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Basic questions from a perpetual newbie.

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I have owned every version of Flight Simulator from the beginning but really only play it a few times a year and I'm not a pilot so most every time I get back into it, much of it is a re-learning process. The basics come back quickly but the details tend to get lost.I really got into Flight Unlimited (especially FU2) for a period and fell in love with the concept of starting out at gate or parking (I tend to fly smaller planes, not the jumbos) and having to request taxi clearance and getting in line with the jumbos and such. I also like flying out of Philadelphia International or Atlantic City International as those are the airports I live near and fly out of for business and vacations.Anyway, I find a few things to be problematic:1. When I start in Gate Medium at Philly, EVERY flight starts with two jumbos ahead of me and I've found that I need to rush to beat them to the taxiways or else they tend to bog down and often stalemate me just short of being able to take off. A jumbo lands and never gets off the runway as he's blocked by a previous arrival just off the runway. Is this normal and why is traffic always the same?2. In FU2, you have easy access to well-detailed airport and taxiway diagrams. It's fairly easy to taxi around without getting lost and if you did, you just hit F12 and got a leader showing you where to go. Here, non of the taxiways appear to be marked so I get something like "Follow taxiway R F C D E" and since none are marked I have NO idea which way is which. I have found the request for a progessive taxi, but that seems ludicrous. There is no such thing so to haveto request it and go through a slow process to get it seems goofy. It's virtual so keep it that way. I guess the key questions on this are two: Why are there no taxiway markers and, where are the diagrams for each airport so that I can at least print them out, with details, to help this?3. I like to fly VOR to VOR (Direct GPS just seems way too.... fake) but also tend to fly using the autopilot. First, once I generate a Flight Plan, is there an easy way to get the data copied somewhere so that I can easily recall all the VOR frequencies and such? Now I'm forced to either go to the in-flight flight plan which pauses the game, killing the realism, or print out a flight plan which isn't bad but seems wasteful. Also, how real is it to fly this way using Autopilot? Once I takeoff and get clear, I engage it, set my altitudes, headings and such and then make minor adjustments to stay on the right radials.4. I'll often be flying along (using an original MS Force Feedback stick though seriously considering CH's USB Yoke and Pro Pedals) and suddenly the game just jumps me to virtual cockpit mode even though I didn't hit anything. Like something magically hit S. Is this typical?5. Is there an easy way to get the game to call real airlines? I recall this having been overcome in the past but when I last looked into it, it was a buggy post on popular sites. I'd obviously much prefer to hear United, US Air, Delta and the rest called out, especially if they're realistic in local airlines for where I fly.6. I just flew VOR-to-VOR from Philly to La Guardia and the flight plan seemed odd to me. IF I follow it, it has me go KPHL -> RBV (VOR) -> COL (VOR) -> CRI (VOR) -> KLGA. If you follow that through, the path to CRI is so out of angle for KLGA's #4 runway that you're out of position and need to scramble to get into position. I ended up on the wrong runway the first two times I did this. Now, I break off midway between COL and CRI and head directly into #4. What isproper?Lastly, I seem to always fly on the same runways at the airports I use. Does Flight Simulator automatically adjust and put you on different runways due to conditions and such or, if I go to La Guardia, am I always going to land on #4? The oddity is that EVERY time I've flown out of Philly, we flight out of and land on #27 but here they have everyone going the opposite direction using #9.

