me and lots of cool extra features like the runway alignment HUD, options for eyebrow windows, shades, etc.
BAE-146 aka “Whisperjet”
Complex systems and an interesting autopilot system. If you find yourself a little bored flying a 737/a320, switch to the BAE and you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. A totally different style of flying an airliner.
4)AN-2 aka “Corncob”
This is an incredibly unique plane which I’ve been enjoying tremendously. For a single engine STOL you can really feel the mass of it when taxiing or trying to get it to slow down. You can fly incredibly slow in it and it’s got a great cockpit for sightseeing especially if you’ve got a head tracker or VR.
No autopilot has really improved my trimming skills.
5)DC-3 aka “Gooney Bird aka Dakota aka The Three” with Duckworks mod + Duckworks free castor tailwheel
The Duckworks mod fixed the flight model and other issues. It now has a more realistic startup and is great for landings. Separate Free castor tailwheel mod makes taxiing a real challenge that I’m still getting used to.
6)A320-Neo + FlyByWire Mod
It’s free and is a study level airliner. They’ve done a great job with it and new features and fixes are always on the way. This plane has a great community built around it as well, everyone should support this project!
The best widebody jet in MSFS and it’s quite detailed. Near or at study level I believe, but i have less than 20~ flights in it. BEST external model I’ve seen in the game. Incredible lighting in the cockpit.
CJ-4 “Citation” + Working Title mod
Working title fixed this plane. Their addons give it some extra flair. The safety announcement voice you can turn on always makes me feel like I’m about to take a real flight!
Really enjoyable little plane. Must be the best free single engine plane in the game right?
10)747 “Queen of the Skies” + Salty Mod
The salty mod is an absolute requirement for this plane. Its flight model feels great and is challenging to land softly. The systems/cockpit aren’t perfect but the mod improves them.
The best modern airliner in the game but it doesn’t run well on my PC (FPS issues).
I also own the CRJ-550/700/900/1000. I don’t recommend buying the 900/1000 addon as it’s basically the same plane. If you just get the 550/700, you’ll get to enjoy the retro looking flightdeck with CRT screens.
If you’re on a budget I’d probably recommend buying the PMDG 737-600 if you want to fly a modern regional airliner with a fully working HUD. Otherwise, get the BAE because the CRJ needs some updates to the texturing and HUD system (cannot input runway data, for example).
The Kodiak is well done but there are other free single engine STOL planes that we have access to now for cheap and of course the free DHC2 so I wouldn’t recommend buying it unless you are a fan of the plane or really want a turboprop STOL for some reason.
I’ve just bought the ATR-42/72 but have only done 3-4 flights with it so far; not sure how I feel about it yet. I am optimistic!
Flap drag doesn’t work. Though apparently it does on the model with the Garmin GPS. If people had been flying the classic cockpit (as I had) they might have got fed up with the inability to slow it down (as I had).
Wilga (GotFriends): What more can I say? The more I fly, the more I like. I spend quite a bit of time flying with Wilma, especially in bush flying and racing scenarios. In fact the Wilga racing series has opened up a whole new relationship between me and Wilma, practicing on the latest courses has been really fun. I feel like I’ve improved as a sim pilot with Wilma, especially getting in and out of short airstrips, and diving through pylons. Wilma is on the top 10 for life I think. Recommended scenario: Gable Field race course from flight sim dot tee oh. Bonus points for knife edge at the Hollywood sign.
Shavrov SH-2 (A1R Design Bureau): This new addition has captured my heart. A gorgeously rendered vintage flying boat with a delicious sounding 5-cylinder radial, ready for adventure! I turned off collisions for Astro-1, and left them turned off for this, it’s pretty sensitive to overspeeding. This plane is super fun to take anywhere there’s water. The actual landings are great, but handling on the water is really sketchy (not hard to see how, due to the shape of the hull and the lack of a water rudder, but I keep imagining how awesome it would be if it had Wilma’s paddle). So, kind of addicted at the moment. Recommended scenario: Start in Green Bay WI, follow the Fox River low and slow all the way to Lake Winnebago.
Tiger Moth (Ant’s Airplanes): Another lifetime appointee to my top 10 list, I don’t think the Tiger Moth will ever be de-throned because it is magical. I just love popping open the bonnet to have a look at the carburetor, and strolling around the front of the aircraft for a good ole-fashioned hand prop start. Tiger Moth lets you be low and slow, and feel good doing it. Recommended scenario: Find a deserted desert, toss in some random loops and wingovers, then zen out to the drone of the propeller as you watch the stunning simulated landscape unfold.
