Microsoft Flight Simulator

  1. General
  2. Scenery
  3. Missions and Adventures
  4. Aircraft
  5. Panels
  6. Utilities
  7. Design
  8. Weather
  9. Recommended
  10. Popular
  11. Search
  12. Tips and FAQs
  13. Forums
  14. Other

This page is designed to help you get started in your collection of Microsoft Flight Simulator files and information. I assembled these links back when I was into Flight Simulator 98 and 2000. Most of it should still be applicable to later versions (FS2002, FS2004, FSX).

The links were last checked on 2008-03-26.

1. General Sites

The emphasis seems to be on news. I usually jump straight to the download library.
You have to login to download files, but it's worth it! There's a huge library of files on this site, and plenty of info as well, including reviews. I love the search engine. There's also a forum. I use the main menu as my starting point.
This is Microsoft's "blog site" about FS. It's pretty easy to navigate and has lots of introductory info and news.
Microsoft FSX home page
The FSX home page is simple, attractive, and focused on marketing.
Search and you will find lots of tips, reviews, etc.
SimTakeoff (was Cranenburgh)
The design is a little chaotic and the content is mostly out of date, but the writing is friendly and enthusiastic. There are usually descriptions of each category at the top of each page.

2. Scenery

AVSim - FSX Scenery | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98
Login required. Tons of files; thankfully, there's a nice search engine.
FlightSim - Scenery Map | Search
Login required. Tons, nice pictures. The best place to search for specific scenery.
Fly Away - FSX Scenery | FS2004 | FS2002
Not very many files, but there's a rating system in place.
Simviation - FSX Scenery | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98
Clunky interface, but lots of files (the prev/next page links are in the lower left).
SimTakeoff - FS2000 Scenery | FS98 | FS95
Old and chaotic, but with nice descriptions.

3. Missions and Adventures

AVSim - FSX Missions | FS2002 Adventures | FS2000 | FS98 Misc
Login required. Lots of files.
FlightSim - Adventures
Login required. Use search. Tons, nice pictures.
Fly Away - FSX Missions
Lots of missions, and the ratings help you find good ones.
Simviation - FS2000/98 Adventures
Prev/Next is in lower left.
SimTakeoff - FS98 Adventures | Challenges
Not many here.

4. Aircraft

AVSim - FSX Aircraft | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98
Login Required. Thousands of aircraft, most with at least one picture.
FlightSim - Aircraft | Airlines | Reviews
Login required. Use search. Tons of aircraft, nice pictures.
Fly Away - FSX Aircraft | FS2004
The links are for prop planes. You can use the drop-down to find commercial jets, military aircraft, helicopters, vintage, etc.
Simviation - Downloads
Organized by FS version and aircraft type: Civilian Jets, Props, Military, Helicopters, Vintage.
SimTakeoff - FS2000 Aircraft | FS98 | FS95
Some pictures.

5. Panels

AVSim - FSX Panels | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98
Login Required. Hundreds of panels, most with at least one picture.
FlightSim - Panels
Login required. Use search. Tons of files, nice pictures.
Fly Away - FSX Panels | FS2004
Just a handful.
Simviation - FSX Panels | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98
Prev/Next is in lower left.
SimTakeoff - FS2000 Panels | FS98
A few files, each with one small picture.

6. Utilities

AVSim - FSX Utilities | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98 | General
Login Required. Hundreds of files, most with at least one picture.
FlightSim Utils
Login required. Use search. Lots of files; look in the "Misc" section.
Fly Away - FSX Utilities | FS2004
A couple pages.
Simviation - Utilities
Organized by FS version and type of utility (essential, general, navigation).
SimTakeoff - FS2000 Utilities | FS98 | Flight Planners
Mostly links to downloads, but with enthusiastic descriptions.

7. Design Tools

AVSim - FSX Scenery Design | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98
Login Required. Hundreds of design-related files. Most have pictures.
Scenery Hall of Fame
This used to contain scenery reviews and recommendations, but now is oriented on scenery design.
Simviation - Design
Several design sections.
SimTakeoff - Design
Assorted design software, mostly for FS95 and FS98.

8. Weather

These were useful for FS98, but not needed for FS2000 or later, which has built-in weather generation and downloading.

Real Weather for FS Pilots
By Curt Olson. Contains METAR and SAO data. I used to download my METAR data from here (saving it as metar.txt). This site also contains links to the RealWeather software.
NOAA Metar FTP Site (times out as of 2008-03-26)
METAR data for the previous day. There are 24 files here. I think 21Z.TXT = 9PM-10PM. I haven't tried any of these yet.

9. Recommended File Lists

FlightSim - Must-Haves
Login Required. These add some extra files from the usual patches and textures.
SimTakeoff - FS98 Golden Files
The usually must-haves plus a listing of his favorite scenery, panels, etc. Nice!

10. Popular File Lists

AVSim - Hot Files in Past Year | Month | Day
Login Required. Based on popularity.
FlightSim - Top 100 of the Year | Yesterday
Login Required.
simFlight - Top 10 Lists
Scroll down and you'll see the top 15 downloaded files.

11. Search

As a test, I searched the following sites for "Bellingham" (WA) and "Charlottesville" (VA), two cities where I've lived. Here I report the number of hits, some of which aren't actually scenery.

AVSim - Search
Test results: Bellingham 5, Charlottesville 4. Select "Microsoft Flight Simulator" category to eliminate non-FS results.
FlightSim - Search
Test results: Bellingham 4, Charlottesville 8. Login required. Nice search engine.
simFlight - Search
Test results: Bellingham 1, Charlottesville 0.
Fly Away
Test results: Bellingham 0, Charlottesville 0.
Simviation - Search
Test results: Bellingham 1, Charlottesville 2.
SimTakeoff - FS2004 Files
Test results: Bellingham 0, Charlottesville 0. Search is at bottom of page.

12. Tips and FAQs

FlightSim - FSX Info | FS2004 | FS2002 | FS2000 | FS98 | HowTo's | Wiki
Lots of info, including version-specific FAQs.
Microsoft - Product Info | Learning Center | FSX FAQ | FS2004 FAQ
Great starting point. Nicely organized list of articles.
simFlight - FS2004 FAQ | FS2002
Linear list of questions.
Simviation - Help
Nice handful of tips.

13. Forums

AVSim - Forums | FSX | FS2004
Non-standard forum software, lots of forums, for more than just FS.
simFlight - Forums | FSX | FS2004
Lots of posts.
SimForums - Forums
Has sections for add-ons (e.g., GEX).
Flight Sim World - Forums | FSX
Lots of posts.
Sim-Outhouse - Forums | FSX | FS2002/2004
Lots of posts.

14. Other Stuff

Trav's FS98 Screen Grabs
Comparison of hardware versus software rendering of the same view, as seen on the ATI Xpert98 graphics card.