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(updated August 07, 2014)

  MS Flight
Introduction
 
Page Menu: | News | PC Requirements | Controllers | Trailer | First Impressions | Hawaii | Screenshots | Links
 

Van's RV-6A on Runway 26, Hana Airport (PHHN) on the island of Maui, Hawaii, USA


latest journal news

July 4, 2014: I finally expanded my Flightsim Journal so that it now includes a new Flightsim Home Page, an updated MS Flight section, and a brand new Prepar3D section. If you are ready to make the move to a more comprehensive flightsim, you may want to visit my Prepar3D section.

FLIGHT NEWS UPDATES: FLIGHT SHUTDOWN ANNOUNCEMENT (July 03, 2014): Microsoft Flight is scheduled to be grounded on October 14, 2014 at which time the multiplayer servers will be shutdown. This will affect online features, such as multiplayer and aerocaches; the single-player experience should remain largely intact. Full News Release link.


July 26, 2012: Today it is official . . . Flight has been cancelled (after just 5 months).  This is something that I have been expecting, but was hoping would not happen.  As a beta tester, I tried to warn them that what they were planning on releasing would not succeed (at least not for long), but what do I know?  My intuition has been telling me that this was coming . . . which is why I stopped promoting any new DLC here, as I could now longer support Flight after I became convinced that it was not going to last much longer.

This makes me sad, as I love flightsims, and Flight had a lot of potential (before the wrong person took over the Flight Team, and pretty much ruined any chance that it had as a flightsim).


May 29, 2012: Today it has been exactly 3 months since Flight was released, and MS released yet another non-cockpit aircraft.  I do realize that these aircraft were planned to be released months ago, but that was not a good decision no matter when they made it.  For me personally, it just makes me increasing less interested in the game.  At this point, I'm done with Flight.  MS will have to have to release an update that would greatly enhance the simulator aspects for me to get interested in Flight.

Also today: an interesting article appeared on SimHQ, by  contributing editor Chris "BeachAV8R" Frishmuth: FSX - More Game than "The Game." The author shows how FSX is not just more of a flightsim than Flight . . . it is also a much better game.  And I totally agree.  There's a 25 minute video at the end of the article in which the author highlights some of the gaming aspects of FSX (available in the Gold edition).


May 10, 2012 - Lack of Updates Lately: I have not been adding any updates here lately for two reasons:

1.) My PC quit on me on April 21st.  One of my hard drives died, and it was the drive that my Operating system was on.  It was fixed in just over a week, but I'm still working to reinstall everything.

2.) I'm very dissatisfied with the current direction that Flight seems to be heading.  Other than the DLC which was released the same day as Flight (on Feb 29th), the only DLC released has been a couple of Basic aircraft.  In my opinion, the release of non-cockpit aircraft cheapens Flight . . . and just shows how MS is catering to the wants of the casual/arcade player, and is totally neglecting those of us who had hoped the Flight would expand into a more complete flightsim. I no longer expect that to happen (and I'll be pleasantly surprised if I am wrong).


Previous news is in my
News Archive Page


  Update (07/04/14)

It's been nearly two years since Flight was cancelled, but this remained the flightsim that I used the most, until last Fall. Last August my new computer arrived, and this one was powerful enough to run any current flightsim . . . and in late November, Prepar3D version 2.0 was released. After my first flight in Prepar3D, I knew that I had found the flightsim that I had been hoping for. Version 2.0 was a bit buggy (until v.2.2), but it was still the best flightsim I had ever used (and I've tried a bunch of them). At that point I pretty much stopped using MS Flight, although I do still occasionally fire it up (mostly just to compare it with Prepar3D).

 

Welcome to my MS Flight Journal!

Flight was released on February 28, 2012.  I was a Beta Tester for Flight from Jan 5th to Feb 14, 2012 (when the beta testing ended). This was a closed beta and I was bound by my Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) until Flight was released, which is when this Flight section went online.

MS Flight does not replace MS-FSX, but is a new direction for the series. Flight is available as a Free (core) download, with DLC that users purchase to expand their one game.

Flight is not an arcade flying game made for kids (which is what many hardcore flight simmers seem to think).  But Flight is very user friendly, so you do not have to be a hardcore flight simmer to figure out how to fly an aircraft in Flight. But you can increase the realism in the Options Menu (such as disabling all the flying assists), which makes flying (and landing) a lot more difficult.

Since Flight was designed to grow (as the DLC is released) it does not yet have many of the features that FSX users take for granted (such as being able to fly anywhere in the world), which is why many FSX fans are being so negative about Flight (since they were hoping that Flight would be FSXI, which it isn't).

