AVSIM Commercial FSX Scenery Review

Fly to ……
Africa, New York, Alaska, California, Caribbean

Product Information

Publishers: FlightSoft

Description: Different Douglas/McDonnell DC-10/MD-10 models in combination with “flights”.

Download Size:
NA

Format:
C D
Simulation Type:
FS9/FSX
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - February 23, 2011

Introduction

This review deals with five FlightSoft “Fly to” products. To be exactly, it covers the Fly to Africa, New York, Alaska, the Caribbean and California. You’ll agree with me, at the end of this review these FlightSoft packages are basically the same, except for their destinations.

Each “Fly to ….” CD-ROM includes a:
- Douglas DC-10 Series aircraft with 2D cockpit for use with FS2004,
- McDonnell MD-10 Series aircraft with 2D flight deck for FSX,
- Within each flight simulator, a bunch of “flights” are added. These are approaches to specific airports within the applicable region.

I could continue with this introduction, but I won’t. I’ll start right away with the “Fly to” packages. My first Fly to will be Africa. During that section I’ll try to offer you all the ins and outs of not only the added flights, but also the MD-10 aircraft model and 2D cockpit.

Because I don’t use FS9 anymore, this review covers only the FSX version. After I’ve finished the “Fly to Africa” package, the rest follows in a logical order. Basically these “Fly to” packages are the same and therefore, during the other “Fly to” discussions, only the differences are explained and then in particular the flights.

Installation and documentation

Installation

Since we’re dealing with the same kind of FlightSoft software, the installations are roughly the same; they are straightforward with clear choices of what to do. It’s also important to mention right now that, the selected Microsoft Flight Simulator version is automatically detected by the software, but there’s more too.

Since the installation of each FlightSoft individual package is more or less the same, it’s enough to show you some screenshots of the “Fly to ….. Africa” installation, which similarly represents the others. Together with some description, I’ll hope you get a good idea of what to expect.

picture I
picture II
picture III
picture IV
picture V
picture VI

As you can see on picture I, the user can choose for English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. The next screenshot allows him/her to go for the Installation, Reading the documentation (<product_name> FSX COLOR MANUAL e.g. ALASKA FSX COLOR MANUAL), visit their Website, Browse the CD-ROM or Exit the installer. The last four items are self-explaining so let’s go for the installation.

This allows you to install either FS2004 (not reviewed) or FSX. The installer continues, requests your name and serial number, followed by correct detection of the Flight Simulator director. A little odd, while you enter the serial number, since it doesn’t show you the actual characters, but dots instead. Doing it this way means you’re unable to double check if you’ve typed in the correct characters.

Finally, a shortcut folder option comes into view before the actual installation starts. The installation itself won’t take long. Finally,an update check is performed and if applicable, an available update is installed.

It installs, depending on the selected Flight Simulator version, DC-10 Series with either a DC-10- or a MD10 panel. Confused? I was and let’s explain that.

In my opinion and after checking the Boeing Commercial website, you’ve got either a DC-10 Series model with logically, an analog cockpit with old-fashioned instruments, or you’ve got the retrofitted DC-10, renamed to MD-10. This MD-10 comes with, applicable for the simulated FlightSoft model, a modern EFIS flight deck system, similar to the MD11.

Anyway, what finally counts is the availability of a MD-10 panel in FSX and the old-fashioned DC-10 panel in FS2004. The installed DC-10 name in both FSX and FS2004 is officially wrong, but looking at the external model, it doesn’t really make any difference. Officially, after the retrofit package, the DC-10 model becomes a MD-10. As far as I know and after checking, FedEx was/is the only airliner that used Boeings retrofit MD-10 Program package. In English this means that a DC-10-10 becomes a MD-10-10F and a DC-10-30 a MD-10-30F. As said before, all FedEx DC-10s where retrofitted to, logically, FedEx freighter models. Boeing also offered a retrofit package for passenger models, but as far as I know, that’s never used with an airliner.

Ok, back to the FSX installation. Under SimObjects/Airplanes, you should find MD-10 Series however, you’ll find instead, for example “Flightsoft_AMERICAN_DC10_10”, “Flightsoft_EUROPEAN2_DC10_30” or “Flightsoft_FEDEX_DC10_30”. As said before, officially the name or DC-10 identity is not correct since it should be MD10-30 or MD10-10. It’s not really a big deal since the external model isn’t really changed. The only reason to bring this up, it was more elegant when the folders had the correct name thus instead of DC-10 …. MD-10.

