Back in the early 1990, when the Microsoft Flight Simulator (or even the subLogic Flight Simulator before it became the Microsoft Flight Simulator) was in it’s early versions – Flight Simulator 3, Flight Simulator 4 and Flight Simulator 5 – Meigs Fields in Chicago (“the coolest little airport in the world”) was the well known base for all fans of the simulator: this was, where many of us started their first flights, with hours and hours of touch-and-go patterns to get used to the little Cessna (or later the Lear Jet).
The picture above shows a screenshot taken in the 5.1 version of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator. Approaching Chicago from Lake Michigan, flying straight to the West. Meigs Field is out of sight, just off the left side of the picture. To the right of the “skyline”, you can see John Hancock Center, Sears Tower (now “Willis Tower”) is in the back, behind that reddish looking building. At the time this version of Flight Simulator was “new”, the graphics was by far the best one had seen on flight simulation on a PC.
Since then, 15 years of computer development have passed: processors with capabilities far beyond what we had ever dreamt of, graphics boards with a thousand times more memory than my computer once had, harddisks that now can store terabytes of data – compared to the 1.44MB Disks we once had… and the result is stunning:
Chicago – from about the same place the first picture was taken some fifteen years earlier. We are now looking at a photorealistic scenery with almost all major buildings of downtown Chicago. High-resolution aerial photos are mapped to the ground, each and every building is given a natural view by applying photo-realistic textures to all visible areas of the 3D-Models.
I am rarely using my Flight Simulator these days – and I have not been flying in Chicago for many years now – but today, I bought aerosoft’s US Cities ChicagoX just to have that trip back in time… and it provided a stunning view for sure…