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FlightSoft announces HONG KONG FSX LIVE  – The Final Frontier in the History of PC Flight Simulation In Association with European Space Imaging and DigitalGlobe. 

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FlightSoft’s new HONG KONG FSX LIVE product is unlike any product ever developed for Microsoft Flight Simulator whether for the new FSX version or any previous versions of the popular franchise.  What is so different about our product is its use of DigitalGlobe QuickBird© satellite imagery which produces flight simulation scenery of unparalleled clarity rendering terrain imagery with extraordinary precision and even delivering the minute details of street level action.  Such achievements are only possible when flight simulation scenery development incorporates the finest commercial quality satellite imagery in a PC based flight simulation product.

FlightSoft’s HONG KONG FSX LIVE delivers the promise to provide the PC pilot with an extraordinary satellite imagery which covers seamlessly the most prominent areas of Hong Kong including the familiar and popular flight path into Kai Tak Airport.  The entire Kowloon peninsula and most of Hong Kong Island are depicted with incredible detail, resolution and the unparalleled quality of DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird© 60cm pan-sharpened ortho-rectified satellite imagery which will make you think you are actually flying in Hong Kong.  Kai Tak International Airport is rendered in all its glory this icon of aviation history is re-opened and fully functional.  In addition, the new Chep Lak Kok International Airport is also available for PC pilots who can’t handle the pressure and excitement of landing at the brilliantly rendered Kai Tak International Airport. All the critical pilotage features such as the IGS, ILS and all pertinent navaids are rendered and active for PC pilots flying into Kai Tak Airport or the new Chep Lap Kok International Airport.

FlightSoft’s historic product utilizes 255 square kilometers of DigitalGlobe QuickBird© satellite imagery. The satellite imagery not only provides 60cm pixel resolution but is also pan-sharpened so as to provide the best life-like images, ultra enhanced color vibrancy plus the detailed clarity that one normally associates with aerial photography.

The use of ortho-rectification techniques assure us of the utmost accuracy of geometrically corrected aerial images such that scale is uniform throughout and as such the satellite imagery elements have the same lack of distortion as encountered in a map.  The benefits can be seen immediately by the accuracy of the satellite imagery rendering the entire urban fingerprint of diverse residential and commercial building structures in Hong Kong with impeccable clarity.   

DigitalGlobe’s QuickBird© satellite imagery sets itself apart from all other commercially available satellite images setting the stage for building a solid foundation for rendering a regionally focused scenery product whose scope covers seamlessly the entire Kowloon Peninsula, nearly the entire Hong Kong Island, some small additional islands and part of the vast New Territories. Altogether the final product results in dazzling ultra-high details never before seen in Flight Simulator. In the matter of the building structures, all textures are taken from high-detail photos of the actual buildings with a resolution of up to 10 centimeters. You can view such minute details as air conditioning outlets, the lettering on the buildings and even people comfortably seated in their living rooms watching television or working on their laptops.  The latter phenomena can clearly be seen when looking inside the windows of the residential apartment buildings.  


 Please note the cars with headlights on the streets adjacent the commercial and residential buildings on the Hong Kong peninsula.

Imagine the view at night as you see the desktop computers through the skyscrapers’ office windows and immerse yourself in a sea of brilliant city night lights. You can view all the prominent and unique architectural features of Hong Kong in brilliant color and experience even small details like the ever-busy star ferries, freighters, junk farms and passenger ferries sailing to the outlying islands all following their actual routes just like in real-life.  Street level activity is depicted in unprecedented detail including such real life features as parked cars, minivans and smart cars.  The parking lots are filled with the types of vehicles normally seen in the real-life residential and commercial business districts.

Where’s the evidence you say? Just compare the intricate details of screenshots shown thus far with those of other scenery products in the flight simulation business. For example, in other commercial and payware scenery products one often encounters a certain “darkness” casting long discrete shadows along the sides of building structures like residential apartments and commercial structures such as retail shops and commercial skyscrapers. 

Industry experts can make detailed comparisons between scenery titles utilizing the highest caliber commercially licensed satellite imagery and those of lesser quality.  The screenshot comparisons are worth making for a new light is emerging on the horizon which will motivate development houses to seek out superior imagery for the making of outstanding titles as FlightSoft raises the bar again on what will become the new standard in the scenery genre.  The standard imagery used for scenery titles can often produce a rather harsh and “dark” overall ambience. A good example of such defect is a recent Hong Kong FSX product offering by the combined efforts of the Aerosoft/ Fly Tampa companies.  The Aerosoft product clearly demonstrates many of the typical flaws associated with flight simulation scenery add-ons.  The primary fault which we coin the “darkness paradigm”  is due to the type and quality of imagery chosen for use in the popular add-ons for FSX, FS2004 and all previous versions of the commercially successful Microsoft franchise.

One can easily substantiate our claims by presenting screenshot comparisons.  A few screenshots of the Aerosoft product will suffice to demonstrate clearly the “ambience of darkness” that pervades the scenery as a whole as described in detail in this paper.

