Hey all, I’m a commercial pilot and flight instructor. Last week, I was forced to start quarantining after one of my students tested positive for covid, so I hopped on the app store and saw I had downloaded this game several years ago (think like 7 or 8+) and must not have been impressed at the time. With all the time in the world, though, I redownloaded it to see what it’s all about.
I have to say, I am completely blown away by what this sim is capable of. FSX is what got me into aviation as a kid, and even this app on my iPad can do plenty that that full desktop PC sim could never do. Apparently, SIDS/STARs, VNAV, and some of the amazing live cockpits are recent additions, but those are really what makes this game stand out, as well as ATC procedures (many of the commands again are far beyond what FSX was capable of)
I immediately opted for Global and started grinding. In 3 days I was able to make it to Grade 3 so I could play the expert server which is all I wanted to do, and spent all day yesterday around Manchester having the most fun I’ve ever had in an app. The satisfaction of flying a complete flight from startup to shutdown, with proper procedures, flight planning, and ATC the whole way, is something I never thought I would see in a mobile app.
Unfortunately, I paid the price at the end. I decided to hop from Manchester to Gran Canarias overnight (one of the routes specified in the ATC schedule, such a nice feature). I must not have paid attention to my STAR/VNAV planning, because when I woke up to the alarm I had set, I had descended to 10,000 over 100 NM from the airport. I was still at cruise speed so I woke up to 3 violations and I had lost my Grade 3 status just like that, kicked from the Expert Server. Since it’s based on my violations in the last 7 days, I won’t even have the option to regain it for another 4 days.
I was really upset by this since I had grinded so hard to earn that level in such a short period (you can’t imagine how my forearms felt after 100 landings in a day), so I’m pretty bummed at having to go back to the Training Server, I was really looking forward to flying around Australia today and trying to get involved in the fly-ins they had set up (advice for getting involved in those or Virtual Airlines for a beginner?). Obviously it’s my fault for arming VNAV before going to sleep, but I’m still frustrated. Oh well, here are some pics that I had to screenshot because I found myself in awe that I was running this sim on an iPad.
Nearing top of descent on my first major undertaking, KLAX-OMDB in the A350, easily one of my favorites due to the live cockpit and how easy is to perform a stable approach with. Ended up around 16 hours and was a major help in earning Grade 3 in 3 days.
Another from the same flight, a bit earlier on, approaching Baghdad VOR from the north en route to Dubai. I think the next logical addition to this game after SIDS/STARs needs to be the airway databases and the ability to load them, not just victor airways but also high and low jet routes. This would make flight planning more realistic and streamlined. Stringing together VORs is fine, but it would add that next level of realism and I could avoid flying over Afghan airspace, just like the real flight does.
My first ‘Ok this is pretty cool’ moment on the expert server, got vectored onto a parallel ILS approach into Manchester after some crazy traffic negotiation skills by ATC. This kind of professional coordination and realism is what I’m going to miss from the expert server. Yes yes I know it’s only 4 days.
Miami to Kennedy in the 800. Cockpit lighting at night really stands out as amazingly done in this game. Also loving the traffic awareness functionality on the ND (I won’t call it TCAS since there is no conflict resolution functionality as far as I’m aware?)
Kamloops to Vancouver on the Expert Server, another really awesome destination they selected. It became clear very quickly that terrain resolution is this game’s strong suit, texture resolution is not, as such I try to focus on areas with interesting terrain, YVR being one of them, it just looks stunning, and the sense of scale with the terrain in the world as you view it from the cockpit is so, so realistic, another one of those intangible qualities that just ‘feels good’ when a game gets it right. I’ve also had awesome graphics doing short Alaska 737 hops up in AK, as well as places like Salt Lake, Aspen, Denver, Austria, and Switzerland.
Last one, descending into YVR from SEA, another short hop on Expert Server. I love being able to adjust the range on the ND, as you can see my filed STAR into YVR which was essentially just a right traffic pattern approaching from the south. This was just another one of those moments where I couldn’t believe I was playing an app on my iPad.
Well there you have it, I’m super excited to get more involved in both this game a well as this community since I am looking for the most realistic experiences possible (Expert server, fly-ins, virtual airlines, etc.). In the real world, I am actually involved with a regional carrier for United Airlines, so if United has a virtual airline I would be very interested in getting involved and flying with them. Looking forward to becoming a member of this community!