• FS2002 Deluxe

    FS2002 Deluxe Edition

    By Bastian Blinten
    12 October 2007

    Tired of permanently upgrading your hardware? Fed up with a new flight simulator version every two years and getting accustomed to all the new settings and upgrading your add-ons. You are still happy with FS2002?

    Then I have something for you: Microsoft, and many many freeware authors present: FS2002 Deluxe Edition.

    The price is just €18 ($24).

    What you get:

    • A variety of 75 aircraft, everything from a glider to the Airbus A380, each with a unique cockpit and sounds.
    • More than 500 detailed airports worldwide. Almost every country has inhanced scenery.
    • Highly detailed mesh sceneries of the Rocky Mountains, Andes, Pyreneas, Alps, Canary Islands, Hawaii and Himalaya.
    • Improved ground textures, water and sun.
    • FSUIPC and Squawkbox software that connects you to the VATSIM servers for the enjoyment of realistic online flying with real controllers and other pilots.
    • AI aircraft using realistic liveries. No more Orbit Airline!
    • 7.5 GB of extras compared to the FS2002 Professional Edition.

    What is that supposed to mean? Well, in the FS2002 forum there lately was a big topic, why people stick to FS2002 and there seem to be many good reasons. FS2002 has won the hearts with its simplicity and good quality. In comparison to FS2000 it was a great leap forward, bringing good mesh scenery, new weather and great aircraft. Investing some time with upgrading your FS2002 gets you to new dimensions and makes FS2002 easily compete with FS2004.

    So where do you get this package? Well, that's the only drawback. You cannot buy it. It just takes two years of time for downloading and installing.

    The €18 was the price that I paid for my copy of FS2002 professional edition on eBay. I bought it in 2005 so there was no chance to get it in a shop. They sell the standard edition for €10 but I have been warned that it doesn't support all features and add-ons. (Or try here.)


    Airbus A320-200 departing Teneriffa

    The only payware add-ons I use were a present from a friend who gave up flightsimming. So the price stays at €18. On the other hand these are brilliant ones, Germany 1 and German Airports 1-4 from Aerosoft that bring alive all big and medium airports in Germany in high detail plus the southwest of Germany with mesh scenery and everything down to the smallest airfield.

    Apart from that everything else is freeware, 95% from FlightSim.Com.

    In this article I want to tell you a about the development of my flightsim and the beautiful possibilities to enhance your virtual world.

    The first question might be why I took so much time to collect and build up such a crazy amount of sceneries. As a frequent FS pilot it has always been my hobby to search for new aircraft and scenery and since I am interested in exploring the whole world and there are almost endless file libraries, well, that's the reason why it never stops.

    I have met many people on the forums who prefer the big iron. Others are happy with their Cessna because they like sightseeing. There are many different philosophies what and where people fly. Some put a great emphasis on the realistic flight model, others love eye candy. Some like to collect the places where they have been in real life or fly the planes they have travelled with, while others keep an eye on quality and won't touch an aircraft that doesn't have good sounds and a virtual cockpit. I love all aspects of flightsimming so right from the start I tried to build up an aircraft fleet and scenery for each and every desire.

    Scenery

    The last flightsim versions I have been greatly improving was FS98. I got my first modem when I was flying FSFW95 so that was the first time when I was starting to look for the one or the other scenery I might enjoy.

    FS98 with its standard 3000 airports was the first truly worldwide version but it still left enough gaps to fill. After collecting for a while I got to the idea that it might be interesting to get a whole world coverage of enhanced add-on scenery.

    So right when I got FS2002 and my fast internet acccess I took my globe and started searching for scenery in every country. I downloaded at least 150 sceneries and it took me quite a while to install them. After that I enjoyed quite a long round the world trip to have a look at all of it. But even after completing it, I could never stop collecting.


    DC-3 flying over the Red Square, Moscow

    Sooner or later I stumbled over FlightSim.Com's "scenery lookup map" which is a great help finding a desired scenery and I had another round the world trip to see what I had acquired.

    As you might have guessed my PC is 5 years old so it is pretty outdated with its 20 GB hard disk. Well it is full now so I finally declare my project finished.

    Any recommondations I can make? Well, since I havent't seen the whole world with my own eyes I can't really tell how close the sceneries come to reality but anyway it's a joy flying to somewhere and having something nice to look at.

