Commercial FSX Flight Generator Utility Review



Realistic Flight Generation Utility


Publisher / Developer: Flight1 / Codelegend
Description: Realistic Flight Generation Utility
Software Source / Size: Download / 6.74MB
Flight Simulator: FSX
Flight test time: 25 hours
Reviewed by: Mike Cameron
Published: October 9th, 2012


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - Asus G72GX Laptop
- Intel Core2 Duo 2.53 GHz Processor
- 6GB DDR2 Memory
- 500GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM)
- NVIDIA GeForce 260M Video Card with 1GB GDDR3 Memory
- Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick
- Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel and Multi panel
- CH Throttle Quadrant
Software: - FSX with Acceleration
- Windows 7 64 Bit
























History and Introduction

Ideal Flight, simply put, is a realistic flight generator for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. This program will generate random flights based on your own criteria from thirty minute flights to a nearby airfield in small training aircraft to multi-hour flights in a passenger jet. Ideal Flight also creates a flight plan associated with this flight, generates weather based on your criteria, will start FSX with your aircraft in the desired configuration and much more.

Some of the many features of Ideal Flight Include: - Multiple user profiles, - Compatibility with FSX aircraft and scenery including add-on aircraft & scenery, - Comprehensive HTML briefing, - Enhanced float plane, helicopter and glider support, - Fly to and from any location in FSX, - Also works with any FSX flight file or flight plan, - Routes and missions, - Complete flight assessment and records log.

I am primarily a fixed wing general aviation virtual pilot so I will be reviewing features that relate to general aviation flights.


Installation

I am reviewing the download edition of Ideal Flight; a boxed version is also available. A demo is available on the Ideal Flight product page. The demo allows generation of around ten flights with the full features of the Ideal Flight interface. I love when a demo of a product is available to allow the potential customer to see if this is the right product for them without spending their money. The PDF manual is included with the demo which is also a plus. Installing and activating Ideal Flight is very easy.

First, purchase the product and download the purchase version of Ideal Flight from the product's web page. After purchasing, you'll be provided with a registration code which I recommend copying so that you can paste it in during the install process. Run the downloaded program, select the install language (English or German flag), accept the default locations of FSX and where the Ideal Flight files will be installed and select the “Install” button. If for some reason the program cannot detect your FSX path, you will be prompted to browse to the FSX folder. Agree to the License Agreement, select “Yes” to rename the FSX Thermals file and select “OK”. Ideal Flight uses its own thermal and weather generation and will restore the original thermal file when Ideal Flight is uninstalled.

The first time that you start Ideal Flight, a dialog box will display explaining that Ideal Flight will now finish installation by creating index files for all of the installed scenery and aircraft files. Select “OK”. When you install new scenery or aircraft, the program will automatically perform the indexing function the next time that you start Ideal Flight. This function is also available from the top menu of the Splash screen page. After indexing is complete, the online registration page appears. Enter your name and the registration code that you received with your purchase e-mail. Verify that everything is correct on the next page and select “OK”. If everything entered is correct, the registration code valid page will be displayed, select “OK” to begin using the program. The PDF Manual is located in the Ideal Flight folder of the Windows Start menu.


Getting Started

After you start Ideal Flight and indexing has been completed, the next screen that will be displayed is the Airport/Homepage. The Airport/Homepage is the primary interface for using the various functions of the program and is nicely presented. The center of this screen is divided into two sections with information and rating for the currently selected pilot on the left and current flight plan summary on the right side. Buttons for accessing the various program functions are displayed along the bottom and right side of this screen. All functions are also available on the menu at the top of the screen. I recommend reading the User Guide first in order to get the most out of the program. Moving the mouse over a button will display a tool tip and pressing F1 will display a more detailed explanation of that function. The first thing that I did was create a profile for myself by pressing the Profiles button, otherwise, all of your records will be saved as the default “Joe Pilot”. Everything on the User Profile Selection screen is self-explanatory. Type your name, enter the ICAO code for your starting airport location and then adjust anything else on this page that you desire and then save your settings.

