Thermals, Up & Downdrafts - More Realism Updates

As the top voted Thermals, Up & Downdrafts - Realism Update/ Airmass Simulation got moved out of the wishlist section, closed and marked as resolved for no reason, I reopen this thread right here because it’s far from beeing ‘‘resolved’’.

As pointed out in the Beta Forum, there are still many more updates needed if they want to call it realistic.
Let’s Vote and continue the wishlist what they need to improve right here.

  • relation between clouds and thermals needed:

    • height, position, size
    • strength, lifecycle
  • thermal shape needs rework

    • stronger lift in the core
    • turbulence outside
  • up & downdrafts:

    • volumetric clouds still doesn’t have any realistic turbulence, up & down drafts
    • up & down drafts doesn’t match the actual weather
  • Visualization tool needs update to be more clear what’s actually going on


The Thermals Wishlist item was moved to resolved as they are now implemented in the base sim. We know there is feedback for improvements, however, so this wishlist item is appropriate to make as they continue to improve this new feature. Thanks!


I’d recommend we pause a little with feedback while we digest what’s available in SU11. Having looked at thermals in SU11 for an hour my immediate impression was we need to be careful not to rely too much on the “CFD visualisation”. I was flying around under the clouds and in the blue with the AS33 which has a well-calibrated ‘netto’ gauge showing the net lift/sink of the air around the plane. Most of the time I was surrounded with the green visualisation streamers flowing upwards (do they never go down?) but that included plenty of times when the AS33 was telling me I was clearly in sink. Overall there seemed to be many patches of lift and sink in the blue between the clouds but flying under well-formed clouds seemed more likely to have a decent climb.

My point is we might need to look at SU11 some more before making too many strong assumptions, and I’m wondering whether the green streamers are not really suitable for judging the lift strength.


Agree, now is the time to test things as they are officially implemented outside of the beta.

While recommending to pause feedback you actually made a good first feedback :joy:
‘’ Visualization tool needs update to be more clear what’s actually going on.‘’

There was this workaround for gliders to use thunder clouds for gliding, because they were the only clouds which produce updrafts. I think the general up & down draft limitations got lifted a little bit, that’s why more cloud types produce updrafts now (they always did, but because of the big limitation downgrade 2 years ago it wasn’t noticeable until now.)


Strongly agree.

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I don’t want to rush anybody,
I just recreated this thread because I think we maybe all agree there are more updates needed and just to have a place where we can share our thoughts in the future (doesn’t have to be now or tomorrow).

Also don’t forget to have fun guys, that’s what it’s all about in the end :wink:


Yes I agree. I hope new people (hopefully other RL pilots) will contribute to this subject with constructive, verifable and based in RL experience feedback and won’t get deceived by cloud or CFD visualizations, or confirmation bias (as lift can be experiened everywhere - it may mistakenly be interpreted as lift under clouds).

As for now all suggestions, statements of incorrectness and feedback from [6] Improved atmospheric simulation with a big focus on Thermals and general tweaks for the CFD seem to be also true for SU11 (I did some retests with exactly the same settings as in those videos - still got strong “blue thermals” shooting above cloud tops not forming clouds above condensation height.

The ironic thing is some people in SU11 try to limit ground thermals to increase effect of lift from cloud density parameter (so they can get lift under clouds) by trying to use cloud lift over sea - this says a lot (sad things) about quality of those improved ground thermals.


I think we should start by what the visulization tool ‘‘show 3D thermals’’ actually showcases rigth now.
What I see is green lines (uprising air) at different points, this also includes ridge lift.

I can’t see any relation to the clouds, it’s more like an coincidence when there is a cloud above, but then as pointed out the lines continue way above the cloud. Then on the other hand clouds itself can cause updrafts not even showcased by the v-tool.

Instead of 3D thermals it should be called just ‘‘updrafts’’ for now, because there is no shape, size and height of an actual thermal visible at any point.