    I found it interesting that it is hard to choose from a great variety in some places (like Paris) while there is almost nothing in others (like Rome). In general you can say that there is endless scenery for North America and Europe, quite enough for the Caribbean and South America, there are only some gaps in Asia but almost nothing in Africa. Apart from South Africa and Madagascar there is only Algiers, Kinshasa and some small sceneries in Cameroon and Tanzania.

    This reminds me of the fact that it is a privilege not only to fly but also to do flightsimming because fewest people in Africa can choose a hobby like this. Still I found it highly interesting to explore them in the virtual world.

    Of course I cannot give much detail about my sceneries. It would be too much. The only thing you will find out is that FS2002 is somehow limited to about 200 add-ons. Of course you can add more and they will work but they don't show up in the scenery library. So it becomes impossible to arrange layers and turn them on or off. I helped myself by uniting sceneries of the same country. This will even reduce space on the hard disk if two sceneries use the same textures. Problems arise if you have different textures or bgl's of the same name. You can only use one so you have to rename the other. In any case you should know what you are doing.

    A second advice I can give is: be careful with af2.bgl's. They are from FS2004 and work in FS2002 but they cause wrong compass headings. They are included in some FS2002/FS2004 sceneries. The first time they gave my trouble was on a flight from Moscow to Milano. I was approaching the Alps but suddenly found that I was heading towards Slovenia although the compass showed 240°.

    It took my a while to find out about the reason. The mistake only occurs from time to time and you don't have to fly in the faulty scenery. It can happen anywhere. In such a case you have to delete the af2.bgl. If there are no more left there might be other corrupt files causing the problem. It took me ages to find them by removing them and putting them back again. What gave me trouble was one small place in Romania and Bolivia.

    Aircraft In Their Favorite Environment

    What can I say more but have a look at the FlightSim.Com file library! You will find almost everything. In many cases you won't get complete aircraft but only textures or aircraft without panel and in the fewest cases they have their own sound. This gives you the opportunity to build your own, find your favorite panel and sound and make your own combination.

    Each and every one of my 75 aircraft have their own panel, most wih all round views or virtual cockpit and their own sound. Here is the complete list:

    Gliders and Motorgliders:

    • Schleicher KA-8
    • Schleicher KA-13
    • Schleicher ASK21
    • Schweizer 2-32
    • Vogt LO-100
    • Schleicher KA-4 Motorlerche
    • Scheibe SF 25C Motorfalke

    Private Aircraft:

    • Aero Commander 560
    • Beech Baron 58
    • Cessna 172
    • Cessna 182 S
    • Cessna 182 RG
    • Mooney Bravo
    • De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver (five versions: ski, float, amphibian, wheel, tundra)
    • Extra 300
    • Zlin Z-142C
    • Zlin Z-526 F
    • Zlin Z 526 ML

    Turboprops:

    • Pilatus PC9 M
    • Cessna 208 Caravan
    • Cessna 208 Caravan Amphibian
    • Beech King Air 350
    • De Havilland Twin Otter
    • De Havilland Dash 7

    Historic Aircraft:

    • Boeing Stearman PT 17 Kaydet
    • De Havilland Tiger Moth (wheels and floats)
    • De Havilland Chipmunk
    • Boeing Canso Catalina
    • Douglas DC-3
    • Douglas DC-4
    • F4U1A Corsair
    • Fokker DR 1
    • Fouga Magister
    • Gloster Meteor T7
    • Lockheed Super Constellation
    • Messerschmitt Bf 108
    • Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4
    • Ryan STA Spots Trainer (wheels and floats)
    • Sopwith Camel
    • Sopwith Triplane
    • Spartan Executive
    • Supermarine Spitfire MKIX
    • Supermarine Spitfire MKXIV

    Helicopters:

    • Bell 206 B Jet Ranger
    • Eurocopter EC-135
    • Robinson R 22 Beta

    Military Jets:

    • Grumman F-14B Tomcat
    • Boeing F-15C Eagle

    Business and Passenger Jets:

    • Bombardier Learjet 45
    • Avro 85
    • Embraer 170
    • Airbus A310-324
    • Airbus A318-111
    • Airbus A319-131
    • Airbus A320-200
    • Airbus A330-200
    • Airbus A340-300
    • Airbus A380-841
    • Boeing B707-351
    • Boeing B717-200
    • Boeing B727-200
    • Boeing B737-300
    • Boeing B737-400
    • Boeing B737-500
    • Boeing B737-800
    • Boeing B747-400
    • Boeing B757-200
    • Boeing B767-338
    • Boeing B777-300

    Schleicher KA-8 at Innsbruck, Austria

    As I said, many people like to enjoy aircraft they have flown in real life. For me as a paraglider pilot it is hard to find a realistic choice. I had a paraglider for FS2002 once but it was at first very far from reality and second just too boring.

