The Return of Community Spirit

Once upon a time, there once existed a spirit within the flight simulation community where talented individuals created many marvelous things to enhance the base simulator application.  Everything from navigational aids, enhanced airport scenery and aircraft.  At one time in our not so distant past, the quality freeware offerings outnumbered payware.  As the base simulator began to evolve (circa FS9 –> FSX timeframe) the quality freeware began to decline and the rise of payware took hold.  While I won’t pretend there’s absolutely no freeware available for P3D, I will tell you that the quality content is very few and far between.

Of course the X-Plane community has, for years and still very much to this day, enjoyed a very strong community spirit around freeware/shareware concepts.  Many of the X-Plane users in the virtual airline I belong to have spent little to almost no money to enhance their simulation experience.  Arguably, one of the very best freeware aircraft models ever known to exist is the Zibo 737.  The Zibo 737 Project, led by a team of developers to expand the capabilities of the default 737 in X-Plane.  Many who fly both the PMDG 737NG and the Zibo 737 will tell you the differences between the two are hardly noticeable.  Others might describe the Zibo 737 as being on-par with Aerosoft quality.  Either way, it’s a fantastic aircraft and absolutely free.  Who can argue with free? 

With the launch a few weeks ago of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, many were bracing themselves (and their wallets) for an onslaught of payware add-ons.  After all, if you’ve spent the past decade or more flying study level aircraft the excitement of a brand new simulator may wear off fairly quickly once you climb into the flight deck of the default Airbus A320.  Sure….it’s pretty.  But within just a few minutes you realize you’ve taken a huge step backwards in the level of immersion as most features are labeled as Inop.  I’ve even stated several times that for me, MSFS2020 will most certainly become my go-to flight simulator, but only once aircraft models from PMDG, FSLabs, QualityWings etc. become available.  This won’t be happening this year.  Most likely this won’t be happening until sometime late in Q1 2021 or perhaps even early Q2 2021. 

But….

In just the past week or so, there’s been news about a project underway to create a “Zibo” like experience with the default Airbus A320 in MSFS2020 called the MS2020 A32NX Project.  I can tell you from first hand experience that what this team of developers have been able to do in the short time since the release of MSFS2020 has certainly piqued my interest in both MSFS2020 and the default Airbus A320 from an airliner perspective. 

Understand, the project is still very much a work in progress.  But they’ve certainly managed to excite me in such a way that I can certainly see myself flying the A320 in MSFS2020 on the VATSIM network very soon.  Certainly much sooner than I originally believed would be possible. 

Want to learn more?

Of course you do!  I’d suggest watching the video I’ve embedded below which will bring you up to speed on the progress already made as well as what’s in-store for the very near future.  The video description area will provide you with the links to download the mod and how to join the project’s Discord server so you can stay informed on the team’s progress.  I hope this news excites you as much as it does me.

Final Thoughts

Thank you for reading this article.  It’s much appreciated.  For those who are thinking the MSFS2020 A320 project will never be on-par with the likes of the FSLabs A320, you are probably correct.  However, as previously stated….the FSLabs Airbus series is most likely 4-6 months away from being available.  I’d be willing to bet, the team working on the MSFS2020 A320 project will (in time) bring this up to a level of quality and realism as what we currently see with the Aerosoft A320 and perhaps beyond. 

Many are asking if the same might also happen with the default Boeing 747 and Dreamliner.  Unfortunately, due to the DRM status of these two aircraft…this may never be possible.  But I suppose one should never say never. 

Thanks for reading.  I’ll soon provide an update to my experiences with the latest MSFS2020 patch.  Stay tuned….

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

MSFS2020 First Patch Coming Soon

If you’ve been enjoying or trying to enjoy the brand new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, you’ll be happy to note the first expected patch is due to be released in the next few days.  Microsoft recently announced on their dev blog the full list of fixes users can expect in this very first patch

Yes, it’s a short list!

Many in the flight sim community are expressing disappointment with this first patch believing it should include more fixes and enhancements.  I personally believe this update is 100% spot on and is precisely the fixes the sim needs now, versus waiting another week, two or more to include more. 

