We are now into our 10th (last?) incarnation of the Microsoft Flight Simulator series. For some simmers the question as we are booting up our PC’s and loading the weather system is, “Now that I’m ready to fly… Where do I fly?” For some their VA assignments are the solution while others a daily news event may be an inspiration. What if those don’t trigger any interest?
Most flights take place in North America and Europe which can be verified by looking at the routes being flown on the various on-line flight tracking systems. Given that most simmers are from these areas it’s not surprising. However, there are many other interesting areas to fly. I’ll give you two areas to give you some fresh ideas and a list of scenery available for each area at the end of the article.
The first place I always think of is The Philippines. I’m somewhat biased on the Philippines because my wife is from there but once I started finding freeware scenery of its airports, it soon became one of my favourite places to fly. The Philippines are a collection of hundreds of islands in south-east Asia. Most airports will bring you in over the sea on approach. There are numerous mountains and volcanoes in the area for some sites to see, and avoid, while flying. I highly recommend FS2004 freeware scenery from Emmanuel Aquino Jr. and his partners. The scenery they’ve done looks nice, are pretty accurate, and not hard on the frame rates. These scenery’s work in FSX but I’ll leave up to you to decide as they are not designed for FSX. Landclass scenery from Scenerytech for FSX improves the views enroute but FS9 is lacking in this area although there are some freeware small areas with landclass. FSX airport freeware coverage is low.
Manila (RPLL) and Cebu (RPVM) are the busiest airports in the Philippines. There are many other tourist spots and large cities to fly to such as Puerto Princessa (RPVP), Bacolod (RPVB), Davao (RPMD), and General Santos (RPMR). For a real challenge try flying in and out of Subic Bay (RPLB). The use of SIDs and STARs are required here. Philippine routes are generally an hour or two long and are close to other areas such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Indonesia for the shorter wide-body routes. China, Japan, Australia and India are not far for longer wide body routes. Routes within the Philippines are normally done with turbo props (ATR’s or Dash 8’s) or jets with less than 180 passengers, in particular the A320.
Brazil is another of my favourite places to fly. I was first attracted to Brazil when I saw a cockpit video for Varig and then one by GOL. These turned me into a Brazil nut for months (pun intended). Brazil is located in South America and is nice to fly when it’s snow covered up here in the northern latitudes. Tropicalsim has this place covered extensively in the payware market and well done I may add. As with the Philippines, there are some fantastic freeware scenery’s for Brazil too. The lack of landclass for FS9 makes this a little dull but Scenerytech has released landclass for FSX to liven things up. I’d really like to see Ultimate Terrain for South America, as the areas around Sao Paolo, Rio, and the Amazon would be fantastic! Typically airlines here use the A320 and B737 aircraft with a smithering of F100′s and some turboprops. Long haul flights are done with just about every wide body available as there are many airlines serving Brazil.
For a challenging flight do a round trip from Sao Paolo Congonhas (SBSP) to Rio De Janiero Santos Dumont (SBRJ). Think you are an A320 or 737 expert? Trying taking off from SBSP with it’s 6,000ft runway sitting on a plateau in the middle of the city and then land on a 4,500ft runway on an island surrounded by mountains and city at SBRJ. If that isn’t hair raising enough try taking off from SBRJ’s 4,500ft runway and landing on the that plateau at SBSP. Add-on scenery is really required to see SBSP in all its glory, however. The default is pretty flat and doesn’t represent the real airport effectively. Other areas of notable interest are Iguassu Falls (SBFI), Fortaleza (SBFZ), Florianopolis (SBFL), and Porto Alegre (SBPA). The freeware scenery for SBFI and the surrounding falls is very well done. The others are popular touristy spots and don’t forget flights around the Amazon river departing from Manaus (SBEG).
Those are two areas for you to check out if you want to get away from the usual North America and Europe flights. As promised there’s a list below of suggested add-ons to download to add some more realism to the areas. Payware items can be searched for at your favourite download store (Simflight has allot available for Brazil). Also, it’s worth downloading a paint scheme for your aircraft that represents one of the airlines, just to add that much more realism.
FS9 freeware files:
Iguassuf.zip by Cicero Costa for SBFI Iguassu Falls.
Riov8.zip by Fern Marques and Newton Drumond with Dave Pearce for Rio.
Fortalv5.zip by Alvaro Volponi Freitas for SBFZ Fortaleza.
Sbpav4.zip by Roberto Zanolli for SBPA Porto Alegre.
Mia08.zip by Michael Kwan for Manila RPLL. This is photoscenery but not high quality.
Rpllv5.zip by Lowil Fred Espada for nice airport scenery without photo quality.
Rpll2004.zip by Peter Binamira and Manny Aquino. My favourite for RPLL.
Manila08.zip by Nestor D’Angelo.for scenery of the city of Manila. Highly recommended.
Rplb_v11.zip by Jon-Jon Santiago for RPLB Subic Bay. Nicely done.
Davao_03.zip by Emmanuel Aquino, Jr. and Ver Walter Gulfan for RPMD Davao.
Mactan11.zip by By Emmanuel Aquino, Jr. for RPVM Cebu. One of my favourites.
Canlaonv1.1.zip by Ver Walter L. Gulfan depicts a volcano close to Cebu – RPVM.
There are many mesh scenery’s available.
FSX freeware files:
Mesh terrain by Thomas Trewin for the Philippines.
Sbeg-man.zip for SBEG Manuas.
Fsxsbfz1.zip by Peter Koller for a little upgrade from the default.