With the installed software, there’s also a shortcut folder created. It can be found via Start menu - All Programs - FLIGHTSOFT’S FLY TO AFRICA FSX (FS2004) or whatever package is applicable. The FSX shortcut folder offers an Uninstaller and a TrueUpdate Client. In neither folder is there any sign of additional manuals apart of the printed one that comes with the box and the one that could be selected during the installation.

In the printed flyer is stated “For a full color manual for this product please see the contents of your installation CD-ROM. Please use Windows Explorer and look inside the installation CD for a file called Fly to <product name> Color Manual which is available to you in both Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF file formats”.

You can imagine why I bring this up. It turns out that on the CD-ROM within the “AutoPlay” folder, there’s a Docs folder with lots of documents. I’m not going into much detail to explain every document but where needed, I’ll offer you some background information. You’ll find here DC-10 checklists in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat format. While writing this, I’m wondering if this checklist is applicable for the MD-10. Anyway, there’s something odd on the 2nd page of the checklist. In the last paragraph is written “NOTE: This aircraft's real-world checklists have been modified for use with Flight Simulator 2004 and Flight Simulator 2002.   NOT TO BE USED WITH REAL FLYING”.

What has FS2002 to do with this software since the installer is only for FS2004 and FSX! Probably a glitch because their previous software, as far as I can remember, was designed for FS2002 and FS2004 and updated to work with FS2004 and FSX. Furthermore, you’ll find documents with DC-10-10 takeoff data, normal procedures, credits and a readme first Word document. The readme first implies that it’s important to read it first, but it does not appear in front of your eyes during the installation.

Find now an extraction of the “Readme First” document: “AFRICA FSX & AFRICA 2004 is a product designed for beginners, advanced, and expert PC pilots. In the CDROM you will find the following critical reading material in your efforts to exploit all the features in this massive product add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator X and Flight Simulator 2004.

DVD MANUAL PART 1 and DVD MANUAL PART 2 are comprehensive manuals on the DC10 aircraft systems  -  FSX DVD MANUAL PART 1 and FSX DVD MANUAL PART 2  are comprehensive manuals on the MD10 aircraft systems.   In the manual everything is described with detailed graphics including where everything is and how to operate various parts of the MD10 Jetliner and DC10 jetliner avionics systems.

NORMAL PROCEDURES in Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Reader PDF file formats is essential reading for all customers of AFRICA FSX and AFRICA 2004.   You will find this documentation informative especially regarding DC10 taxi maneuvers, takeoff profiles and landing characteristics. These manuals and documentation describe the many rich features available to you in your AFRICA FSX and AFRICA 2004 product. We hope you enjoy this extraordinary addition to your Microsoft Flight Simulator X and Flight Simulator 2004 Experience.

THE FLIGHTSOFT DESIGN TEAM”

Ok, that is marketing stuff and now it’s my turn to offer you a neutral and objective impression of this. I personally don’t think this software is applicable for experts and advanced users. Since the software deals with an average quality Douglas DC-10 or McDonnell MD-10 flight deck, including a bunch of different “flight” approaches, it’s not something for the previous mentioned group. I’m aware this is my personal vision and I don’t say its right, but it’s my feeling.

The PMDG MD11 is a top notch MD11 and for expert and advanced users is the same for the Commercial Level Simulations F-Lite DC-10 Series with their sophisticated INS. This FlightSoft offers the DC-10/MD-10 cockpit/flight deck, which are far from an “in-depth” simulation. That doesn’t mean I don’t like the software or the added flights, I only want to bring forward that these reviewed FlightSoft “Fly to” series are in my opinion not really the software for experts or advanced flight simmers.

Test System

Intel Core Extreme i7-965  3.2Ghz
6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 1600Mhz
EVGA GTX-285 For the Winner
Triple WD VelociRaptor 300GB HDD
Single WD 1TB HDD
Windows 7 Ultimate X64
Flight Simulator FSX SP2
Saitek Pro Flight System
TrackerIR Pro 4
TrackerClip Pro

Flying Time:
52 hours

Additional manuals

Is there any information I can add? Part I of the DVD manual “Fly to Africa”, starts with “Installing/Starting ASIA 2004 in Flight Simulator 2004 or Flight Simulator 2002”. I could be mistaken, but this CD - and not a DVD - concerns the Fly to Africa package. Furthermore, this software is not for FS2002 and it has nothing to do with Asian Holiday Destinations.