First, there are many who are still struggling simply to download and install the sim.  If you refer to the patch notes, you’ll see there are several items being addressed which should help the folks who haven’t been able to install. 

Second, the SimConnect FPS drop has all but grounded anyone who desires to use MSFS2020 with the online networks like VATSIM, IVAO and PilotEdge. 

Third, the sim crashes when USB devices are connected or disconnected is another show stopper in my opinion and has been causing issues for many users.

More to Come?

Absolutely!  There are many opportunities which need to be addressed and I’m confident these will be addressed in time.  I’d personally rather see Microsoft/Asobo address the truly show stopper issues first (as they’ve done with this first patch) then hold this patch up several more weeks. 

How to Apply the Update?

That’s Easy-Peasy, Lemon Squeezy.  If you happen to be running MSFS2020 at the time the update is released, just simply shut down the sim and restart.  The sim will automagically download and install the updates. 

We should know more about what’s on the horizon in future patch releases on 3 September.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

MSFS 2020 48 Hours In

As I type this on my laptop, I’m carefully watching my default Cessna 172 fly low and slow along the Fjords from Stewart, Canada on a flight to Ketchikan, Alaska in the brand new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  I honestly can’t believe my eyes. 

FlightSimulator_Srpk0rZN3l

As Real As It Gets?

What I’m seeing and experiencing today has only really been achievable in real life flight.  Don’t get me wrong, pursuing ones private pilot license will certainly trump any experience on a gaming PC in my basement man cave.  But if you don’t have the time or the money to pursue such endeavors, then one can have an almost “As Real As It Gets” experience with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. 

For many of us who have been in this hobby for many years, MSFS2020 is exactly what we’ve been waiting and hoping for.  After many felt Microsoft let us down many years ago, I personally believe they have hit a home run with this new simulator.

FlightSimulator_yYf3V81NVP

Is it Perfect?

Of course not!  But we’re 48 hours into what I believe is the future of the flight simulation hobby and a platform that should carry us well in the years to come.  While there’s certainly areas to improve upon (and I’m confident these will be addressed in time) the new sim is stable, performs well and chocked full of hours and hours of flying fun. 

FlightSimulator_LTMtDJjZ2R

Well I better focus my attention on landing in Ketchikan.  I’m loving this….

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

Setting My Own Expectations

Like many of you, this past week I’ve been watching a few YouTube videos and Twitch Live Streams for the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  I’m truly in awe at the nice visuals (aka eye candy) I’m seeing.  As I’ve said before, stunning visuals are a key element in the immersion factor of any simulation.  After all, this is why so many of us have invested a small fortune in add-on scenery for FSX/P3D/X-Plane.  I fully expect my jaw to drop once MSFS 2020 has been downloaded, installed and started up for the first time on my system. 

Having said this, I’m also preparing myself for the fact that most likely on day one our experience with MSFS2020 will be much different than say on day 100.  In other words, in my long history with any version of Flight Simulator (even in the days of the boxed editions) there is a period of time where patches/updates will be required.  This has also been true for other types of simulation games I play such as Farming Simulator or American Truck Simulator.  Yes, this is also the trend in the large scale business software industry as well.  There’s only so much testing developers can and will do before it’s time to turn it loose to the masses and then begin the arduous task of bug fixing.  While many have been helping to test MSFS 2020, it is us the consumer that will ultimately end up shaping what will become the final or near final product.

Other than all the stunning visuals and what we believe will be a much improved flight model, MSFS2020 will not/does not include magic code to allow it to perform with all sliders shoved right with FPS numbers climbing to the moon.  Even on some of the preview streams (knowing they are using a preview build), FPS numbers on fairly beefy hardware are not any greater than what they experience in P3D or X-Plane.  But again, I’m reminded of what we’ve known for years about flight sim programs.  Unless you sacrifice visuals, you’ll struggle to maintain a constant FPS of 60+.  But then again, I’ve also been saying for years that an FPS of 60+ isn’t needed in flight sim. 

Tuesday, 18 August is the BIG day.  We’ll all wake up and go check to see if the download is available and then hope the Microsoft hamsters can keep up with demand.  Then once the download is complete I plan to fire up MSFS2020 for the first time and see what’s what.  I’ll approach it much like I did with Prepar3d v5 and that is to leave most things default and see what I see.  As time progresses, I’ll inch the graphics further to the right and adjust for smoothness.  Once this is done, I won’t care what my FPS is.