Flight is a very good flightsim, with more game elements than FSX.  Yes, it does lack some flightsim features, but it does the basic flying part extremely well.

 

PC Requirements
Recommended (runs on HIGH settings):
- CPU: Intel Core™ i7 960 @ 3.20GHz, AMD Phenom II X6 1100T 3.3 GHz or better
- GPU: ATI Radeon™ HD 5870, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or better
- HD: 10 GB Hard Drive space
- OS: Windows 7 64-bit
- RAM: 6GB
   
Minimum (runs on LOW settings):
- CPU: Dual Core 2.0 GHz
- GPU: 256 MB card capable of shader 3.0 (DX 9.0c compliant)
- HD: 10 GB Hard Drive space
- OS: WinXP SP3
- RAM: 2.0GB

Arwen Note: HIGH is not the highest setting.  Some of the graphic settings include a Maximum setting (which is only available on better computer systems).

 
MS Flight is a Windows Live PC-Only Game:
It is only available as a digital download, so you'll need an Internet connection to download and activate it.

- You can play the free portion of Flight without ever creating a Windows Live account (but you won't have the Stearman, and you won't be able to purchase any DLC)

- Once you have Flight installed and activated, you can play Flight without being online, and you will still have access to any DLC you have purchased (since it is installed on your computer).  But you won't have access to features like multiplayer, or the other Live features.

In Online Multiplayer Sessions You can Fly with Your Friends

 

Flight Controllers  

You can fly your aircraft with just a mouse (which is also possible in FSX and X-Plane), but the flight characteristics are the aircraft will be simplified (for example, trimming and prop effects are disabled).  To really enjoy Flight, you need a joystick (or a flight yoke). 

Most USB controllers (such as joysticks) should be recognized by Flight . . . but you may not be able to use every axis , or map every button (for some USB controllers).

 

Microsoft Flight Trailer (Webisode 6)

 
 

Page Menu: | News | PC Requirements | Controllers | Trailer | First Impressions | Hawaii | Screenshots | Links
First Impressions/Review

I wrote the following on Feb 22nd, so it is based on the last beta version (before the 759 bugs were fixed in the release build).  I will update this section after Flight is released on the 29th, to reflect and changes in the latest build (until that happens, please keep in mind that this is only a review of the Beta).

