Ideal Flight provides a seamless global weather simulation, with winter snows, fine summer days, morning mists, still evenings, afternoon thunder, rainy overcast windy days, monsoons, high altitude winds, and so on.
Ridge air currents with sinking and rising thermals are also introduced depending on the terrain. Find cool air sinking and hot air rising when conditions allow. Rising air currents will be found when a hot area is surrounded by cool, as with a city or small peninsula. Similarly, sinking air currents can be found when entering cool areas surrounded by hot, a cool lake perhaps.
Weather is not random, assuming settings have not changed, the same weather will exist on the same date and time at the same location.
IF10 winds do not require Wind Smoothing Addons. Winds are interpolated across the globe for seamless air currents at all times. There will be no excessive shoving of the aircraft between weather systems.
For simulated weather to progress from, for example, Thunderstorms to Clear Skies, there will be some visible alterations to the clouds if the simulated weather changes substantially during updates.
When VFR plans are made, IF10 fictional weather is deliberately improved to be clearer and generally better than normal, unless the weather is already good for VFR flights. IFR weather is the actual weather computed from the global weather simulation. Improving weather for VFR flights can be disabled, or forced for all flights, in the "Other Weather Settings" window.
With ideal Flight weather and plan, flight times indicated in the briefing are adjusted for predicted weather and winds.
For example, jet streams are simulated from 36,000 feet to 42,000 feet moving from west to east. Shorten flight times going east by setting cruise altitude between the jet stream limits. ETA and fuel are adjusted accordingly. When flying west, it is usual to travel above or below the jet streams. The flight planner will use these waypoints from east to west if it can. The direct to destination plan will use great circle routes.
Take care when entering jet streams from below at around 36,000ft. You may need to reduce your ascent rate and perhaps accelerate with the wind or there is a danger of stalling. Also better to keep to normal sim time if using Autopilot, in case the AP cannot respond quickly enough.
Thermal air currents rising appear over warm areas of land with cooler surroundings having sinking air currents, like hills and lakes. You must look out the window for clues as to where thermal lift can be found. Ideal Flight makes a tile map of the land types and uses their temperatures to calculate the thermal areas and strengths. Heat is absorbed and given off slowly by dark land, heat is reflected by light coloured land, urban areas are hotter, waters cooler.
A cool lake (blue) splits a warm forest (dark green) surrounded by cool grassland (light green). The white circled area shows surrounding areas of cool (sink), the red circled area shows the surrounded warmer land (lift).
Ridge Lift and Sink: Simulated hill slope and ridge air currents. Ridge air currents rely on the wind speed, and like thermals, are seamlessly simulated across the globe. To gain altitude, look for places where wind can get funnelled or reflected up by hillside, cliff face or buildings.
Ground Effect: Ridge Lift also includes ground effects for aircraft moving close to the ground; helicopters have ground effect simulated below the rotors. The range of ground effects is from a height roughly the diameter of the main rotor down to the ground. Ground effects is a Ridge effect so you must have Thermal and Ridge effects selected. Ground effects takes into account terrain, winds, aircraft movement, attitude, rotor angle and diameter, and engine forces applied.
Wake Proximity: Turbulence around moving objects, vehicles, aircraft, propellers, and jet engines. (>augmented).
Aircraft Drag: Turbulence and drag caused to the aircraft by extended flaps and gear. (>augmented).
The thermals file can be renamed during the program installation and removal routines. Also, a menu item on the installation setup page can recover or rename the thermals file. Renaming the thermals file is a trick to stop FSX creating random thermals. Normally allow IF10 to create and control superior thermals. With IF10 theremals, air rises or falls seamlessly across the globe, with rising or sinking thermal currents that progress downwind.
Weather Master Enable: Disable IF10 from making any changes to the simulator weather system.
When IF10 weather is disabled, choose from the range of weather themes available, or leave as clear skies. Use the winds speed and winds direction from, departure and destination, to help the planner choose the correct runways. Metar file weather setting, in Other Weather Settings window, overrides all weather.
Weather Overrides: Increase the chance of a particular kind of weather at the departure and destination locations. The destination weather takes precedence if the route is short and the areas overlap. See Weather section of Settings.ini
Wind speeds are kept low during the first ten or so flights, then gradually come up to full strength as you progress. The unregistered version has full wind strengths from the first flight.
Weather Severity and Wind Severity: Increasing Weather Severity increases the chance of stormy and overcast weather. Increasing general severity, poor weather becomes poorer, a good day becomes not quite so good. Increasing Wind Severity increases the possibility of stronger winds and gusts. Wind Severity gradually becomes fully realised as the pilot becomes more experienced.
General Visibility: Increasing visibility increases the distance you can see in the simulation. Used to limit the distance of visibility, decreasing visibility adds mist to the scene. Set custom visibility limits (Nm) from the button. With IF you must find bad weather to experience reduced visibility, visibility can reduce to <1Nm.
Adjust Thermal Lift, Sink, and Turbulence: Adjust the relative strength of simulated thermal air currents from a list of pre-set values.
Adjust Ridge Lift, Sink, and Turbulence: Adjust the relative strength of simulated deflected air currents from a list of pre-set values.
