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#2677311 - 02/21/09 11:11 AM Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004!
RSColonel_131st Online   smile
Lifer

Registered: 01/02/01
Posts: 22042
Loc: Vienna, 2nd rock left.
Hi Guys

I've been very annoyed with the way the included FS9 Flightplanner works. Namely that you can't drag the route over anything other than a NDB, Intersection, VOR or Airport, which makes flying by landmarks and "dead-reckoning" impossible.

Of course you can take a real VFR map (which I did so far) and write down your own headings & distances, but that is cumbersome, requires the tools and writing down all the info takes a while.

So, I found the solution - some here may already be familiar with it: You can edit FS9 flight plans by hand.

This is a standard plan from one airport to another, with two waypoints - one is a VOR, the other an Intersection:

Code:
[flightplan]
AppVersion=9.1.40901
title=LOXN to LOAV
description=LOXN, LOAV
type=VFR
routetype=0
cruising_altitude=2000
departure_id=LOXN, N47* 50.75', E16* 13.30', +000936.21
departure_position=36R
destination_id=LOAV, N47* 57.74', E16* 15.89', +000764.99
departure_name=Wr.Neustadt/West (MIL)
destination_name=Voslau
waypoint.0=, LOXN, , LOXN, A, N47* 50.75', E16* 13.30', +000936.21, 
waypoint.1=LO, SNU, , SNU, V, N47* 52.49', E16* 17.31', +000889.00, 
waypoint.2=LO, D240T, LOWW, D240T, I, N47* 56.92', E16* 11.45', +000000.00, 
waypoint.3=, LOAV, , LOAV, A, N47* 57.74', E16* 15.89', +000764.99, 


Now using this as template, I changed it to this:

Code:
[flightplan]
AppVersion=9.1.40901
title=LOXN to GREIFENSTEIN to LOXN
description=LOXN, GREIFENSTEIN, LOXN
type=VFR
routetype=0
cruising_altitude=3000
departure_id=LOXN, N47* 50.75', E16* 13.30', +000936.21
departure_position=36R
destination_id=LOXN, N47* 50.75', E16* 13.30', +000936.21
departure_name=Wr.Neustadt/West (MIL)
destination_name=Wr.Neustadt/West (MIL)
waypoint.0=, LOXN, , LOXN, A, N47* 50.75', E16* 13.30', +000936.21, 
waypoint.1=LO, VOSLAU, , VOSLAU, U, N47* 58.40', E16* 12.14', +000000.00, 
waypoint.2=LO, LAINZ, , LAINZ, U, N48* 10.32', E16* 13.20', +000000.00,
waypoint.3=LO, HAFEN, , HAFEN, U, N48* 17.18', E16* 20.52', +000000.00,
waypoint.4=LO, KREUZ, , KREUZ, U, N48* 22.47', E16* 18.34', +000000.00, 
waypoint.5=LO, HAFEN, , HAFEN, U, N48* 17.18', E16* 20.52', +000000.00,
waypoint.6=LO, LAINZ, , LAINZ, U, N48* 10.32', E16* 13.20', +000000.00,
waypoint.7=LO, VOSLAU, , VOSLAU, U, N47* 58.40', E16* 12.14', +000000.00,
waypoint.8=, LOXN, , LOXN, A, N47* 50.75', E16* 13.30', +000936.21, 


This is a "there and back" plan with the same departure and destination airport (another thing FS9 standard planner won't let you do easily). Waypoints 1 to 7 are manually copied in from Google Earth, the "U" identifies them as "User Waypoints" in the sim. Altitude is set to 0, but that only means it uses the cruise alt as written above in the header.

The thing is, once you create and load such a flightplan, everthing just works right. From just the coordinates, FS9 will calculate (in the normal nav log) you heading, distance, time and fuel.

Enroute, I just use the GPS "ROUTE" function to see my headings and distances, then calculate my flight time to next waypoint. I'm not even using the GPS itself to follow the route, but good old "flying by eye and with a watch".

And it really works! That way you can VFR-navigate to any landmark your scenery shows, and with good addon scenery that literary means the whole country.

This feels like real flying. Previously in FS9 I was always following roads, valleys or rivers, but with your own flight plan calculated, you can traverse a lot of ground direct and just check off your next waypoint on the watch.

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#2677636 - 02/21/09 11:18 PM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: RSColonel_131st]
Rick.50cal Offline

Lifer

Registered: 10/25/99
Posts: 21544
Edit: bah, I was very tired and sick yesterday when I posted this! LOL!

This would very much be of help in doing mountain flying, where there are few beacons but many mountains and valleys, so creating my own waypoints would be very useful, be they over natural physical features, or done simply by timing.

Anyway, thanks!


Edited by Rick.50cal (02/23/09 01:18 AM)
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POLITICS, WAR, ECONOMY, CONTROVERSY! and other heated discussions and debates in the PWEC sub-forum at the bottom of this forum main page. See you there!

