|Flight Simulator 2004: A Student Pilot's Perspective
by Justin W. Moore
I've had an interest in aviation from a very young age. When I was in middle school I got my first computer - a Commodore 64. It didn't take long for me to sink some money (or, at that time, have my parents sink some money!) into a game called F-15 Strike Eagle by Microprose. It was a computer simulation of the F-15 Eagle. Back then, I was thrilled with the line drawings and polygon representations of airports that made up the "virtual" world. I remember bombing huge triangles that were supposed to represent a variety of different targets! It should come as no surprise that I've been fiddling with flight simulation programs for quite some time. The early years...with SubLogic's Flight Simulator II being the first simulator I used on my Commodore Amiga computer.
In late July 2003, Microsoft released the latest version of their popular flight simulator program - Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight. The new version builds upon the success of Flight Simulator 2002, which improved the series by leaps and bounds. So what does this new version of Flight Simulator offer the student pilot? Let's take a look at some key features of the simulator and how I've been able to use the program to assist me with my real world pursuit of the Instrument Rating.
Let's take a quick look at my computer setup:
512 megabytes of PC800 Rambus Memory
ATI Radeon 9500 Professional (128 megabytes)
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Audio Card
120 Gigabyte Maxtor 7200 RPM hard drive
One of the most significant changes in flight simulator is its enhanced simulation of weather. Let's take a look at that first...