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The Ultimate Hong Kong Simulation Version 2.0 for FS2002
Now More realistic Than Ever Before

Review by Anthony Vallillo, Senior Captain of a major U.S. airline

Update By Cap Mason, Flight Simulation Editor (4 April 2003)

I have two regrets in my professional flying career, about things I'd like to have done, and that I am unable to ever do. One of them is to fly as Captain on the Concorde; a wish that will go unfulfilled notwithstanding Concorde's recent return to service, and without regard to any future alliance between British Airways and my current employer. The other is to fly "the" approach into Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong , which is now also impossible. Kai Tak airport has passed into history and with it one of the most challenging approaches in all of civil aviation.

Everybody's Favorite Destination Just Got A Whole Lot Better

Hong Kong has been a favorite in Flight Simulator for as long as the scenery areas have included that part of the world. Over the years, a variety of scenery options have manifested themselves from Microsoft as well as from add-on developers, both freeware and commercial. The realism has improved a great deal as time went by, to the point that the hill with the large checkerboard markings was correctly rendered, allowing one to fly the IGS approach to runway 13. If the spectacular pictures of "one-inch-from-disaster" landings that are so popular on various aviation photography websites are any indication, this was probably the most difficult landing in the world. Or, in deference to my Navy carrier pilot friends, at least the most difficult landing regularly flown in airline widebodies on a regular basis.

Now Flight Soft has taken the Hong Kong area to a whole new level of scenic realism with The Ultimate Hong Kong Simulation "Video Realistic" scenery. The use of a term like "video realistic" implies a density and detail level of near photographic quality; and, at least in the area close in to Kai Tak airport, you probably won't be disappointed! This scenery is, quite simply, stunning. There is no other word to describe it!

Intense Detail

We have become accustomed to high density levels of buildings in a major city area in FS2002. These buildings have become more realistic over the years as textures of increasing quality have been applied to them. But you have to see this Hong Kong to believe it. These textures appear to be taken from photos of the actual buildings in question. You can see a different view in each individual window of the high rises on the shore. If you could fly the helicopter with a high degree of precision, you could probably engage in a little virtual voyeurism.  

Buildings Everywhere

Buildings abound in the area around the harbor and the airport, particularly along the final approach to runway 13. For the first time in my experience, I felt like I was really flying that famous approach, right over the rooftops of the houses. Every street is there, thanks to a very high-resolution underlay, apparently taken from an aerial photograph.

Cars and trucks are clearly visible on the streets. If you lived in Hong Kong , in the area covered by this texturing, you could find your house, although Flight Soft has probably put a building there with textures from a photo of your house. Maybe that's you waving in the window.  

If I had served in the Navy instead of the Air Force, I'd be looking for that little tattoo parlor my shipmates told me about. And speaking of things nautical, there is a Chinese junk in the harbor, beating to windward. All of the water is very realistically rendered - the best I've seen yet in FS2002. The boats have wakes so good they actually seem to be moving right along. And the clouds are outstanding. The 3D quality of the cumulus clouds, and the transparency of the fog and thin layers is beyond anything I've ever seen.

Nocturnal Magic

As good as all of this is, you haven't seen anything until you treat yourself to the night views. I am way over my superlatives limit for this missive, so I'll just say this - fly every one of the night flights that are included in the package, and don't forget to pick your jaw up off the floor when you are finished.  

As you might expect from Flight Soft, the package includes a whole plethora of flights and approaches, so you won't miss any of the details. And two really excellent airplanes are included, in Cathay Pacific livery, of course! The Boeing 777 and Boeing 747-400 absolutely will not disappoint you, either in appearance or performance. Flight Soft has consistently hit the mark with flight models, and they have done it again here. 

You will need outstanding performance realism to be able to complete the approach to runway 13. Ironically, this approach may have been a bit easier to fly in a real airplane than in FS2002 because of the better visibility you have in a real world airplane. I have my "top hat" buttons programmed as trim switches, as they are on a real airplane, so I have to go through some contortions to change views quickly. This is a problem on a circling approach such as the 13 approach. However, by using the lead-in lights to guide the turn, one can roll out just about right on centerline almost all the time; which, judging from the aforementioned spectacular photos, is probably about the average for the real world! To paraphrase Apocalypse Now: if you can fly this approach well in FS2002, you will never have to prove your courage in any other way.  

I'm sure that a major question on everyone's mind is frame rates. This is a big program, and it makes demands on processors and video cards that would have been felonious only a few years ago. But, installed as advertised on a PIII 900 MHz system, with 256 meg of ram and 64 meg of video ram, it runs well, even with everything maxed in the display settings. Frame rates are spectacular on just average machines.  FlightSoft�s new scenery design primer lets you experience the ultimate in detailed scenery without having to compromise your scenery density preferences.

I don't know what they have done with the real Kai Tak airport, but I imagine it is no longer even recognizable. So now this is your only chance to experience this unique airport as it once was. 

Tony Vallillo
Senior Captain of a major US airline

 

Flying Through Hong Kong on a New Dell 8250 Screamer

An Update by Cap Mason

The Test System

I flew The Ultimate Hong Kong Simulation on our newest Dell 8250 Pentium 4 screamer. This system has proven to be an absolute flightsimmers dream machine and includes:



 
  • Pentium 4 2.8 GHz CPU running Windows XP Pro
  • 512MB RDRAM
  • ATI Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB 8X AGP with TV out and DVI
  • 120GB 7200 RPM Ultra ATA 100 Hard Drive
  • 19" Dell UltraSharp flat panel display
  • Audigy 2 sound card
  • Harman/Kardon MK945 speaker system with subwoofer
  • DVD and CD-RW drives
  • For the test flights I used CH Products USB Yoke and Pro Pedals

One reason I so enjoyed buzzing the buildings in Hong Kong and flying the infamous Checkerboard approach was doing it on this fantastic Dell 8250. I think I'm in love with the power of this system.  I will be giving you an in-depth look at it in a later article. Suffice to say for now that I am just bowled over by how wonderfully FS2002 flies with it and the 19" flat panel display is pure joy for my eyes. Combine that with the blazing speed and smooth performance of  a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor, this Sierra Hotel Radeon 9700 Pro video card  and the power of Flight Simulator 2002 really "takes off".