Finally, soon after release we’ll all know for ourselves if MSFS 2020 has lived up to the hype.  If I were a betting man, I’d say it will and perhaps even more.  But prepare for just a little (or a lot) of turbulence so keep those seat belts on and have fun. Just remember how far we’ve come…..

c64-fs2-statue

Screenshot from Flight Simulator Commodore 64 circa 1984.  Do you remember this?  I do!

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry 

Farewell Prepar3d v4

In preparation for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS2020), it is time to bid farewell to P3Dv4.5 and all the associated add-ons.  While my P3Dv5 instance is still awaiting the availability of the PMDG Boeing 777, I have enough add-ons in v5 to keep me fully entertained until such time as the Triple Seven can be installed.

P3Dv4.5 Was Amazing

I joined the P3D bandwagon when P3Dv2 arrived on the scene and in my opinion, while v5 is finally proving to be stable….P3Dv4.5 was just simply rock solid.  Almost from day one, the much anticipated 64 bit release showed us exactly what a flight simulator should be and remained almost trouble free for just over three years.  However, between the P3Dv4.5 install and all the associated add-ons adding up to over 275GB of SSD space, I need to remove it to make room for the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 which is planned to release in just a few days from now (18 August). 

A Bit of a Three Ring Circus

My current gaming machine was designed and built with the future in mind.  At just over two years old now, at the time of the build I installed a 1 TB M.2 SSD as the main drive.  I moved over a few older 500GB SSD drives along with a 500 GB SATA drive for video work.  To maximize the performance of P3Dv4, it was installed on the 1 TB M.2 SSD along side the Windows OS.  I have one 500 GB SSD dedicated to Steam content such as Farming Simulator, Truck Simulators etc. and use the remaining SSD’s for backup and non-gaming content. 

When I installed P3Dv5, I installed it onto one of the SSD drives and it’s performing just fine.  But I believe I’ll want MSFS2020 to go onto the 1 TB M.2 SSD for maximum performance.  So to make this happen, unfortunately I must sunset P3Dv4.5. 

It really isn’t that big of a deal as I’ve been using P3Dv5 exclusively now for over a month.  Now that I have P3Dv5 dialed in, the performance is better than what I had been experiencing with 4.5 so now is just a good time to say goodbye.

MSFS2020 Requirements

According to the published minimum requirements of MSFS2020 as it relates to available disk space, I will need a minimum of 150GB.  Clearing out P3Dv4.5 and all its associated add-ons along with doing some additional cleanup, I will easily have over 500GB of free space on my main 1 TB M.2 drive.  Certainly more than enough.  At least for now. 

Looking Forward, Never Backward

While a lot of flight simmers may plan to ditch Prepar3D and X-Plane on day one of the MSFS2020 release, as I’ve stated before…Prepar3D v5 will remain my main simulator for simulating jetliner flights.  However, between home DIY projects and other responsibilities I do anticipate flying in MSFS2020 with any of the default GA aircraft as I explore the world flying low and slow.  My first flights most likely will be as follows.  Depart KAPA and fly over my house and the greater Denver area.  Flight number two will probably have me depart EBAW (Antwerp, Belgium) and fly over the area where my in-laws lived along with the Antwerp area.  Then who knows?  Most likely I’ll hop around between Alaska, perhaps fly around Innsbruk Austria…really the complete world is my option. 

Until next time…

Happy Uninstalling and Flying!

Jerry

The Future of the Flight Sim Add-on Market

With the upcoming release of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 2020, many might be wondering what the future holds for the 3rd party add-on market.  In today’s FSX/Prepar3d and even X-Plane environments we must purchase, download and install dozens and dozens and sometimes even dozens more of extra add-ons to create an “As Real As It Gets” experience in our favorite simulator.  While some of the add-on content is freeware for X-Plane users, the vast majority of quality add-ons for FSX/P3D is payware.  All these extra components (while truly awesome) often present challenges in terms of compatibility and reliability of the base sim.   With MSFS2020, will we still need all this extra stuff?  The short answer is yes and no. 