    When it comes to flying gliders it's a matter of flying with your pants. It's about the challange of using the forces of nature to stay airborne, feel free like a bird and feel every bump of wind.

    Although we have the Schweizer 2-32 glider since FS5, FSX is the first version of Flight Simulator that takes gliding seriously. Until now, people had to help themselves and so you will find some add-ons like thermals for most parts of the world and takeoff cheats like panels, showing a towing-Cessna in front or a winch launch which is simulated by a silent jet engine with only 30 seconds of fuel. It works unexpectedly nice.


    Schleicher ASK21, upside down

    As a child I spent many days at the local gliding club and many a time I was airborne as a passenger with my father at the controls either in a Scheibe SF 25C Motorfalke a KA-13 or an ASK21 glider doing thermal flights of even aerobatics.

    Germany is a glider country. In 1891 Otto Lilienthal had his first successful flights taking him down some hills to distances of 250 meters. After his tragic death many pioneers followed his line of developement such as the brothers Wright.

    Nowadays 50% of the gliders worldwide fly in Germany and most of them are built here, too. That's why gliders are a common sight.

    Back to flightsimming: Yes, I enjoy a little glider flight occasionally but I must admit that powered flight makes more sense in a simulator.

    If you are interested in aerobatics you can take the LO-100 or the ASK 21 for a wild ride!

    The SF 25C Motorfalke is a two-seat motorglider powered by a 80 hp Volkswagen engine. It is mostly wooden and canvas relatively easy and cheap to maintain so it is the first choice of many flying clubs.


    Scheibe Motorfalke at Castle Neuschwanstein

    You can see it here circling Castle Neuschwanstein, the famous castle in Bavaria. I've circled above it a lot in real life with my paraglider.

    You will find a great variety of historic and modern gliders and motor gliders at www.fsglider.de. They are the best I've seen.

    I've always been pretty happy with Microsoft's choice of single or dual engine aircraft like the Cessna 182 or the Beech Baron. I've tried many others but only few show satisfying quality.

    Some very beautiful examples are the Czech Zlins. They are a good choice if you are still learnig and if you have mastered the small Cessnas. There is a beautiful selection of Zlin 526's by Tibor Kokai and a Z-142 by Milan Lisner in an air force trainer or a Polish livery. With its 205 hp engine it shows good performance and is an exeptionally detailed aircraft with a nice virtual cockpit.


    Zlin Z-142 at Rudesheim airfield

    The Zlin aircraft are certified for aerobatics so if you want to explore that for the first time they might be you first choice. In the picture below you can see it flying over Rudesheim airfield near Wiesbaden, Germany.

    Rudesheim is a 'must-see' for tourists and usually crowded by Americans and Japanese. The airfield is quite exeptional because it has an uphill runway. Standard FS2002 only knows flat runways but some smart designers have made up this grass and gravel airfield like in real. Unfortunately not every FS2002 aircraft accepts the bumpy ground and will crash if you are going above taxi speed.

    It is mostly used by gliders using an uphill winch launch. All engined aircraft take off downhill either straight or on the curved runway (or two very short seperate) runways seen below.

    At least in FS2002 it is a very special challenge to take off uphill. The Zlin can barely do it. Will you try?


    Zlin above Rudesheim

    Rudesheim is part of a beautiful selection of small German freeware airfields you find on www.flightport.info. Unfortunately it is only in German. Look for 'Szenerien' and you will find a list.

    A second aircraft I want to mention is the De Havilland Beaver. Microsoft has chosen it for a standard aircraft in FSX and I think it is a good choice.

    While FS2002 had a certain emphasis on flying the big jets and FS2004 on historic aircraft, FSX, with its high quality takes a closer look at bush flying. The Cessna 208 Amphibian was a first entry into bush flying but I always found it too modern to give you the right feeling. Besides it is a turboprop and I doubt that the slow power acceleration of a turbine is very helpful for extreme landings or go-arounds. And although it has huge flaps I doubt that it is as much a STOL aircraft as the Beaver.

    I have flown the Beaver into the wildest airports with big ease. Apply full flaps and with a little headwind you can take it down on a helipad. The radial gives the right sound and rugged feeling of a real bush plane.