In the screenshot below please note the clear blue sky on the horizon with just a touch of cloud cover yet despite such sunny weather the entire urban fingerprint including all the retail shops, skyscrapers and residential apartment buildings are immersed in a peculiar darkness. The defect of  “imagery darkness” dominates the effort of this otherwise ambitious effort to produce a first class scenery add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator X.  Our intention is to describe this defect and explain its causes the most important of which is the type of imagery chosen by the development houses to render urban landscapes in Microsoft Flight Simulator X.  

 Aerosoft / Fly Tampa  HONG KONG FSX.  Despite bright blue skies with little cloud cover the overwhelming darkness around the building structures emerges as a most unattractive feature of this otherwise valiant attempt to render a scenery of Hong Kong for Microsoft Flight Simulator X.


The defect appears even more acutely when one examines the scenery elements more closely by looking straight down on them from the flight simulation spot view mode. The “ambience of darkness” is certainly an accurate metaphor for describing the Aerosoft/Fly Tampa scenery of Hong Kong.

There are vastly different outcomes that can emerge from a decision to utilize the highest caliber sources for the acquisition of satellite imagery. DigitalGlobe QuickBird© satellite imagery could become a critical asset in the industry’s ongoing pioneering efforts to develop superior scenery products. In FlightSoft’s Hong Kong FSX LIVE the prominent feature is not a leap into the black hole of darkness but rather a flight towards a new paradigm one that truly turns the lights on all those minute scenery elements. The desired `end game’ is to depict the entire urban landscape with crystal clarity.   

In the Aerosoft/Fly Tampa Hong Kong FSX screenshot shown below a certain “pitched darkness” envelopes the ground texture terrain that lie adjacent the building structures. As shown by the following screenshot the `immersion in darkness’ experience is most certainly an apropos characterization.  The entire street level ground terrain scenery adjacent the building structures are immersed in total darkness.


In our final examination of this scenery add-on please note that one can’t overestimate the magnitude of this defect. Indeed even with bright blue skies and sunny weather the Aerosoft Hong Kong FSX scenery is a truly “dark” affair and no amount of sunlight can turn the lights on the murky features of this scenery add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator X.


 What’s the solution to this rather dark and nasty predicament?  Certainly, if there was a way of turning the flash lights on or another way of putting it “turning the lights on” around the surfaces of the building structures then the Aerosoft/ Fly Tampa Hong Kong FSX scenery product would be a viable solution for the discerning flight simulation enthusiast.  So how does FlightSoft turn the “flash lights on” in its Hong Kong FSX LIVE scenery?  First of all, FlightSoft spared no expense in the purchase and license of the highest caliber commercially available satellite imagery for a PC flight simulation product.   FlightSoft’s acquisition of licensed DigitalGlobe QuickBird© satellite imagery with its 60cm pan-sharpened ortho-rectified images became our highest priority and the first line of defense against the status quo in flight simulation scenery add-ons.  By doing so we simply  “ turned the lights on!”

FlightSoft “turns the lights on” with its HONG KONG FSX LIVE – The Final Frontier in the history of PC Flight Simulation for Microsoft Flight Simulator X.


DigitalGlobe ortho-rectified QuickBird© satellite imagery does in fact “turn the lights on!” The solution lies in the quality and veracity of the source imagery itself. In our case the DG QuickBird© satellite imagery is so crystal clear that when integrated into a scenery add-on what you see in the flight simulation is exactly what a pilot sees and experiences in real world flying conditions.  Isn’t this exactly what the flight simulation PC pilot has desperately sought after in scenery add-ons all these many years? 

We can all witness the rich treasures of this new innovation in scenery design by viewing the following screenshots from FlightSoft’s new  Hong Kong FSX – LIVE The Final Frontier in the history of PC Flight Simulation a product with DigitalGlobe QuickBird© satellite imagery licensed for commercial use from European Space Imaging with offices in Munich, Germany.


FlightSoft’s new HONG KONG FSX LIVE – The Final Frontier in the History of PC Flight Simulation  - European Space Imaging and DigitalGlobe. Gone forever are the “dark, murky and nasty” imagery … the environment modeled is crystal clear despite the immense diversity of scenery elements displayed and in such close proximity to each other including accurate rendering of residential and commercial building structures, small restaurants and retail shops, intense street vehicle activity, geo-locational terrain elements and the product includes FlightSoft’s signature custom design complex weather and flight scenarios.

