Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th Anniversary content and first impressions

Yesterday, Microsoft and Asobo Studio released Sim Update 11 for Microsoft Flight Simulator. This was no ordinary Sim Update as it was also a celebration of 40-years of history of this sim. This update came jam packed with new content. There’s tons to get through so let’s have a look!

Celebrating 40 years!

You have to hand it to the folks at Microsoft and Asobo Studio for really pulling out all of the stops for this 40th anniversary celebration. Microsoft Flight Simulator has gone from seemingly dead to well and truly been resurrected at this point.

This update packs in a ton of content including aircraft, new classic airports, a full fidelity airliner by iniSimulations, sailplanes, and helicopters. Those last two required some big updates to the core technologies to ensure that they had proper dynamics in place for both of them to work in a realistic fashion.

Here’s the full breakdown:

7 classic aircraft

  • 1903 Wright Flyer
  • 1915 Curtiss JN-4 Jenny
  • 1927 Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis
  • 1935 Douglas DC-3
  • 1937 Grumman G-21 Goose
  • 1947 Havilland DHC-2 Beaver
  • 1947 Hughes H-4 Hercules

 2 helicopters

  • Guimbal Cabri G2
  • Bell 407

 2 sailplanes/gliders

  • DG Aviation LS8-18
  • DG-1001E neo

 1 “true-to-life” airliner

  • Airbus A310-300

4 classic airports

  • Hong Kong Kai Tak
  • Meigs Field in Chicago
  • Princess Juliana International in Sint Maarten
  • First Flight Airport, Kitty Hawk

There’s also 24 classic scenarios from previous versions of flight simulator and 7 new tutorial missions for gliders.

In my reporting a couple of days ago, I reprinted a list that missed some key aircraft. This one appears to be a more complete listing. Apologies for the miss there. There’s clearly a lot that got packed in any nothing has been left out as we were starting to fear (albeit briefly).

Check out this promo trailer for the launch as its a good one.

Looking at the A310

I also have to hand it to the folks at Microsoft for executing on a brilliant content strategy. Yesterday’s launch included iniSimulations A310 for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s a full fidelity airliner that has been added, for free, to the sim and it sits at a level that is well above the complexity that we’ve seen from the sim’s default A320neo, 747 and 787 airliners.

Because the A310 is at a much higher complexity level, some tutorials on how to use it are always appreciated and here the folks at Microsoft and iniSimulations have us covered with a new Aircraft Discovery series that does a really good job of giving us an overview of the aircraft and how to fly it within the context of the sim. There are eight episodes but I’ve only reviewed episodes 1 and 2 so far.

The first episode is really just a good overview of the airplane and what it looks and sounds like.

The second episode is a quick start guide on how you can get up and running with the airplane fairly quickly. I appreciate this tutorial quite a bit because it really does focus on getting you flying the A310 quickly without a lot of the extra. This means you can go and fly and have fun with this plane relatively quickly.

Follow on tutorials cover features in more depth and really get into the details.

iniSimulations have also released a promotional trailer for the A310 which is yet another good look at what this airplane is all about.

It’s worth mentioning too that iniSimulations has an additional content pack, offered for free on the Marketplace, that provides higher quality interior and exterior textures, additional liveries beyond a few basic ones that are provided, and some extra features in the cabin area. A few users have complained about blurry cockpit textures and so that seems to be the solution to that problem.

I suspect that the base package is setup for Xbox users and this puts the A310 into the same territory as PMDG and Fenix. Pretty awesome!

Helicopters

Adding official helicopter support to Microsoft Flight Simulator is a big deal. Up until now, a few developers were tackling helicopter support by using quirks in the flight model for fixed wing aircraft or externalizing the flight model to make them work.

Now? Helicopters have official flight model support. That means that we’ll see many more aircraft makers bringing their helicopter products into the sim offering even more layers of experience for Microsoft Flight Simulator. It’s been a long wait for heli-fans but the wait is over.

It’s worth mentioning that by default the sim has two helpers on. They make it much easier to fly a helicopter which, of course, makes them accessible. Turn them off and they appear to be about as challenging as the helicopters that I’ve flown in other sims although I haven’t had a full chance to really try more intense things like autorotation and getting into a VRS.

I’m less of a helicopter enthusiast as I am a fixed wing flyer so these aren’t my focus but the two provided helicopters are a great start.

The rest of the planes and airports

I haven’t tried everything yet because there’s just too much content and not enough time in a day to get to them. I have, however, had short flights in most of them including the Curtiss Jenny, the DC-3, and the DeHaviland Beaver.

I have to say right now that the Beaver is an instant favourite. It’s done by Blackbird Simulations, formerly known as Milviz, and it comes with a very beautifully detailed aircraft with great textures inside and out. It has a tablet to control wheel chocks, tie downs, and various covers as well as let you flick between cargo and passenger versions. It also flies great and has fabulous features like the fuel gauges reacting to the g-forces on the airplane. Neat!

The DC-3 seemed pretty good when I flew it and the Curtiss Jenny flies very much like the WWI era aircraft that I’m used to flying in Rise of Flight and Flying Circus. There’s more to fly including the massive Hughes H-4 Hercules – that’ll be something!