A Great Place to Fly Amphibians

If ever there was a perfect place to try your water wing, this is it! My first your was in the stock FS2002 Cessna Caravan. Fun, but somehow not quite in the spirit of the moment. Hong Kong stirs the adventurer in us all and I needed the right aircraft to go with that. So, I fired up my Grumman Goose (Click here to download this great airplane from our file library) and took a leisurely tour of the byways and waterways of this fantastic place. 

The views of the high-rise buildings and signs from the water was simply breathtaking. The great water effects helped, too -- right down to the droplets splashed on the windscreen.

Here's What's New For Version 2.0, The Special Edition

The ULTIMATE HONG KONG SIMULATION SPECIAL EDITION VERSION 2.0 brings numerous enhancements and new features to your Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 experience  Besides over 900 additional buildings and landmarks such as the Tsing Ma Bridge and Kap Shui Mun Bridge -  this new version brings the highly anticipated default Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 ATC or Air Traffic Control to Kai Tak Airport and the entire Hong Kong region.   770 new landmark buildings have been added  including the entire southern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula :

  • Hong Kong Cultural Centre
  • Dome of the Space Museum
  • New World Hotel with swimming pool
  • China Harbor City with its golden buildings
  • Star Ferry Terminals Kowloon and Hong Kong Island side
  • New Peak Tram Station on top of the Peak
  • Buildings added to the Peak on Hong Kong Island
  • Wonderland Villas at the northwest edge of Kowloon bordering the New Territories
  • Ace Bed advertising sign at Kai Tak Airport
  • Colorful parking houses at the eastern side of Kai Tak Runway.
  • Oil Tanks on Tsing Yi Island
  • The apron of Kai Tak is now illuminated with the new lighting features made possible by Flight Simulator 2002.
  • At Kowloon in the approach path and on the entire peninsula and on Lantau Island ( Discovery Bay , Silvermine Bay and at Chek Lap Kok)
  • Altogether 770 new buildings have been added, making the approach to runway 13 breathtaking in never before seen details.

New ATC and Extensive FS2002Feature  Integration

You can now experience the wide range of default ATC features of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 including the option to utilize the Flight Planner to plan your flight plan from and to Kai Tak Airport . THE ULTIMATE HONG KONG SIMULATION `SPECIAL EDITION� VERSION 2.0 is now recognized in the Flight Simulator 2002 default airport scenery menu.  Just select WORLD - GO TO AIRPORT, then search for Hong Kong by FlightSoft, and you will find Kai Tak International and Sek Kong Airfield. It will also appear in Map View. You can now use the Progressive Taxiway Instructions of Flight Simulator 2002 when contacting Ground Control.   This feature enables the inexperienced PC pilot unfamiliar with the airport the option to be directed via various taxiways to their takeoff runway or after landing to their parking position.  This is a great feature now fully integrated into the ULTIMATE HONG KONG SIMULATION `SPECIAL EDITION� VERSION 2.0 for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002.


 

Radio Frequency Updates

You can now tune into the following frequencies:

  • 128.3 Kai Tak ATIS
  • 119.1 Kai Tak Approach
  • 118.7 Kai Tak Tower
  • 121.6 Kai Tak Ground
  • Plus all the other frequencies listed on the charts in the handbook to utilize the vast ATC features of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002.
  • When Kai Tak closed and Chek Lap Kok opened the same day, the airports kept the same ATIS frequency, so 128.2 is NOW CLK.   Kai Tak ATIS will be 128.3    Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 ATC chooses the runway in use according to the wind direction you select in the weather menu or whichever wind direction is prevalent if you are using the Real Weather Download feature of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002.

Other Enhancements & Improvements

  • The `SPECIAL EDITION� allows you to request taxi, take off and landing clearance at Kai Tak to fly CLK or anywhere in the world.
  • KAI TAK ATC will now assign you docking gates and parking positions.  Some Kai Tak docking gates will be reserved for the freeware static aircraft freeware available soon
  • `SPECIAL EDITION� features also include parking space for general aviation aircraft located at the western side of runway 13 threshold, on the small apron in front of the "Double Happiness" building.
  • General Aviation is also available at Sek Kong airfield where the 123.6 MHz frequency is available for all your general aviation activities.
  • Tsing Ma Bridge enhancements are now visible in this power house of a scenery.  
  • Sek Kong runway heading and size is now perfect.  
  • The partial cut-into-pieces of some of the lettering textures as seen with some older graphics cards in 32-bit-color-mode has now been removed.
  • Improved visibility and coloring of taxiway signs and some buildings at twilight.
  • You can now use the progressive taxiway instructions feature during your ATC Ground Control maneuvers to the takeoff runway.

Free Upgrade for Current Users

Current owners of The Ultimate Hong Kong Simulation can get a free upgrade HERE

The Ultimate Hong Kong Simulation Gets a Sierra Hotel Rating from Cap Mason

 

I've always wanted to visit Hong Kong. And after flying the Ultimate Hong Kong Simulation, I still want to go to Hong Kong. But now, I'll actually recognize many of the buildings I have flown over. This add-on is worth every penny. It was both fun and challenging to fly. I highly recommend it. 

Cap Mason