Swiss, French or mixed Missions
Some like missions while others don’t see what it can do for you. Missions can do many things for you like exploring areas you probably never go to or have no idea how beautiful it is. These mission packs show you parts of Switzerland you’ve never seen before and worth to explore it. Although the mission packs deal with VFR flight plans including charts etc., it is all based on default FSX software. Not that I’ve flown in real with a Cessna 150 or C172 through the mountains, I can tell you that flying around in this part of Switzerland and the French Alps is fun, even though it’s done with a default Cessna and default scenery.
Since the mission software costs hardly anything, it will be an option for you to add, for example, the awesome Aerosoft’s “Switzerland Professional X” scenery. The airplane choice is basically fixed unless you tell FSX to change mission settings. This however could lead to no reward when the flight is finished. Anyway, just a thought from me to make the Swiss mission sensation more attractive.
I said something about “cost hardly anything”; the Vertical Studios Swiss sensation consists of three packages of which part I is free of charge. You can download this package via the following link. The other two packages each cost US$1.99 or roughly €1.30. I know what you think, and that’s the same that I did. No, I didn’t make a typing error; it’s really US$1.99! So far so good, but what do you get or what can you expect from it? Let’s see what Vertical Studios has to say about this Swiss mission.
Vertical Studios is pleased to announce the launch of their first series of Add-on Missions for Flight Simulator X, Mountain Flying in Switzerland. Designed by FAA certified pilot using actual flight paths, Mountain Flying in Switzerland includes detailed aeronautical charts of each departure, route, and arrival as well as real world voice actors to provide the most realistic flight experience available in FSX. The Add-on Missions also include complete FSX Nav Logs, Flight plans and GPS with programmed waypoints.
The entire round trip takes over 2 hours to complete, but the missions are built as 3 separate parts, with each part lasting between 30 and 45 minutes. Experience all the beautiful scenery, including incredible views of the snow covered Alps and Lake Geneva, with its world famous jet. You are the Pilot in Command!
When you’re not familiar with Switzerland at all, don’t worry. Each package comes with enough information that should help you to fly safely through the mountains, passing cols with a safe landing at the destination airport/airfield. For me, Switzerland is not an unknown country although flying across the mountains is new for me, so let’s go for it and see what it brings.
What do you get?
It doesn’t make any difference which software part you buy/download for free since in all cases the READ ME Acrobat file tells you how to install it. Manual installation of the files/software is clear, uncomplicated and therefore easy to do yourself. Hold on; what files or manuals do you get?
That’s all folks. Each package offers no more than this. But for a mission you don’t need anything more than this. Before I can start with my first 45 minute flight from Geneva to Sion via Col de Coux, it’s a good habit to print the resource manual or at least the charts. Furthermore I need to copy the necessary files to the correct location. With this done, I’m ready to experience the Swiss hospitality, but before moving on, I’m wondering why these guys made these three Swiss missions in particular?
According to Vertical Studios “each mission is designed by an active FAA certified pilot and includes detailed aeronautical charts of each departure, route, and arrival as well as real world voice actors to provide the most realistic flight experience available. Add-on missions also include complete FSX Nav Logs, Flight plans and GPS programmed waypoints, as well as the full text of the spoken dialog.
With that said; Vertical Studios created two freeware missions - Lunch on Catalina Island and A380 Birthday Surprise – which are available for download at AVSIM. Inspired by our A380 Birthday Surprise mission, we decided to rent a Cessna 172 and fly from Half Moon Bay airport to the entrance of the San Francisco Bay. We flew over the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island, just like in the mission. Being in a Cessna 172 however, we were not allowed to land at SFO so there would be no chance of arriving there at the same time as an Airbus A380! The sightseeing flight over San Francisco was very enjoyable, just like in the mission.
Followed by this, we rented in the summer of 2009 a Cessna 172 in Geneva, Switzerland and flew over three mountain passes to two different airports. The entire trip lasted over two hours. We used FSX to help us prepare for and visualize the flight route to the various mountain passes, making our actual flight that much safer. The experience was unforgettable! And as you can expect, this resulted in one freeware version and two payware packages.”
Now you’ve got some background information on why Vertical Studios brought them to create these Switzerland missions. Now it’s up to me to find out if it works out as planned, but more importantly, that I don’t get lost in the Swiss mountains.
