by Jonathan M. Stern
Flight Simulator Weather Control
Flight Simulator provides two methods by which you can experience weather factors. You can program specific weather elements or have the program automatically generate weather systems.
Flight Simulator provides conditions that replicate dawn, day, dusk, and night flight conditions. These conditions occur at the appropriate times for the month and day. Date and time can be taken from your computer's system clock or from the program's startup situation. However, the software allows changes to be made if you wish to control time of day or time of year. Flight Simulator is also programmed to reflect realistically the earth's rotation with the sun (although it is daytime in Champaign, Illinois, it may be nighttime in Shanghai). Rather unrealistically, the airplane's clock automatically changes to reflect time zone crossings. In actual practice, an airplane's clock is set to Universal Coordinated Time, which is also known as Zulu or Greenwich Mean Time.
When Flight Simulator is initially loaded, the automatic weather generation system is off. You should turn this on from the Options/Preferences menu or from the World/Weather/Edit Area menu, if desired. Unfortunately, automatic weather generation in versions 5.0, 5.0a, and 5.1 does not work. The same weather exists all across the Flight Simulator world. If and when it is fixed, however, we should expect automatic weather generation to provide generally for realistic temperatures for the time of year at each location around the country, realistic pressure systems, prevailing westerly winds that generally increase in intensity with altitude, and cloud situations that correspond to pressure systems. SubLOGIC's Flight Assignment: A.T.P. already performs these functions very effectively.
Alternatively, individual weather factors may be programmed one-by-one. From the World/Weather menu, you can add surface winds, winds aloft, clouds, thunderstorms, atmospheric pressure, and temperature. For particular activities that require certain weather factors to be controlled (crosswind landings or instrument approaches to minimums), use the individual elements.
The information about meteorology that an instrument pilot should know can fill a large book. Accordingly, this discussion of meteorology must be circumscribed to fit only Flight Simulator.