    So why not download the one by Steven Grant and design your own bush flying environment. With Tundra wheels, floats or as amphihian you can go almost everywhere. The following screen shot not only show the aircraft but also different interesting bush flying locations you will find at FlightSim.Com. They are mainly on the Canadian west coast or in Alaska.


    Beaver at its best in bush flying

    Here you see Big Bears outpost. A beautiful place with a 'runway within a village'. It is situated on a mountain top so it gives some 'aircraft carrier' feeling although the landing strip is pretty long and more than enough for the Beaver.

    After takeoff you can idle back and glide down to the shore where you will find fishing huts and a place to tow your seaplane.


    Beaver with floats

    This screenhots is an example of Bill and Lynn Lyons' ground texture set Silver Wings which enhances the overall look of the ground and the autogen.

    The seaplane base is in Juneau and you can see the winter landscape with something that looks a lot more like forest and less like a small bunch of trees. I think it gives quite a new quality to flying through nature.


    Beaver at seaplane-base at Juneau

    A look at the cold winter shore of Juneau

    And if you enjoyed Canada, why not go on for the most extreme places. The FlightSim.Com file library offers a small but nice selection of Antarctic airfields. The Beaver on skis will be your right choice to take a closer look at Rothera station. I've read that the Beaver is the only aircraft that has ever been to both poles. And even if you cannot go there in FS2002 it is still worth taking it for some Antarctic discovery mission.


    Beaver on skis departing the British Rothera station

    Anything elso to mention? Well, the Extra 300 the German high performance aerobatic plane, flown by Patty Wagstaff is a well known sight in FS since FSFW95. I still find it hard to fly that little brute and it can take you to the limit if you push it hard.


    Extra 300 over Aschaffenburg airfield

    It is shown here flying over Aschaffenburg airfield, Germany, another of the www.flightport.info fields. It was designed down to the smallest detail. Take a look at the hangar below. You will see the little Turbi airplane, a homebuilt designed by its two pilots in fifteen years. My father had the pleasure to accompany it on one of its first flights and take air-to-air pictures.

    Aschaffenburg is close to my home so I frequently use it for simulator flights.

    The turboprop section is the smallest of all with only three aircraft added to the standard. I chose the Pilatus PC9 because it's a good aerobatic trainer, powerful and not as tricky as the Extra. The Dash-7 is four engined and comes with incredible STOL capabilities. Whenever you see a picture of Courchevel airport in the French Alps and add the fact that Tyrolean flew their Dash-7 there regularly, you will easily see why the Dash is an incredible aircraft.


    Twin Otter on top of the world

    Third is the De Havilland Twin Otter, a much smaller sister of the Dash which also sees extensive use in the most extreme landscapes like Antarctica or the Himalaya. Many adventurers trying their luck at Mount Everest are ferried from Kathmandu to the small airstrip in Lukla. The Twin Otter is the preferred aircraft on this route taking you through deep valleys and head on for a landing on a very short uphill gravel strip. If you take a look at the picture you will see why this is an exceptional landing.


    Twin Otter at Lukla

    Microsoft comes with a pretty good mesh of the region but you can enhance it with Martin Domig's Nepal mesh and a collection of airfields that were designed for it. Unfortunately all runways are flat but it is still a challenge. Also try the other airfields in Nepal. There is a good collection of tough ones, ready to be explored.

    Until FS2002 Microsoft had not cared much about historic aircraft so all but the Sopwith Camel were added later on. It is quite an enjoyable choice of aircraft representing trainers, fighters but also passenger aircraft.

    The Camel dates back to FS3 and was the original Combat Flight Simulator's choice. Although it is nice to look at from outside it offers little realism and pretty bad views when on ground.

    So what about having a look at its predecessor the Sopwith Triplane? Frank Elton offers a good example with virtual cockpit that solves the problem with the view and adds some extra fun and good realism.


    Sopwith Triplane taking off from Duxford

    The Triplane proved to be very successful in WWI so the Germans wanted their own. Frank Elton took care of it so now you can try your hands on the "Red Baron's" Fokker Dr. I in the same great quality and see which one is doing better.


    The Red Baron's Fokker Dr. I

    The 30's brought huge developements but the RAF's primary trainer still was a biplane not too different from those which had fought 15 years before. The Tiger Moth found wide use not only in the air force but also in private hands.


    Tiger Moth at Casablanca

    It was later followed by the Chipmunk, a monoplane that still had a great resemblence to the Moth. It is shown here flying over Toni Agramont's Havanna scenery at dusk. He has designed most of the Caribbean in very high detail. It's worth having a look at them.