Lucky for me and you, I found this glitch only in this Fly to Africa document. So, yes it is strange, but only applicable for the Africa edition. Anyway, this is followed by a brief history of the Douglas DC-10 Series and a DC-10 panel description, which is for use with FS2004. Part II deals with the Douglas DC-10 engine start procedure, required flap settings and some info regarding the use of GPS navigation with the DC-10 Auto Pilot.

The FSX DVD Manual Part 1 & 2 title confuses me. The title implies that you’re dealing with FSX however, the content starts with FSX and FS2004 and I just thought that the previous discussed manuals where for FS2004. This FSX DVD manual comes with some advice and a brief history of the Douglas DC-10 and not a description of the MD-10. When I’ve finished this section, I’ll offer you some MD-10 Retrofit Program information, especially for those who are not familiar with the retrofitted/converted DC-10. After the history section, there’s some information about the MD-10 flight deck panel, but honestly, it’s not a comprehensive section.

Is it worth to print out either the DVD- or FSX DVD manuals or the other manuals? I think that’s a good idea depending on which FS version you’re using. Remember, the FSX comes with a MD-10 flight deck and the FS2004 with the old-fashioned instrument cockpit.

MD-10 Retrofit Program

The MD-10 program allows operators to retrofit DC-10s with a new, advanced- technology flight deck. Benefits of the retrofit include a two-person flight deck, weight savings, increased reliability, and commonality with the MD-11 fleet.

Boeing is offering the MD-10 program to the owners of all 413 DC-10s currently in service or storage, giving the program the potential to become the largest airplane modification effort in commercial airplane history. The program provides operators with the opportunity to retrofit their airplanes with the Advanced Common Flight deck (ACF).

Converting DC-10s to MD-10s produces significant cost savings associated with changing to a two-person flight crew from a three-person flight crew. The conversion also replaces approximately 50 line replaceable units (LRU) with 19 state-of-the-art LRUs, improving reliability and decreasing inventory costs. The MD-10 conversion achieves a weight savings of approximately 1,000 lb (454 kg). Additional maintenance and labor savings will result from commonality in an MD-10/MD-11 fleet, including same type ratings for pilots who fly either airplane.

The launch customer for the program is Federal Express (FedEx), which will apply the flight-deck retrofit to 70 DC-10 Freighters. Flight test of the first ACF-configured airplane was planned for late 1998. An 800-hr, three-airplane flight test program is planned to lead to certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in late 1999, with first delivery to FedEx in early 2000. Retrofit of the 70 FedEx DC-10s (plus options for another 50) will be typical of MD-10 program activity, which may include two phases: Passenger-to-freighter conversion and the flight deck retrofit.

Passenger-To-Freighter Conversion

In the first phase of the FedEx MD-10 program, Douglas Products Division will convert passenger-configured DC-10s to freighters and redeliver them to FedEx. The conversion program, which began in February 1997, takes about 120 days per airplane. It includes a heavy maintenance check, standardization and reliability upgrades, and removal of passenger accommodations.
Other main conversion activities include:

  • Main deck cargo door installation.
  • Rigid cargo barrier installation.
  • Structural changes to increase maximum takeoff gross weight (MTOGW).

Flight Deck Retrofit

Phase two of the FedEx MD-10 program is installation of the ACF, a liquid crystal display flight deck based on the integrated glass design in the MD-11. It features six 8 by 8 inch displays that show all flight and systems information. Commonality with the MD-11 flight deck allows flight crews to move from one airplane to the other with minimal additional training. The ACF includes the following features:

  • High-speed, high-capacity computers.
  • Airplane system controllers.
  • Operational improvements.

Summary

Taking advantage of the MD-10 program offered by Boeing can provide operators of DC-10s with a number of benefits, including lower operating costs, greater reliability, a reduced spares inventory, and increased payload and range. Operators may choose a passenger-to-freighter configuration, a retrofit of the DC-10 flight deck with the advanced common flight deck, or both for maximum benefit.

Fly to Africa

As said in the previous section, this software comes for FS2004 with the DC-10 Series including a 2D DC-10 cockpit. The FSX – this is actually tested – version deals with the same DC-10 (should be MD-10) models/airliners, but this time with a 2D MD-10 flight deck.

Different airliners are available for your own use, however most of the prepared flight approaches are done by Ghana Airways and Zambia Airlines. Other African destinations are flown with Laker Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Swissair Airlines, Monarch Airways and British Airways. On the other hand, feel free to change the airliner to your favorite airliner or simple create your own flight. The Africa FSX Colour Manual tells you all about it.

