Review : Pro Flight Trainer PUMA X and Flight Sim Coach experience with MSFS

By Fabio Merlo.

Today we’re talking about hardware that literally changed the way I fly : The Puma X Pro Flight Training.

Thanks to the kind collaboration of PFT , we were able to obtain a sample of their new product , the fifth generation PFT Puma X .

The PFT Puma X is the “ferrari” of helicopter controls in the world of flight simulation. Thanks to their hardware, many helicopter enthusiasts have approached the world of simulation. This is also thanks to the increasing attention that developers such as ASOBO / Microsoft and XPLANE have begun to give to this category of enthusiasts, who have always been somewhat left to their fate. In fact, we have always talked about fixed-wing aircraft simulators, but almost never about simulators dedicated to rotary wings.

Microsoft and ASOBO , thanks to the 40th Anniversary version of Microsoft Flight Simulator, introduced helicopters (both in terms of flight physics and as models present in the aircraft catalog). We’ll talk about this later, as soon as it’s officially released.

However, thanks to this new wave of interest in helicopters , many enthusiasts are approaching MSFS and are looking for dedicated hardware for this purpose . As we said previously, one of the most active producers is Professional Flight Training.

Professional Flight Training is a company that has been offering helicopter hardware controls (on Xplane and Microsoft platform) for years now. Their latest iteration of products is now in its fifth generation. Every year / 2 years they always renew their offer, improving more and more their already excellent flight controls (Cyclic, Collective and rudder).

Pro Flight Trainer LLC is a high tech company that has been producing high quality simulator flight controls and accessories for developing helicopter simulators since 2006.

It is based in Switzerland but its members come from many parts of the world. They have taken the best engineers and pilots to best design their products

As we said at the beginning, PFT has officially provided us with a PFT Puma X to try, but not only.

In fact PFT, in addition to selling you their product, also includes many services that can be useful for those who have difficulty assembling and assembling their PUMA X and also includes training services via Discord or Zoom, thanks to the partnership with a rising star in training remote, Flight Sim Coach. This company offers free with the purchase of a Puma X, together with PFT, an hour of remote private lesson on the use of a helicopter! But we will talk about this in the near future with a dedicated article.

Pro Flight Trainer allowed us to order a PFT Puma X, while also testing its pre-sale and after-sales. In fact, after placing an order from their site in a simple and fast way, we were informed of the waiting time for which we had to wait for our Puma X. This is on average 10 days before shipping. Very tight times! A point in favor of PFT !

After about two weeks the UPS courier rang at our house … et voila ‘, we finally have our Puma X in hand.

Unboxing

The Parcel is medium in size. As you can see everything is well sealed and the UPS courier has treated it with kid gloves. In the days preceding the shipment, PFT sent us an email where it indicated the Tracking number and the PDF containing the instructions for finalizing the assembly of the PFT Puma X. This is because the option available to us is the ReadyToFly option, so it should have arrived already partially assembled with only a few steps to complete to be up and running in no time.

The packaging is very accurate and as you can see from the photo, PFT has been very careful to pack the various pieces with care. Inside we find an assembly manual, all the screws – bolts – screwdrivers and even a tube of gear oil and a bag of soft HARIBO rubbers to distract us pleasantly during assembly!

Each piece is packed independently. Everything is tied to an internal box through straps that allow the pieces not to move inside the box during transport. This is essential to prevent the pieces from arriving dented at our home.

After opening the bag containing the tools and parts to be assembled, we put everything out of the box and opened our assembly manual.

Setup

After opening the manual (or reading the assembly PDF) we immediately understood in a few minutes what we had to do to complete the operations and immediately have the PFT Puma X operational!

Thanks to the very comprehensive guide, you will have no difficulty completing the PUMA X.

We mounted the Rudder pedals and the rubbers under the body, we mounted the toe brake pedals with simplicity and we connected the two cables to the electronic board in a couple of minutes.

The thing that distinguishes PFT compared to many other manufacturers is that they have a Swiss care and take customers by the arm, trying to help them in the best possible way to have their PUMA X ready for flight in the shortest possible time.

One of the things that struck me most is the simplicity of the Collective’s setting system, to allow the user to position them in the most comfortable way possible during use.

Thanks to the extensible support, through the modification of two screws, it is possible to adjust the position in height and depth of the Collective in the most congenial way to the pilot.

As for the Cyclic, thanks instead to the positioning of a cleat, it is possible to fold the lever back on itself and thus facilitate the rider to store the hardware, saving space.

After assembling the rudder pedals, adjusting the height and depth of the collective to our liking and arranging the two pedal cables on the electronic motherboard, we are ready to fly! Our PFT Puma X is ready and we’re full of gummy bears!

