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Time To Fly

After getting the hardware sorted out to my personal preference, it was time to get in the air.

Naturally, one of the first things to do was jump into a jumbo jet and take off – this is relatively easy to do and a laugh but not totally what I was out for. Next up was the obligatory ‘taxiing around the carpark’ – again easy to do and you can pretty much do whatever you like in FS2020, within reason, just bear in mind that it is a serious simulator and not a smash-em-up like GTA5 is.

Once I had gained basic control of the Cessna 152 in the air, it was off for some sightseeing trips 🙂 The graphics in FS2020 are nothing short of breathtaking, at least from the air anyway. The buildings look unreal once you get down too low but this is to be expected as you rarely fly that low. From the air it is totally realistic, being based on Bing Maps which is pretty similar to Google Earth, the visual aspect is spot on. It’s very much like using Google Earth but with a flight yoke and not a mouse. Bear in mind though that it has been simplified in a few places, there are no electricity pylons or wires and although the roads do show some moving traffic, there are no trains. These things are being worked on though.

Flying over our home town, I can make out major buildings, roads, the river, parks etc, it’s all there.

Pictures below show some of my sightseeing trip antics, taken in ‘follow-cam view’, these are all X-Box screen-shots taken in-play…

The Spurs football stadium and part of Tottenham, North London
The factory (at 11 O’clock) in Cheshunt where I spent many years working
Taxi to the parking lot – every user does this I’m sure
Coming in for an attempted landing at Stansted Airport
Taxi’d my little Cessna to the gate but they refused to connect the skywalk

After gaining some more basic practice, a trip to London was required simply to infringe on various aviation laws and fly under Tower Bridge – it has to be done.

Flying under Tower Bridge

To do the basic sightseeing trips you don’t even need to learn to take off – you can simply choose any point on the Earth and the software will launch you there, in the plane, flying straight and level 🙂

I think you can see that the graphic quality is pretty amazing, there are a couple of levels of detail – mostly the buildings are pretty generic when you get up close, but there are some “World Packs” available which can be downloaded and installed for free, these include a much higher level of detail in certain cities like London, Paris and so on. As you can see by the Tower Bridge image above, the detail is very good, even down to the coat of arms plaques on the top arch.

The data being processed by the software is intense, it’s dragging in data from Bing Maps by the bucket load and rendering/blending it as you fly, it will work offline but the effect is greatly reduced so a reasonable internet connection is a must. There is an area of high detail around your plane and further out the detail drops but it’s all so high anyway that the difference is pretty much unnoticeable, you don’t really notice the detail increasing as you move because it’s so smooth.

Having had some pure fun it’s off to flight school for me, there are some basic starter lessons in the software and I’m working on these now. It’s also so accurate that you can watch Youtube videos of real flight lessons and apply the same theory in the simulator. There are many pilots on Youtube that have admitted the simulator is harder than real flight simply because the virtual plane has no inertia or feedback – I view that as a positive in some ways as when you can land a virtual plane smoothly it would lend some hope of actually landing a real plane in one piece, that’s my thought anyway.

Time for flight school…