Yes. We should start a thread :)
And yeah, DCS default planes have good flight models it seems but most of the systems are not accurately modeled. The DCS A-10C however, is about as real as you're gonna get without getting into a real plane. I've read forum posts from real A-10 pilots that speak to it being very close to the real thing.
Here's a 40 min sortie on a multiplayer server I used to play on regularly. Voice comms and everything. You can't hear me because I hadn't sorted that part of the recording setup out yet at this point :)
The DCS F-15 isn't as deeply modeled as the A-10C, but most of the stuff that matters works. It's also like $15 the last time I checked. But damn. DCS just looks SO good, and the sense of speed/maneuverability you get from it is unlike anything else I've ever played. Sooooooo fun! :D
The PMDG civilian planes are among the highest quality FSX/Prepar3d addons you can get. They've been putting them out for a long time (because FSX and now P3D have been around forever) so their older stuff isn't as pretty and polished as the newer planes but they're all pretty good. The 747 v3 that just came out recently is basically a modern remake of their 747 from years ago. But yes, I'm planning routes, programming the FMC, you can enable failures based on real life data on how often parts really fail, systems are modeled down to the level of stuff like the hydraulic fluid reservoir will show a lower quantity when you say lower the flaps and fluid is pushed out into the system to actuate them, air flow through the various ducts and pneumatic systems, etc. It is an airplane nerd's wet dream :)
I will warn you though that PMDG isn't the only company that puts out nice payware. Just the one I'm most familiar with. I've tinkered with some others that seem good, but PMDG just "clicks" with me for some reason. But they aren't always the most customer friendly company either. For example, if you drop $135 on their 747 for FSX and then later upgrade to Prepar3d, you're going to have to drop another full $135 to get the 747 that works with P3D instead. Even though there's little to no different between the two simulators. They gouge people sometimes with stuff like this. In fact, the flight sim mod community in general is like that I guess. Charging insane prices for stuff people take completely for granted and free in any other genre of computer gaming. But, if you've got the flying bug it's still cheaper than getting out there in a real plane. I'm getting ready to start working towards a real pilot's license in the next year so that also explains my fascination with the civilian stuff where you guys are more into the military side of things :)
If you're curious:
I never published this video because it was just a test of all my various recording settings mostly, but here's a 15 min takeoff/climb in the PMDG 737. This plane was basically their "gold standard" for years until the 747 recently came out. But you can see lots of button switching and hear the engines roar and it's a fun time :)
Here's a quick landing in the 747 at Oakland Municipal (after hearing Drew on the Bombcast talk about his flying lessons there :)). You can maybe see the better textures / etc of the newer plane.
And then sometimes it's really dumb and allows you to do things like this