FSX MD-10 aircraft

Time to have a close look to the FSX DC-10/MD-10 aircraft model. While doing my walk-around check on the Ghana Airways, I must conclude I have different feelings. It’s not as detailed as, for example, the awesome Commercial Level Simulations DC-10 Series or the PMDG MD11, but something tells me that this model is not native to FSX or a ported FS2004 version.

The reason for this feeling is because the overall textures are of a low (FSX) quality. It’s shows me a blurry skin on the fuselage, wings and tail and certain airplane parts don’t have any textures. That means those parts are consequently dark grey/black. For now, the result of my walk-around check can be seen below. I tried not to make too many screenshots, but on the other hand, it is worth showing you them. And this time worth showing means I’m not pleased.

Starting at the nose, I see a blurry fuselage nose section with an average quality nose landing gear. This part of the fuselage misses  details, for example, the NWS (Nose Wheel Steering) cylinders are far from real as is the same for the torque links on the back. While moving from the NLG to the right hand side, I miss a lot of detail on the fuselage skin and at certain parts of the main- and center gear doors, it seems no texture are available or at least its dark grey/black.

Not so many words are needed for the engine inlet and slat view. The engine cowling leading edge seems out of proportions and its skin is blurry. Lines, rivets and others, which should be normally visible, are not sharp at all. Via the wing leading edge, I reach the wingtip. It seems textures are missing at the navigation light unit as well as for the trailing edge strobe unit. Even from this distance I can see that the vertical stabilizer is washed out and the typical three engine beams holding the tail engine are hardly visible.

It doesn’t harm the package so far, but why is this? Is it because the textures are of a too low quality or because the whole model is ported from an older FS version? My problem is, with a package price of US$34.95, you may expect higher quality models. The model looks good from a distance, but when coming close, it misses all kinds of detail including the missing textures. You could suggest that an update is needed, but that’s already done after the installation. The installer had updated my “Fly to Africa”.

Looking from a distance, I must say it looks not bad. This aircraft view is, let’s say, normal when you’re flying, however the problem starts when doing a walk-around check. Why? Suddenly the nice look disappears and a blurry wing, tail and fuselage skin becomes visible. At some parts of the fuselage textures are missing – dark grey/blue spots - and since the installer did an update check, I’m sure everything that’s available is uploaded and installed. Unfortunately, not those missing textures! Those things that are not really correct are marked with amber squares, but the overall look of the model seems to me that this is a ported flight simulator model. A missed chance!

McDonnell Douglas MD-10 2D cockpit

FSX DVD manual part 1 and 2 informs you about the 2D cockpit features, but unfortunately that doesn’t go to deep. Most of the sub panels and even the main instrument panel, don’t allow you to make many adjustments. Whatever, looking closely to all the instruments on the main instrument panel, I must conclude that the EFIS displays are not dedicated MD10/MD11s. After cross checking the panel.cfg, it turns out that they are linked to the default FSX 737-800.

I’m also wondering if the main panel bitmap is made for widescreens, since my EFIS displays look odd in relation to the real ones and to one of the screenshots in the manual.

Time to check some 2D MD-10 cockpit screenshots. After that, I’ll continue with what‘ve seen and felt about this flight deck.

Basic control and monitoring is possible with this 2D flight deck layout. The FSX DVD manual tells the user clearly what can be controlled and what cannot. It’s basically a simple straightforward flight deck and hard for me to write more, it could even be a freeware version. I’ve even seen freeware models of a higher quality, but that’s not the issue for the moment. That the model doesn’t come with a Virtual Cockpit surprises me, especially for a package price of roughly US$35.00. If you don’t like to fly a VC, then you don’t miss anything, but if you do, then it’s a shame it’s not included. Furthermore, I’ve got the idea that the main panel bitmap is not designed for widescreens since the PFD, MFD (read ND) and the engine displays looks deformed. The MFD or ND display can’t be changed, for example, to a rose mode. It’s also weird to have a typical Boeing PFD, keeping in mind that Boeing offers a MD10 retrofit package and that should result in a MD11 PFD. Anyway, what you see here is not the correct simulation, but as long as it is working, I can live with it … or can I? The additional panels are based, as far as I can see, on real photos of an average quality. That you can hardly select systems or configurations is a pity, but a reality.