I of course also had to check out Meigs Field in Chicago which was superb and really took me back to my early days with Flight Simulator. It’s beautifully detailed including the nearby marina so you have plenty of nice details flying in and out. The field no longer exists so uninstalling it from the content manager will return Chicago to 2022 but if you want to live that history, go for it.

Helicopter pads have been added to the sim although they aren’t necessarily everywhere and there’s at least one pad that I know about locally that is not represented. There are some that are included as part of the scenery update including one that I flew out of – Rainbow Air Incorporated which is located just meters from Niagara Falls.

Sale is on

To celebrate the launch, there is a sale on in the Marketplace with 83% off 900 products. So, if you’ve been eyeing something in the marketplace and haven’t gotten it just yet, I’d have a look and see what’s available.

Final thoughts

This is an exceptional update to Microsoft Flight Simulator. The update offers a wide range of content updates across a huge line of different types of flying. this update pays tribute to the entire history of Flight Simulator and to the history of flight.

I can’t believe that this is all free! The Beaver alone is an incredible addition that I will surely spend hours with flying around and I intend to pay much closer attention to Blackbird Simulations MV310R as a result. I hear through the grapevine that there may be additional paid versions of the Beaver that Blackbird are going to do including a more modern Turbo Beaver and I am psyched!

There’s the helicopters, the sail planes (which I haven’t tried yet) and the A310 all included in here too. It’s really astounding and it comes on a week where I was criticizing a non-flight sim developer for jacking up their DLC pricing by almost $20 CDN.

So, this is really astounding and a real peak for the latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator and for the history of the whole series. What a moment to be a flight simmer!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Firdimigdi says:

    Truly an amazing update, the only thing missing is the time to appreciate it all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      This is my struggle too!

      Like

  2. Skycat says:

    It’s a great expansion set and I think the classic scenarios address what has been lacking in the new MSFS. However, the 40th Anniversary Edition only further separates the incredible value the Standard pack provides from the diminishing returns represented by the Premium and Deluxe upgrades which to me seem arbitrarily priced. Either one, if purchased as an upgrade, becomes more expensive than buying the equivalent full mega version outright. I just wish MS/Asobo would offer the classic C172 as a break-out for individual purchase. Nothing else in the upgrade path really interests me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I imagine it’s only a matter of time before a third party offers a higher fidelity classic C172 so that may alleviate your need for the Premium.

      Like

      1. Skycat says:

        It’s all good. The upsell versions just remind me that I have other sims to play and that my P3Dv5 is tricked out with some really sweet addons.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. mike says:

    The historical aircraft are incomplete. many do not have functional radios… which may be accurate, but are necessary for coordinated online play. In several cases I noticed lack of documentation rendering things harder than they really needed to be. the Grumman Goose has incomplete checklist, and the Spirit of st louis is a “which pipe will fill first” minigame. despite this, the new tail draggers seem more accurate in behavior. I really enjoyed the DC-3 , but like many of the free aircraft.. they feel like GA craft wearing a larger skin. There is a lot of missing functionality and some bindings seems bound to multiple switches that should be able to interacted with in a solitary manner. When there is functionality , it is often poorly documented or not at all, which is par for the course with many of the inhouse/famous flyer type aircraft. If you have flown the DC-6/connie then the herc is similar , but I would be surprised if it had any more bindings available to it than a cessna. This sounds a bit bitter but I just sat on the ground for about 30 minutes because fuel valves were not indicated in the Goose’s checklist.. which serve as the only documentation for most of these aircraft. Anyone want to do an Asobo aircraft combined flight manual with me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Some more community based guides would be great to see. I’m sure there are some out there.

      I don’t actually know who the developer of the Goose was but hopefully they are preparing a few tweaks to correct any oversights.

      I recommend the Beaver. Just a fantastic experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Snowy says:

    It is a wonderful update that I am just starting to explore. The DC-3 was a very pleasant surprise. Looking forward to flying in the Beaver, the gliders, helicopters and other aircraft. Always enjoy your posts ShamrockOneFive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thanks Snowy! Much to like here!

      Going to be doing some more flights with that Beaver. Its just so good!

      Like

  5. frumpy says:

    As a former A320 pilot tells me… flying helicopters is the pinnacle of flying. I agree to this, but quality of flight dynamics of many sims is debateable. I will try MSFS helis today, but I feel the simulation of the R22 of Aerofly is best, while (with some distance) the DCS Huey is next. So I want to motivate you trying more, maybe you will like it more once you mastered it? 🙂 Helis need a steady hand, you will feel the “center” the heli is looking for with some practice and then you can land everywhere, which can be a very rewarding experience.
    I was told one way to make heliflying easier is taking a broom upside down and try to balance it on your hand.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Oh, time spent on them is not the issue. I just don’t find them as personally enjoyable as the many complex fixed wing types that I’ve been flying. That’s not to say that others shouldn’t fully enjoy helicopters. My conversations with Sergio over at HeliSimmer have been fantastic and I’m SO glad that this niche of the sim world is being represented in a more complete way in MSFS.

      As for my personal time… many hours with the DCS slate of helicopters. Mi-24 is my fav. Also plenty of time with the VSkyLabs Cabri G2 and Cowan’s 222B. A bit of time with the X-Plane 12 R22 which I hear is great but I find to be very twitchy.

      I won’t ever stop trying.

      Liked by 1 person

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