Default aircraft and free flight

HI! I have just started using the new MFS (8 hours or so). First off - amazing graphics and flight feel! I am no pilot, but have used the old MFS-X version and felt at home there straight away, because one could fly simple aircraft like the Trike, Goose, DC Douglas and such, which made it possible to start and land on simple local airfields, in fields, on the water and so on without too much hassle - just flying by the seat of one’s pants.

I have tried to find the equivalent in this new version, but have not found it yet. The “free flight” mode I have found seems to revolve around flight patterns around an airport and also expects one to be proficient in ATC communication. I have no knowledge in this as yet, nor have I found a tutorial in MFS on ATC communication where to learn this.

  1. Does MFS have similar scenarios to free flight in the old MFS-X and
  2. Is there a MFS manual and where do I find it?

I do realize that MFS is an ongoing development, but I had really hoped just to be able to fly again as in MFS-X, just with better graphics and such. My MFS version is Steam based in Windows 10 on a PC. I am trying to get more information on the web. I don’t mind learning how to become a pilot, but sometimes one just wants to fly without ATC distractions, at peace with oneself and the world, marveling at its beauty from above. A Trike Ultra-lite really makes this possible.

Thanks in advance,


There are no Missions or Training Missions in MSFS.

You have the basic eight Training Lessons, but they’re a far cry from the very detailed Rod Machado Ground and Flight Lessons from FSX Days. In fact, I kept a copy of FSX just to refresh on Rod’s Lessons and re-obtain my “certificate.” You will find those much more useful than what’s in MSFS.

If you don’t have FSX anymore or it’s not installed, you can still get a Ground School refresh here:

There is no Manual per se. FSX and the Ground School including all the lessons on aerodynamics, airframe & powerplant, avionics - all of that is 100 percent transferrable into MSFS.

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Welcome. Not a free flight like back in the old day loading up at Meigs Field, but if you want to replicate that, just use the world map, and choose a depature airport anywhere in the world. If you select a runway you will start on the runway all systems go for takeoff, otherwise a parking ramp will start you engines off. You can then do what you want as a free flight…

I’m not sure how it would be revolving around flight patterns and ATC communication… are you starting a flight from the World Map or are you loading up training or something like that? If you start from the world map, there’s no focus on anything - you jsut fly the way you’d like to.Unless you have some assists turned on or you’re starting from the runway, ATC won’t be talking to you unless you start talking to them.

Regarding question 1, are you asking about scenarios or free flight? They’re contradictory, as a free flight is the lack of a scenario. MFS doesn’t have scenarios in the same way that X does, all we really have in this one are landing challenges and pre-planned bush flights. It’s free flight all the way.

Something that might help (if I'm understanding correctly) is starting a flight from parking. To do this, just select the airport, you're starting from, then click the drop down box on the departing runway. We have a lot more airport options than we did in X, but sometimes you gotta zoom in close if you're looking for a small field. You can hop in a bush plane and find a remote strip in Alaska and fly around the mountains, or take a Diamond (but maybe not the DV-20 as W&B is currently glitched on that) out of KLGA for some panoramic views of NYC. Japan has some good scenario too, as that was the first world update we got - so you could take a plane around Mt. Fuji as well and enjoy those views.

As long as you have the fuel and the right plane, free flight is pretty good in MFS. The more structured you try to make it (for example, a realistic flight in a 747), the less realistic it is. But when it comes to hopping in a GA and just having a flight, sky’s the limit. Or, I guess, maximum operating altitude is the limit…

Check your assists and AI pilot, though, and see if any of the settings are making your experience less enjoyable (or could make it more enjoyable). If you want to hear the radio but not deal with it, you can set the AI to handle the radio - you can find the AI pilot options in the ribbon. If you don’t want to hear the radio, but also don’t want to start cold and dark (i.e., in parking), just find the radio stack and change channels.

Hope this helps!

HI! Thanks for the reply. Like I said, I understand that MFS is still under ongoing development (like Windows), so I guess they just haven’t gotten there yet either. I still have MFS-X installed, so I guess I’ll just have to go back there, but it is a shame considering the amazing graphics in MFS.
Have a good one!

If you’ve ever flown out of a field enough times IRL, you will be amazed at what Bing Maps + Photogrammetery does to improve GA experience. For the first time in FSX, I could road follow all the way from my parents’ house 40 miles away to my own, recognizing all the landmarks - intersections, rotaries, major buildings. On final - all the hazards and notations for clearance are there - down to the treeline.

I finished my refresher and removed FSX as it was just taking up space. Even with current limitations in MSFS, I just can’t go back. It’s getting better with every update from Asobo.