The Good:
- Great frame rates: On my 5-year-old computer (which I used for the beta), my FPS were usually 30 to 50 FPS, which is roughly double what I got in FSX (with the AI traffic disabled).  Flight scales pretty well, but if you have the graphics set too high, you'll end up with some of the scenery becoming low-resolution, as you fly over it (since your system can not keep up).  If this happens,  try reducing Shadows first (high CPU and GPU load, for little visual difference), and then Scenery Density (high CPU and GPU load, for just more objects in the distance).
- Immersion: I feel more like I'm actually flying with Flight than with any other Civilian flightsim I have used.  And my older brother was really into flightsims, so I was pretty much raised on them (including Microsoft Flightsim, X-Plane, Fly!, Flight Unlimited, ProPilot, and more). Immersion is a very intuitive thing for me . . . if what I see and hear while I'm playing any game feels real, then the game succeeds for me (as far as the immersion part goes).  You can even exit your aircraft and "walk" around your aircraft (1st person view only) . . . or even take a walk through the scenery (you cannot enter buildings, with the exception of some hangers). If you get too close to an object, you might get stuck (generally, running backwards, away from the object will release you).
Graphics: The scenery is VERY good, including the shorelines, the mountains, the 3D objects (such as trees and buildings), and the textures, shadows and lighting.  The trees even sway in the wind. The one weak area for me was the appearance of the fair weather clouds (but the clouds were among the bugs that were fixed in the final build . . . that we did not get a chance to beta test).
- Pilot Profile: Your progress as a pilot is tracked. And detail statistics are recorded of things like the number of landing you have made (as well as the number of crashes).
- Virtual Pilot/Avatar: You can even select your virtual pilot/avatar: 3 male pilots, but just 1 female pilot (During the beta, I lobbied hard for gender equality, but I was very outnumbered). Your avatar is only visible in the exterior view (when you are in your aircraft.  Passengers are not visible.
- Persistent World: Your aircraft remains where you last left it in the game.  If you are in Free Flight mode (which is what I use the most), you can increase the realism
- Aircraft: The cockpits and the instruments are among the best I have seen, and the flight model just feels right to me (I'm not a real pilot, but I have flown as a passenger).  From what I understand about things like stalls, they are actually done realistically.  Turbulence and buffeting are also model, as are wind lift at ridge lines.  Fuel usage is modeled, which you need to keep an eye on, since you can run out of fuel  (and an aircraft will not start up without fuel).
- Check Lists (Q key): These are very well done and are dynamic (items are checked off as you complete that procedure correctly).  Using the aircraft's checklists is the easiest way to learn how to properly fly that aircraft.
- Radios: The radios do work (there just isn't any ATC chatter).  In multiplayer, press the Tab key to talk to people on a certain frequency (other players who have their COMM radios set to your frequency) or Shift-Tab to talk to all in that server.  You can also do ILS approaches by tuning your NAV radio to the correct frequency (if your aircraft ins equipped with ILS).   
- Sounds: The sounds are extremely well done.  Sounds are VERY important with a flightsim, since all we have to simulate flight are the visuals and the sounds (unless you have a wicked expensive virtual flight chair that adds motion).  The wind sound increases when you lower a flap, or lower the gear, or open the cockpit.  When you bump over a rough runway, you hear it (and you almost feel it, if you have the head bobbing effect enabled).  When you're on the water (in the Icon A5) you hear the water lapping against your aircraft.
- Interface: Overall, it works quite well.  There are some things that I'm not thrilled with, as I would prefer that there were a lot more choices in many areas . . . but this is not really the fault of the interface itself, which felt well organized and is quite attractive (to me).
- Mouse in Cockpit (assuming mouse flying-mode is off): Your mouse wheel is used both to zoom in and out, and to interact with your aircraft (like tuning your radios).  Place the mouse arrow where you want to zoom into, and use the wheel to zoom.  When the mouse arrow is placed on a switch or dial, the wheel will rotate the dial or toggle the switch (switches also toggle just by left-clicking on them).  You can also hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse to rotate dials (which can be faster than the mouse wheel).  Holding down the right mouse button, and dragging you mouse will rotate your view point.  Holding down the mouse wheel (center button), and dragging you mouse will move your view point (up/down, and right/left).  Views are reset by pressing the Backspace key.
- Multiplayer: This worked pretty well during the beta testing when we stress tested it.  MP is limited to 16 players per session.  You can either join a current public session, or start your own session . . . which can be public (open to anyone) or private (only your MS Live friends can join).  You can text each other, or if you have a headset (or a microphone and speakers), you can talk to other players in your session.  [See radios notes above.]
- Missions and Jobs (Airport Job Boards): Most are very well done in my opinion, and add a lot of immersion (and make you feel a lot less alone in Flight's virtual world). Your passengers react to the way that you fly, and rough flight (and/or landings) can damage your cargo.
- Challenges: I personally don't like the "Gold Rush" or "Challenge Courses" . . . they are both way too arcade-like (and do not promote safe flying habits).  I do like the "Landing Challenges" . . . a LOT.  They have actually made me a much better virtual pilot.  I really like the way that things like your Vertical Descent are rated (note that this is based only your overall landing descent rate, not just your rate at touch down).
- Aerocaches: I personally enjoy the aerocaches, and having an "Aerocache of the Day" helps in keeping Flight interesting (something that I find a bit lacking in FSX).  I really like that the aerocaches are mostly to show points of interest that is present in the scenery (such as historical locations, and popular tourist spots). My only real complaint is that aerocaches are sometimes put in a location that requires very dangerous flying to retrieve it with your available aircraft.  I get that you are suppose to get out of your aircraft and walk to retrieve some aerocaches, but that is not always possible for some locations, where the only sensible way to get to the aerocache would be with a helicopter (which are not yet available in Flight).
   
