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What options do I have for a realistic flight simulator focused specifically on glider planes (sailplane)?

Must run on macOS (Mac OS X), on common/low-end Mac laptops of recent years such as the MacBook Air without the high-end or discrete graphics chips (GPUs).

Reasonable cost and quality for someone wanting an introduction to gliding to explore their interest in trying the real thing. Professional quality not needed but good enough to get a realistic taste. Would be nice if the aerotow to elevation was included for a full experience from launch to landing. Should support some models of sailplanes commonly used by beginners.

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You could give FlightGear a go.

  • Free, Gratis & Open Source - no purchase needed.
  • Also available as a DVD Purchase currently under $70 Avoids a large download and includes world scenery.
  • Window, OS-X & Linux
  • Even has the option to automatically download the real world weather for the location selected.
  • 100s of Aircraft including Gliders, there is a filterable list here of over 500 models.
  • The official "hangar" list currently, Oct 2016, lists 518 Aircraft
  • A search of the "Hangers" for glider returns:
    • Schleicher ASK 13 Glider
    • Schleicher ASK 21 Glider
    • Schleicher ASK 21 mi Glider
    • asw20-v1
    • Bocian 1E
    • Glaser-Dirks DG-101G
    • Moyes Dragonfly
    • Schweizer 2-33
    • Horsa Assault Glider
    • Airwave Xtreme 150 Hang Glider 2 Variants
    • even Colditz Escape Glider
  • Active developer community enhancing the software and adding new planes

Some Screenshots On Win10

ASK21 Start Up

In the air over Bristol

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X-Plane

X-Plane is a commercial flight simulator app with editions for consumers as well as professional flight training & certifications. The vendor claims this app is “ultra-realistic” and “The world’s most advanced flight simulator”.

Developed on the Mac, for the Mac, and for Microsoft Windows and Linux.

Download a free demo version, which includes gliders such as Schleicher ASK 21. And download the manual.

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This demo is nearly identical to the full version of X-Plane 10 Global—it has the same aircraft, with the same world-class flight model and beautifully realistic rendering technology—but it only comes with scenery for the Seattle area (instead of the whole world), and it will ignore joystick input after 15 minutes.

This free demo includes:

  • over 40 aircraft, including general aviation planes, airliners, gliders, helicopters, and fighters,
  • the ability to shoot IFR and VFR approaches with ATC guidance, and
  • immersive scenery for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the surrounding area.

See Wikipedia page for some technical details about how this product works.

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  • Are you in any way related to the company that makes this software? – Nicolas Raoul Oct 3 '16 at 2:51
  • No, not related to the company. I've just been researching possible products for the friend whose interest in the topic prompted my posting of this Question. This product seems to meet the needs of gliders, Mac compatible, realistic quality but available in a consumer edition with a reasonable price. – Basil Bourque Oct 3 '16 at 5:42
  • I see :-) Do you have a reference for the "Developed on the Mac" part? – Nicolas Raoul Oct 3 '16 at 6:45
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    @NicolasRaoul This page says: "In fact, X-Plane is developed primarily on Macs." – Basil Bourque Oct 3 '16 at 6:51

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