No Longer Needed

While total immersion has always been my goal with flight sim, the eye-candy ranks right up there on my list of importance.  After all, much of what we perceive to be a full immersive experience comes to us through what we see.  Regardless of whether you fly low and slow or high and fast, the ground textures including roads, highways, rivers, lakes and railroads all add to the experience.  In the world of FSX/P3D all this level of detail has generally been provided through various add-ons from Orbx including the Global Base Pack, Global Vector, Global Trees, Global TerraFlora, Global Buildings and different OpenLC products for each region of the world.  Thankfully, right out of the box Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 has us covered with their highly accurate and stunning auto-gen provided by real world satellite imagery.  However, don’t count Orbx out as there will be plenty of opportunity for them to continue to develop their awesome scenery add-ons specifically the smaller airports and perhaps some of the larger ones like KSAN (as an example). 

Another example of add-ons which I believe will be obsolete in MSFS2020 is all the weather, cloud and sky texture add-ons which generally come to us via Hi-Fi (ActiveSky) and REX.  Out of the box, the MSFS2020 weather engine along with the way sky and cloud textures are displayed appear to be as real as it gets. Of course the development teams at Microsoft has completely rewritten the book on how aircraft will experience changing weather conditions to a level not even available to us now with these 3rd party add-ons. 

Finally I believe all these add-on shader type products such as EnvShade, PTA and Tomatoshade will also be unnecessary in MSFS2020.  I truly believe that out of the box the visuals of everything including ground textures, aircraft textures, sky textures..etc. are all absolutely beautiful out of the box.  This is not to say that any of these shader programs won’t make it to MSFS2020…I just don’t think they will be necessary.  At least not necessary for my setup.

Needs Going Forward

Of course at the very top of the list will be all the wonderful add-on aircraft (study level and some not so much) from devs such as PMDG, FSLabs, A2A, QualityWings, Aerosoft and Carenado just to name a few.  The limited information I’ve seen on the default Airbus A320 tells me that while this will be a fun aircraft to fly in the short-term, it’s not going to tick all the boxes for the seasoned flight simmer.  At the time of this writing, only PMDG (to my knowledge) has provided any sort of timeline and that is looking like late Q1 2021.  So we could be talking 6+ months before we see any study level aircraft in MSFS2020.

While many of the top add-on airport developers have posted pictures and details about their plans to release their airport add-ons for MSFS2020, these too will likely not be ready for release until several months after the release of the new sim.  Of course, of the enhanced airports Microsoft is including in the release, it’s unclear to me how these would differ in quality from what the 3rd party developers will provide. 

Expected Add-on Costs

I don’t want to speculate on exactly what the pricing will be for any 3rd party add-ons other than to say that I highly doubt we can expect to see any discounts from previous FSX/P3D purchases and certainly no free upgrades.  While the FSX to P3D jump has been a similar platform and some add-ons purchased for FSX have received 100% free updates all the way to P3Dv5, MSFS2020 is a completely different platform and I believe all add-ons will also be practically brand new versions.  In other words, I don’t believe these will be simple port overs from previous versions. 

Additional Thoughts on Pricing

When P3D was first released, PMDG was the first to increase their pricing.  At the time the reasons provided by PMDG was due to licensing and the simple fact that Prepar3D was not licensed for entertainment purposes like FSX had been.  Here’s an old forum post discussing this (Jan. 2015).  Other add-on developers like FSLabs also introduced their products at a premium price due to the P3D EULA.  As Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 once again is marketed as a “for entertainment purposes” product, can we expect add-on pricing to drop?  Well….your guess is as good as mine at this point in time.  But I would guess if there is any price change towards a new EULA the change will be minimal. 

My Plan

As I’ve stated before, while I will most likely purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 near day one and I will spend some time flying and looking around, I don’t plan to make the move to the new platform until my favorite study level aircraft are available.  As I’m still currently unemployed (laid off in July after 22 years), I will also have to be frugal in my spending practices as I go along.  Most likely I will focus my attention first on aircraft and just make do with the airports that come with MSFS2020.  Then as time goes along and hopefully my job status will resolve itself in time, I can then purchase more things.  But these COVID-19 times are difficult for many and the priorities of my family must come first before anything else. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Default Airbus A320 MSFS2020

I wanted to briefly draw your attention to a couple of YouTube videos which have recently been released by Chewwy94 (AKA Matt) who in my opinion is one of the best Flight Sim YouTube/Twitch content creators.  I’ve been watching and following Matt for several years.  His content is both educational and entertaining. 