The Not-so-Good (what is missing):
- Disclaimer: Flight is being released as a free core, and made to be expanded (through DLC which you can purchase).  So it is being released as an unfinished product, that will grow over time.  I'm sure that at least some of the "missing" features will be expanded/added at some point.  These "missing" items are only based on what is included (and expected) in civilian flightsims (like FSX and X-Plane 10).  I fought hard during the beta testing for all these features to be included in Flight (I still have no idea if any of these features will ever be added).
- No ATC: Flight has no Air Traffic Control, which means that you cannot use your radios to ask for clearance, get directions (to nearest airports), or check the weather conditions (ATIS - Automatic Terminal Information Service).  The lack of an ATC has been my biggest single disappointment with Flight. 
- No Flight Planner: A Flight Plan is generally associated with an ATC (but it is a separate feature).  A Flight Plan is your expected flying route (such as your flight path between two airports).  With Flight, unless you are in a mission or a landing challenge, you are pretty much on your own in finding your way to the airport (or landing strip) that you want to land at.  (The Icon has a very basic GPS/Moving Map, but only the larger airports are displayed on it).
- No AI: Flight currently has no moving AI aircraft, boats, vehicles, or wildlife.  This make Flight's virtual world a lonely place and makes it feel less real, which is a real shame.  For me, a plausible flightsim world requires AI aircraft at the airports, moving traffic on the roads, and moving boats on the water.  The only way to currently see other aircraft flying is to be in a multiplayer session.
- Limited Scenery: Flight comes with only the "Big Island" of Hawaii for free.  You can purchase "The Hawaiian Adventure Pack," which includes the other seven main islands of Hawaii.  Microsoft plans on releasing additional DLC scenery in the future.  But no one knows how large these scenery areas will be, if they will be connected (as in you will be able to fly from one scenery area to another), or if the entire world will ever be available (or in what degree of detail). 
- Few Aircraft: the free Flight core only includes the Icon A5, which is a Light Sport Aircraft.  When you sign in to your Games for Windows LIVE account, you will also receive the Boeing Stearman aircraft (an old Bi-plane).  Additional aircraft will be available as DLC (or may be included with some DLC scenery).  But all the current DLC aircraft are only small prop aircraft (no jets or helicopters or large airliners yet).
- Limited Weather: Flight currently only has selectable Theme Weather.  You can set the time to Real World Time, but you cannot set the weather to Real World Weather.  But the selection choices are fairly good; there are currently 10 different types of weather you can select:
  1. Among the Giants
  2. Clear Skies
  3. Dense Fog
  4. Fair Weather
  5. Inclement Weather
  6. Isolated Thunderstorms
  7. Low and Threatening
  8. Squalls
  9. Storm Cells
  10. Stormy Weather
- Not Enough Button/Axis Assignments: Flight's key assignments and axis assignments are easy to set up, but are quite limited.  This was a constant complaint during the beta testing, and  has been expanded in the released version, but I doubt that it was expanded enough to satisfy everyone.
- No TrackIR Support: Hopefully this will be added in the near future.
- No Damage Modeling: For instance, if you hit a tree, your wing will not be ripped off.  And if you land too hard, your landing gear will not break off.  But crashes are modeled pretty well.  If you hit a tree, your plane will crash.  If this happens on a steep slope, your aircraft will slide down the slope.  If you crash in water, your aircraft might sink (if the water is deep enough).  And then you get the Crash pop-up window.
- No Structural Damage: The aircraft are not damaged by overstressing them, such as going too fast, or pulling too many g's).
- Failures are Not Modeled:  There is no option to set up random failures, such as instrument failures.
- No Instant Replay: You cannot playback that perfect landing that you finally made.
   
Final Thoughts (updated 7/15/14):
- On Flight: Flight was obviously a major disappointment, but hopefully this will be a lesson for developers: flightsims are a unique product . . .  they are NOT games (even through they can sometimes include some gaming features - like the missions in FSX.. In my opinion, the only reason that Flight failed, is that someone at MS had the bright idea that Flight would sell better if they made it into more of a game (instead of focusing on making it into a full-featured flightsim).
  Is There any Hope for Future Flightsims?: Flight was initially viewed as the successor of MS FSX, which is still the most popular flightsim. FSX is getting old (it was released in October of 2006), so after 7 years, it is time for a replacement. FSX was never very optimized, and its performance was tied directly to your computer's CPU speed. It didn't really matter how good your graphics card was . . .  unless you had an Intel processor, overclocked to 5MHz (which requires serious water cooling), you're never going to have decent frame rates at maximum settings.

When my new gaming computer arrived in mid August, I immediately ordered X-Plane 10 (I own X-Plane 9, and v.10 was seen as a major upgrade). Unfortunately I was also disappointed with this sim. At some point it may become the sim I was hoping for . . . but it is not there yet.

The "other sim" out there is Prepar3d (P3D). Lockheed Martin bought a license to use and further develope Microsoft's ESP, the visual simulation software platform that FSX uses. (LM is one of the world's largest defense contractors). When version 2.0 was released on November 25, 2013 I decided to give it a try (it has a 60 day full refund policy). P3D v.2 was way better than I expected and, after my first flight, I knew that I had finally found the fightsim that I had been looking for. I am now using version 2.2 and P3D still isn't the perfect sim and it still has a few bugs and needs to be better optimized, but it is the best one for me. [Version 2.3 is currently in early beta testing.]