@Zachry8600: Thanks for your reply. I have tried to e.g. switch off airports in the filter for “free flight”. That works, but it does not actually become free flight, because it seems that the auto-pilot is on. I have no flight plan, destination or anything like that, but as soon as I try to fly the plane somewhere else than the initial heading, the plane becomes almost impossible to fly, because it is trying to keep the initial heading. So now I’m looking for an auto-pilot button or something that will give me control over the aircraft. With no manual or possibility to search for this in the menu, what do I do?

No, this is no the easy free flight mode that made it so enjoyable to fly in MFS-X. I have tried the same thing with airports. As soon as I deviate from any pre-programmed airspace or flight pattern, I start getting calls from the nearest ACT. If I don’t answer, the radar support is cut. Sure I do have free flight and can easily fly and land where I want to (not like with the filter without airports), but it’s not a good feeling as one feels that one is doing something wrong all the time and is expecting the software to abruptly end the session or something.

I guess I’ll just have to test the different filters a bit more…
: P

There is a taskbar that appears at the top of the screen if you move the mouse in-cockpit to that point.

Check your controls settings and set a key or a controller switch to Set Pause ON and Set Pause OFF (two keys or two distinct controller buttons). It’s way better than the Taskbar’s Active Pause (Pause Button symbol). For starters it really pauses your plane. Active Pause will let it fly and continue on in the background while you see it frozen. Bad things happen after that.

Among the Taskbar Icons is Charlie the AI Co-Pilot. Turn it OFF if you want full Control.

In ESC-Options-General-Flight Model, make sure you’re set to Modern Flight Model, not Legacy which is designed for imported FSX planes.

I think I’m starting to understand - are you starting flights from mid-air? Why not from an airport, and why are you turning off the airport filter out of curiosity?

When you start in mid-air, the plane will have an autopilot heading hold enabled. You can usually just google the AP button location for that aircraft - after all, this is a simulation. The manual is the aircraft’s AFM.

If you have a flight plan, ATC is going to be aware of you and talking to you. You can easily just tell ATC to cancel the FP, terminate flight following, etc. Depending on how you start a flight, a flight plan may be activated by default - which is why ATC would be talking to you. Start from a parking spot at an airport without a flight plan and there won’t be ATC comms. If you start from a runway, they’ll just tell you change frequency once you leave the airspace. Change it, then close the window - after you change frequency, ATC won’t call you unless you call them.

Unless I’m missing something about what you’re trying to do, it seems like you’re making it much more complicated than it needs to be. What steps are you taking when you’re starting a flight? All it needs to be is just World Map > Select departure airport > Select runway/parking spot or keep at default > Fly. That’s all there is to it.

Thanks again for replying, Zachry. Let me make this clear: I am a pilot noob! I have never bothered to learn anything remotely close to what an actual pilot needs to know about flying a modern aircraft. That is why I could just start a free flight in MFS-X, maneuver, land or start, because MSF-X made this easy. MSF though almost presumes that one has updated from MFS-X and somewhat knows the basics.

Well, I took the easy way in MFS-X and now I have to bite the bullet and learn the proper way. One thing is sure though, without a manual, I am going to have to learn MSF first, before I can even start learning about ATC comms, aircraft instrumentation panels and the like. On that note I would like to thank CasualClick for his/her answer, which was spot-on, even though I had already found that out on the net. What I didn’t know was that thing about the Taskbar’s Active Pause continuing on in the background!? I suppose there is a reason for it, but still, as you say, it can have grave consequences! Thanks for that information!

It’s a pity Microsoft has not thought this through properly. One gets the feeling that they have taken others technologies to boost the softwares performance and graphics, but not quite finished the job. What they have accomplished so far is amazing, but I don’t know if I will live long enough to see the finished product! :smiley:

Flying can be as easy as flying a Trike or as complicated as landing an Airbus at Heathrow. To accomplish that, one cannot just find knowledge from thin air - there has to be a manual, at least for beginners:

  1. How to use this MFS simulator.
  2. What instrumentation can be found in a cockpit. Why they are there and how to use them.
  3. A keyboard and controller mapping list to synchronize the two above and maneuver the aircraft.
  4. A basic list of ATC communication commands with explanations and how to use them.
  5. Basic start and landing checklists.
  6. Normal basic what-to-do lists, including if anything untoward occurs.

…and this is just from the top of my head as a pilot noob for basic aircraft! As I said, flying can be complicated and if the software requires this of a pilot, it should have all the information at hand - either built in as guides or in a separate manual.

MFS does not have basic guides! It might seem so, but for a noob like me - no. When your AI starts talking about things one has not even come across in your previous tutorial(s) for basic flight, then it is assuming you know more than what it is teaching. This is NOT a good thing, but maybe there is some psychology behind it. An encouragement to seek the knowledge required. It is just that they don’t provide it.