Matt recently released two new videos showcasing the default Airbus A320 which will be one of the featured aircraft in the brand new flight simulator from Microsoft.  Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS2020) releases on 18 August and I believe will become the new standard for flight simulation. 

While it may be a few months before I fully embrace MSFS2020 as my go-to sim (due to the delayed release of study level aircraft), I fully believe MSFS2020 will introduce many new individuals to the wonderful world of flight simulation.  Being new once myself, (albeit a very long time ago) I cut my teeth on default aircraft and I firmly believe that is the best way to first grasp the art of flight simulation.  Once one masters the basics, then there is plenty of time to learn more advanced aircraft. 

Anyway….back on point!

The two videos I would like to showcase discuss the new flight planning features in MSFS2020 as well as a full flight from Manchester to London Heathrow in the default Airbus A320.  As Chewwy94 clearly points out in the flight video, the Airbus A320 still has a few opportunities (aka bugs) to be worked out and I’m sure the team at Microsoft are burning the midnight oil to get everything sorted. 

Thanks Matt for taking the time to showcase MSFS2020 on your channel and for all your efforts in helping so many (myself included) to get the most from this wonderful hobby.  You truly are a legend!

Please take the time to check out the Chewwy94 YouTube and Twitch channels.  His content is worthy of a Subscribe, Like, Follow etc. etc. etc. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

PMDG and MSFS2020

Some really great news hit the flight simulation news wires today regarding PMDG and the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS2020).  While it’s great news because obviously MSFS2020 is believed to become the next generation flight simulator which I discussed earlier this week.  Unfortunately the news set an expectation which I fully expected, the first PMDG aircraft scheduled to be released for MSFS2020 won’t be available until late Q1 2021.  This means MSFS2020 could be some 5-6 months old before we have our first study level aircraft available to fly in the new sim. 

Naturally, I didn’t believe we would have anything from PDMG, FSLabs or even Aerosoft on day one.  I also didn’t even think we’d see anything in the first 60 days.  But I do believe good things come to those who wait and I certainly believe the PMDG 737 NG will be a thing of beauty in MSFS2020.  Actually, I encourage you to read this article posted on FSElite and view the first images we’re seeing of the PMDG 737NG in MSFS2020.  Seeing is certainly believing.  Just WOW!

Where’s the Triple Seven?

For me and my Prepar3d v5 setup, the main aircraft I’m missing from my virtual hangar to have an almost complete fleet is the PMDG Boeing 777.  My fleet of payware, study-level aircraft is near complete with the PMDG 737 NGXu, 747 QotSII, the FSLabs A319/A320/A321, Aerosoft’s A318/A319/A320/A321, QualityWings 787 Dreamliner.  I’m just waiting for the 777 and once that is installed…then my P3Dv5 fleet will be complete. 

In the above mentioned article from FSElite, PMDG does provide a status but that status is that progress on the 777 is progressing slowly.  Could we have it in the next 30 days?  Well, your guess is as good as mine.  But of course, when it is ready…PMDG will release it and it will be near perfect.  I certainly can’t wait.

Interested in Flight Sim?

If you currently don’t own a flight sim product and are really interested in getting started.  My advice to you is to start with the new Microsoft Flight Simulator when it releases on 18 August.  Enjoy and learn with the default aircraft starting with the smaller general aviation aircraft and work your way up to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 747.  I know, I know…..the urge to install MSFS2020 and take the 747 out for a spin will be difficult.  However, the time you spend in these default aircraft will pay off when the study level aircraft models begin to release. 

Yes, the default models are basic.  But for those of us who have been in this hobby for as long as I have, that’s all we had back in the day was default aircraft that came packaged with whatever version of Microsoft Flight Simulator we used. 