Page Menu: | News | PC Requirements | Controllers | Trailer | First Impressions | Hawaii | Screenshots | Links
Flying in Hawaii

The Flight free download includes Hawai'i (The Big Island), and the Icon A5 Light Sport Aircraft.  Once you sign in to your Games for Windows LIVE account, you will also have access to the Boeing Stearman aircraft (plus additional missions, access to Achievements, and be able to create an Online Pilot Profile).

"The Hawaiian Adventure Pack" DLC includes the other seven main islands, giving you access to all eight main Hawaiian Islands (also called the Hawaiian Windward Islands).

The Eight Main Hawaiian Islands

Note: the Longitude and Latitude grid lines are 6o nautical miles across (each grid covers 360 square nautical miles).
[A nautical mile represents 1.15 miles, so 6o nautical miles = 69 statute miles.]

Island Nickname Land Area Highest Point
Hawai'i The Big Island 4,028 square miles Mauna Kea = 13,796 ft
Maui The Valley Isle 727 square miles Haleakalā = 10,023 ft
O'ahu The Gathering Place 597 square miles Mount Ka'ala = 4,003 ft
Kaua'i The Garden Isle 552 square miles Kawaikini = 5,243 ft
Moloka'i The Friendly Isle 260 square miles Kamakou = 4,961 ft
Lāna'i The Pineapple Isle 141 square miles Lāna'ihale = 3,366 ft
Ni'ihau The Forbidden Isle 70 square miles Mount Pānī'au = 1,250 ft
Kaho'olawe The Target Isle 45 square miles Pu'u Moaulanui = 1,483 ft

In land mass, Hawaii is actually larger than three US states:
-
47th: Hawaii 6,423 Square Miles
- 48th: Connecticut 4,845
- 49th: Delaware 1,954
- 50th: Rhode Island 1,045


Some Interesting Facts about Hawaii:

- Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.

- The wind generally blows East to West in Hawaii.

- The highest recorded temperature is 96' F (Honolulu Airport), but temperatures over 92 F generally occur only once or twice a year. The lowest temperature (under 3000 feet altitude) is 56 F. Temperatures under 60 F may occur but rarely more than once a year. Average daytime temp. (July) is 82' F. Average daytime temperature in January is 72 F.

- Kilauea volcano (on the island of Hawaii) is the world's most active and largest volcano.

- Mauna Kea (on the island of Hawaii) is the TALLEST mountain in the world (33,500 ft, measured from its base at the ocean floor).  Its summit is 13,796 ft above sea level.  [Mount Everest is the HIGHEST mountain in the world, at 29,029 ft above sea level.]

- Hawaii has its own time zone (Hawaiian Standard Time.) There is no daylight savings time. The time runs two hours behind Pacific Standard Time and five hours behind Eastern Standard Time.


Page Menu: | News | PC Requirements | Controllers | Trailer | First Impressions | Hawaii | Screenshots | Links
Screenshots

All but the first Image are my own in game screenshots (taken during beta testing, with graphic settings on Medium High).

Honolulu (PHNL) - Google Earth

 

Honolulu (PHNL) - Microsoft Flight (RV-6A)

 

Kaneohe Bay MCAF - Flight (RV-6A)

 

2,297' Haupu Peak, near Lihue (PHLI), Kauai (RV-6A)

 

The small airstrips can be difficult to spot from the air.  Even though the airstrip in the below images might seem like it would be easy to spot (now that I've pointed it out), it is actually not that easy to see when you're flying in the game.  The best way to get familiar with the airstrips is to set up a free flight from the runway and practice taking off and landing.

The Honakaa Airstrip in the following images is the runway that you fly to when you do the the RV-6A Checkout mission (in the mission it is Walter brother's private airstrip). [The RV-6A, and that mission, comes with "The Hawaiian Adventure Pack" DLC.]

 
Honokaa Airstrip (HI05) - Flying West
Honokaa Airstrip (HI05) - Flying East
 

 
Page Menu: | News | PC Requirements | Controllers | Trailer | First Impressions | Hawaii | Screenshots | Links
Flight Links (off site)

Arwen's Realm (my forum) - The is often the fastest way to contact me. Under the Game Portal, there is a separate Microsoft Flight forum, so if you need some help with Flight, or just want to discuss the game - just drop in and post a message. Arwen's Realm is small, friendly, moderated forum community (where members actually respect each other) - this is my personal invitation for you to drop by and become a member.

Paul Lipson's Site: Paul Lipson composed, orchestrated, arranged, and produced the original score for Flight.

Official Flight Site - Microsoft Flight's website.


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