Cessna 152 (JPL mod): I don’t have enough good things to say about this FREE mod to the already awesome Asobo C152. JPL just takes it to the next level, getting close to a study-level GA aircraft. This aspect keeps you mindful about good habits, such as leaning fuel mix for taxi, and keeping tabs on a basic number of routine maintenance tasks. Yes, I have killed my battery while sitting on a San Juan Island, yes I have forgotten to top off the oil and had a few memorable emergency landings. The only thing it’s missing is a speck of dirt on the windshield which could be briefly mistaken for a distant aircraft. Recommended scenario: A to B to C at small airports anywhere in Southern California. The photogrammetry is stunning, and gives you pretty things to look at as you practice your “as real as possible” flights. Bonus points for doing an actual flight plan, listing frequencies and setting up navaids, just as you would IRL.
Bonanza A36 (with Black Square mod): Next step up on the GA ladder, this plane will blow your mind with its high performance and stunning systems modeling. Included is a turbonormalized version, come for the turbo and stay for the tip tanks. Fun to fly and loaded with lots of gear, I have spent hours of fun in this plane. Recommended scenario: A to B to C at small airports anywhere in Southern California; be sure to include some fluffy clouds, so that you can experience getting above them. Bonanza really loves to fly high, and slaloming around columns of clouds can be exhilirating. Aside from the airspace violations and my sudden changes from VFR to IFR, this plane makes me want to do the real flight plan thing, plan navaids, etc. I particularly enjoy using the RNAV unit, a prime piece of 1980s tech which only appears in Black Square products.
Kamov KA-10 (TouchingCloud): The only coaxial helicopter in MSFS to date, and truly under appreciated IMO. It’s super fun and a great bargain, and if you like rotorcraft you owe it to yourself to try this, it’s mad fun! I’ve gotten so hooked on the coaxial idea, it needs no tail rotor, instead the twin counter-rotating rotors provide you with handfuls of rotational authority. It also confers upon you the ability to fly in any direction you want to, so going backwards is a cinch (not so in standard config helicopters). Recommended scenario: A rooftop takeoff from the U.S. Bank Building in downtown LA, followed by some random rooftop landings (how do they even land on the Bonaventure IRL?), or if you’re feeling speedy hop on over to Gable Fields scenery the KA-10 eats that race course up!!
Astro 1 (GotFriends): Another stunningly innovative entry from GotFriends, the Astro 1 lets you fulfill the fantasy of climbing into your DJI quad and taking it up for a spin. The included race courses are quite fun, and the Astro opens up the terrain of Flight Sim in all new ways. I love the variety of liveries, and the emissive paint looks really cool at night. You can do all kinds of flips in Sport Mode. I recommend turning off collisions for this baby. Recommended scenario: Dawn over Paris, France. Circle the Eiffel Tower, quietly hover over the sleepy streets of Paris in the wee hours of the day, to rest after all those laps at Astro Corsa.
Antonov AN-2 (Asobo): I love me a big biplane, and this one has all kinds of character. I adore the cockpit view, it reminds me of a greenhouse. The vibe of this plane is awesome, and I really like the way it flies although I did tweak the drag coefficients in the .cfg to make flaps more effective. I love to set the AN-2 on a course, and just enjoy the ride. It’s also fun to see how short you can land, this plane has some pretty good short field capability. If I had the skill, I’d make a variant with a camper interior. Recommended scenario: A scenic flight between photogrammetry areas in New Zealand, with lots of green meadows and rolling hills to pass beneath you as you meditate with the drone of the propeller.
Vans RV-14 (SWS): What’s a steam gauge guy doing in this glass cockpit? Enjoying the fierce roll rate!! The RV-14 is amazing, it’s fast and very aerobatically oriented. During a particularly spirited session one night, I broke the rudder on a whip stall and got to experience making a rudderless emergency landing! The details on this one are amazing, and the flight model is just a wonder. When I want a cross-country flight in something speedy that can also do stunts, I hop into my RV-14. Recommended scenario: KMYF → KL08 for some desert air and some stunts. Don’t break the plane!!!
Zenith CH701 (SWS): Someone twisted my arm to add another STOL to my hangar, and the Zenith appeared! I really enjoy this plane, it’s able to fly very slowly and has a superb cockpit view with those clear doors. The exterior and interior are beautifully rendered, flight model is superb as with all SWS planes. Recommended scenario: The bush strips of Papua New Guinea will provide hours of challenge and fun in this plane, I just create random A-B-C routes and then try not to wind up 1500 feet below the runway elevation.