Flight Simulator Thermals: Use the Ideal Flight Installer or the Control Panel IF Uninstall Program to rename the thermals file with the IF popup menu function. Please see Initial Screen / Walkthrough Program Setup, Installing and Removing. The ThermalDescriptions.xml file can be renamed e.g. ThermalDescriptions.xml.sav, to disable regular Flight Simulator thermals. During Setup, ThermalDescriptions.xml is renamed to ThermalDescriptions.xml.sav if required. During removal ThermalDescriptions.xml.sav is renamed to ThermalDescriptions.xml if required, or just use the popup menu item to rename the file without removing Ideal Flight.
see "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\ThermalDescriptions.xml"
or on 64 bit systems:
see "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\ThermalDescriptions.xml"
Since weather is updated constantly, and for example with thunderstorms clearing to a nice evening, at some stage clouds will be seen to come and go. There is an additional weather update when moving from low to high altitudes, usually above 15000ft, or from high to low altitude. These make adjustments to the air density and visibility; this can be turned off in settings.ini if desired. Visibility adjustments cause occasional white flashes high in the sky during the update procedure.
Ideal Flight positions an object in the sim to gather information about the surroundings. This is an object with no mass or dimensions. Unfortunately some traffic collision avoidance systems (TCAS) may misjudge it as something that can be collided with and report traffic nearby.
Wind Speed and Winds From: Set the simulated ambient wind speeds and directions for your departure and arrival locations. Jet steams, found between 36,000-42,000ft, are not affected by these settings.
The wind gauge on the airport maps shows the temperature with different colour ranges:
The wind gauge on the airport map also shows the sea level air pressure expressed as inches of Mercury (inHg).
Winds and External Weather: Set wind speed, and wind direction from, for departure and destination, before building plans for an external weather program.
Weather Update Interval: Time (m) / Distance (Nm): Set the interval of weather updates in minutes. Set the distance in nautical miles travelled before updating the weather regardless of time passed. Defaults: 20min / 120Nm. (>augmented).
IF Weather / Add-in WS / Fog Clouds / VFR Plan / VFR Only: Disable Ideal Flight weather generation, so that other weather generating systems can be used.
Thermal and Ridge Effects, Ground, [Proximity, Drag,] Fast Sampling: Use the first setting to enable or disable Ideal Flight environment and aircraft induced air currents.
Ground effects, or air trapped between ground and moving aircraft, are applied to any aircraft moving close to the ground. The system is carefully tuned for rotorcraft and considers blade size and engine torque applied as well as the angle to the ground, winds and so on.
Proximity and Drag Turbulence (>augmented) effects the aircraft and aircraft nearby. Overspeed, flaps down, and gear down, each add to the drag and turbulent effects generated by the moving aircraft.
The current state of the ThermalDescriptions.xml file is displayed in the hover hint text.
There is a possibility on very low end systems you may want to disable high speed sampling, which will half the sample rate of the temperature sensor when near to the ground at airports.
Rather than intercept and alter the accelerations of the aircraft to simulate additional air currents, Ideal Flight sets up an FSX Thermal Object around the aircraft instead. This is continually updated to maintain the resultant wind, thermal, and ridge air currents on the aircraft, without adding extra processing.
Use METAR strings from metars.ini file for Ideal Flight Weather: you supply a list of METAR strings in an .ini file. There are no ICAO or Times required in the METAR strings, see the strings in the example file. METARs are standard format with the full set of FSX extensions. Each new METAR string is used after approximately 60Nm of flight or 30 minutes of simulator time. Once all the entries are used up the list is restarted at the beginning. The Destination keyword METAR always appears at your destination. The Destination entry is a keyword that tells IF that it is always the last METAR.Add the Profile ID and an underscore character to the start of the file name and save it in the profile directory (\Profiles\0_ID\0_Metars.ini).
Windows XP: see "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ideal Flight 10\Profiles\Metars.ini"
Windows Vista and above: see "C:\ProgramData\Ideal Flight 10\Profiles\Metars.ini"
Windows XP: see "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ideal Flight 10\Profiles\0_ID\0_Metars.ini"
Windows Vista and above: see "C:\ProgramData\Ideal Flight 10\Profiles\0_ID\0_Metars.ini"
[Weather] WeatherUpdateNm=60 - Nm travelled to invoke weather updates WeatherUpdateMins=20 - time flying to invoke weather updates WeatherItems=33 - Number of metars per second injected AdjustAltitudeVisability=True - False = do notupdate weather to avoid visibility layer lines on clouds GroundEffectMs=5 - 0..10 m/s default forces for atmospheric effects forces in meters per second airspeed ProximityEffectsMs=5 - Proximity >augmented versions only OverspeedEffectsMs=5 - effects forces in meters per second airspeed WindShearEffectsMs=5 TurbulenceEffectsMs=5 ShearFreqPercent=50 - 0..100% possibility of shear effects TurbFreqPercent=50 - 0..100% possibility of turbulent effects
Windows XP: see "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Ideal Flight 10\Profiles\Settings.ini"
Windows Vista and above: see "C:\ProgramData\Ideal Flight 10\Profiles\Settings.ini"
Microsoft product screen shots reprinted with kind permission from Microsoft Corporation ®
NASA Blue Marble Earth image reprinted with kind permission from NASA's Earth Observatory
Ideal Flight v10.012