Are you new to drones and looking for an easy way to fly a drone? Or, you just got your drone but aren’t confident enough in your piloting skills and want to practice how to fly a drone? Then you are in the right place.
The best way to practice how to fly a drone today is by using a simulator.
Most drone simulators nowadays feature graphics, physics, and mechanisms that emulate the real-world flight experience, allowing you to develop muscle memory which will be critical when flying drones outdoors.
When some people think of simulators, they think of complex manned aircraft simulators, which can be pretty frustrating for a beginner. But there are simulators easy enough for beginners to get started.
So, which are the best drone simulators for beginners?
The best drone simulator for beginners includes the DRL simulator, Crazy Games Drone Simulator, Zephyr, DroneSimPro, and ORQA FPV SkyDive simulators.
Please keep reading to learn more about these simulators, plus screenshots that give you a sneak peek of what these SIMs look like.
Drone Racing League
This is the simulator I started with, and I believe the moment you start playing it, you’ll get hooked. But what makes it suitable for beginners?
If you have never flown a drone before or even seen one except on YouTube videos, this simulator is designed with you in mind.
It has a drone flight training section where you learn a drone’s basic controls and use these controls to fly through the various loops.
The drone looks real, and the environment you’re flying in looks natural enough, giving you the confidence you need when flying outdoors.
Another reason I find it great to start with the DRL simulator is you can use a wide range of controllers, from gamepads to customizable drone controllers like the Taranis or the Turnigy.
I recommend using an actual drone controller rather than a gamepad on this simulator to become better at flying drones.
But don’t expect the simulator to go easy on you. After learning the basics, the tests become more difficult, and you can even choose the difficulty level. The only way to learn and stay on top of your game is to keep challenging yourself.
The various scenery selections to fly in keep the simulator interesting too. You can choose to fly in a campground, US Air Force boneyard, and Gates of New York.
And if you don’t have that much to spend, this Sim will be great since you can get it on your PC for $10 or less.
What’s more? The DRL simulator is made by the same people behind the Drone Racing League, and if you become pretty good at flying drones in the simulator, you get a chance to try out for the actual drone race.
And if you want to gauge yourself before the tryouts, you can participate in the multiplayer tournaments or even challenge some of the top pilots in the leaderboard.
Other features that you will find in this simulator include:
- A map editor to edit the scenes to fly in.
- Physics section to test new features.
- Community to interact with other players and even buy or explore maps and drones built by other members.
Crazy Games Drone Simulator
Looking for the easiest way to start learning how drone flight works? Go to your favorite browser, and search for the Crazy Games Drone Simulator. Or just click the link in the above title.
After a few clicks, a drone appears on your screen, and you can start flying it with your keyboard. It’s that easy—no need to connect a controller.
There’s no need to calibrate a controller. And you will definitely not have to pay for anything.
I came across this simulator when looking for free drone simulators, and I was surprised that I had never heard about it.
Below is what it looks like:
1. Get a drone
2. Select an Environment
3. Start Flying
You get 1,000 coins when you first join the game, which you can use to buy the first drone. Then, as you fly, you collect more coins as you learn how to maneuver your drone. You can use the coins you collect to buy other drones within the simulator.
You will need the following keys to fly the drone in the simulator:
- W – To pitch forward.
- S – To Pitch backward
- A – To roll left
- D – To roll right
- J – To yaw to the left
- L – To yaw to the right
- I – To ascend
- J – to descend
The biggest downside with this simulator is you have to deal with ads that keep popping up as you fly since it’s a free simulator. But you can always skip them and pick up where you left off.
Zephyr is another excellent drone simulator perfect for beginners. It takes the approach of a learning tool, taking the player from beginner level to pro level within the simulator.
Institutions like the RaD lab and the Cloud Community College have utilized this simulator to teach their students about drones.
In the paid versions, there’s a platform for learners to practice their flying, and there is a platform for instructors to gauge how their students are doing.
Zephyr does its best to emulate real-life drone flight. As a result, you will find replicas of actual drone models, such as the Phantom 4, Inspire 2, Mavic Air 2, and Yuneec Typhoon, among others, within the simulator. You can also simulate weather conditions like wind.
Below is what the drone list looks like currently:
You also get to fly in a wide range of scenarios, though in the free version, you only have access to the hills, yards, and parking lot. Still, you will have enough fun flying in these scenes as you master your skills.
The graphics may not be as good as in the DRL, and you may have to pay at least $15, but the mechanisms of a real drone and the free version make it an ideal option to start with.
Besides, graphics that aren’t too fancy will go easy on your PC compared to detailed graphics like the one on the DRL.
For the price of $10, the DroneSimPro is a classic drone flight simulator that you can add to your arsenal of simulators. I call it a classic because they have barely updated it since it was released, but it still works.
Once you purchase this simulator, you get one drone and three scenarios to fly in. But unlike in the Zephyr simulator, where the scenarios are limited in size, DroneSimPro’s scenarios are expansive, allowing you to explore further within one scenery.
But that is all there is to it. After flying for a while, you might quickly get bored. But I believe each simulator offers a different experience, so you can always take a break from it and try another one.
The sceneries available in this simulator include:
The best way to fly the drones in DroneSimPro is using gamepads, though they state that you can use drone controllers. Still, I haven’t tested that yet, so I can’t speak to how well it works.
ORQA FPV SkyDive
Are you a beginner in the world of FPV? The ORQA FPV SkyDive is designed to teach you the basics. However, while it’s a beginner simulator for FPV pilots, it may be too complex for a pilot who’s never flown a drone before, even on a simulator.
So, it’s ideal to learn the basics of flying a drone from a simulator like the DRL or Zephyr, then introduce yourself to FPV with the ORQA FPV SkyDive once you get the hang of it.
It also has a training module, so don’t worry if it all seems too intimidating.
Like real-life FPV drones, the ORQA FPV sim is fast, sometimes sensitive, and the drone will crash a lot. This prepares you for what to expect. It’s also almost fully manual, where if you let go of the controllers, the drone will not hover and will mostly land.
You can also calibrate your joysticks to make them more suitable for your style of flying or switch between the various flight modes, which is vital in flying FPV.
Below is a sneak peek of what you can expect on the simulator:
Suppose you’re passionate about flying drones and are wondering how to get started. In that case, the simulators mentioned in this post are beginner-friendly, affordable, and have enough features to make you good at flying a drone.
You can even get them all and rotate them to keep yourself entertained or challenged by the various sceneries.