Please take note that what you see on your PC monitors is, in fact, a scenery of Hong Kong as flown inside Microsoft Flight Simulator X … you are very tempted to say the image shown here is an actual aerial photo of the Hong Kong region and you would certainly be correct but please note the default Microsoft Flight Simulator X Cessna aircraft in the image.  The screenshot shown is taken from FlightSoft’s new HONG KONG FSX LIVE scenery add-on as seen in Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

You can clearly see the difference between scenery add-ons that utilize the normal satellite imagery found in your typical flight simulation product and the higher quality DigitalGlobe QuickBird© satellite imagery licensed from European Space Imaging, Munich. The later type renders crystal clear images even during dusk and nightfall in Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

In the following screenshot of FlightSoft’s Hong Kong FSX LIVE – The Final Frontier in the History of PC Flight Simulation with licensed …with licensed QuickBird© satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe and European Space Imaging please note the clarity of the scenery elements including detailed street level activity like moving cars, city transport vehicles, buses and vans.  Please note that in the screenshot below the “lights are truly turned on” and finally for the first time in the history of PC Flight Simulation crystal clear images emerge seamlessly from the satellite imagery inserted for use in Microsoft Flight Simulator X. 



Clearly, the evidence is substantial to make the case that scenery utilizing the highest quality satellite imagery can offer dramatic differences and breathtaking advantages over the typical kinds used in all other scenery add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator.  In this short reflection on the new standard in the flight simulation industry we can easily discern the differences between scenery add-ons like the recent efforts made by Aerosoft in its Fly Tampa Hong Kong FSX product and FlightSoft’s upcoming HONG KONG FSX LIVE – The Final Frontier in the History of PC Flight Simulation.

There are other tangible benefits that customers experience when purchasing a product that utilizes higher caliber satellite imagery.  It’s not just “turning the lights on” in what is often a “dark and nasty looking affair!”  The other advantage is that the entire flight simulation experience has been totally transformed from the “looks like a flight simulator scenery” experience to a different narrative which can best be described in the following phrase “this looks like the real thing!”


The highest quality satellite imagery is truly `aerial photographic’ with images captured from satellites that hover around in space.  The clarity of the environmental details are very compelling encouraging us to reach for the stars when developing add-ons for the flight simulation industry.  The brilliant satellite imagery encompasses the vast array of city and rural habitats including pristine renderings of city buildings, retail shops and all the peculiar idiosyncrasies of residential neighborhoods.  The entire environmental ensemble of city and rural habitats are captured brilliantly by the sat imagery.  FlightSoft developers particularly admired the minute details which make full use of the vast and rich contours of the color spectrum. The Hong Kong region comes to life in brilliant living color including the diversity of the city’s unique building architecture, landscape features and critical geographic markers like highways, expressways, etc. which are depicted with utmost precision.  The entire scenery look like a photograph of the real city.


Please take note when viewing the screenshot above the vast array of immense details including the accurate ortho-rectified placement of tree and related environmental attributes such as bushes, small shrubs, etc  along the highways and along street corners. The parking lots around the residential buildings have cars and other motor vehicles parked just as you would see them if you were flying overhead in the very exact spot in real life.   Certainly, any comparisons made between scenery utilizing the highest quality licensed satellite imagery with `run of the mill scenery add-ons’ will reveal the serious defects of the later while reaffirming the transformative nature of the former.  The entire flight simulation experience has been given a major face lift and truly upgraded from the “looks like a `simulator’ scenery” narrative to its higher elevation on the reality spectrum with aerial picture perfect satellite images which are utilized to depict the entire city in its unique geo-locational footprint.


As one flies around FlightSoft’s Hong Kong FSX LIVE – The Final Frontier in the History of PC Flight Simulation one will enjoy the `virtual cockpit’ mode of the default or add-on aircraft in particular and relish the side views which will reveal truly brilliant aerial photographic image perfect depictions of Hong Kong in its dense configuration of skyscrapers and other complex urban structures.  By looking down on the scenery below using the various flight simulation X spot view options one sees detailed street level activity that is rich in its all encompassing canvas.   

Please note in the screenshot from FlightSoft’s revolutionary Hong Kong FSX LIVE product is taken at nightfall you can actually see the activities taking place inside the apartment building windows whether a family sitting down in the living rooms watching television or individuals hard at work on their laptop computers or cooking activities in the apartment kitchens … it’s all there in abundance and in living color!

Day view of the apartment buildings with all the intricate details of the architectural design of Hong Kong residential apartment structures.


For the worn and weary flight simulation pilot relief is on the way as the flight simulation industry is about to experience a leap forward to a new paradigm in the history of flight simulation scenery development. 

The FlightSoft Design Team strongly suggests you step into the sunlight and put all the dark, murky and nasty stuff away for there is bright light at the end of the  tunnel.  The screenshots presented in this brief paper predict a bright new future in flight simulation scenery design. We invite savvy industry gurus to examine the screenshots presented in this short case study.   FlightSoft’s new Hong Kong FSX  LIVE– The Final Frontier in the History of PC Flight Simulation add-on has been designed from the ground up utilizing the highest quality QuickBird© 60cm pan-sharpened ortho-rectified satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe and European Space Imaging based in Munich, Germany.

 And … as the `old saying goes’ the proof is in the pudding!

 This paper was authored and presented by PAT ZOFFREO, President &CEO of FlightSoft The Leader and Innovator in Microsoft Flight Simulator add-ons..  

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