A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

The Center of the World

Chart: --
   Aircraft: N18268, E15876
   Tower: --
   Aircraft: 65000
   Tower: --
Heading: 000
Time: Daylight

What on earth am I talking about? 65000 feet? What gives here?

Well, this isn't a flying scenario. It came about by a little break I needed from writing, so I decided to see what, if anything, was doing at North Zero, East Zero (in the simulator, you never know what you might discover). At that location, I could see nothing but ocean in all directions, so I decided to try N32767, E32767--those values being sort of germane to computer stuff. Again I saw nothing but ocean. But for no particular reason I switched on my map, and zoomed all the way out. And I saw some geography.

And the rest is history. I started SLEWing toward the geography, and things went slowly indeed, even though I poured on lots of SLEW. But I reasoned that what I was gradually approaching wasn't a specific simulated area; it was something like a map. At first, I thought it was a world map, or at least a map of the simulator world. But the farther I SLEWed the more I realized that I was looking at something which, though large, was smaller than the world.

At some point, the whole map began shifting to the right, and I decided to change from Aircraft Orientation to North Orientation so I could get a real feeling for where I was, in a map sense you understand.

Then I saw the entire U.S. clearly, and eventually I optimized the whole situation with the view you'll see now; if you turn on your map, turn on North Orientation and zoom all the way out. (Some versions have slightly less powerful zoom.)

You can see all of North America to the western tip of Alaska, south through Mexico to Central America and the Panama Canal, north to Baffin Island and a bit beyond, and east to Newfoundland.

Some kind of geography!

I decided to put the aircraft at the highest possible altitude, and 65000 is about it (you may squeeze out a little more if you're an absolute perfectionist, but it's a cut and dry proposition).

So this is what the simulator world looks like at (on radar/map) its maximum extension, and, out the windows, from the maximum altitude you can attain. Further, you're at the approximate center of it, which is probably Bruce Art-wick's desk somewhere in Illinois (just kidding; it looks to be somewhere in Wisconsin).

In truth, the views out the aircraft windows are quite breathtaking when you consider how far you're seeing. You overlook Lake Superior out the front and side, Green Bay and Lake Michigan to the right and right rear. The Mississippi River is visible out the left side and rear. You can also see the network of Interstate Highways for untold miles. The mind boggles.

Maybe we'll try this same trick when we get to Western Europe to see how far we can see. But for now--back to flying.

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