    De Havilland Chipmunk at Havanna

    With the Stearman the Americans used a much larger aircraft. Today I want to put an eye an Bill and Lynn Lyons' Ryan Sports Trainer. Not only because it comes in perfect quality but because it is an exceptional and beautiful aircraft.

    If you look for payware quality as freeware just look for the Lyons' aircraft in FlightSim.Com's file library. You will find a small but very interesting choice of planes.

    The Ryan STA was the winner of quite a lot of aerobatic contests and you will love its looks, the virtual cockpit and the eye candy. You can even open the cowling. It will give you great fun when you take it for a ride. Although it was a monoplane the wings were braced. You will hear the sound they make at higher speeds. Beside the STA comes with a cute Ford T-Model and a detailed boat to add more realism not only to airspace but also to FS2002's roads and rivers.


    Ryan STA at London

    The Spartan Executive has been the topic of a review here so I show it just for your pleasure. It's one of the greatest most detailed aircraft you will find. The 3D interior is crowded with magazines, a laptop and a bottle of wine on a table which folds up when you rise the gear.


    Spartan Executice at Melbourne

    Let's move on through history. The thirties brought great aircraft developements which mostly ended as weapons of war. Nonetheless these were beautiful and powerful machines. There are still many Mustangs and some Spitfires around but naturally German aircraft from WWII are a very rare sight today.

    First one is a Messerschmitt 108 from 1940. The original still flies today and is operated by Lufthansa. D-EBEI was christened "Elly Beinhorn" by the famous pilot herself. It can be seen at airshows in Europe.

    You can download it from: http://www.gkflusi.de/modules.php?name=CmodsDownload&req=viewsdownload&sid=9&orderby=dateD

    It is beautifully equipped with a virtual cockpit, sound, opening doors and luggage compartment. The download is for FS2004 but it works perfectly in FS2002.


    Messerschmitt 108 at Duxford

    Another rare sight is a Bf109. On http://www.me109.de/geschichte.html you will find the story of the real D-FWME Red 7. This particular aircraft took part in the movie "The Battle of Britain". In the 90's some Germans bought it from France. At that time it was hardly more than a bunch of metal. Over the years it was restored with mostly original parts and she had her maiden flight on August 23, 2004.

    Unfortunately it had a bad landing accident in 2005 and is now under reconstruction. Donations are appreciated because the owners have trouble to afford another complete buildup.

    You will find the flightsim model at: http://www.gkflusi.de/modules.php?op=modload&name=CmodsDownload&file=index&req=viewsingledownload&lid=130

    It is a reworked and repainted version of Paul Rebuffat's Bf109 for CFS2. It features a beautiful interior and exterior and behaves like the real 109 in many respects. It's a handful to fly and you better practice on a long runway. It's everything you expect from a great fighter aircraft. It works in FS2002 and FS2004.


    Bf109 at Duxford

    Now to its counterpart the Supermarine Spitfire. It has always been my favorite aircraft. Together with the Hawker Hurricane it saved Britain in 1940 and remained the RAF's main fighter throughout the war. Its beautiful appearance is unmatched; the controls are perfectly balanced. Despite its popularity I had a hard time finding a good one for FS2002. I prefer the earlier models I - IX because they have the elegant fuselage. Still everything I found had severe drawbacks and I was not satisfied.

    There was a certain relief by the Spit MK XIV by Robin Ritchie. It is a great package, giving you the looks, sound and perfect flight characteristics of the Spitfire. You can download it here at FlightSim.Com.

    Still there was no good MK IX. It came as late as December 2006 as a modification of Paul Rebuffat's Spit by Marek Dobrzanski. I added some different Merlin sounds and now it is my favorite if I feel the need for lots of power.



    Spitfires MK IX and XIV over the British countryside

    The war went by and rather quickly the cold war arised. From 1948 to 1949 the Russians blocked all traffic to West-Berlin so the Western allies provided the city with C-47's and C-54's. The Germans called them raisin-bombers and started to appreciate the sound of big aircraft at night. There are great loads of DC-3's for the flightsim. My favorite is self made from different panels, sounds and models. It looks very similar to the one that still carries out flights from Berlin Tempelhof today.


    DC-3 apporaching Berlin Tempelhof airport

    The age of propliners reached its climax before a sudden end in the 1950's. For the first time there were regular passenger flights across the Atlantic. The most beautiful example of that time is the Lockheed Super Constellation. It was often called the most beautiful 3-engined because of its unreliably engines. I've read many stories about these adventurous flights.

