The newest patch for Microsoft Flight Simulator was focused on performance and improving some aircraft features and I had some time to put it through it’s paces last night covering some territory that I’ve been itching to fly around for a while now. Here’s an overview of my journey from Donegal Airport to Belfast International in the Diamond DA62. Let’s go!
Starting up in the Diamond
I’ve been reading and watching videos about the Diamond DA62. It’s an interesting aircraft with an impressive design that sheds the traditional look of the 20th century GA aircraft for something a little more organic and free flowing. I have it in X-Plane and I’m flying it here too and in both cases its a joy to cruise around in.
Starting out just as the sun was coming up over Donegal, County Donegal, Ireland, I went through the checklist to start the aircraft from cold and dark. The DA62 is an easy startup with fuel, master switch, and electric switches needing to be set before you literally push the start button and the diesel engine roars to life.
With less room than usual ahead of the aircraft, pushback from the ground crew was asked for and the DA62 was wheeled back into a taxi position. With clearance to taxi to runway 03 we headed out and away.
Before leaving, I’m pretty sure that I’ve decided that Donegal, one of the premium airports in Flight Simulator, is one of my new all time favourites. I love the rugged terrain just in from the Atlantic and the great detailing of the airport. It’s small and intimate and I’m glad that the Asobo Team made sure to do some of these smaller airports in premium fashion.
Cruising the countryside
Climbing away from the airport we were confronted with some thicker clouds but they were no less impressive than any of my other experiences in Flight Simulator.
Up through the clouds and out into open air. The scenery below revealing hedgerows and the rugged looks of the traditional Irish countryside – something now familiar to me having visited and toured the country that I have a special connection with (and hoping to be able to go back again sometime).
The thick, multi-layered clouds, gave way to clearer skies and I was able to even better appreciate the beautiful satellite imagery over the Emerald Isle.
The DA62 isn’t the fastest GA aircraft in Flight Simulator nor the slowest but it is an outstanding cruise aircraft that’s just fast enough to get you were you want to go next while also allowing you to enjoy the details. The satellite imagery over Ireland in Flight Simulator is excellent and the countryside, from 4,000 feet, seems impressively rendered.
On the way, we cruised past towns such as Letterkenny (not the one in Ontario or the TV series :)), Derry/Londonderry, and finally over the beautiful waters of Lough Neagh before approaching Belfast International.
Cleared to land on Runway 07
Communicating with ATC, we were given clearance to land on Runway 07 and I brought the DA62 in for a somewhat awkward landing not quite nailing the approach or the landing but bringing it down gently in the end.
I wanted to look around Belfast International as its not a premium airport and is thus a very generic experience. Overall, the airport markings themselves seem to be relatively accurate and well represented although the terminal building is a autogenerated generic representation that is roughly the same shape as the real one but without any of the architectural details. There were few airliners parked on the nearby apron either with a smattering of GA types instead.
All in all a pretty good experience but definitely needing that hand built touch to really come to life.
Part of the reason for this flight was to check out the new patch and the performance improvements that it offered. And improvements it brought. It is, in a word, smooth. My frame rate was all over the place in the past but in this test it never skipped a beat and I wasn’t waiting for the sim to load something in. It’s a dramatic improvement over my past experiences.
What I didn’t test was flying in a more densely packed urban area so that may change the experience for the worse. But while flying over Ireland it was superb and for the first time I was just flying along and enjoying the experience and not worrying about if it was going to pause at an inopportune moment.
Enjoy some screenshots I took on my way between Donegal Airport and Belfast International.