As said before, the left hand screenshot shows you the MD-10 panel with a small section of the overhead panel. Do you like the bitmap used or not, but that you can’t control much and then in particular nothing – except for the GPS switch - on the EFIS control panel disappoints me. It’s also a huge disappointment that the displays used are not MD-10 look alike or if you wish, MD11.

Heading for the overhead brings me to another problem. The manual only highlights those switches that are functional, but I can tell you that this overhead panel is approximately 10% functional. The rest of it doesn’t work or can’t be operated. This is more or less the same for the radio panel. You can change all the frequencies to your needs, but the rest of all those switches are just static ones. The throttle panel allows you to control much more, which makes sense.

Finally, there’s a pitot heat panel that allows the flight simmer to control. Not shown on the above screenshots, are the sim icons for the default GPS, map view and ATC window. Since you can’t control much on this 2D cockpit, it could grade it perfectly for a beginner, but not for experts or advanced flight simmers.

Prepared “Flights”

The software comes with “ready to go” prepared flights or I should say “approaches”. These are fun because a complete approach to one of the many destinations is presented to you. As far as I’ve checked with some of these approaches, the only thing you need to do for a safe and successful landing is select the gear down and set different flap/slat settings as well as the approach and landing speeds.

Landing speed reference information can be found in the “TAKEOFF LANDING DATA” folder/manual. Additional information can be found in the NORMAL PROCEDURES manual.

I’ve decided to go for Approach to South Africa, Cape Town. The description teaches me “BRITISH AIRWAYS DC10-30 is turning base over water for a very scenic and classic approach to Cape Town International Airport in CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA.” With this information I made the following set of screenshots.

We already talked about the aircraft and 2D cockpit, so no more words about that. Now it’s time to see what this prepared approach can do for you. These prepared approaches don’t take, in general, more than 10 to 15 minutes from the spot where you are introduced. That’s a pity, since it is fun. We need to control a few things the moment the G/S (Glide Slope) becomes active, but apart from that, it’s magic to see our British Airways MD-10 landing.

Come on …. join me on my Cape Town approach. Remember one thing; all the screenshots are based on default FSX scenery. This means that the FlightSoft software doesn’t offer any scenery enhancer for the region where approaches are made.

I tell you, this is a relaxing flight! It’s a shame this approach takes approximately 10-12 minutes, but with the programmed weather conditions, you’ve got a nice external view. As said before, you don’t have to do anything until the Glide Slope is detected. Then it’s time to select the flap/slat handle, according speeds and before full flap, gear down. Each prepared flight (read approach) comes with a weather condition and you’re free to implement REX or HiFi Sim weather. The rest within the 2D flight deck is set and ready for the landing. One remark; on the right hand middle screenshot you see a small yellow square. I found this during my external view. It deals with the aircraft registration. Have a look for yourself. Lucky for you, and me this was the only aircraft I found so far with this mirror image registration.

The Fly to Africa software comes with approximately 50 prepared approaches (read flights) with different flight conditions and destinations. Either you’re approaching the airport during night, dusk, dawn or daylight. The weather could be also a struggle and results in no vision.

Overall, all are approaches and to make it clear, you won’t find any missions. The fact that it comes with ready to fly approaches is good for beginners to learn how to fly approaches, but it wasn’t a bad idea when FlightSoft had also added missions that offers flight simmers an overview from East, West, North and South Africa. You can create your own flights, which is by the way described in the FSX DVD manual.

Anyway, while flying the different approaches, having my FSX sliders all maxed out, I come to the conclusion that the average frame rates are not really high. Not really high keeping the aircraft and 2D cockpit complexity in mind. This is probably a result of the ported aircraft model and not being optimized for FSX.

Another remark when flying all those approaches, are the missing charts. Ok, probably beginners – sorry if I’m wrong – don’t need approach charts yet, but advanced or experts definitely want or need a chart. You can switch to the MAP mode and find out where you’re flying and what kind of navigation means are available. For approaches this could be, in relation to the model, VOR/DME beacons and the ILS information. With that info, you’re able to understand what kind of data is shown on the PFD and MFD or ND.

Fly to New York

Fly to New York offers a little more than the name suggests. The package offers 21 approaches / flights to John F. Kennedy, La Guardia, Providence, Newark, New Haven and Boston airport. From the previous section we know that, although the content is different, the manuals follow the same line. This is also applicable for the installed FS2004 DC-10 or the FSX MD-10 aircraft models.