    These days it was not a question of sticking to the flight schedule. It was more of the pilot taking the plane and making the best of the weather to reach the other continent.

    Those flights were hardly ever non-stop. The first leg usually led to Shannon on the west coast of Ireland to shorten the distance that had to be flown over water. Pretty often there was another stop at Canada.

    I've read of a Connie that pretty suddenly lost all four engines due to a pilots risky handling. That was above the middle of the ocean. It took some very long minutes of gliding until two engines came back to life and at that time the Connie had lost almost all of its precious altitude. Only in the last moment the other two engines joined in so the Connie reached its planned destination.


    Lockheed Super Constellation departing Shannon

    The last historic aircraft is a Fouga Magister jet trainer. With a v-tail it has an extraordinary appearance. Lately I finshed my last around-the-world flight with the Magister. You may think that it was a weird choice for such an adventure.

    I have seen most of the flightsim world, visited all my 200+ add-on-sceneries and one day found that I had traveled every European country. I asked how many countries were missing on the other continents to complete my list. America was easy, I had been almost everywhere. In Asia there were only some places missing but Africa still was a white spot on my map. In order not to let the trip consume too much time I needed a fast aircraft with good handling that could land on small airfields. My aim was to land at least once in every country no matter at which airfield. I found that the Magister was the perfect choice and it was a great trip.



    Fouga Magister at Durban and over the African desert

    I've never been too enthusiastic about helicopter flying. It might be a very interesting experience in real life but before I got my pedals it was almost impossible to do it reasonably in FS.

    Provided with my pedals I went for some special sceneries that let my experience situations made for the helicopter. I found quite a lot of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and the North-Sea. Still it was quite a lot of trouble landing there but I enjoyed it.

    www.flightport.info offers a lot of free airport scenery for Germany. Here I found one with German helipads. They are mainly on top or beside hospitals and there are quite a lot of them.

    The picture shows the Eurocopter 135 D-HECU at Offenbach am Main, close to where I live. My sister worked there as a nurse and it is a beautiful depiction of the original.


    Eurocopter 135 at Offenbach

    I've never been a big fan of military jets. I play combat flight simulators from time to time but the modern jets have never been my favorite. Maybe they remind me too much of unpleasant pictures we see on TV today. Still they are great if you want an adrenalin pushing low-level ride. For this occasion I left some space for an F-14 and F-15 in my hangar. I have no special preference for these types. They were just working better than others I found. The F-14 is nice with the sweep wings and comes with a great sound! Still it is very hard to land. I think a bit too hard.

    Although I have some experience I find it almost impossible to hit the flight deck of a carrier. Better take Dallas Ft. Worth for a landing and carefully watch your speed. Anything below 160 kts is deadly at low altitude.

    The F-15 is much more forgiving and a good deal faster although I think an F-14 should reach more than Mach 1.2.



    F-14C Taking off from a carrier near San Diego and passing the city at high speed.

    FS2002 has been a big improvement for those who like flying the big iron. One year ago I started online flying with VATSIM and I have enjoyed many nice flights since then. The collection of my heavies tells the story of my online flying.

    First: I have all Boeings from the 707 to the 777 and the Airbuses from the A310 to A380. (All the A300's gave me trouble.) Maybe this is because not only flying but also collecting is my hobby. There is no time to fly all of them regularly but it's nice that there is one perfect for every occasion.

    When starting online flying I decided to use Lufthansa jets. It's Germanys biggest airline and I think it makes sense if anybody else on the VATSIM networks know where you come from. I had some flights within Germany and others to Zurich, London, Dublin, Tallinn, Warsaw, Moscow and some more. I find it a great challenge to fly as close to reality as possible and talk to controllers from other countries. It gives flightsimming a truly international taste.

    I tried to build up a complete Lufthansa fleet but I still miss some examples. I haven't found a good MD-11 for Lufthansa Cargo flights. Lufthansa City Line, Lufthansa's regional daughter airline, operates Bombardiers CRJ 200, 700 and 900. This spring they ordered 30 Embraer 190's. Well, what I have is an Avro 85 the small four engined whisper jet you see a lot at Frankfurt airport. To be honest mine is the BAe 146-200 by John Murchinson. The Avro 85 is an advanced version of the BAe. I think it quite doesn't matter on a simulator. Your passengers won't feel the difference.

    You will always recognize it by its distinctive spoiler at the very end of the fuselage.