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I can't answer all your questions, but I'll help.I'm not very knowledgable about the AI traffic. I know that the plans for each plane are programmed but I don't know how the 'schedule' works. I suppose it's posible that each time the game is loaded the traffic begins their flight plans from the top, but I always thought it was random. Many people here work with traffic and AI downloads, etc. It won't be hard to find your answer to that one soon. It is also typical for the AI traffic to 'bog' the flow and especially create alot of 'go-arounds' for others. There is a taxispeed.zip download out that will enable you to increase the AI taxi speed. Try this link:http://www.fsgateway.com/dl_info.asp?id=31Or go to www.fsgateway.comFor airport diagrams try these sites:http://edj.net/cgi-bin/echoplate.plhttp://www.clearanceunlimited.com/main.htm (zipped with approach plates)http://www.myairplane.com/databases/approach/index.phpYou could also try downloading and installing the taxiway signs from:www.taxiwaysigns.comThey have KPHL,KLGA, sorry no KACY or KAIYThe new FS version being released in July will have taxiway signs!Are you using the NavLog instead of FlightPlanner for viewing your flight plan after you are en route? Haven't flown in while but couldn't remember if this paused the game. I don't print it because it takes to long with my printer, I just jot the info down on a pad with shorthand.I'm not a real life pilot, but your method of using the autopilot is pretty common. I think most pilots just use it for the cruise phase of flight. Depends on how you like to 'fly'.Don't know about your mysterious virtual cockpit problem.I think having real airlines in your ATC only happens when you download new aircraft liveries. I'm not sure technically how this works, but in the aircraft.cfg file for each plane there is an entry for atc_id, if I remember correctly. This determines what callsign ATC will call the plane.With your KPHL-RBV-COL-CRI-KLGA flight plan, I'm just assuming you used the flight planner to automatically create the route. The planner doesn't know A) what you're intentions are, and :( what runway will be in use at the destination. You must fine-tune the route if you want it to be more realistic. You can do this by looking in the route map window of the flight planner after you create the plan and drag the line to different waypoints/navaids or delete waypoints from the list on the right. For the above situation you could just delete the CRI vor from the route, there's really no need for it.Which runway is in use is determined by the prevailing wind. In FS it takes the longest runway and sends you in the direction that is more into the wind. If you have not set any wind conditions or downloaded any real weather it will always default to the same runway. In Philly the wind must be from the west quite often if you are landing and departing runway 27 everytime. That makes sense when you watch weather fronts on the news. In FS you can set a light wind out 270 degrees and this should send you out on runway 27.

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>The new FS version being released in July will have taxiway signs!That might make it worth waiting. I've had mixed luck with installing user creations in FS over the years.>Are you using the NavLog instead of FlightPlanner for viewing your flight plan after you are en route? Haven't flown in while but couldn't remember if this paused the game. I don't print it because it takes to long with my printer, I just jot the info down on a pad with shorthand.

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Regarding GPS, auto-pilot, and real life..I've been using moving map GPS's since 1993, when I picked up my first Garmin handheld. I like flying around the Mountain West Rocky Mtn. and desert areas which are very scenic. I rarely fly VOR to VOR and prefer to set up scenic way points on the GPS. Since one of my routes tends to follow 180 degrees, using the GPS also helps avoid altitude changes as I'd be crossing the 180 degree mark too much by zig-zagging to VOR's. With GPS it's more direct.On the subject of auto-pilots............ I really want a two -axis system coupled the the GPS. Just set it and enjoy the scenery!! I want to make one more statement regarding GPS's and VOR's. There have been SO MANY aircraft accidents around here lately involving mountains, that I feel like mounting a campaign to get pilots to use moving map GPS. These devices can provide instant situational awarness when the pilot has "un-planned" loss of visual due to no-moon darkness or an unexpected white-out. Within the last month, two deadly crashes involved IFR rated pilot's who hadn't yet activated the plan. I'm "dead serious" about this campaign. I see no reason to end up buried when such "good" tools are available. They beat the crap out of antiquated VOR's when you need to know RIGHT NOW!L.Adamson

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I can't say I disagree with you. If I were a pilot I'd swear by GPS. Heck, I love them for just driving around, but as a purely a SIM pilot, a find the VOR-to-VOR approach to but much more rewarding and involving. You get a great sense of accomplishment to have been able to pull it off, especially when I pick a route from somewhere to virtually nowhere far off and get there without a hitch landing in the darkness.

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I mentioned the atc_id entry for the airline fix, but actually it's atc_airline. You can add this line or alter it to say the airline. All major airlines except Southwest are in the sim.details:http://www.fsgateway.com/tips_read.asp?id=411The asterisk icon brings up the Map View, which does indeed pause the sim. The NavLog is under the 'Flights' menu at the top of the screen when you press ALT. It is simply a table form of your flight plan instead of a map. Give it a try.Flying VOR to VOR, or Victor/Jet airways is definitely more of a thrill to me as a simmer, and now I've learned SIDs and STARs to top it off, or the occasional DME Arc approach!I can imagine the danger in disregarding GPS technology in real life. Truly a shame that those accidents could have been avoided with a simple moving map display.

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