Speedbird747 here. I've decided to shake shit up from the depressing woe is me topics to a more positive one: PC Flight Simming. I've been flying since early 2000, and pretty much started out with the Boeing 737-400 from Microsoft Flight Simulator 98. I moved up to Flight Simulator 2002 around 2006-2007, and Flight Simulator 2004, where I've remained from 2009 until August of this year, when I tried out Prepar3D, and Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition.
The latter two, P3D and FSX:SE both have wonderful eye candy, but at the expense of framerates and CPU usage. Flight Simulator 2004 ran smoother than BOTH of these. Now, for the eyecandy.
Delta Airlines TDS Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in flight - FSX:SE
I noted that FSX & P3D are essentially the same platform, as Lockheed Martin purchased the rights from Microsoft before the ACES Studio closed. In 2009 Lockheed Martin announced that they had negotiated with Microsoft to purchase the intellectual property (including source code) for the Microsoft ESP (Enterprise Simulation Platform) product. Microsoft ESP is the commercial-use version of "Flight Simulator X SP2". Differences here include light bloom and enhanced effects.
Lufthansa Boeing 747-430 (PMDG) taking off from Edwards AFB - Prepar3D
There are plenty of freeware/payware addons for FSX, but not as many for P3D. With P3D, you have to have a powerful PC to even run. My laptop is able to run both. I've found myself tweaking FSX and P3D to find a balance between framerates and autogen, more than I have flying. FSX is notorious for CTD's without warning, and addons could screw it up even more.
Emirates Boeing 777-200ER landing at Dubai Airport - Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004
FS9 is essetially more realistic for heavy fliers like myself, who would prefer passenger jets to General Aviation.
So.....how may of you out there are Armchair Airline Pilots? I want insight with like minded individuals.