Microsoft Flight 5.1
1995's release of Flight Simulator 5.1 added photorealistic graphics, digitized sound, and gradient hues, making the edition a radical and satisfying upgrade of the most realistic flight simulator for home use then available.
It's hard to describe the feeling you get soaring through the sky. Sitting alone at 10,000 feet puts a whole new perspective on the world and your place in it. Indeed, flying brings you as close as you can get to how it must feel to be a bird and climb through the sky on outstretched wings. It's a wonderful feeling and, once experienced, very addictive.
For its time FS5 was the most radical upgrade of the Flight Simulator series. Taking advantage of the first generation Pentium CPUs and accelerated video cards FS5 generated stunning state of the art graphics that were, at the time, never seen in a computer simulation. FS5 was also the first version of the program to use digitized sound.
FS5 replaced the two-dimensional graphics found in previous versions with lifelike three-dimensional graphics. The sky, instead of being solid blue, looked like a real sky with gradient hues of color that reflect the time of day. The computer-drawn instrument panel was replaced with photorealistic instrumentation digitized from real aircraft instruments. The panel array still included the instruments required to fly under either visual flight rule (VFR) or instrument flight rule (IFR), as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The scenery include with FS5 was also a step-up from that of previous versions. In addition to adding photorealistic ground scenes, buildings with texture and lights, and airports with active runway lighting systems, FS5's scenery world covers the entire globe. Instead of being confined to the 10,000 x 10,000 square miles contained in Flight Simulator 4, FS5 extended the journey to Europe and beyond.
Flight sectionals, directories, and runway maps are included in the manual for a number of airports located in the Paris and Munich areas. And FS5 adds significantly to the number of airports that you may access directly via the program's menu system. As with previous versions, you can move your aircraft to anywhere in FS5's world by setting the location's coordinates from the menu.
One of the nicest additions will help new aviators with the most difficult task to master when flying either a real or a simulated aircraft: landing. The task is so hard that most folks, including seasoned pilots, have found themselves crashing in the Flight Simulator programs until they get the hang of it. FS5's Land Me command puts the aircraft under the control of an instructor who takes you to the nearest airport and, using onscreen scrolling text, talks you through the landing. you may never again hear the sound of bending metal during your landing.
FS5 come equipped with four aircraft: a Cessna Skylane RG, a Learjet 35A, a Schweizer 2-32 sailplane, and a Sopwith Camel. The Cessna Skylane RC is an excellent aircraft for pilot training and general aviation. According to the manual, this aircraft's simulation is designed for realism, both in what you see and how you feel behind the controls. The Learjet is designed for fun and speed. You can cruise at 460 knots at an altitude of 41,000 feet. The sailplane allows you to experience the joys of soaring on a thermal and gaining altitude by circling upward on the currents of a friendly ridge, and the Sopwith Camel is a venerable biwing that is great for low and slow sightseeing.
If you want an example of the cutting edge of mid 90s simulations you must try Microsoft Flight Simulator 5. It is no surprise that the series has been running strong for over 25 years.