As I pointed out earlier in the week, please check out my tutorials section. While I don’t like to “toot my own horn”, I’ll just say that for a beginner…the articles are written to be easily understood and will give you a good level of understanding. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

VATSIM Ready for MSFS2020 Day One

111114951_3652564898091592_684078394498485044_n Oh Boy!  Are you ready for the onslaught of brand new pilots to flood onto the VATSIM network?  You better be.  The old saying of “If you build it, they will come” will prove to ring true in just a few weeks.  If you are new to flight sim and the world of VATSIM, please take a look through some of my tutorials I’ve written.  They might help you.   I even have a Basics of VATSIM tutorial which will give you an overview of what you need to do and know before your first online flight. 

A Prediction

With the upcoming release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS2020) scheduled for 18 August 2020, the growth of our flight simulation hobby (and that of VATSIM) will be nothing like we’ve seen since the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) way back in 2006.  No other flight simulator (including P3D or X-Plane) has experienced the hype like MSFS2020 has had over the past 13 months since the news broke from the E3 Conference in June 2019. 

The Long and Winding Road

It’s true!  It’s been a long and winding road awaiting the release of what will become the next generation flight simulator.  While Lockheed Martin has truly made great advancements on the old ESP/FSX platform and P3Dv5 is truly the best we’ve seen thus far, MSFS2020 will eventually blow away everything we’ve come to know and love about FSX/P3D.  I also believe many X-Plane users will also gravitate to MSFS2020 in time.  While the year 2020 has been a difficult year with COVID-19, 18 August 2020 will be a truly remarkable day for all flight sim enthusiasts.  But 18 August is only day one in this journey. 

Setting Expectations

While I’ve not been involved in any of the alpha/beta tests of MSFS2020, history has taught us the road to the future is first often filled with bumps and holes.  With every new release, there will be a period of growing pains which we must all endure for the greater good.  Take for example the recent release of P3Dv5.  Released on 14 April 2020, it’s only now just become stable enough to fully replace the previous P3Dv4.5 version.  Yet, we’re still awaiting some aircraft and scenery to be made compatible with v5. 

Most likely the initial release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will have some opportunities and challenges.  While VATSIM has announced compatibility on day one, there is uncertainty as to when third-party developers like PMDG, FSLabs, etc. will make available their study level aircraft models for the new sim.  Another unknown at this time (specifically with VATSIM functionality) is will FLAi model matching be available day one.  What is model matching?  Well in simple terms, if you are flying commercial jets and you want to see the exact airplanes, exact liveries of the other pilots…this is where model matching comes in.  Model matching has evolved over the years and is quite possibly the best it’s been with FLAi.  For seasoned VATSIM flyers, this functionality will be important.  I want to see other American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest etc. while connected to VATSIM just as I do today.

New to VATSIM

If you are brand new to the world of VATSIM (and perhaps even to flight simulation) then Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (out of the box) will be a great opportunity to earn your wings.  Unlike P3D which does not offer any default jetliners, MSFS2020 will offer both the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 747-8.  While these default aircraft are not appealing to most who are seasoned veterans of the hobby, they are a great for beginner pilots.  But then again, if you truly are new to flight sim at the release of MSFS2020, I highly suggest you begin with default Cessna 152 or 172 and delay your entry to the world of VATSIM until such time as you at the very least understand some of the basics of flight.  Even taking time to understand how the default Airbus A320 or Boeing 747-8 functions offline will make your transition to VATSIM a much, much better experience.  Not only for yourself, but also for others around you.

Not A Game

VATSIM and Flight Simulation IS NOT A GAME!  At any given time you’ll find hundreds (if not a thousand or more) taking to the virtual skies to simulate the amazing world of aviation.  Regardless if you are flying a Cessna 172 in VFR conditions or the Queen of the Skies, Boeing 747 in IFR conditions or controlling in any of the levels that make up Air Traffic Control (ATC), we’re all doing our very best to simulate real world operations.  As I mentioned earlier in this writing, please also take time to read the Basics of VATSIM and other tutorials.

