40 More Great Flight Simulator Adventures

A Book Review by John S Davison


Issue 26

Mar/Apr 87

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Compute! Publications

Yes, folks, he's done it again! Charles Gulick, that legendary Flight Simulator 2 (FS2) explorer pilot has written a sequel to 40 Great Flight Simulator Adventures (as reviewed in Issue 21).

'40 More' follows the same format as its predecessor, in that it's written as if the author is sitting next to you in the aircraft, talking you through each scenario as you fly it. Each adventure is laid out in the same way too, starting with a screen shot taken from the scenario, followed by FS2 editor values you have to key in to set up each flight, and finally the instruction text. Again, as in the original, the text has graphic symbols against it showing at a glance when you have to take over control, or perform a specific action, or look outside for something special.

40 More starts with a foreword written by Bruce Artwick, the author of FS2 (again, reviewed in Issue 21). This gives some fascinating background information about the simulator and its development. For instance, did you know it began life in 1979 on an Apple computer as a graphics demonstration? Or that there have been 21 versions in total, which between them have sold over ONE MILLION copies!

Charles Gulick then takes over with a section on how to use the book, tips on flying the scenarios and general instructions on how to save editor values to disk so you can reload them at any time without the hassle of keying them all in again. Then, it's off into the first adventure.

Let me say now that many of these adventures require more advanced flying skills to complete successfully than those in the first book. A number of them are really advanced flying lessons rather than straight exploratory flights or acting out fictional storylines, although there are plenty of these too. For instance, there's a whole series of scenarios concerned with accurate, realistic take-off, airfield circuit pattern, and landing procedures using Spanaway airfield, near Seattle. These use the procedures and controls you'd use in a real light aircraft - the aim is accuracy and realism, to get you flying the simulator as you would the real thing. This is no game, it's deadly serious stuff for the true FS2 aficionado. I found I had to practice for several hours before I could fly touch-and-go circuits of Spanaway in the Gulick approved manner.

For light relief following this, the next scenario has you flying from Chino to San Diego in California, when a snag develops. Your elevators and flaps become unusable, so you have to make the whole flight using only engine power to climb and descend. You have a very strange companion on this flight, who tells you what to do and when, but he vanishes when you're safely on the ground at San Diego! The landing in this scenario is unbelievably stressful - do I really do this for fun and relaxation?

Another series of scenarios makes use of the World War 1 wargame area, but ... you're flying in your modern Piper Cherokee Archer rather than the usual WW1 biplane. One of these scenarios has you flying through the open ended hangar that's a feature of one of these airfields. Another has you exploring strange 'mirror images' of the WW1 area which seem to be scattered about that part of the FS2 world, flying over (into, if you're not careful) the mountains from outside, to enter the former war zone.

One of my favourite scenarios involves flying from Bremerton National in Washington state, along a waterway to the Hood Canal, then following this all the way to Admiralty Inlet on Puget Sound, before landing at Snohomish County airfield. As in the original book, some scenarios are short, like the engine failure on take off from Fallbrook Airpark in California. Others are very long, like the attempted flight to the North Pole. This one is quite boring, in fact, as there's not much for you to do or see. It's really an experiment to probe the limits of the FS2 world.

Then there are the pure FS2 phenomena exploration flights, like investigating the nature of clouds and looking at strange FS2 scenery bugs. Also, those that push FS2 to the limit of its simulation abilities, like inverted flying, and the fun scenarios, like landing and taking off from Manhattan Bridge in New York!

All scenarios but one use the standard scenery disk supplied with the FS2 program. The odd one uses one of the new accessory disks, covering the Dallas area. I still haven't managed to get my hands on these extra disks yet. Sublogic have begun advertising them in Antic Magazine, so I assume their release in Atari format is imminent.

This book has over 60 pages more than the original, plus reprints of the FS2 navigation charts in the back. It's cheaper than the original at just 8.95. If you're an FS2 enthusiast, you must have at least one of these books. If you're a fanatic like me, you shouldn't be without either. They'll multiply your enjoyment of FS2 many times over, and give you many, many hours of additional pleasure.

Postscript: I recently discovered a way to get even more enjoyment out of FS2 and Charles Gulick's books. This is by using real maps. On a recent trip to Foyle's famous bookshop in London, I discovered a series of tourist maps of different areas of the USA, published by Rand McNally. I've also seen them in Heffers bookshop in Cambridge. These cost under 2 each, and show most of the scenery features appearing in FS2. When Charles Gulick tells you you're flying over Lake Washington, just passing Sand Point, you can actually see from the map that it's for real! These maps aren't as good as proper aviation maps, but they're much cheaper and easier to obtain.