1. Press the Next Flight button: A flight is generated to a location within a set flying period from your current airport. A list of other possible locations is maintained, and accessed from the Flight Generator screen.
2. Press the Return Flight/Free Flight button: A flight is generated bringing you back to your current location. Take off under IFR ATC instructions, and they direct you back for a landing at the same airport. Normally, if you had previously landed, pressing the Return button simply builds the flight to return to the aircraft's last departure airport. This is great if you like to return to a central base or keep a series of hubs. (More presses repeat the same two alternatives).
Sometimes the return journey can be too far if aircraft are switched, in this case an error occurs while generating the flight.
3. From the Flight Generator screen, select a desired location from the Destinations drop-down list. Use the Search button to fill the list. Alternatively, type any desired airport ICAO into the box, and press Find.
4. Choose Departure and Destination locations from the world map screen using the search button, clicking on the map, or using the find Random Airport menu item.
Press the Fly button, to start FSX with the flight loaded.
After making adjustments to panels and views, use the Save Aircraft Settings menu item in the FSX Addons drop down menu. This ensures the same settings are used for subsequent flights with the aircraft.
Contact ATC, read back the flight instructions, and get taxiing before your preparation time runs out, don't exceed push back time.
At the runway start point, pull down the menu and choose the Ideal Flight Save Game menu item in case the takeoff goes wrong.
Once underway, do as ATC instructs, until landing. Be careful with the aircraft even when taxiing, for the best score.
During the flight, sections of the route may be advanced to save time in the simulation. When nicely trimmed, and tracking in the correct direction, advance the desired number of minutes, from the Ideal Flight menu. Alternatively choose Go to TOD, Go to Next Waypoint, or Go to Approach.
Ending a flight: Come to a halt. Close FSX and wait for Ideal Flight to see that FSX has closed, or choose End Flight from the Ideal Flight popup menu or press the Left Arrow button.
You may also want to make sure your parking brake is applied, engines off, flaps up, and lights are off, before leaving the aircraft.
After the flight, the Assessment and flight details can be entered into the records with the Accept Tick button.
The next flight will be computed from the current parked location.
A fully prepared logical next flight for the current aircraft, complete with aircraft setup, enhanced flight plan, payload, fuel, and comprehensive briefing. The route will be from the current location to any FSX location, within a preferred flight time. The flight will be launched and monitored. A global weather simulation will update the weather wherever the aircraft goes. The flight will be assessed for smooth operation, with points awarded for satisfactory handling of the aircraft.
A pilot's profile keeps track of the current aircraft, location and date/time. Flights are computed to destinations possible with the current aircraft from the current location. Profiles also keep track of flight time preferences, parked aircraft, and total points.
As points are collected, the pilot advances along a career path with bonus awards following.
The advanced route builder attempts to find several alternative routes to a desired destination, and present them depending on time of day. The routes are computed for the aircraft, with its payload and fuel, rather than being the shortest paths. They detour around mountains if the cruise altitude is not high enough. Follow airways routes, with Intersections, or just VOR type or NDB waypoints. The route builder can also attempt to avoid high altitude airspaces, for added interest. Plans can include computed approach paths and are also fully editable and can include your SID/STARs.
The flight generator builds a set of FSX save game files specifically for the system in use. These files are automatically placed in the FSX documents folder before launching the simulation.
The briefing generator creates an HTML document containing enough information to navigate the route successfully. The Flight Briefing appears in the Mission Briefing slot of the In-Flight Kneeboard. Route times are computed taking into account forecast weather conditions. Following the briefing instructions should have the flight completed on time.
Float Planes, Helicopters, and Gliders have enhanced support. Gliders always start on a grass runway, if one exists at the current airport. Aircraft with retractable floats start in the water with floats down. Helicopters have mission locations listed along with airports.
Use any airport found in FSX including add-on airports. Helicopter locations include VOR type or NDB stations outside of airports. Ships are also created as a location for making a landing, or spotting on a search mission.
Helicopter missions simulate transporting service personnel to aircraft navigation equipment in the area. There may be offshore locations as well, including oil platforms. Some aircraft can also attempt to land on a ship, perhaps an aircraft carrier, or a cruise ship with helipad. Some missions are simply to spot a vessel at sea.
Ideal Flight starts FSX with the generated flight loaded, and the flight plan ready to log with ATC. Saved flights are launched in the same way. The flight can also be started in tower controller view.
A global weather simulation ensures there is always interesting weather. Weather reflects the world location, time of year, and time of day, and is updated at least every 45 minutes. Assuming settings remain unchanged, the same weather will appear in the same place on the same day, at the same time. Thermals generate lift over warm areas surrounded by cool, and are fed with sinking cooler air. Surface reflectivity and storage of heat is taken into consideration so you can look out of the window for clues as to where thermal sink/lift will be found.
In-flight functions extend the features of FSX via the Addons drop down menu. Including Save Cockpit and Camera Settings, Save/Load/Reload Flight, Advance Time, and Reload Flight Plan.
Each flight is assessed for smooth operation. The flight is scrutinised for careful handling throughout, including takeoff, glide slope, touchdown, and taxiing.
Aircraft properties allow the flight plan to be computed as accurately as the user requires. For example, altering the aircraft range setting will alter the amount of fuel loaded for the next flight. Therefore flight plans can be tuned to maximise aircraft performance, load capacity, range, and runway.
The comprehensive Cold and Dark set-up allows most important systems and switches to be pre-set before the start of the flight.
When in-flight, the save settings menu item stores the current cockpit and camera layout. This layout setting is then used to update any saved flights and all future flights with that aircraft. This latest set-up also becomes the default set-up for new profiles.
Weather, winds, and thermals can be adjusted from a series of drop down selection boxes. Custom METAR files can instead be used, or any other FSX weather system.
When FSX has closed, or Ideal Flight has been asked to quit command of FSX, the Flight Assessment is displayed for approval. Flight assessments accepted by the pilot are entered into the log. The log entries can be browsed at any time in the records section.
When an aircraft has been landed successfully, its location is saved in the Parked Aircraft Library. If the aircraft is changed for another, the parked aircraft can be selected from the library later. When a parked aircraft is selected, the profile location is updated with the parked aircraft location. When a new, or parked aircraft is selected, the aircraft will have been recently serviced.
A world map can be clicked with the mouse to find nearby locations. The map also indicates the course of the next flight, when loaded. A text search can also be made for any text appearing in an airport name or ICAO.
A scoreboard compares profiles and places them in points order. Non-player characters also appear in the scoreboard as worthy contenders for the top spot.
The help system comprises context sensitive html documents, and can be accessed with the F1 key at any time.
Any pictures (bitmaps) can be used in place of the screen background pictures provided. Drop your .bmp onto a page or use the open file menu item.
Ideal Flight barely has any impact on the simulation frame rates. Although more complicated and detailed weather may increase frame times.
The single downloadable file includes full install and program removal functions.
Close Ideal Flight while installing any add-ons. If add-on airports are installed or removed, Ideal Flight indexes must be updated. Each time Ideal Flight is started, any airports changes will be noted and an index update requested. Add-on aircraft are handled automatically, although changes to flight plan parameters may need adjustment.
Load any flight or flight plan in FSX, and Ideal Flight attempts to monitor the flight as normal, and provide the weather based on the date, time, and location. This mode has its own save game slot, so as not to disrupt a regular saved flight.