Flying the Friendly Skies: FS2002

by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Article Type: Training
Article Date: August 15, 2002

Product Info

Game Titles: Flight Simulator 2002 Professional & Standard
Category: Civilian Flight Simulation
Developer: Microsoft Corporation
Publisher: Microsoft Corporation
Release Date: Released
Files and Links: Click Here


A Powerful Simulation

Flight Simulator 2002 is by far the most powerful and sophisticated version of the FS series yet. Some of us have been around to watch the evolution of the series, but many of you are relatively new to flight simulations. What does FS2002 offer to you?

Until 2002 my favorite civil flight simulation was FLY!2K. It had everything I really wanted—great terrain graphics, excellent aircraft and panels, and the best non add-on ATC and nav aids available. Once I had the patch installed I found some great aircraft for download at AVSIM, and even some excellent freeware terrain of the Pacific Northwest. FLY!2K was the first civil sim that kept my interest almost as well as my favorite combat flight sims.

But FS2002 almost has me converted…almost.

On-screen chart in FLY!2K


I can’t quite forget the ultimate convenience of bringing up an overlay chart in FLY!2K. You can’t do this in FS2002, unless it will arrive later in an add-on. And neither can I request vectors to a waypoint or ask the tower to report my position. Sigh. Some of these features would really help me in FS2002.

One area that FLY!2K neglected was flight training. Microsoft put special effort into this component for FS2002. I may complain about the weakness of some features, but there is no question about it: FS2002 has the best online and simulated training you can get.

This series of three articles will look at FS2002, how you can benefit by the training it offers, while also making the most of the simulation in its stock form; that is, without the many add-ons for flight planning, aircraft, and scenery. There are some real limits in comparison to FLY!2K, but there are also some ways around some of those limitations. The first area we’ll consider is flight planning, and then we’ll look at flight training and IFR flight, and we’ll close with a multiplayer briefing.

Flight Planning in FS2002

When you get into FS2002 you will want to learn the basics of flight planning. It’s quick and easy to set up a point-to-point flight plan, and you can even access real world weather within FS2002. Check your online HELP for details of how to access real-time weather if you have never done so.

In FLY!2K it was possible to plan a flight with multiple waypoints. FS2002 allows you to do the same, but not from within the simulation. For shame! Omitting this feature was silly. In order to set multiple waypoints in FS2002 you have to exit the simulation and manually edit the .PLN file.

Create a flight

Step 1
Where in the world do you want to fly today? I chose the Pacific Northwest since I’ve spent most of my life here and it is one of the most beautiful and diverse areas of the world.

Step 2
What do you want to fly today? I prefer simplicity and avoid the jets, but if you want to get where you’re going in a hurry the Lear is a nice choice. Alternatively, the turbo props are fast and fun to fly. The standard version of FS2002 has fewer choices and omits my favorites—the Beech Baron and the King Air 350.

Step 3
To begin you select CREATE A FLIGHT. Then you click on the FLIGHT PLANNER button.

This is a very simple matter if you have only a starting point and a destination. But as soon as you have multiple waypoints with various VORs or Airports to orient your flight, it gets a little complicated.

Easy at this stage...

Two waypoints in the route...

When you click on FIND ROUTE the flight planning map is displayed; it shows all the airports with their callsigns, VORs and more. You can selectively declutter the map and you can zoom and pan.

The identifiers are listed...

You can even click on an airport or VOR and bring up their identifiers. You will need to note the identifiers for the other waypoints on your flight in order to edit the .PLN file outside FS2002.

Why in the world the designers didn’t allow us to bring up these details then click a button to select an additional waypoint is beyond me.

Finding the identifier can be a bit tricky since you have to zoom and pan a great deal to distinguish all the separate labels in a heavily populated area, and you have to know the location of the city or location to which you are flying. Sometimes you don’t know the location closely enough.