I know all of this comes across as very negative, but I am an old toppie (67) and a programmer to boot, so you will have to excuse me if I feel that this software is lacking in some important consumer functions to make it a fully functioning software, specially if compared to MFS-X which was much more complete (for it’s time) when released.

Still, this is still an amazing flying experience, so I am just going to have to endure the shortcomings, learn more and enjoy the “ride” with all it’s bumps!

Clear skies all!
: P

Sadly, I have found that there is no “Easy mode” for people like you and me that enjoyed just taking off and flying in MSX. Not even a mouse mode. It appears they went so far to realism that they left us behind. I am all for the realism that the real pilots and the folks who want to invest a lot of time to learn all the ins and outs of real flying would expect, but I really wish they had included the old easy mouse mode for the casual types like me, I would enjoy it more.

Could not agree more! New is not always better, because somehow they alway manage to leave something good behind!

Remember that if you want to, you can fly anywhere, anyhow, from any airport you like and just completely ignore ATC. They don’t give you the ‘number to call’, and you can’t lose your licence! They talk nonsense most of the time anyway.

The only ‘correct’ way to uses MSFS is whatever way you enjoy.

Ooo - I forgot to thank you for the Flight Ground School link, CasualClick. Good one!

Ah, now I’m with you! I’ll try to fill you in the best I can. I may not be an exact substitute for a manual, but hopefully I can get you on your way with some good resources to get in the air.

We’ll start off simple - starting a flight. MFS can be a bit particular about how you do this. The best way (that is - for the most freedom) is to launch from an airport. It is possible to click on any spot on the map and set it as a departure, but as you’ve figured out, that’ll result autopilot being on. Once you’re more familiar with the aircraft, that won’t be an issue - but for now, perhaps better to avoid it. Picking an airport is pretty straightforward - find one on the map and select it or start typing in the text box to search for one. If your departure lists a runway, that means you’re starting on the runway, cleared to take off, all systems on. Parking brake may be on, and flaps I think are not deployed automatically. If your departure lists parking (which you can select either by clicking on a spot when you zoom in close enough to an airport, or through the drop-down where it would say which runway you’re departing from), you start cold-and-dark - meaning you have to turn everything on.

In the ribbon up top where the active pause button is, there is also a button to open the checklists. This will tell you exactly what needs to be done to start the plane. When you mouse over a step, there will be a little icon that looks like an eye on the right side of the checklist - if you click that, it will focus on the part it’s talking about. For example, if you’re looking for the battery master, you can click that button to focus the camera on it. If you click it again, it’ll go back to the normal view. There is also an “Auto-complete” page on the bottom - that, as you’d expect, allows you to just have the computer go through the checklist. It’s handy for when you want to start in parking, but are running into issues with starting it up or just don’t feel like doing every step.

As for the instruments, this looks like a good resource to explain what they are. Note that a glass cockpit (a plane with screens instead of gauges) will look differently - but once you’re familiar with what the gauges mean, it won’t be too hard to adapt to a glass cockpit.

For the keyboard and controller mapping list, if you go into settings, then controls, you’ll find a whole list of all the mappings. It’ll show only controls that are currently mapped, which should certainly be enough for you - but if you get curious, there’s an option on the left I believe that allows you to see everything that can be mapped.

For ATC, it’s pretty guided - you can only say the things listed on the ATC screen. If you’re at a towered airport, you’ll want to tune to ground to request clearance to taxi. Ground will then say something like “(your tail number) cleared to taxi Alpha Hotel to runway 13.” Alpha and hotel are names of taxiways - honestly, don’t even worry about this part though, as taxiing in MFS is a pain. Once you’re lined up on the runway, an option to tune to tower will pop up. Once you tune to tower, you can request take-off. They’ll probably give you some initial instructions and say that they’ll “call you next when you leave my airspace.” Once they do say you’re leaving their airspace, they’ll give you a new channel to tune to - all done once again at the touch of a button in the ATC screen. If you don’t want to deal with ATC anymore, just hit that button to tune to the new channel, but don’t hit the button to talk to the new ATC. Also, when they say “(tail number) please acknowledge” all you’ll have to do is open the ATC menu and hit the “acknowledge (contact)” button. That’s a pretty general overview because there can be a lot of ATC options depending on where you are, so feel free to ask if you’re wondering about a specific procedure or something that they’re telling you to do.

I covered the start and landing checklists already, but I think I forgot to mention one thing - different aircraft have different levels of checklist implementation. In some aircraft, they barely tell you anything. In other aircraft, such as the Cessna 172 (not the G1000 version, this one is only in Premium Deluxe version), there’s a more-or-less full set of checklists that’ll guide you all the way from starting up the aircraft to shutting it down at the end of your flight. A lot of the checklists are just start up, taxiing, taking off, and maybe a little bit of landing - and they’re usually missing a lot of helpful info.