Part 1 | Aéroport International de Genève –> Col de Coux –> Sion Airport
After I copied all the “part 1 of 3” files to their final destination, it’s time to start FSX. Next step is to find my mission and in case you’re new to missions, the READ ME manual helps you out with this. According to the READ ME manual, this mission is found under section “The Good Life”. Not strange since you copied it yourself in this folder. Together with the “Intermediate” skill, it turns out that I’ve found “Mountain Flying in Switzerland (part 1 of 3)”. The “Go To Briefing” button brings me to another section with three tabs; Overview, Details and Maps & Charts as you can see on the screenshots below.
While you’re studying the charts, I will go to Geneva Cointrin International Airport or in Swiss/French, Aéroport International de Genève. By the way, the ICAO code is LSGG. After I start this mission, I’m presented with a fly-in movie over Geneva airport including an aural introduction of what to expect and what to do. It seems that my flying companion on this mission is a chief pilot who’s doing all the communication for me while I’m following her instructions.
You’re free to connect the Auto Pilot if you wish, but keeping the Cessna 172 performances in mind, manual flying is fun too. The Cessna is parked on a grass area along runway 5L/23R. It’s good to have the maps and charts printed out although I personally find the supplied LSGG ground movement chart of an average quality. You could if you want to, check for current versions on either IVAO or VATSIM. For your convenience find here the direct link to the VATSIM Swiss LSGG charts.
My chief pilot takes care for everything and this means she helps me to stay awake. No, that’s not fair! Via your speakers or headset she helps me with every step, when to takeoff, what to do after takeoff, when we’re able to cross runway 5R/23L etc. She also offers detailed information whenever needed. Altogether, with her on my side I think it will be fun.
Once ready with all the preparations, it’s time to taxi to 23R. After takeoff you’re commanded to climb to 2000 feet on a runway heading of 230°. Once you’ve reached 2000 feet, a right hand turn is requested including a further climb to 3000 feet. This and other aural instructions are constantly given. This makes this mission so interesting. Not that it’s uncommon to have aural guidance or assistance, its fun but more importantly, it keeps you awake. The moment you receive ATC clearance to cross the main runway of the airport, we’re heading straight for the famous jet d’eau with on our left hand side Lac Léman or Lac de Genève or just Lake Geneva.
On your way to Sion, you first fly in a southerly direction towards the French mountains, but before you know, your virtual assistance guides you to climb and follow different headings. These heading changes can either be taken from the GPS which has the complete flight plan in it or you just listen to your chief pilot. One thing is for sure; you finally climb to an altitude of 7500 feet to safely pass the Col de Coux, but honestly it’s not directly needed for other parts of your “sight-seeing” flight, so it’s up to you. Either you listen to your chief pilot and take the safe way or you stay at 4000 feet till you’ve passed waypoint 3. After that, you really must climb to 7500 feet.
The overall normal flight time for this mission is approximately 45 minutes so it’s a nice short cross country flight. This flight time depends of course on your throttle setting. When you want to rocket from A to B, you go for FULL THROTTLE; however, you’ll miss a lot of the beauty outside and vice versa when reducing the throttle. As said in the beginning, depending on your scenery collection, you could install the dedicated Switzerland scenery software that makes the overall look even more realistic. I’d recommend that.
While south of Geneva towards Col de Coux, many instructions are given by my chief pilot as well as interesting area information. At this time I decided to connect the Auto Pilot. The reason is my chief pilot commands me to climb to 7500 feet while I want to enjoy the Swiss scenery. Decision is made … the Auto Pilot is connected for GPS guidance and pitch control that brings me with a V/S of 600 to 7500 feet.
Flying from one waypoint to another, you’ll receive lots of tips and tricks and important flight information. Too low an altitude is not what you want and too high is also unnecessary. I’m approaching Col de Coux and there’s something I would like to warn you about. The Vertical Studios FSX image with the Col de Coux is probably from a default FSX scenery while my images are made based on UTX Europe and GEX Europe. This means that the Col itself looks slightly different.
Suppose you had installed Aerosoft’s Switzerland Professional X, than the outcome would be different again compared to the Vertical Studios picture. Is this a problem? Not at all, but I would like to warn you of the possible differences.
In-between conclusion of Mountain Flying in Switzerland part 1 of 3;
With pleasure I can tell you that this mission was fun. Fun not only because it’s free of charge, but also fun because of the chosen route and the written/spoken instructions, as well as additional information. Fun because it takes roughly 45 minutes and since every NM you fly is different; there was never a moment of “the same scenery over and over, time to fall asleep”. As said before; when you own Aerosoft’s Switzerland Professional X reality is coming very close but even with Ultimate TerrainX – and Ground Environment Enhanced Europe it’s nice. At least much better than the default FSX scenery!