    There is one funny story about it: Once there was an Avro 85 taxiing. The tower told a Lufthansa Airbus to stop and let pass the Avro by the same airline. In an arrogant way the Airbus pilot replied "not the same airline" because it was Lufthansa Regional.

    The Avro pilot deployed the tail spoiler and made a "prrrrfffff..." noise into the microphone. Well, some dirty little story but worth telling.


    Avro 85 on final at Nuremberg

    Lufthansa was the first customer of the Boeing 737 back in the 1960's. They still operate 63 of the short 737-300's and 500's but through the years the Airbus A320 family takes a bigger and bigger piece of the cake. There are now 81 with some more ordered.

    When you take a look at VATSIM's flight schedules you will find that at least online the 737 is by far the most popular choice. Maybe this is because the 737 is a flight simulator default and there are some high quality add-ons that are the first choice of 100% reality-loving online pilots.

    It has also been my first choice with the default 737-400 in Lufthansa livery. I have now downloaded a 300 and 500 because Lufthansa doesn't operate the 400. Still it serves well as AI plane adding some European color to the airports.


    Lufthansa Boeing 737-500 departing Rotterdam

    Meanwhile I am upgrading to the larger types. I had a couple of flights in the Project Airbus A320-200. You won't feel a big difference to the Boeing (some reality missing here) but the elevator gave me some trouble. On takeoff I once suffered a tailstrike. The controls felt very light on my force-feedback stick so I pulled a little too abrupt. The tailstrike caused a complete crash on the middle of a runway. Quite a shame on a crowded virtual airport with others waiting for takeoff.

    You can see it here at Moscow Sheremetyvo. I once had the pleasure to travel there in real life. My wife is Russian so there is a great chance of going there more often.



    Airbus A320 at Moscow and departing Teneriffa South

    Authorities have changed the flight rules over the oceans in the past years. This has been much in favor of the twin-engined. This is why Airbus is selling many more A330's than the four engined sister A340. Still Lufthansa operates only ten A330's and many more A340's. Some of these ten have been leased to Swiss, such as D-AMID. Its virtual counterpart found a place on my hard disk and I took it for a first VATSIM flight lately.

    Those large Airbuses are known for being a slightly under-powered. This is beautifully modeled in my versions. If you want reality, Microsoft's default Boeings are far off course. If a heavy jet is fully fueled more than half its weight is kerosene. This has quite a big impact on handling and climbing performance. Still the default 747 darts up to high altitude in no time.

    My Airbuses are closer to reality. Above 20,000 feet you don't climb faster than 1500 feet/minute while this is reduced to about 800 feet above FL300. If you share my old habit of filling the fuel tank to the top and get going it is no good idea here. You will only need such a fuel load on ultra long range flight. In all other cases you are happy with much less. Then you will see that even the Airbuses are pretty agile and climb very satisfactory.

    The A340-500 currently is the aircraft with the longest range. The longest regular flight is from Singapore to Newark in 18 hours and 18 minutes. The A340-600 is the longest. I love its elegant shape. It is my absolute favorite.


    Airbus A340-300 in front of Sydney skyline

    Back to Boeing: the trouble and delay with the A380 surely was a reason for Lufthansa to order 20 Boeing 747-800. At the moment 30 747-400's are the biggest aircraft in their fleet.


    Boeing 747-400 at Rio de Janeiro

    Singapore Airlines will be the first carrier to receive the A380 this year. Lufthansa will have to wait for two more years. This spring there have been the first Lufthansa test flights from Frankfurt to New York, Chicago, Munich and Hong Kong. There has been a lot of talk about it and the Airbus great comfort and fuel efficency seems to make it the next generation's aircraft.

    Unfortunately there is no good model for FS2002 yet. There is one good looking in Airbus house colors which gave my too much trouble. The second by Camil Valiquette comes with all-round cockpit views and is quite complete. The outside reminds me of FS98 quality. At medium speeds my flight stick started shaking violently without any particular reason. I had to switch off force feedback for reasonable flying so this model didn't catch my enthusiasm. I recreated the test flights but in my case that was it. It will stay in my hangar until a better alternative comes around.



    Airbus A380-800 approaching New York and circling the Big Apple at dusk

    I am coming to an end with my aircraft collection. There are many more such as the Concorde that I deleted because my FS got too big. It is still alive in a ZIP file hangar until I might take it for a ride again one day.