I entered 77S Hobby Field Airport, located in Creswell Oregon in the United States. A wonderful feature of Ideal Flight is when you make changes and save your profile or change your starting location from any of the other areas of the program, Ideal Flight gives you the option of saving the currently selected aircraft parking location for later use. Since this is the first time that I'm saving my profile, this will be the default aircraft & location that was created when the program was installed. All of the parked aircraft locations can be selected from this Profiles page which makes it easy to create flights from your saved locations. Now, you want to proceed to the Aircraft Selection page to select an aircraft that is appropriate for the airport that you entered on the Profiles page. For my first aircraft, I selected one of the variations of Flight Replicas Super Cub Ultra. Other nice features of the Aircraft Selection page is the ability to view HTML pages of the selected aircraft’s Reference & Procedures documents(if available for that aircraft), open separate Ideal Flight pages for Flight Parameters and Mission & Monitor criteria for the selected aircraft.

The Mission & Monitor page is interesting because this is where Ideal Flight displays the appropriate mission types, vessel & surface landing types, aircraft damage, failure & reliability and monitored systems for the selected aircraft. This program is very intelligent because it does a good job selecting systems to monitor for the appropriate aircraft. For example, “Monitor Seatbelt Signs” is not selected for my Super Cub. If you adjust any of the settings on these two pages, remember to save those changes, then click on the “green left arrow” to go back to the Aircraft Selection page and again to the Airport/Homepage. If you are going to be using add-on aircraft with Ideal Flight, I recommend clicking on the “Launch FSX interface” button.



This will launch FSX at the default FSX ‘Create a Flight’ interface screen. As is recommended with some premium add-on aircraft, you should start your flight with a default FSX aircraft then load your add-on aircraft. Place your aircraft in whatever configuration that you would like when you launch a flight from Ideal Flight (I like cold and dark), then select “Save Aircraft Settings” from the Ideal Flight menu located in the FSX Add-ons drop down menu. This is optional, but I receive good results by doing this for all of the aircraft that I've used with Ideal Flight. You're now ready to create a flight.


Building and Running a Flight

Now that you have a starting location and an aircraft selected, if you're feeling adventurous, click on the “Next Flight” button and Ideal Flight will generate a flight to a location within the default time periods from your current airport location. The generated flight will display the flight plan summary on the right side of the Airport/Homepage. If everything looks acceptable with this flight, click on the “Fly” button to launch FSX with your selected aircraft with the knee pad open and displaying the mission briefing. I have a second monitor connected to my laptop so I move the knee pad over to this monitor for later reference during flight. The flight briefing is also available as an HTML document if you would like a hard copy. If you'd like to fly to a different airport than the generated one, click on the “Fly Next” button again to repeat the procedure. If Ideal Flight can't find an airport with the default settings, it will display a message and you'll need to adjust the settings on the Flight Generator screen which I will explain in more detail in the next section.

If you didn't prepare your aircraft as explained in the previous section, you can now do it using the same procedure. Ideal Flight is now monitoring your progress and you need to start your aircraft, contact ATC and start taxiing before the Preparation & Pushback time runs out or you will receive a penalty for this in your assessment. Remember to watch your taxi speed and follow the ATC instructions to the active runway precisely because the program is also monitoring this. After taking off, proceed to your destination, park & shut down your aircraft at the assigned parking area and exit the flight either by shutting down FSX, choose “End Flight with Assessment” from the Ideal Flight pop-up menu or press the “Left Arrow” button. Ideal Flight will now display an assessment of your flight. The program monitors all aspects of your flight from the time it took to start taxiing to the proper shut down procedure. Perform a dangerous maneuver inflight, penalty. Land too fast or off of the center line, penalty. If you forget to retract the flaps, turn lights off & set the parking brake, more penalties. To log your assessment into your flight records, click on the “Accept” button which looks like a green check mark. If you know that you didn't have one of your better flights, you can use the “Exit Flight without Assessment” from the Ideal Flight pop-up menu. With or without the assessment, Ideal Flight will remember your parking location. For my first flight, I didn't receive a very good assessment.

My starting location was Hobby Field Airport and my destination was a small unpaved airfield in Northwest Oregon. I was flying the Super Cub and even though this aircraft has a GPS that displays an FSX flight plan, I had trouble locating this airfield. I landed at what I thought was the correct airfield but the assessment said that I was off of the centerline by more than 2000 feet, my touchdown speed was too fast and also had some minor inflight penalties and I forgot to set the parking brake before ending the flight. I was not off to a good start but received better assessments on future flights which improved my overall rating. To build a new flight, click on the “Next Flight” button for a flight to a new airport, “Return Flight/Free Flight” button to return to your most recent departure airport or pressing this button a second time builds a flight to the current airport. If I've just installed a new airport, I like to use the “Return Flight/Free Flight” button to return to my new airport so that I can explore the area near this airport.



