Flight Simulation


These pages provide some of my work and research for MS Flight Simulator. In making aircraft I have learned much about textures, panels, gauges, the aircraft.cfg file and GMax. With scenery I learned much about Autogen and Library files. I have therefore written tutorials which may help other designers with this work.

The Downloads section also includes some useful data files on FS recognised airlines, aircraft types and models. It also provides some information on real world flying such as Instrument Approach procedures.

The Online ATC section describes the basics of flying with online services like VATSIM and IVAO.


FS2004 Quality Showcase


The quality of aircraft in FS2002 reached a very high standard but this is now being exceeded in FS2004 thanks to some code changes in the later program. The move to XML code for effects, gauges and scenery started a learning curve that is still in progress so I do not think we have seen the ultimate capabilities of FS2004 yet. The recent releases of the Real Air Spitfire and their SF260 upgrade show that more is still to come.

There are a growing number of first class aircraft designs for FS2004 - from airliners like the PIC 767 and the PMDG 737TNG down to Real Air's Bellanca Scout and Rick Piper's freeware Chipmunk. Listed below are a few of my personal favourites - both freeware and commercial releases. All the aircraft below fall in my highest ranking of quality for the simple reason that they possess the three attributes I consider essential - good visual model, impeccable flight handling and first class panels/gauges.


 

PMDG 747-400

The ultimate VC?  PMDG's superb Boeing 747-400.  The exterior is just as beautifully crafted.

 


PMDG Boeing 737TNG

PMDG have produced a truly exceptional aircraft in the Boeing 737TNG. Behind the superb exterior is a full systems aircraft that will tax the most enthusiastic FS user - this is definitely an aircraft that, as with real life, needs correct preparation and reading up on the manuals to operate correctly. Despite this the real surprise is that the 737TNG is a delight to fly manually and is therefore a treat to both lovers of automatics and those who prefer hands on flying.

PMDG have also released the Beech 1900C/D, the Boeing 747-400 and the MD11. Website at PMDG


Project Fokker - Fokker 70

Not all quality designs are payware as has been shown by the excellent Project Fokker F70/F100 series. This aircraft has been at the top of the AVSIM downloads list since it first came out and it rightly so - it is yet another aircraft where attention to detail and handling is first class.

The PF download includes both the Fokker 70 and the Fokker 100 - the latter in both Tay 620 and Tay 650 variants.


Real Air SIAI Marchetti SF260

Considered one of the finest aircraft produced for FS2002 the Real Air SF260 was innovative in many areas. The highlight of this design was the exceptionally accurate flight dynamics - beyond the apparent limitations of FS2002 - which gave crisp handling, correct stall/spin characteristics and required a more delicate touch to make the aircraft fly well. This handling has become a hallmark of all subsequent Real Air designs.

Considered exceptional for aerobatics the SF260 unfortunately got slotted into that corner by many users but it's unsung strength is as a high speed medium range tourer. With the SF260 you can go places fast and it's bubble canopy gives it unprecedented visibility for VFR navigation.

A substantially revised version of the SF260 has been released for FS2004. See the  Real Air  web site.


Real Air Spitfire MkXIV

Sigh...

Real Air's Spitfire XIV has been in the pipeline for a while but the wait has been worth it - this aircraft is a real beauty in every respect. Not only have Real Air perfectly reproduced the classic lines of the Spitfire (albeit the more rugged Griffon variant), they have also excelled in both panel and sound reproduction too. The only item missing from this package is the unique smell of the aircraft.

The major change in this design was Real Air's decision to provide a 3D panel only. I rarely use VC's but, somehow, the Spitfire cockpit feels exactly right in this mode and gives a very strong sense of reality. This design is a masterpiece.

You cannot describe what it is like to fly this model. The handling is pure delight - perfect in every way - but you can only discover this if you try it yourself.


Hawker Hunter Miss Demeanour

 

Also known in the British air display circuit as Hunter G-PSST. This is a freeware aircraft design by David Garwood, Dave Booker, Saverio Maurri & Rick Piper and shows that freeware designs can be as good as some payware offerings. Again the flight dynamics are very good and represent the handling of a classic 1950's fighter - agile but no match for current day aircraft. All pilots who flew the Hunter described her as a delight to fly and you feel the same with this FS offering.

Compare the FS aircraft (above) with the actual aircraft photo below.


DHC1 Chipmunk

 

Scud Runner

The Chipmunk replaced the Tiger Moth as the RAF basic trainer in the 1950's. Many ab initio pilots started their flying on this aircraft and, later, it became the regular mount for UAS students and ATC cadets. Many of us had their first flying experience on this aircraft.

Rick Piper has produced a flawless model here in impeccable detail. Those of us well familiar with the aircraft can appreciate the detail and accuracy of the external model - it takes some time to look at it fully in FS and absorb the work that has gone into it. Changing to cockpit view really brings the aircraft back to life - the sensations, the images all come flooding back again. It takes a very good designer to achieve this.

Flying the Chipmunk is just as it used to be too. Anyone remembering the original drills and speeds can fly this aircraft just as they used to - and it is just as unforgiving as the real thing on landings. That an FS2004 design can give you a pure nostalgia trip for the real thing is a tribute to the hard work and perfection of this model.

Chipmunk G-BARS of Hawarden Flying Club. Freeware aircraft design by Rick Piper. Repaint by Bones.


 

FSD Panther Navajo

Back to payware again and now in the corporate/air taxi market. The Piper Navajo/Chieftain range was one of the most successful in aviation history and this FSD release of the Panther Navajo is a welcome addition to the FS2004 fleet.

The PA31 was no stunner. It lacked either beauty or ruggedness to catch the eye but it was a perfect design for its role and fulfilled it with ease. FSD have chosen the slightly sexier Panther variation (the GT version so to speak) and, if corporate aircraft are your forte, this is a cracking model. Interior and exterior are again perfect and, apart from the location of the Master Switch, real PA31 drivers could operate this aircraft just as they do the real aircraft.

Flight Unlimited featured a PA31 in its third release with, for the time, a really accurate interior. To accommodate all the cockpit knobs and taps FU3 had about six windows - in beautiful detail - but you just could not move around these fast enough to complete checklists at any speed. It was much faster in the real aircraft! With the FS design FSD have somehow created the same level of detail but have provided a much more functional cockpit and it is a delight to use.

The flight model is very accurate. Right from the start the aircraft needs to be handled like the real thing with differential power needed to make steering easier. Once in the air the PA31 is no slug and its agility is reflected well in the FSD modelling - which tends to make you throw the aircraft around more than one would in real life. A corporate aircraft it may be but this model can be good fun too.

FSD have seven well made GA aircraft in their range - from the Rockwell Commander to the Piaggio Avanti. Website at FSD International.