Flight Simulator Notes and Comments
|Chasing other airplanes.
- Chase other airplanes - This is harder than you might think. First of all, if you chase an autogenerated airplane with a similar airplane, you'll have trouble catching up, since the autogenerated airplanes seem to be faster and have better climb performance than a user-controlled airplane. Instead, pick a high-performance airplane and fly it aggressively; for example, use a King Air to chase propeller airplanes, and use a 737 to chase jet planes. Then, give yourself a speed and climb rate advantage by adjusting the fuel and payload of your airplane to the minimums (Alt->Aircraft->Fuel and Payload, see below). Turn on aircraft labels (Alt->Options->Settings->Traffic->Aircraft Labels) so you can spot traffic more easily and find out how far and what altitude. Then just firewall the throttle and give chase; since this is not a realistic exercise, ignore overspeed warnings and instrument redlines. Once you catch up, try to fly in formation with the autogenerated airplane—this is quite difficult. If you fly behind and slightly to the side of an autogenerated airplane on final approach, you can actually land as a formation of two airplanes, but you'll have to brake aggressively to keep from running into the other airplane after you touch down. Now that I think of it, you can also do formation takeoffs with autogenerated airplanes—once the autogenerated airplane starts its takeoff roll, pull on to the runway and follow along.
- Fly in super-high performance mode - Before starting to fly, configure the fuel and payload to minimums (Alt->Aircraft->Fuel and Payload). Set the fuel to 1% in each tank, but be sure you have the option selected that prevents you from running out of fuel (Alt->Aircraft->Realism Settings->Unlimited fuel). Set the payload to 0 except for the pilot, but be sure to scroll down in the payload list, which might have many entries, and set them all to zero. With minimum fuel and payload, the 737 will take off practically like a rocket ship; it will also touch down lightly at a much lower speed than normal. In this configuration, I have been able to perform both inside and outside loops with the 737, whereas with normal fuel and payload, it's difficult or impossible to do these maneuvers.
- Weird cockpit view - Switch to virtual cockpit view, then use the special commands to move the eyepoint, which moves the "camera" around inside the cockpit. The eyepoint commands have an extended range, so you can actually move the cockpit eyepoint outside of the cockpit. Once this happens, you no longer see a complete airplane; instead, you see the "box" that makes up the simulated virtual cockpit, with lots of holes and missing pieces. You can also look inside the cockpit and cabin by setting the view options for the spot plane view (Alt->View->Options). For example, when flying a King Air, set the spot plane distance to 16 feet and altitude to 0. When you switch to spot plane view, you can see the inside of the cockpit and cabin as you rotate the spot plane view around the airplane.
- Fly with door open - With the Cub or other airplanes, you can open the door by pressing Shift+E. Especially with the Cub, this can give you a better view of the scenery from the cockpit seat.
- Fly backwards - Configure the weather to be Major Thunderstorm, then fly the Cub into the wind at minimum airspeed—the gusts will actually blow you backwards. To see this effect more easily, fly close to the ground so the backwards motion is more apparent. If you're on the ground, thunderstorm gusts can be strong enough to overpower the brakes—the tail bangs up and down the Cub rolls backwards. When parked in a strong wind, you can use the elevator control to nose over the Cub and get it to rest on its nose and the two main gear, that is, until a wind gust blows it over again.
- Do a rolling takeoff without power - Find a very steep hill and position the plane at the top of the hill. Turn off the engine (Shift+Ctrl+F1) then release the brakes and roll downhill until you pick up enough speed to become airborne. Once you're flying, restart the engine (Ctrl+E) to keep flying.
- Dead-stick landings - While flying any airplane, use Slew Mode to boost your altitude as high as you want, then kill the engine (Shift+Ctrl+F1). Look up the best glide speed on the kneeboard (F10) and glide down to a successful dead-stick landing. Use all available tools (like the map and the top-down view) to pick out a good landing spot, preferably an airport, but don't restart the engine. If you're flying a Cub, you can stop the prop from windmilling by pulling back the stick to reduce airspeed to the stalling point. Once the prop stops windmilling, you can pick up speed again.