Since we’re dealing with an American destination, there’s a big chance that “related” airliners are added in the Airplanes folder, which is indeed the case. Until now there’s not really anything new. I even took the time to make a walk-around check of a Northwest Airlines Douglas DC-10, oops, MD-10, and found the same texture and blurry problems as with the Fly to Africa FSX models. While digging into the manuals, I learned that there’s always a possibility of different texture qualities since different painters did the job. So far, no new news, so let’s move to the “approaches”.

What’s then left to review? Indeed, the approaches. The whole idea of these “New York Area Approaches” is the same as with my African adventure. Once you’ve loaded a prepared flight (approach), you and your aircraft are positioned at “x NM” on base or close to final from the planned runway of a chosen airport.

Again, during an ILS landing there’s no need to interfere with the Auto Flight, until the moment the Glide Slope is detected. Then it’s again time for you to wake up and come into action. By the way, when you go for a certain approach, you can always check the description section on the right hand side what to expect. Not that there is a lot of information, but it tells you which runway it will use and if it’s a CAT II or CAT III landing.

Here we go ….. a CLASSIC APPROACH II TO NEW YORK. This approach comes with the following description “NORTHWEST AIRLINES DC10-30 turning base over the water for a beautiful real weather dusk approach to JFK International Airport's ILS runway 4R in New York.”

Great, with that knowledge it’s time to fly this approach.

Nice New York approach. I’m aware this is one of the many that come with this “Fly to” product. It’s still fun sitting in an automatic controlled aircraft, except, what I said before, for the landing gear and flap settings/speeds. As long as you stay far enough from the external model, the textures look OK. I’m not going to offer other approach. First of all; I have a few other “Fly to” products to review and second, basically they are more or less the same.

Fly to Alaska

The printed “Alaska FSX Quick Guide” is of the same kind as I saw with the previous products. This is also applicable for the FS2004/FSX airplanes, but this time a FedEx DC-10/MD-10 is added. There’s only one thing that makes a difference and that are the “GA approach” flights.

Looking into these, I found out that 11 flights are not flown with one of the DC-10/MD-10 models. Instead, 11 approaches are flown with the default FSX “Beechcraft King Air”, “Beechcraft Baron”, “Cessna Skylane Trainer”, “Mooney Bravo”, “Cessna Skyhawk” and “Cessna Grand Caravan”. The DC-10/MD-10 flights are with FedEx, Continental and Trans Air. For me it’s a little strange that this add-on software uses default airplanes. On the other hand, the approach flights themselves are from FlightSoft.

I decided to have a look in the AutoPlay/Docs folder to see whether it tells the flight simmer that not all flights are performed with a DC-10 or MD-10. How strange it is, nothing is said about using default FSX airplanes. Since I didn’t review the FS2004 flights, I can’t confirm if these FS2004 approach flights are also using default airplanes. Probably one of the reasons to use a default GA airplane has to with the runway length and conditions. Not really a problem, but worth informing a potential buyer I think.

Whatever I think, the approaches are tailor made for the Alaska adventure. I’ll decide to take a FedEx DC-10 flight to Fairbanks. The description tells you that this “FEDEX DC10-30 on a brilliant winter approach to Fairbanks International Airport under spectacular IFR conditions during winter months.” During this 10 minutes approach, I made for you the following screenshots.

I want to highlight the middle lower screenshot. This is a nice close-up of a FedEx DC-10 however, lack of details of the right hand main landing gear and main wheel don’t make it an interesting spot. This is basically the same for all the FSX MD-10 models. As said several times before, FSX DC-10 airplanes don’t exist. A DC-10 Series model is, as far as I understood from the manuals, only applicable for Flight Simulator 2004. Back to this Alaska Fairbank approach; due to the simulated weather conditions it gives this daylight approach a special character.

The other 11 Alaska “default GA flight” approaches have a few things in common. They are all based on a straight in approach and there’s no Auto Pilot connected. This means, when the “flight” is loaded, you’re directly in control of the airplane. Pitch, roll and yaw should be controlled by you, as well as extending - if applicable - the landing gear. Furthermore, you need to control the flaps and approach- and landing speeds. In other words: you need to control everything!

Compared to the MD-10 flights, these are not as spectacular. This is mainly because of the straight-in approaches with the runway already in sight. This concludes my FlightSoft Alaska impression. I think you’ve seen that this third software package offers the same “style” as the previous two.