The other way to find the identifier for the airport or VOR that will establish your flight plan is to create another flight. Here is what I mean.

I want to fly from Vancouver, Canada to Los Angeles, but I want to fly via Portland, Oregon and San Francisco. I pick this route because if the weather is bad or I want to do some sightseeing or I just want an alternate location to land in case I don’t have the time or energy to finish the flight in one sitting, I have some options.

Suppose I don’t know exactly where San Francisco is located? The flight planning map is very spare, and there are a lot of identifiers crowded into that area of the coast. Furthermore, I want to enter all the NAV information in the planner so that I can fly the route using GPS or NAV data.

I do this in two stages. First, I create a flight from Vancouver to LAX and I save the flight. Next, I create a flight from Portland to San Francisco. By doing this I now have two files saved in the \flights\myflts directory.

Opening the first file I see these waypoints listed:

waypoint.0=CYVR, A, N49* 11.08', W123* 9.67', 000014.00,
waypoint.1=KLAX, A, N33* 56.15', W118* 25.13', 000126.00,

The second file contains this:

waypoint.0=KPDX, A, N45* 35.69', W122* 37.25', 017999.98,
waypoint.1=KSFO, V, N37* 37.17', W122* 22.43', 017999.98,

In order to establish my intermediate waypoints I simply combine all four waypoints in the first .PLN file so that it looks like this:

Image clip from Notepad

Now I can return to FS2002 and LOAD my flight plan. Note that you must EXIT FS2002 and restart if you are loading a file with the same name, otherwise your changes will not show up in the planner.

Four waypoints in edited plan

When I load and FLY my planned flight, the information in the .PLN file is already in the NAV computer. I can fly using the Flight Director or the GPS NAV mode and use the autopilot to hold my course to each waypoint. Very nice.

The Pacific Northwest is almost as scenic as Alaska, and at certain times of the year is considerably more interesting. If you happen to have the professional version of FS2002, you also have access to the Beech Baron and the King Air 350. I particularly like the King Air 350, since it flies at jet speeds. If you like a more traditional cockpit, the Baron is a beauty.

GPS showing route in flight

Flying the Pacific Northwest

There are a number of files that are worth downloading if you plan to fly the Pacific Northwest up to Canada.

Flying the Pacific Northwest

First is an enhanced Vancouver (CYVR) airport, in two files from Nigel Grant. The second is an enhanced signage set for the Vancouver International Airport from Brendan Keith. If you want to add additional aircraft, like a flyable DASH 8 in five different liveries, visit

It’s worth spending some time tuning the graphics on your system if you have a 1 GHz machine or better. From the opening screen click on SCENERY LIBRARY and ensure that the areas you fly are in the first fifty items or so. You can vary the cache size for FS2002 to enhance performance, a good idea if you have less than 256MB of memory.

Then visit the SETTINGS menu and adjust AI traffic and terrain and object detail settings. Try cranking the terrain and special effects up a bit if you have a GeForce3 or better. The mountains and islands of the Pacific coast are really stunning this way.

There are other great locations in and around the Pacific Northwest. Fly from Vancouver to Seattle, and then on to Olympia. Check out Mt. Rainer, Mt. Baker and the famous Mt. St. Helens. Oregon and Northern California are also beautiful.

Departing Vancouver, Canada

You can download my Vancouver to Portland flight plan, as well as my Vancouver to LAX plan. The Vancouver to LAX flight is in good weather conditions and will probably default to whatever time you have set. The Vancouver to Portland flight contains specific wind and weather conditions I have set (you get a 120 knot tail wind at 10,000 to 12,000 feet) and you should set your takeoff time for 7:30 PM in the summer.

I have also included the reverse flight plan from LAX to Portland, and LAX to Vancouver via San Franciso. All these files are simply placed in your \flights\myflts directory and then LOAD them via the Flight Planner.

DOWNLOAD Enhanced Vancouver Package
DOWNLOAD Flight Plan Files




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