As stated earlier; southeast of Geneva and south of Lake Geneva lays France and if I’m correct, the 1st flight departs from Geneva in a southeasterly direction, followed to the east. This is all in France until you’ve passed Col de Coux, since this col is like many others located on the border between the two countries. The rest of this mission is all in Switzerland.
Ok, I’ve got a good feeling about this 1st mission. Oops, completely forgotten; try installing Aerosoft’s Sion Airport!
Part 2 | Sion Airport -> Sanetsch Mountain Pass -> Saanen Airport
I could make it easyfor myself; this section is not really that different compared to the previous mission. Ok, the Swiss mountains are different, the location is different, but the basic principle of the mission is the same. What do I mean?
This payware mission offers the necessary maps and charts of Sion- and Saanen Airport. Furthermore it comes with a flight plan that helps you out in case your chief pilot falls asleep. There’s of course a reward to earn after the successful completion of this mission.
This mission in that respect is the same as the previous one however, this time you climb to higher elevations because of the Sanetsch Pass. That means you’re maximum cruising altitude should be 9500 feet with a pass height of 8500 feet. The rest of the mission has the same characteristics. Time to see it with my own eyes and no, this time no screenshots of the FSX mission tabs “Overview”, “Details” and “Maps & Charts”. Since this is again your starting point, so you’ll see it automatically.
While writing this, I’ve just flown mission part 2 and I can’t say anything else other than “gorgeous”. The mission starts again with a short introduction movie telling you the essence of this mission. While parked at Sion, your chief pilot jumps in, helps you out with the charts and maps and you’re ready to go. The moment you’ve started your engine, she helps you with text messages while at the same time spoken text.
What was applicable for the 1st mission is also valid here; she’s doing all the communications and advises you during your climb over the Sanetsch Mountain Pass. Because the pass is pretty high, it takes some time to reach a safe crossing altitude. That’s also the reason you first fly in an easterly direction in the Sion Valley.
After a while, a full 180° turn is made and now you’re flying back towards Sion, however at an altitude of approximately 8500-9500 feet. Wow, that gives you a great overview of the scenery in this area.
Sorry, we have to move on and at a heading of 340, we move towards the Sanetsch Mountain Pass. The moment you’ve passed this pass, it’s time for a steep dive. Ok, the dive is still within limits, but with a constant V/S of -1500 feet per minute you need to watch out for a possible overspeed situation. Passing the famous city of Gstaad, it’s a short distance to Saanen Airport. As with the previous mission, your chief pilot gives you some advice prior to the landing and for the rest, it’s up to you.
This is a much shorter section then the previous one. Not strange since the idea is the same. Only difference is a different route. Before I forget it; this mission covers a flight within Switzerland only. This means there’s no mixture between Swiss and French territory. Also applicable for this mission, how real Switzerland looks, that all depends on the add-on scenery you have installed. Time for the last mission which brings you from Saanen back to Geneva.
Part 3 | Saanen Airport -> Col de Jaman -> Aéroport International de Genève
This final and last Vertical Studios mission brings us in a westerly direction back to Geneva Airport. The only bump to concur is the Col de Jaman before flying via Montreux (northeast side of Lake Geneva, Switzerland) and the south side of Lake Geneva (France) to Geneva Airport. By the way; to pass the Col de Jaman you need to climb to a cruising altitude of 6500 feet, which is not really shocking compared to the 9500 feet during mission 2.
Anyway, this mission is of course different because you cover another part of Switzerland and France, but the overall idea and build-up of the mission is the same. The same means introduction movie, your chief pilot who helps you out with advice and gives you where needed, Swiss information and of course a set of maps and charts. Finally after a successful landing, there’s again a reward and a surprise.
Because the flight is roughly of the same distance as the 1st mission, keep in mind that it will take you 45 minutes to complete the flight. Is it a boring flight? Absolutely not! Although flying along the French side of the lake, there’s still a lot to see out there and it isn’t flat at all except for the Swiss side. Curious about what I’ve seen? Join me on my last mission back to Geneva Airport.
As I said before; the overall mission design and what you see is the same, but this time it comes with additional features; a “request for takeoff” and “additional flying objects”. Let’s have a closer look to these features.
