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.
Andrew, thanks so much for this post, it’s awesome, I’m actually here in the Philippines and my office overlooks the runway 09 threshold at RPUB (Baguio)…
Feel free to contact me as I’d love to see if I can make some freeware for some of the airports over here…
P.S. I believe there’s also scenery for RPUB for FS2004
What an excellent idea for a post!
Maybe Miguel or Francois woild care to “give some space” for the subject. It may fit into a Forum slot, but maybe a slot here on the front page may be a good place too. With it’s own sub-section – a bit like the “Reviews” pages.
Dean… you still in the Philippines mate … I thought u headed back to the States !!!
Yes some Scenery would be nice for the Philippines and most of Asia for that matter.
Wonderful idea to post something like this.
And I agree: only flying around Europe and NA is boring (and all the request for USA airports in the forums of top notch scenery designers are even more boring: how many variants of square buildings with rows and rows of alwayst the same DL, UA, CO, WN planes one wants to see?)
Both Philippines and Brazil are great. I do Brazil a lot, especially SBRJ, one of the few airports in the world I still don’t master. I have a list of around 60 “difficult approaches” – SBRJ is one of the most challenging and also scenic ones.
As for the Philippines, I believe you should also mention Caticlan (RPVE). It is a beautiful flight from Manila, a short hop on an ATR, and a very challenging landing on a 2’900 ft runway.
BTW: when going to Brazil, I usually continue to Argentina (try going to Tierra del Fuego – beautiful), I do the short Santiago-Mendoza hop over the Andes, and then head for some of the nicest FS experiences: La Paz, Cuzco, Quito, Cuenca, Bogota, Medellin (the old airport in the city centre), Merida. Beautiful sceneries, high altitudes and hair-raising approaches. And a “realistic chance” to fly the likes of B727 or B737-200s, not only the usual Airbus. There’s plenty of freeware and payware scenery around to make the experience interesting.
I hope this column will continue, I find it very inspiring and I’d be happy to contribute.
Thanks for the ideas mozart. Glad you and the others were inspired.
While it’s true I do much of my flying close to my real home (England), I do have “second homes” in Australia, New Zealand and Alaska. But I also suffer from the wanderlust, and will fly long, rambling tours all over the place. I never fly airliners, so for me a “quick London to new York” trip is 20 hours and 10 stops. I can get to Tokyo in about 25 hours if I don’t get distracted flying through Russia and China. Melbourne is nearer 70 hours, again subject to distractions through the Philippines or Himalayas etc. Cape Town 50 hours (lots of interesting places to visit in Africa, but poorly rendered, and woefully little addon scenery. I often think of it as the neglected continent)
Why someone would want to jump into a 747 and fly non-stop, missing out all the interesting places to visit on the way, is totally beyond me… 😉
Oh, and one time I flew from New Zealand to London “the wrong way”, via the South pole and all the way up the Americas. Took over 150 flight hours, but boy what a trip!
That was quite a trip from New Zealand to London. I did a cross country flight in the USA once using a Cessna 337 and Tileproxy (streamed satellite imagery). I picked a highway and followed it until it hit another city and then the next highway and so on.
Yes, Philippines is a very nice country to fly-in, especially if you will simulate the domestic airlines here like Seair, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines / PAL Express, Asian Spirit / Zest Air, and more ..aircrafts are all downloadable via flightsim.com and the other busy airports like Manila(RPLL), Mactan-Cebu (RPVM), Caticlan-Boracay (MPH), Bacolod (RPVB), Iloilo (RPVI), Bantayan island, Camiguin Island, Tagbilaran (RPVT) and more… you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org for further guidance on the FS9 platform for the Philippines.
Yeah I’m still in the Philippines, been bouncing between USA, Australia and Phils…
I’m really itching to have a good rendition of RPUB and once I have some time during rendering I’ll have a go at doing up a decent AFCAD for RPUB…
P.S. Found this group a while back http://www.philskies.net/ am digging around for the FS2004 version of RPUB
Great Article. Like you, I fly the Philippines alot. My wife is from Eastern Samar and my Dad’s from Bocaue, Bulacan and I found that the best way to learn the geography of the Philippines is to fly it. I usually fly to the airport, then restart the game and fly a helicopter to the nearest mountain or volcano, land it, and fly back to the airport and then fly out on fixed wing. Doing this with all the different aircraft and in different weather really makes you know the lay of the land so to speak. When I hear Filipinos talk about a place, its as if I’ve been there, I know where it is and how to get there, its great. I am really pumped about trying to use fs2004 airports scenery in FSX. I hope it works because I want to get as many PH airports and city sceneries as I can. I got the free 38m mesh for Asia By Thomas Trewin and then bought the $14 Scenery Tech to put on top of it for FSX and man, what a difference that makes! Baguio City Airport is not exactly correct though, the big hill on the south side of the threshold of RW27 is not represented but other than that, its a heck of a lot better than the default mesh and scenery.
Thanks for comments. When I say use the FS9 scenery in FSX at your own risk, I meant it. The scenery I have tried is really “abnormal” in FSX. That is the best way to describe it. I can relate to your comments about talking to Filipinos. When I meet some of my wife’s friends and they tell me where they are from, I can describe in pretty good detail the nearest towns. I have FSDiscover installed too which pops up city and town names as you fly around. One of the best add-ons for a geography nut.
You can get the Thomas Trewin Mesh from this link :