Fly Even Further!

Book Review by John S. Davison


Issue 21

May/Jun 86

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40 Great Flight Simulator Adventures

Book published by Compute!

Price 9.95



Ever wanted to know what all the geographic features are you see in Sublogic's excellent Flight Simulator II (FS2)? Ever wondered just how many things there are you haven't seen? Ever wondered what you can do with the program now you've mastered the basic flying skills? Well, wonder no more, as this unique book will help in all of those areas.

Author Charles Gulick is obviously not the average sort of FS2 nut. His enthusiasm goes much further than that. Not only has he created 40 FS2 adventures for you to fly, he's added interest in the form of fictional situations, and historical or geographic facts to make the scenarios more realistic and interesting.

The style of the book, too, is unique. It's designed to act as the "voice" of your flight instructor. The book's written as if Charles Gulick is sitting next to you in the aircraft, telling you what to do and what to look out for.

It begins with a general introduction, which you must read first, as it covers the setting up of adventures, general hints on flying them, and explanations of the symbols found against the text in the scenario. Note that you're expected to know how to handle the aircraft's controls, including radio navigation aids, so complete beginners with FS2 may have trouble with some of the adventures. A few, however, require little action from the FS2 pilot, and are suitable for those with little experience. It would have been helpful if the author had marked each adventure with some sort of difficulty level, showing which are suitable for beginners, and so on.

Each adventure is structured in the same way. The first page shows a screen shot from the adventure, and a list of the parameters you need to key into FS2 in Edit mode to set up the adventure. For example, aircraft position, altitude, airspeed, weather conditions, and so on.

Following pages contain the text of the adventure. A brief introduction is given, followed by numerous paragraphs describing the actions you should take, things to look out for, and when you should take over control. Each paragraph has a large symbol printed against it to show at a glance what the paragraph is about. This is useful, as you can quickly determine where you're required to take specific actions without reading all of the text.
Let's have a quick look at some of the adventures, so you can get the feel of what the book's about. Each adventure has a title, and this is the title used in the descriptions below.

To Breathe Free: This flight takes us from New York's La Guardia airport, over New York City passing between the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centre towers. Then we cross the Hudson River into New Jersey and turn and fly back for a low pass over the Statue of Liberty before heading back up the East River for a landing at La Guardia. As well as pointing out the not so obvious features of the scenery, such as Flushing Bay, Whitestone Bridge and Throg's Neck Bridge, the author also points out features not seen in the FS2 graphics, for example the Palisades - the beautiful steep cliffs on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

A Game Of Bridge: This adventure starts off in flight rather than on the ground. The flight parameters have you at the right height, airspeed and heading to permit you to fly under the Manhattan Bridge, over New York City's East River. In fact, the parameters given are not quite correct. I found I had to reduce the throttle setting slightly to prevent the aircraft climbing slowly and flying over the bridge instead of under it. After a few passes to get the feel of things, you can take over the controls and fly the adventure yourself.

Goldilocks: This is a mercy mission from El Monte airport in Southern California to Catalina Island in near impossible weather conditions. You are delivering special medical supplies to save the life of a little girl who's been bitten by a rare Pacific bug. Your radar is out of action and you can't see the airfield because of fog. Any safe landing on Catalina Island is an acceptable conclusion to this adventure.

Threading the Needle: This adventure has you starting on the ground at Renton Municipal airport in Seattle. I found the starting point a little confusing as the radar shows you to be in the middle of a city, and the view through the window is a white dashed line against a black background. However, once you orientate yourself and take off, all is well. The flight takes you to the Space Needle in Seattle. This is a building left over from the 1962 World Fair. On the way, the author points out the main landmarks. These include the snow capped Mt. Ranier, Lakes Washington and Sammamish, Mercer Island, and two major roads in the area - Interstate 405 and 90.

Another adventure later in the book has you making precision turns around the Space Needle, while watching it from a view through the side window of your aircraft. As an extra, I discovered you can fly through the restaurant at the top of the tower without coming to any harm! This takes very precise control of altitude to get just right, though.

These are just a few of the 40 adventures provided by this book. Some are short, lasting only a few minutes. Others are very long, up to about two hours. Some put you in emergency situations, like engine failure 10,000 feet above Seattle. Others explore strange phenomena (bugs?) of FS2, like the strange happenings at the summit of Mt. Ranier. I won't spoil things by telling you what happens. Yet others test your piloting skill, such as a night landing at Los Angeles International Airport, and a night landing at Meigs Field, Chicago with a 90 degree crosswind.

If you're an ardent FS2 fan like me, you'll find all the adventures interesting, some intensely so. I did find several features described not present in the Atari version, for example the UFO in the Pyramid Power adventure only appears in the IBM PC version. However, the Atari version has something a little more subtle to baffle you - it's not mentioned in the book. I'll leave you to find it for yourself. Also, the moonlit runways are not present, and the Atari version doesn't have wind turbulence implemented, which could have added a little extra interest to a couple of the adventures.

This book should be available from your local Atari retailer - try them first. Alternatively copies can be obtained from PAGE 6 at 9.95. Subscribers will find details enclosed with this issue.