Fly to California

Via Africa, New York and Alaska, I’ve reached the sunny coast of California. What was applicable for the previous packages, is the same for this CD-ROM. Depending on your Flight Simulator version, either the DC-10 Series (FS2004) is installed or the MD-10 (FSX).

What we saw before, the DC-10 comes with the old-fashioned cockpit while the MD-10 offers the modern MD-10 flight deck, which is by the way equal to the MD11. When you don’t zoom into the model for a close-up inspection, it looks good enough to fly with. There’s no need to add 2D flight deck images here because they will be the same as we saw during the “Fly to Africa” handling. There’s also no need to add Virtual Cockpit screenshots for the simple reason that none of the FS2004/FSX models comes with a VC. On the other hand, there’s a need to inform you that this “Fly to” software comes with 57 different flights.

You’ll make approaches to the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach, Palm Springs, Sacramento, Oakland, and also to Camp Pendleton, Mojave Desert, Monterey Peninsula, Pasadena and San Jose. All approaches are made with different weather- and light conditions, what is the same as the others.

The idea of these flights is the same as with the previous ones; the airplane is positioned at a certain location, xNM from the runway. Depending on the pattern to fly, the Auto Pilot controls the aircraft until the detection of the Glide Slope signal. The rest you know. When you’ve got enough experience with these approaches, feel free to create your own flight leg from one destination to another. The FS2004/FSX manuals help you out how to do this. Anyway, so far nothing new.

This time I’ll take you on a CAT III approach to San Francisco. The flight description tells me “UNITED AIRLINES DC10 is on base turn then final for an exciting and breathtaking and CAT III IFR approach to San Francisco International Airport in SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA.”

The “exciting and breathtaking” is true, since you can’t see anything until approximately 100 to 50 RA.

A misty San Francisco approach with United Airlines DC-10-30 in early ’80 livery. One of the many examples of prepared flights. Although the functionality of the MD-10 flight deck is rather limited, it’s still fun sitting in the co-pilot’s seat watching the aircraft doing all the work. It’s indeed very misty and as the name suggest, a CAT III landing. At approximately 400 RH (Radio Height) the runway lights appear, but still no sign of the runway itself. Finally, just before touchdown, the runway becomes visible, but then it’s too late if somebody crosses the runway. On purpose, one of the 2D flight deck screenshots shows you the radio panel and pedestal.

Finally, “Fly to Caribbean”

I made it, the Caribbean. After travelling across Africa and major US locations, my journey has almost reached the end. Either you fly to the Caribbean or you take a cruise. I’m ready for a Caribbean cruise back to Europe. It won’t go as fast as a DC-10/MD-10, but for sure I’ll have enough fun onboard.

This last “Fly to” title offers a part of the aircraft models with two different 2D cockpits, 26 flights. I didn’t mention it before, but no FlightSoft software package comes with scenery enhancers. This means each package only offers the DC-10/MD-10 aircraft with cockpits and the prepared flights. That’s it, nothing more except for the manuals.

My last screenshot deals with the “AOM French Airlines DC10-30 Jetliner on approach to the stunning island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.” It starts somewhere above the ocean, low over the mountains and before you know, you’re on the ground. I didn’t make any close-up shots of the AOM aircraft since I’ve shown you that before.

As said in the previous section about add-on sceneries, when you want the real sensation of Guadeloupe, it’s an idea to check the VFR France website for their photo-real scenery of the island of Guadeloupe.

I’m satisfied with this last approach example. For me it’s time to go home to the Netherlands, but not before I’ve finished this review. Any comments on these screenshots? I think they speak for themselves, in particular the ones during final approach and touchdown. Anyway, one approach you’ve seen with only 28 to go. Have fun!

Summary / Closing Remarks

Each reviewed “Fly to” package cost US$34.95. That’s a lot of money and brings me to the question; is it worth it? Let’s summarize what you get.