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#2678238 - 02/23/09 05:01 AM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: Rick.50cal]
RSColonel_131st Online   smile
Lifer

Registered: 01/02/01
Posts: 22042
Loc: Vienna, 2nd rock left.
Hehe, exactly! This is a Bushflyers dream.

Right now, I'm getting the coordinates of some major Austrian Mountain "huts" (the protective huts build onto them for climbers and ski-tourers) and I'm practicing my glacier-landing skills with the Do-27 from Digital Aviation. I know that historically, a lot of "Gletscherflüge" went on in Austria and Switzerland, so resupplying those huts by air isn't entirely a fictious mission.

With the ability to create individual waypoints, and if you have a good detailed scenery, you can create and fly dead-reckoning VFR routes that bring you directly to recognizeable landmarks in your own country. Without the hassle of measuring on a paper map all the distances and bearings, then writing them down.

BTW, to clarify on the code above:

Code:
waypoint.1=LO, VOSLAU, , VOSLAU, U, N47* 58.40', E16* 12.14', +000000.00, 
waypoint.2=LO, LAINZ, , LAINZ, U, N48* 10.32', E16* 13.20', +000000.00,
waypoint.3=LO, HAFEN, , HAFEN, U, N48* 17.18', E16* 20.52', +000000.00,
waypoint.4=LO, KREUZ, , KREUZ, U, N48* 22.47', E16* 18.34', +000000.00, 
waypoint.5=LO, HAFEN, , HAFEN, U, N48* 17.18', E16* 20.52', +000000.00,
waypoint.6=LO, LAINZ, , LAINZ, U, N48* 10.32', E16* 13.20', +000000.00,
waypoint.7=LO, VOSLAU, , VOSLAU, U, N47* 58.40', E16* 12.14', +000000.00,


Waypoint 0 (the first one is always zero) and 8 are the departure and destination airport.

Waypoint 4 is my target, a castle named "Kreuzenstein" which is visible in my scenery.

VOSLAU, LAINZ, HAFEN are the same waypoints there and back.

The name can be anything, but from the default template it shows up twice in each line, so that's why I kept them twice. The LO at the start of each line I'm not sure of, but I think it relates to the country (Austria, all airports in Austria start LO)

It's easiest to understand if you create a simple plan in your area, two airports and a NDB in between, then you see the details and can use the NDB waypoint as a template for your user waypoints (don't forget to change the Type into "U").


I belive FSX can do waypoints anywhere, so mainly this is FS9 stuff as far as I'm aware.

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#2680040 - 02/25/09 02:46 PM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: RSColonel_131st]
MetalMania Offline
Member

Registered: 08/24/06
Posts: 176
Loc: Rhode Island, USA
This is great info, just what I need right now! I'm in the middle (actually probably a third of the way) into a more or less VFR US Tour. I have UT USA and was actually using the roads and things like coastlines with AAA road maps to check my progress. I did make VOR to VOR flightplans and did what you mentioned - dragged the route line over airports, NDBs, VORs that looked like they should be near my "fly along the highway" route to use as backup in case I got really lost. Sometimes those intersections all look the same! Anyway with UT road and coastline accuracy and decent roadmaps I've done pretty well, but I'm getting to the midwest and heading further west where a lot of my intended destinations aren't necessarily right along the highway.

This should come in very handy while trying to find some of those remote landmarks!
_________________________
You know, I've personally flown over 194 missions and I was shot down on every one. Come to think of it, I've never landed a plane in my life. - Admiral Benson, Hot Shots

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#2680489 - 02/26/09 05:18 AM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: MetalMania]
RSColonel_131st Online   smile
Lifer

Registered: 01/02/01
Posts: 22042
Loc: Vienna, 2nd rock left.
Good luck with the (sounds like a large) trip. I'm actually surprised that no one wrote a Google Earth plugin yet to directly export FS2004 flight plans in the correct waypoint format, but it is rather easy to do anyway.

The main advantage to me is that you get all the calculations done in the sim, instead of having to write up all the data yourself.

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#2680935 - 02/26/09 05:44 PM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: RSColonel_131st]
Rick.50cal Offline

Lifer

Registered: 10/25/99
Posts: 21544
Hmm, are you sure that's not been done? I seem to recall that there are a lot of Google Earth based FS2004 addons. I think most of them simply display your progress location on GE, but anyway.
_________________________
POLITICS, WAR, ECONOMY, CONTROVERSY! and other heated discussions and debates in the PWEC sub-forum at the bottom of this forum main page. See you there!

