Flight Simulator 2000
Fans of Microsoft's
earlier Flight Simulators will probably eat up the new version, FS2000.
It builds on the fun (and, yes, training) of the older versions by adding
new aircraft and better rendered scenery than before.
This isn't the best
sim if you like dogfighting (try Combat
Flight Simulator for that!), but if you've always dreamed of being
a private or commercial pilot, you'll find more than enough on this CD
ROM to keep you happy for many hours on the Hobbs meter.
The new planes are
of the commercial variety - and a welcome pair they are indeed. You can
now get into the left hand seat of the beautiful Concorde, as well as
Boeing's latest masterpiece, the 777. The 777 is a biggie (not as big
as the 747, but it certainly ain't no slouch), and offers a nice way to
get the virtual feel for what it's like to command a widebodied "jumbo."
And of course the
Concorde is FAST! 'Nuff said about that...
Microsoft says it
picked the brains of aviation industry leaders, including manufacturers
and pilot organizations, to help ensure the most lifelike flying experience.
It claims it was so successful that the U.S. Navy might use FS2K in its
I don't know about
that, but as a person with some experience in single engine light aircraft,
I found the Cessna 182 about as satisfying an experience as I could expect
short of wearing a virtual reality helmet - or, better still, taking a
In fact, I was thrilled
to find the sim puts so many new airports at your virtual fingertips that
it even included the little strips in British Columbia I used to frequent.
On the downside there,
I was a bit disappointed with the landscape rendering of those admittedly
obscure strips. The area around Castlegar wasn't bad, but the mountains
around Trail looked nothing like the real ones.
Still, I was blown
away that the airports were even there - and to be fair, the rendering
of the areas around more mainstream airports is far better.
some 20,000 airfields in this version, so if you've even been aloft chances
are you can find your favorite strip.
One downside about
FS2K (and any other simulation like this) is the fact that keyboards and
mice just don't cut it when it comes to recreating the thrill of flying.
Fortunately, I have CH Products' Virtual
Pilot Pro" flight yoke, which transforms the experience from one of
"airborne computer geek" to "deskbound ace."
capabilities are up to date, too. You can find your way around using the
Global Positioning System (GPS) to give you constantly updated position,
ground speed and info about your course. You can also take advantage of
Jeppesen's Worldwide NavData Database and approach charts.
Or you can throw caution
to the wind and "IFR" it ("I follow roads") for some seat of the pants
The updated technology
includes updated weather, too, so you can freak yourself out by flying
into clouds or storms. You can also download actual meteorological conditions
and have the sim generate them during your trip.
The actual flying
experience is pretty good. Though I've never flown a Cessna 182, the feel
is mostly as I remember it from my hours in the smaller C150s and
172s - except for one major difference: retractable gear. And, yes,
it pays to lower them before landing. In fact, one of the great things
about a flight simulator is that you can try out many things that would
be really, really stupid in real life, safe in the knowledge that the
only thing you can hurt is your pride.
Which means I felt
obliged (as I do with each new version) to try some things virgin pilots
would avoid like the plague, like buzzing buildings and flying into clouds.
Or even sillier things like flying into buildings! I quite happily destroyed
my virtual Cessna quite convincingly.
I had a really good
time reliving my flying days. I began at Castlegar, where I took my training,
and practiced circuits and spins and other fun stuff, flying down the
Columbia River valley to land at what had been my base airport at Trail.
I also took a few virtual trips and one of these days will try recreating
my solo cross country flight that preceded my flight test.
All of the various
aircraft are fun (my second favorites were the big jets), but I must admit
I spent the bulk of my virtual flying in the 182 because it brought back
so many great memories.
God bless simulations!
FS2K is the best version
yet, and is a wonderful toy for the Walter Mitty in all of us. It ain't
flying, but it ain't bad.
If only I had a VR
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