After finishing these few steps our PFT Puma X RTF is ready to be used. We just need to sort out a couple of things . In fact, thanks to the tube of lubricant, we lubricate the mechanisms a drop but thanks to PFT we also have the possibility of hardening or relaxing the force of the collective, pedal and cyclic mechanisms. This is thanks to a universal key supplied, which if used as described in the manual, allows us to be able to modify the hardness of the controls to our liking, to allow us to find our personal feeling with the hardware. Fantastic idea that takes this hardware to a level that only large professional producers can afford.

Using the PFT Puma X on Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator has elease their MSFS 40th Anniversary update. Thanks to this update the guys from ASOBO and MS have introduced the flight physics for gliders and helicopters. In addition they also added glider models and 2 helicopter models. The Bell and the Cabri G2. These two helicopters were modeled thanks to a partnership with their respective manufacturers.

The Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary Update was released on Friday 18 November 2022 and we finally managed to get our hands on the new entries, gliders and helicopters!

We immediately tried the G2 Cabri with the PFT Puma X. After configuring the Cabri systems with our PUMA X (through the workarounds that PFT provided us, since there is a known bug on MSFS that will be fixed in the next update which does not allow the automatic configuration of the same ), we managed to soar with this fantastic trainer that Microsoft and ASOBO have decided to bring to MSFS.

To help you in the configuration with MSFS you can go to this page.

Thanks to the new flight model system that ASOBO has implemented, our Cabri G2 has a flight dynamics very close to reality. Lift and air masses involved are realistically and faithfully reproduced. ASOBO and Microsoft have added an option that also allows you to see the movement of the air around your helicopter. This helps newbies a lot to understand how many variables are involved when it comes to a flight of a helicopter (and in general of a rotorcraft).

Thanks to this new flight model and the introduction of two of the most used helicopters in the world, Microsoft and PFT (with its Puma X) seem made for each other.

After having calibrated the resistance (through a specific regulation) of the Puma X, we realized that this combination of hardware and software guarantees absolute realism. The Puma X performs very well. Sensitivity and dead zones configured to perfection. The Feeling with the collective is excellent and the sensitivity of the cyclic is calibrated to perfection. It feels like sitting right inside the cockpit of the Cabri G2!

The Puma X is great hardware. Excellent build quality and class-leading handling. Furthermore, thanks to a rugged hardware construction, we are sure that it will guarantee us excellent flights for the following years to come. The material is sturdy, little plastic and lots of metal. The collective buttons are rugged and are very close to the switches found on helicopter collectives. The cyclic is made of plastic but is perfect in ergonomics and quality of the trim switches and disengage buttons.

The pedals give us an excellent feeling and are very precise even in the most “dangerous” manoeuvres. Furthermore, the PFT Puma X has a significant peculiarity.

Thanks to the introduction of the folding cyclic, it manages to take up very little space when we want to store it in a corner or in a closet.

In short, PFT has hit the target! PUMA X will be the reference in the years to come with which competitors will have to deal.

Microsoft and ASOBO used it during their presentation event in the US (which unfortunately we weren’t present at) and colleagues from other magazines tell us that everyone was really satisfied with it (both insiders and the developers themselves).

Not satisfied with this experience, we also took advantage of the voucher that PFT provided us, to have an hour of helicopter lesson available (on MSFS) with a Flight Sim Coach instructor (https://flightsimcoach.com/). This virtual flight school provides real pilots who, through a remote software system, train virtual pilots from all over the world! Thanks to Mike, founder of Flight Sim Coach, we were able to have an hour of time from an Australian helicopter pilot (and test pilot) who taught us the basics of helicopter flying, through ZOOM.

Thanks to his valuable advice and PFT’s Puma X, we were able to learn a lot and start doing hoovering and circuit exercises on the airport with an HPG H145. After a few tens of minutes of learning the basic techniques, the instructor assisted us in a real lesson of basic and counterbase circuits. Thanks to his management software, he also showed us the various defects we were making in these first steps. With his invaluable advice, we have now parted ways after the first hour with some “homework”. Repeat circuits until we master speed and altitude to get to the runway head at 0 knots. I can’t wait to book another hour with Flight Sim Coach to continue improving my flying technique with the H145 and the PUMA X!

Flight Sim Coach not only has the part of helicopter lessons but practically teaches you to fly any vehicle!

In conclusion, thanks to the combination of PFT Puma X, Microsoft and Flight SimCoach we managed to enter the world of helicopters easily (starting from rotor neophytes).

PFT providing a free hour with FlightSimCoach has ushered in a new era. In fact , thanks to the hardware couple and private lessons , finally everyone can learn to master helicopters !

We can advise those who want to learn to fly in a virtual helicopter to buy a Puma X and take a few hours with FlightSimCoach to refine the technique.

Score Puma X PFT : 10/10

Flight Sim Coach experience rating : 10/10

The PFT Puma X can be purchased here : https://pro-flight-trainer.com/

Review by Fabio Merlo.

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