When you’re ready for takeoff, it seems another Cessna 172 is turning on to the base leg for a planned landing on runway 26, so it’s up to me according to my Chief Pilot, to expedite our own takeoff or we just wait until the other Cessna has landed. This option looks very similar to the ATC message windows and therefore this is not unique, but it increases the reality and keeps you awake!
Once this Cessna has landed, it’s our turn to takeoff from runway 26 and climb straight ahead to 6500 feet. This altitude is needed to pass Col de Jaman. Initially it seems not as impressive as the Sanetsch Pass, but that thought is wrong. The col and area to fly through is very narrow, but once passed it, you’ve got an awesome view of Lake Geneva.
On your way towards Geneva, flying south of Lake Geneva, you’ve got a nice view of the French Alps on your left with Switzerland on the right hand side with the famous cities of Lausanne and Montreux. And suddenly there’s another feature or surprise popping up; balloons! The mission developer added other objects to make and keep the mission interesting while flying. In total I’ve seen four balloons along the French mountains and it seems they are doing well.
Passing over the French city Evian it’s not far until we reach Geneva. Since Geneva is an international airport, additional flying instructions are given to make it as real as possible. So my stress level is increasing when approaching Geneva Airport. Finally, with the help of the Chief Pilot and the text boxes, our landing on grass runway 23R isn’t as complicated as I thought it would be.
After a successful landing and parked at a spot, you’ve deserved your last reward as well as a “video reward”. To get this video reward you need to contact Vertical Studios. When doing this, it’s a good idea to add a screenshot of this “video reward” as you can see below in the right hand lower corner. In return, Vertical Studios offers you a nice surprise.
No, I won’t tell you what kind of surprise it is. At the same time I and Vertical Studios challenge you to download part 1 of 3, and buy the other two missions. Fly them and experience the Swiss and French Alps and earn your own “video reward”.
Although these three missions look the same, which is good by the way, what you see and get is totally different. Different mountains, different altitudes and skills needed to fly over the Col de Coux, Sanetsch Pass and the Col de Jaman. I tried not to add too many screenshots although without these screenshots writing down my own experiences is more or less impossible.
When you want to see more, you either go to the Vertical Studios website or look on YouTube. For sure you’ll find movies of these trips. If you want to feel and smell the Swiss sensation, you can decide to add Aerosoft products like Sion X and Switzerland Professional X. For the French areas you could have a look at the VFR France website.
While you can’t change the default Cessna 172 is a petty, according to Chris Klein from Vertical Studios “You are correct that the user cannot choose which airplane to fly (in these missions). Mission designers can make it as an option, but the available airplanes would need to be installed on the user’s computer. We decided to keep the missions available for all users, hence the use of default scenery, default C172 and even all non-Acceleration mission objects. An experienced user can (and some clients did) change the aircraft used in the mission, but this requires manual editing of the mission file.”
This makes sense and as said by Chris, if you really want to you can edit it as follows;
Do the same for the MFiS2of3.FLT and MFiS3of3.FLT files. Remember one thing when doing this; these missions are based on the default Cessna 172 with its appropriate performances. Try to find another airplane that has more or less the same flight characteristics and performances. You could, for example, go for some of the Carenado models. Anyway, whatever you chose, that’s up to you!
Summary / Closing Remarks
Basically this software is all about missions and what comes with it. I tried to highlight the individual missions and after reading it back to myself, I think I’ve succeeded in that. Everything I’ve seen during my trips are in this review. From the three available missions, one is free of charge while the others are payware.
Keeping the price of each mission in mind, I can conclude that these Vertical Studios missions are absolutely worth every penny. Paying US$ 1.99 for each mission is worth 200% of your money for every minute you’ll fly over the mountains and valleys. I sincerely hope that Chris Klein from Vertical Studios decides to make more of these missions or add other Swiss adventures. It gave me an awesome 2+ hours of fun!
Did I find any mistakes or did I discuss every tiny part? There’s always a possibility that certain mission items are not highlighted as others would like to have seen. On the other hand, I’ve flown every mission and seen almost every text box, listened to my chief pilot while reading the text box, of which both are the same.A small mistake I’ve seen during the 1st intro flight where in the third text block is written “he’ll wait for you” while it turns out that it’s a “she”. Your Chief Pilot is a “she”, but let say that’s a typing failure. As I’ve said before, you’ll have a lot of fun flying these mixed French, Swiss and again French mountains.
What I Like About Mountain Flying in Switzerland
What I Don't Like About Mountain Flying in Switzerland
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