Brace, Brace, Brace

For us seasoned VATSIM veterans, regardless of which ever simulator we use on the network on and after 18 August, we must accept and understand we will have many new pilots who are just finding their way via MSFS2020.  We must prepare ourselves for this eventuality.  We will encounter scenarios as a result of new members who are new to the network spawning on the runways and not understanding simple ATC commands.  Heck, we encounter these things now, but I anticipate much, much more of this behavior.  I would simply ask all my fellow seasoned VATSIM pilots to be patient, be courteous and be helpful when you can.  We all began our VATSIM journey in more or less the same way.  We all have made mistakes and some of us (myself included) still sometimes make simple mistakes. 

Final Thoughts

While I still plan to delay the use of Microsoft Flight Simulator until such time as PMDG and others have released study-level aircraft,  I will be actively flying on the VATSIM network most likely as AAL301. If you have a question or need a little help, please let me know and I would be more than happy to assist.  Likewise, if you’re a fan of American Airlines and would like to join a great group of flight simulator enthusiasts, I personally invite you to join American virtual Airlines (AvA).  AvA is the oldest virtual airline in the VATSIM community.  At AvA, we value community, camaraderie and especially fun.  AvA is an awesome virtual airline which I’ve been a member of (off and on) for the past 19 years. 

And until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

MSFS 2020 Release Date

You’ve probably heard by now that Microsoft announced the much anticipated release date for their new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  The currently scheduled release date is Tuesday, 18 August 2020.  This announcement and more importantly this date surprised many in the flight sim community, myself included.  While I personally had no doubt that Microsoft would release the new sim this calendar year, I was thinking it would release in the late fall timeframe (October/November).  After all, we only heard a short time ago that the product was exiting the alpha stage to enter beta. 

All the Hype

I genuinely understand the hype.  I too am excited about this new simulator.  I’ve spent all my adult life (and some of my teen years) flying computer based sims.  For me, it all started in about 1983/84 on the Commodore 64.  I then evolved to the PC versions in the early 90’s and my current sim of choice is Prepar3D simply because it is the evolution of FSX and it has made the most sense for me to use. 

Release Details

Instead of me typing all the details out regarding the various pricing options for MSFS 2020, I’m going to share a link to the FSElite website and the article they wrote which covers all these details.  For me personally, I’ll probably go with the Premium Deluxe Edition. But I’m not planning on whipping out my credit card just yet. 

Why I’m Waiting

There are a few reasons why I’m making the decision to wait on purchasing MSFS 2020.  Perhaps one of the main reasons has to do with the fact that just about two weeks ago my 22 year career came to an end after being laid off.  While this has less to do with finances, it has more to do with my focus and attention.  I need to spend my time on searching for another job and some much needed DIY tasks around the house.  While I’m still spending time enjoying simulation based gaming, I know that MSFS 2020 would probably suck more of my time away when I need to stay focused on other more important things. 

Second, these days I tend to do most of my flying on the VATSIM network.  I’m guessing it may take some time before MSFS 2020 is compatible with VATSIM.  Third, and this one is perhaps more important than #2 is the fact that it will also be sometime before study level aircraft make the scene.  What I’m hearing is the larger jets that come standard with the new sim are all default level.  This is 100% OK as this new sim will introduce many to the world of flight simulation and default style aircraft are a great way to learn and enjoy flight simulation.  But I love my PMDG and FSLabs aircraft and would easily get bored flying default aircraft. 

Finally, I know there will be challenges and bugs with the new release.  Having some experience with software development, I’m not sure how it can go from alpha to beta and then literally within weeks ready for prime time.  So Microsoft is doing what most software developers do (and they probably wrote the book on this) is release it to the masses and allow their customers to perform a widespread beta test.  I’m 100% OK with this as I know it happens across the entire spectrum of software development.  I also know that Microsoft will release updates/fixes and MSFS 2020 will become everything we have wanted it to be since we learned of the demise of FSX.

Finally, Finally…..if you’ve been reading my blog site you know I did purchase Prepar3D v5 and I’ve been taking a slow approach making the move from v4.  In the past few weeks I’ve been using v5 exclusively and getting it all dialed in.  I have most of my favorite aircraft installed along with scenery.  v5 is a huge jump from v4 and I’m having fun with it.  Flight Simulation has navigated me through some dark times in the past 35 years.

Well…I need another cup of coffee and I believe I’ve said all I intended to say on this subject.  Thank you for reading.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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