Each pack comes with – basically - the same software, same kind of manuals and same idea of “approach” flights. In more detail this means:

  • A bunch of FS2004 / FSX manuals. The DC-10 / MD-10 cockpit manuals are, in relation to the 2D cockpit, of an average quality. In my humble opinion, those do not offer comprehensive information. It offers just enough in what the 2D cockpits allow. Unfortunately, the FSX manual that deals with the McDonnell MD-10 aircraft shows a brief history of the DC-10. It wasn’t a bad idea when it offered background of the MD-10.
  • The installer installs the Douglas DC-10 with the old-fashioned cockpit in FS2004, while a MD-10 flight deck is available for FSX. Both come only with a 2D cockpit and no Virtual Cockpit is available.
  • Depending on the “Fly to” series, each comes with an amount of prepared approaches or flights. Each approach is made with a DC-10/MD-10 and takes around 10-15 minutes to fly, including touchdown. The only exceptions are 11 approaches in Alaska, made with default FSX GA airplanes. Probably, for FS2004, default GA models are used. The DC-10/MD-10 approaches are fully automatic until the ILS detects the Glide Slope signal. From that moment the aircraft will follow the G/S to touchdown, however flight simmers need to control the flaps, flap speeds and landing gear.

Now you know what it offers, now it’s my turn to tell you what I’ve experienced. The DC-10/MD-10 - I only reviewed the FSX software - looks nice from a distance, but don’t come too close. Some textures at several places are missing on all FSX airplanes. I marked them in the beginning of this review, with orange squares during my Ghana Airways walk-around check. Furthermore, I found many textures on the fuselage, wing and tail, blurry or fussy. Why this is, I don’t know. One reason could be that it’s ported from an earlier Flight Simulator model. Whatever the real reason it’s not important. The fact is it looks blurry.

The 2D MD-10 look-alike flight deck is of an average quality. Honestly, it could be freeware stuff although I’ve seen much better freeware cockpits. The flight deck comes with a few sub panels to control and monitor the aircraft behavior. The DVD’s FSX manual explains a certain level, the ins and outs of what can be controlled, what their functions are and how to monitor it. Eye catchers on the main panel are the PFD and ND – they call it MFD – however, they have nothing to do with the MD-10 or actually, the MD11 EFIS instruments.

Fact is the PFD and MFD are default FSX Boeing 737-800 instruments and they look totally different than the real MD11 displays. This is one example of default FSX instruments and/or switch integration. Therefore, the overall MD-10 flight deck isn’t as comprehensive as suggested.

The “approach” flights, added during the installation into FSX Flights, are nice to follow. It brings you to several places of the Fly to software. Each approach takes approximately 10-15 minutes. Manual input is not needed during the approach, but the moment the G/S is detected, some action is needed. I double checked the manuals, but couldn’t find anything of that. Probably it wasn’t a bad idea to add this into one of the manuals. It could be logical for some, but for others it could be confusing.

Anyway, the dedicated Fly to approach flights are fun, while on the other hand, they are limited. Before you know, the 10-15 minutes have passed by. By the way, these are no missions but just added “flights”. Personally I would have preferred if FlightSoft had, instead of only approaches, added some missions. Adding a mission means flying a complete flight from A to B where a lot of user interaction is required. Good missions are therefore fun while these “flight” approaches are limited.

Final summary.

Price/quality is far too expensive! I’m aware that FlightSoft isn’t happy with this conclusion, but they should be. They are aware of the aircraft texture problems, the blurry look when doing a walk-around check, lack of details from, for example the landing gear, wheels and MLG brakes. That only a 2D cockpit is included and no virtual cockpit is a pity.

Furthermore, the MD-10 main panel and sub-panels aren’t of a payware quality and then in particular the use of default FSX EFIS instruments. The added flights are nice, but like I said before, one or more missions wouldn’t have been a bad idea.

 

What I Like About The Fly To...Series

  • Easy installers.
  • Software applicable for FSX and FS2004.
  • Each software package comes with a bunch of Microsoft Word/Adobe Acrobat manuals.
  • The FS2004 version comes with DC-10 Series models and the old-fashioned DC-10 cockpit while for FSX, MD-10 models with MD-10 flight deck are added. Actually, the MD-10 flight deck is the one from the MD11.
  • Each “Fly to” package installs a large amount of flights. Actually “guided approaches” or “straight in approaches” for the Fly to Alaska package.

 

What I Don't Like About The Fly To...Series

  • No information given where the flight simmers can find the “Docs” directory on the CD.
  • External FSX fuselage, wing and tail blurry/fuzzy while at certain places at the wing, landing gear doors, textures are missing.
  • No Virtual Cockpit MD-10 available.
  • The 2D flight deck is of an average quality. It doesn’t have dedicated MD11 PFD/MFD, but instead, the default FSX Boeing 737-800 displays.
  • Price/quality is far too expensive.
  • Not something I would say easily, but this MD-10 model doesn’t reflect payware quality.

 

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FlightSoft Fly To....Africa, New York, Alaska, California, Carribbean

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