Other ways to build a flight is to select the desired location from the “Destinations” drop down list on the Flight Generator screen (use the “Search” button to fill the list), type the ICAO code then, pressing “Find” on the same screen, choose the “Departure” & “Destination” locations from the “Airport Selection” button which displays the world map screen. Then, use the “Search” button or click on the location on the map. The world map screen also displays the selected airport information on the left hand side of the screen. You can also load an FSX flight plan and Ideal Flight will build a flight using this flight plan. As you can see, there are many ways to generate a flight and all are very easy to do.


Flight Generator and Weather Settings Screens

Customizing your flights is accomplished on the Flight Generator screen. On this screen you can specify the minimum/maximum flight duration times, start date & time, flight plan and route type, altitude & speed restrictions, starting parking ramp location or active runway, preparation minutes & payload quantity, fuel, starting with a cold & dark or warm cockpit, airport type, AI selection and more. All of the options on this page are self-explanatory but if you have a question, highlight the item with the mouse and press the F1 key to bring up the extended help. I now want to comment on the wonderful customer service provided by Codelegend the developer of Ideal Flight. They have a wonderful support forum. On flights into a couple of Orbx smaller add-on airports, the program generated AI aircraft that were inappropriate for these airports. I asked about this on the forum and Codelegend quickly responded that they would look into this. I did not have this problem with any of the other small airfields that I had as destinations. Codelegend is always posting updates to the program with new features and to fix issues that other users might have found with the current release.

One of the many things that I love about Ideal Flight is that you can specify the flight duration. Sometimes I only have a short amount of time for using the flight simulator so with this feature I can specify a minimum duration of thirty minutes or less and maximum of one hour duration. As long as you're flying in an area with plenty of airports and have no restrictions for airport type, Ideal Flight should generate a nice short flight for you. As mentioned previously, if Ideal Flight can't find a suitable airport, simply adjust these times or change the airport restrictions. I have all of the airport filters unchecked so that I have the largest selection of destinations available. Other settings that I change from the default settings on this screen are increasing the “Preparation” minutes to give me plenty of time for preflight, unchecking the button on the “Default Warm Cockpit/Cold & Dark” selection because I like to start a flight with a cold and dark cockpit and unchecking the “Runway Start/Aircraft Location” box to start the flight from a ramp parking location. The Weather Settings screen is as the name suggests. Settings that Ideal Flight uses to generate the weather for the flights.



For the most part, I used the default weather settings, but with a couple of flights, I was flying a light sport aircraft and the program generated thunder storms during this flight so I adjusted the weather settings to be more appropriate for this type of aircraft. If you want more of a challenge, adjust the settings for more severe weather. This is what makes Ideal Flight such a wonderful program. It's so customizable for pretty much any type of flight.


Summary

I've installed many utility programs for the flight simulators that I've owned over the years that create flights, flight plans, missions, weather generation & custom traffic and perform flight monitoring. Ideal Flight is the best one that I've ever installed. It's a complete package. Not only does it generate flights with flight plans, generate weather throughout and provide AI traffic at departure and destination airports, it will also monitor your flight and provide an assessment after the flight is complete. A nice feature about Ideal Flight is, that if you already have a favorite program for making flight plans, as long as it is saved in FSX format, Ideal flight can use it and will generate a flight based on that flight plan.

This program is very customizable to suit your preferences, whether you want to make a short flight in a single engine aircraft or perform a long flight in a multi-engine propeller or jet aircraft, Ideal Flight will generate flights for you. I did not get a chance to try a glider, a helicopter flight or an available mission though the program also works for these types of flights. Another nice thing about the program is that it is available as a demo from the product page on the SimStop website. The only minor issue that I encountered with Ideal Flight is that generated inappropriate AI Traffic at couple of my destination airports. Codelegend provides excellent customer service through its support forum and was quick to respond to my issue. I want to thank Flight1 and SimStop for providing the review copy and some of the screen grabs used in this review. Ideal Flight is available from SimStop for $39.95 USD (30.97 Euros as this review is written) in either download or boxed editions.

For more information about this Flight1/Simstop flight generation utility, visit iDeal Flight dedicated web page or have a look at the Codelegend webpage for further in-depth information.

With Greetings,
Mike Cameron


This review is written for Aerosoft News Service and published via the Aerosoft website. While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.