Frontier 589 over Denver
I get bored with Orbiter from time to time...or frustrated with the s/w crashes with certain scenarios. So I revert to Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2004 (A Century of Flight). I received FS2004 for Christmas 2003 because I wanted to learn how to fly airplanes. At first I was overwhelmed by the complexity, and put it aside for a awhile and disappeared into the world of online FPS games. Then I found Orbiter and stopped playing online FPS games.
My last foray into the FS2004 world (December 2009) I simulated a round trip flight between Salt Lake City and Seattle. This because I had planned a vacation there with my wife to celebrate our 25th anniversary. I downloaded the aircraft we would be flying in, and researched on the Web the actual flight paths used by commercial flights between the two cities. I had learned so much from Orbiter that it was a lot easier to handle the complexity of FS2004. Having simulated the flight before hand, it was a lot easier to recognize the terrain during the actual flight. I could make better guesses about arrival ETAs too.
I also came to the odd realization that if needed, I could "actually" step in for the real pilots had they become incapacitated. Having said that, I realize I've seen too many movies from "Hollyweird".
Now I'm scheduled for a business trip to Canton Ohio. I leave Monday morning and return Friday night, flying on Frontier Airlines with a layover in Denver both directions. I've already simulated the entire trip.
Now having done this with an extreme gaming PC that I built myself and using Windows 7, I realize that it is time to finally upgrade to Microsoft Flight Simulator X. The Airbus A319 I downloaded to use has beautiful external textures, and I downloaded awesome looking livery for Frontier. I using the default Boeing 737 panels because there aren't any decent freeware Airbus ones to be had for FS2004. Plus, the program was based on WinXP and is a little buggy on Windows 7.
This time, I had learned more about IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) and ILS (Instrument Landing System) to the point where I could set up the autopilot to make the final approach and start the descent to the runway. That sounds like cheating, but is pretty close to the real world. The last 200 feet of altitude to the runway I fly manually...I've always enjoyed the landing flare.
Now you are probably wondering, dear reader (if any), why I'm so much of a geek to do this. Same reason one climbs mountains, I suppose.