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Scenery From Aloft



Viewing scenery in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is a unique adventure due to satellite realism. But pilots are so busy during takeoff and landing maneuvers that viewing scenery details up close is not practical. Looking out the side windows risks drifting off course, falling below minimum descent altitudes (MDA), crashing into high terrain, and maybe getting in the way of other aircraft in these congested airspaces.

I rarely look at scenery during such maneuvers and regret it afterwards, but do I have time for viewing while cruising aloft. Although some flight simmers might consider scenery viewed from high altitudes mundane, I am always drawn to major elements such as mountains, lakes, rivers, and islands. A few examples follow.


The Grand Canyon in the western United States reveals two billion years of geological history through its bands of colored sedimentary rock more than a mile deep from rims to the Colorado River. Although known by native Americans for thousands of years, it was discovered by Spanish explorers in 1540.




Mount Saint Helens in the northwestern United States literally blew its top off in 1980 and bares deep scars while still an active volcano. Its peak is 8,363 feet (2,549 meters) above mean sea level, but that could change with the next eruption as its seismic activity continues.




The Mississippi River Delta comprises silt carried southward by North America’s longest river into the Gulf of Mexico. Its multiple lobes began approximately 100 million years ago. The ecosystem provides habitat for hundreds of species of land and water animals, migratory birds, and flora. But the entire real-world delta is disappearing as sea levels rise due to climate change.




The Uyuri Salt Flats in Bolivia’s Andes Mountains is a tourist attraction and filming location for Star Wars movies despite its remote location and high elevation. It looks like water in MSFS, but it is rock-hard salt. Visitors arriving at the nearby La Joya Andina Airport, elevation 12,024 feet (3,667 meters), require several days of acclimation to its oxygen deficient air.




Rio De Janeiro’s iconic beaches, monuments, and harbor make it the most visited city in South America, and the view is splendid from aloft.




London, Sydney, Tokyo, and other major cities are dazzling at night.




There are interesting places and scenes around the MSFS world. They just are not always cities with skyscrapers, towers, bridges, stadia, opera houses, and sprawling airports.

Bill Stack is a flight-sim expert and author of tutorial books and videos for flight simmers who want truly realist simulations.


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