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#2681036 - 02/26/09 09:12 PM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: Rick.50cal]
Rick.50cal Offline

Lifer

Registered: 10/25/99
Posts: 21544
Um, ok, so I've written a flight in the format you describe, but somehow I'm not seeing it being selected properly in FS9. Whenever I pick that flightplan, it seems to not want to load it at all, could you check my syntax? :

Quote:
[flightplan]
AppVersion=9.0.30612
title=CYPR to CZST
description=CYPR, CZST
type=VFR
routetype=0
cruising_altitude=2000
departure_id=CYPR, N54* 16.72', W130* 26.25', +000115.99
departure_position=31
destination_id=CZST, N55* 56.27', W129* 58.78', +000024.00
departure_name=Prince Rupert
destination_name=Stewart
waypoint.0=, CYPR, , CYPR, A, N54* 16.72', W130* 26.25', +000115.99,
waypoint.1=, ELVIL, CYPR, ELVIL, I, N54* 28.10', W130* 36.57', +000000.00,
waypoint.2=, AA, , AA, U, N55* 44.41', W130* 9.71', +000000.00,
waypoint.3=, BB, , BB, U, N55* 51.21', W130* 3.14', +000000.00,
waypoint.4=, CZST, , CZST, A, N55* 56.27', W129* 58.78', +000024.00,

_________________________
POLITICS, WAR, ECONOMY, CONTROVERSY! and other heated discussions and debates in the PWEC sub-forum at the bottom of this forum main page. See you there!

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#2681199 - 02/27/09 06:16 AM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: Rick.50cal]
RSColonel_131st Online   smile
Lifer

Registered: 01/02/01
Posts: 22042
Loc: Vienna, 2nd rock left.
Rick, all the Google Earth apps convert FS9 plans to Goggle Earth flights, not the other way round.

For your flight plan:

Looking at one of my waypoints:

waypoint.3=LO, HAFEN, , HAFEN, U, N48* 17.18', E16* 20.52', +000000.00,

and one of yours:

waypoint.3=, BB, , BB, U, N55* 51.21', W130* 3.14', +000000.00,

It seems alright to me, except that my line starts with LO (Identifier for Austria I think) whereas yours is blank (but has the correct coma in front).

The intersection waypoint (second after start airport) was created by FS9 itself? It also doesn't have that first identifier. I got the "LO" from a FS9-created flight plan using an NDB as waypoint.

Also, it seems to me you are using Version 9.0 and not 9.1. I think that there might have been changes in this structure, because in the Learning Center GPS Tutorial, they explain how to add user waypoints, but their example doesn't have all the "fields" I see in my waypoint structure.

You might want to try and create a simple AIRPORT-NDB-AIRPORT flight plan inside FS9 and look at it's structure, or maybe try the 9.1 patch.

Hope that helps, if not we'll certainly solve it.

There's also a tool out by Jim Cooper from Simshed, called Route Editor, that somewhat automates the editing of waypoints outside of FS9. I don't use it since it needs decimal coordinates. Infos on this here, maybe that helps:
http://www.com-central.net/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=28047

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#2681536 - 02/27/09 02:14 PM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: Rick.50cal]
MetalMania Offline
Member

Registered: 08/24/06
Posts: 176
Loc: Rhode Island, USA
I'm not sure if this might be your problem but your waypoint 1 has three names in it: ELVIL, CYPR, ELVIL. All of the others have only 2 (repeated for each). If that's a game generated rather than one of your waypoints then ignore me. Also it's followed by an 'I' (I think? or a lowercase l maybe?) instead of 'U' for user waypoint. Again if that's not one of your own waypoints then ignore me - plus I've only edited one flightplan so far with this method so I'm a total rookie myself.

When you load the flight plan in the game (if it works) it's a bit weird in that the map screen in the flight planner doesn't show all of the waypoints in the list to the right. It only showed airports and NDBs that seemed to be the original game generated ones. Maybe I'm leaving something out that would cause them to show up there, but when I checked the Nav Log they were all there. They also did show on the route map itself in the flight planner and they all worked on the GPS track during the flight.

That being said - it worked perfectly! My first GE waypoint was an intersection of two roads, followed by another road intersection, then Mt. Rushmore. Led me straight to it! Also, no real surprise here if you're familiar with the product but Ultimate Terrain roads seem to be pretty much exactly where they really are. I've navigated from New England to Wyoming so far using primarily interstate highways and Great Lakes coastal features as my guidelines and haven't gotten lost yet!

Using this GE method will be really helpful finding remote landmarks and such where roads aren't really practical to follow (I'm intentionally trying to make my trip as "VFR" as possible). 1 for 1 so far.
_________________________
You know, I've personally flown over 194 missions and I was shot down on every one. Come to think of it, I've never landed a plane in my life. - Admiral Benson, Hot Shots

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#2681671 - 02/27/09 05:34 PM Re: Finally can do real VFR Flight Planning in FS2004! [Re: MetalMania]
RSColonel_131st Online   smile
Lifer

Registered: 01/02/01
Posts: 22042
Loc: Vienna, 2nd rock left.
I would not open the flightplanner itself after loading an edited plan into FS9 - it can't quite handle the additional points and may just drop them. The Nav log and GPS have them alright.

Good catch about Rick's WP1, but as this is an intersection, I thought he had that retained from the game-generated plan. If not it should be changed.

And yes, it opens so many worlds of flying in FS9, it's not even funny. Besides Glacier flying I also do aerial photography rides now to castles and palaces all around Austria.

For me, Aviation never interested me in going from Airport A to Airport B. I want to work with my aircraft, fullfill missions. With the ability to chart any course over the country, it is now a real possibility to simulate true aerial jobs.

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