- Fly in Space Shuttle mode - Pick any airplane, start flying, and go into Slew Mode. Then: raise your altitude high enough to miss all mountains, set the desired heading, and set your speed to about 16,000 mph (stay in Slew Mode). Now select "top-down view" (Ctrl+S), select View Options (Alt->V->O), and specify a view height of about 300 miles. Now you see things from the perspective of the Space Shuttle. Unfortunately, even a fast computer has trouble keeping up with the scenery, since you're traveling so fast and looking from so high up. It's also hard to see interesting detail from this high an altitude since Flight Simulator "greeks" the scenery from this far away. Try flying over island chains in the Caribbean for varied scenery.
- High-altitude operation - While flying any airplane, enter Slew Mode and raise your altitude as high as possible (99,999 feet), then exit Slew Mode. Airplanes react very weirdly at this high altitude, although one extreme weirdness is that the engine of the Cub still runs! Fat chance!
- Astronomy view - While flying any airplane, select "top-down" view mode, then enter Slew Mode. Go to View Options (Alt->V->O) and select an altitude of 20,000 miles or greater (you can go much higher than that). You can now see the whole planet as if from space. Increase your speed in Slew Mode as high as it will go and the planet will spin around. As the nighttime side of the planet spins into view, the planet gets dark. Unfortunately, at this elevation and speed, Slew Mode doesn't travel in a straight line, so the planet spins kind of wobbly. Remember, you can't fly over the poles, so avoid the poles or the planetary spinning will get screwed up.
- Aerobatic maneuvers - Try flying the Extra 300S, the aerobatic airplane, and try to do some stunts. Frankly, I find it pretty difficult, especially with my twitchy joystick (the Extra is very sensitive), but it's fun to try. Be sure to turn on "smoke" (press "I" to toggle smoke). Also, look at the scene using the control tower view (zoom in using "+" if necessary), since this provides a good stable view of the overall scene, and it's easy to tell which way is up. If you have "auto rudder" enabled, disable it (Alt->Aircraft->Realism Settings->Autorudder) so you can separately control the rudder and ailerons. With smoke on, it's pretty neat to do tail slides with the Extra (go straight up until the plane runs out of flying speed, then it slides backwards into the smoke cloud).
- Look inside control tower, look inside airplane cockpit - Fly an airplane like the Cub close to the object you want to inspect (control tower or autogenerated airplane cockpit), select the spot plane view, position the spot plane directly behind your airplane, then enter Slew Mode. Let's say the spot plane distance is 80 feet (set using Alt->V->O). Using Slew Mode commands (cursor keys), move your airplane through whatever object you want to inspect, and keep going for about 80 feet. At that point, stop your airplane (Numpad 5) and the spot plane camera will be right in front of the object. You can continue to move your airplane in Slew Mode to position the camera wherever you want, even inside the control tower or cockpit. Many control towers don't have anything inside, but I've seen a control tower that had people inside. The people were constructed like Flight Simulator constructs trees, that is, as two "cardboard cutouts" joined together at right angles.
- Rain problem - When you taxi into a hangar during a rainstorm, it keeps raining inside the hangar.
- Using a virtual control tower "camera" - Remember that you can move the control tower "camera" anywhere; it doesn't have to be associated with a physical control tower or even an airport (Alt->W->M, then select Control Tower and drag the control tower symbol). For example, this was a good way to get easy screenshots of airplanes landing on the Flight Simulator aircraft carrier. I moved the control tower camera to a convenient position and elevation near the aircraft carrier, then as I flew around, this camera stayed focused on my airplane so I could snap a picture after landing.
- Fly at dawn and dusk - Flight Simulator usually has very colorful and enjoyable sunrises and sunsets.
- Visit fast food restaurants - Flying the Cub, you can easily land anywhere level, like streets, fields, etc. You can land in suburbia and just taxi around, getting close-up views of the various buildings including the fast food restaurants (chicken, beef, or fish, according to their signposts). You can also taxi through a city and look at the buildings, getting a pedestrian's view of a city instead of a pilot's view.
- Round-the-world flight - I haven't tried this yet, but I wonder if you set up a fast airplane in straight and level flight at altitude, configured it so it never ran out of fuel, enabled the autopilot, and just left the computer on, would the airplane fly all the way around the world? Would it come back to the starting point?
- Sailboats - All the autogenerated sailboats (of a certain type) cruising in the harbor waters are named "Stephenie". Who is Stephenie?