    There is only one more example I want to mention. Project Open Sky offers some of the greatest freeware jets you can find. My Boeing 757-200 made me finish my last around-the-world tour by taking over the long legs above the Pacific. You can see it here approaching Micronesia. It is another example of how easy it is to modify FS2002 aircraft for your own preferences. You will find many verions of the POSKY 757 for download, some with others without virtual cockpit. In the end I grabbed the Air Finland 757 with VC, added the United color sheme and a beautiful sound set so it is now one of my favorites.


    Boeing 757-200 crossing the Silent Ocean

    After adding hundreds of sceneries and aircraft what else is left to get the maximum out of your sim? My recommendation: Just use what Microsoft offers. If you have a fast internet access with a flat rate, use "real weather". I find it the best choice on all of my flights. What can be more realistic?

    Apart from that: Try flight school! I was wondering how much I learned from that. After starting I limited myself to flying only those aircraft I had a virtual license for. It took me quite a while to get through the test rides and unfortunately Microsoft included some bugs that makes it difficult to finish some of them. But there are explanations on the web that help you through.

    Still don't ask me how long it took me to pass the ATP checkup ride. I needed at least 15 tries, each taking about 45 minutes!

    Anything else to change? Yes! Ever thought of new ground textures, a new sun or water effects? It can all be done. On my screen shots you see Bill and Lynn Lyons' Silver Wings textures for FS2004. They also work in FS2002. Just make sure you copy the texture folder into the main FS-texture folder and scenery/world/texture into FS2002's SCENEDB/world/texture. Delete all the rest that comes with the zip.

    You will have a fresher, greener look of the landscape, different water textures and many more autogen trees. Silver Wings favors the low flying bush pilot. Apart from that you have some rectangular city streets with the buildings properly placed beside them.


    Ryan STA at Seattle

    Forests do look much more like forests and not like a bunch of trees. That looks great when you fly over the enhanced mesh Rockies but it looks weird in cities when there are more trees than houses.



    Ryan STA enjoying the Rockies in Winter

    There are pros and cons. Silver Wings has some minor bugs at least in FS2002 and the amount of trees can be discussed. On the other hand it gives a great look in many places and a new look to the sea with better sun effects.

    I tried many different suns lately. There is one for every time of the day. An orange round disk for the sundown and a bright yellow one for noon. The big disadvantage: you can only use one. The orange disk is great for a sundown but looks ridiculous high in a blue sky and just the other way around with the bright yellow one. Find a compromise sun or return to the default.

    This is what people on the forums say: the default is often the best compromise and well done. I agree!



    Silver Wings night textures at Aschaffenburg and Frankfurt from inside an Airbus A340

    Any more changes? Do you like nice huge crashs with a good fireball? Go for Nick's massive crash. It adds some action if you want. Still it's hard to catch a screen shot in the right moment. This one should do. A Qantas 747 digging into a runway in Korea.


    Sorry Qantas, I know you never had a plane crash!

    Since FS2002 you are no longer alone in the sky. There is a reasonable number of aircraft around you at most airports. You find that Orbit or Western Pacific is not good enough for your feeling of reality? So do I. I must admit that I never tried any traffic programs adding real traffic. I think I wouldn't recognise a big difference because I don't know which airlines serves what destination.

    Still I find it nice to have real life airlines and their liveries on planes they really operate. Just have a look at the aircraft library. You will find more than enough liveries. Just overwrite the Orbit stuff and enjoy Singapore Airlines, Air France or whatever you like. Of course you will find the same aircraft at every airport around the world. A Sabena 737 will hardly make its way to the U.S. or the far East but still it adds some more real color.


    New Liveries for default AI 747 and 777

    Well, that was a lot of talk! After that are you now ready for the ultimate FS2002 experience? Want to experience the ultimate realism by flying with VATSIM. Then there is one last thing for you. Check http://www.vatnz.net/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=78&Itemid=49

    It is a little add-on for Google Earth showing the actual flights that are carried out on the VATSIM network and the active ATC-stations. It provides aircraft information and it is a nice tool to plan your flight.


    VATSIM on Google Earth

    You are flying FS2004 or FSX? You cannot imagine how people still enjoy FS2002. If I didn't manage to convince you just think of the times when we enjoyed virtual flights above flat landscapes with weird mountains and only a few dozen runways to land on. Did we enjoy the hobby less then today? Definitely not!

    Flightsimming is always about dreaming and imagining flights you cannot afford in real life. As long as you keep dreaming and making up the experience in your head your FS will be the right choice for you!

    Bastian Blinten
    [email protected]


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