If you’re not in an aircraft with a detailed checklist in-game, you can find the normal what-to-do stuff by just googling the real-life airplane flight manual - called an AFM. These have a lot of information, most of which you won’t have to worry about in the sim. Performance data can be helpful, although MFS doesn’t always mirror real-life performance - so that can be hit-or-miss. The checklists will probably be the most helpful part in a real-life AFM.

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Wow! Thanks Zachry! This will also help a lot! Maybe you can help out Microsoft! :wink:
I have started to read the lessons on the link that CasualClick gave me though. They are more general in scope, but very funny at times, which helps learning. There I have found my new MSF mantra:
Takeoffs are optional; landings are mandatory!

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Ok, let’s try to address as much as possible:

It costs a few bucks, but from your posts, it may help a lot. They also provide free updates and seem to update often, especially right after sim feature updates are released.

A list of default keyboard mappings can be found here. These are defaults only and can be freely changed to whatever is convenient to you. The Sofly manual linked to above should help you understand what each of the functions actually. For controller mappings, each controller is different. We would need to know what joystick/yoke/rudder models you have. There is a way in the Options menus to see how your controller is mapped, but for that, use the Sofly document or various YouTube videos. A user named “Squirell” does really good ones.


For a very nice tutorial for setting up your controllers, please see here:

  • List of ATC commands

This is an interesting one. After you are in a plane ready to fly or start the engines, the ATC menu appears at the top of the screen in a list fo tools. One of the tools is on this ‘bar’. If you click on the ATC ‘tool’, a new window opens in the sim and this displays a list of everything you can talk to ATC about. The interesting part is that this list changes depending on where you are and what you’re doing. If you are at the gate, pushback, taxi clearance, etc. will be on the list. If you are on the runway, takeoff clearance, etc. will appear on the menu. Just pressing a number, performs what’s on the numbered line in the ATC window. The Sofly manual will go in to more detail on this.

  • Basic checklists

Another entry on the top ‘bar’ when you hover your mouse over it covers checklists. A new window will open, similar to the ATC window displaying the applicable checklist, i.e. engine start, pre-taxi, etc. etc. There is an icon that looks like an eye next to each checklist item that will show you in the cockpit exactly where the applicable button, dial, etc. is located. Also, there is an assisted checklist feature that will perform each item for you if you wish. Also, each plane has more detailed checklists all over the internet. Just search in google or yahoo for “” and “checklist” and you should find it. Yolu can also search for a plane’s POH, Pilot’s Operating Handbook.:"

  • Basic what to do lists
    I’m not sure what to tell you for this one, but search is your friend.

Finally, (my wrist is starting to hurt:)) there is a wonderful resource here on this forum. It is called the “Guides” section and is located here: Good luck!!

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What an amazing community! Thanks Redeyesjm for all your hard work! (Sorry about the wrist)
Thanks to everyone else that has responded as well. I have tried to take in everything said and shown and decided to just give it a go. I have just finished a short Swedish flight at night (first time) from Ängelholm Airport to Halmstad Airport north of that. Closing in on Halmstad Airport I even asked for a touch and go landing with help. I got that and landed, but yes - it was touch and go! It kept on telling me I was coming in too fast and then I almost stalled! I made a good landing though. With that I mean I didn’t crash land!

But then what? Where does one go from there? So I just taxied to the end, followed the blue light corridors to a building and parked there, pretty pleased with myself. Doing the post landing checklist though, I could see a lot of stuff I had missed before starting to taxi, but I guess that belongs to the learning curve.

Thanks again all for your help and information. It is going to take at least a week to read it all - and then I have to translate it all to Swedish or adapt it to Swedish conditions! Anyway, it’s been a great experience so far this evening and now it’s time for bed. I bid you all a good night and to have a really good one!


I would like to offer my thanks for all the help I received, with this composite image that I created from images found on Google Images. I have used it to create a Windows icon. I just thought the colours of the aircraft and FS text went well together. You guys may do what you like with it, but not sell it, as we don’t have the rights.

I tried to upload the finished product ( a zip file with the .ico, .psd and .png files), as well as this image as a transparent png file, but this is apparently not allowed. As you can see, the png was converted to jpeg, which sucks a bit, because one doesn’t get the transparent background, without a bit more work on it!

Anyhooo - have a good one!

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Unless you take on a challenge, the whole game is “Free Flight” mode. Just get in a plane and fly. Do you really need to be told where to go and what to do?

One notch flaps, throttle full, release brakes, go. Learn the rest through crashing.