So here are a few nice insights from the last Glider twitch stream, basically saying:

  • the current model of thermals is a userfriendly one, because during development too many people were complaining, so they decided to take the easy one for now

  • however the more realistic thermal model is already ready and because of many people showing interest in gliders and the tutorial, they maybe gonna bring the updated version with the next simupdate

  • which means a lot of the concerns which were mentioned about thermal realism will be fixed or they are already fixed

  • ‘’…microphone sadly cuts out…‘’

starting at 01:31:00
and at 01:35:33 they talk about wavelift:

  • it was on the development list, but it would take lots of time and resources to implement it so they decided to cut it for now

  • they could definitely do it in the future, but it depends on how big the demand (people asking and voting for it on the forum basically like right here :smiley: ) is.

…Which means if you want more realism simply show it with a vote and/ or comment.


I tried a gliding flight from Lasham UK and took a winch launch. I set-up a stiff x-wind for the launch. I did not have to compensate for the x-wind during the launch by putting the into-wind wing down and keeping the glider over the runway/dropping the cable up-wind to ensure it lands back on the site. I will have to repeat this experiment/encourage someone else to try the same. My first impression, the winch launch is not effected by a x-wind? If so this is a little disappointing. It’s possible that I set the wind direction incorrectly. Please, someone else try this. I did not have to use the rudder to compensate for the weather-cocking effect at the beginning of the initial ground-run either.

My vario was showing gusts up-to 5ms it was impossible to establish any uniform lift by turning and found the best strategy was just to fly in a straight line into wind. Every area of lift that I encountered appeared to behave in the same way. I thought my wing lifted due to flying through the edge of lift, this may have been wishful thinking, however I did turn toward the lifting wing but could not establish a core of constant lift using real-world centring techniques.

I will revisit my x-wind winch launch experiment in case I made a mistake setting up the wind direction. I will report back.



I read different topics at the official MS Forum devoted to the atmosphere to model the MSFS and complaints about this. Why do not you want to understand how the flight model and visualization of graphics in MSFS works? I’ll try to explain some points.
SU11 added new to modeling atmosphere, improved something, destroyed something.
You turn on the 3D-tarmal and see the air flow lines. Then you say that they do not coincide with the position of copper clouds. Ha ha! I explain: these lines are 3D objects and their visibility is hidden behind other 3D objects (parts of the aircraft, buildings and buildings, mountains, trees), but they are not hidden by visualized 3D effects, such as clouds! Their image is superimposed on the image of the clouds.
Choose any separate copper cloud and fly around it without flying inside 3D-lines of air flows. You will observe the same picture from any side, the lines go into the sky in front of the clouds “without falling into the cloud.” Notice, this is from any side of the cloud! It seems that these lines are also circling around the cloud with you. But, if you fly right under the cloud and look up, you will see that all the lines are directed precisely under the cloud! So “non-compliance” is exclusively associated with the issue of visualization (the application of the isolation) of 3D-lines and 3D effects.
Many say that after SU11, thermals associated with copper clouds disappeared. I assure you, but nothing has changed the attitude of this.
The factors (types) affecting the creation of vertical wind have changed. Once, in MSFS, we had only a comb elevator. Then a cloud elevator appeared. Now the SU11 has added a solar elevator, which depends on the heating of the landscape with the rays of the sun. Each type of elevator affects the vertical wind in its own and in the aggregate of all of them. Everyone has its own characteristics and depends on the totality of several factors.
Solar elevator, this is new for MSFS and so far, as well as other types of elevator, needs significant refinement.
Separately, I want to say about such a big sense as the plane or stares at MSFS “learns” about the state of air movement (wind and vertical wind). To calculate each image frame, he knows and processes only one 3D point at which the glider is at the moment. According to the coordinates of this point and height on the ground, he knows the speed of wind in accordance with the specified speeds in the settings of the wind layers (and their distribution). It determines the angle of slope of the surface at the point located exactly according to these coordinates. It determines the water surface or earth, the type of vegetation and the color of fields, deserts, mountains. But, pay attention, he determines these parameters precisely at the point of his coordinates and in no other! It is very important to understand! He does not know, does not define and does not process the listed parameters outside this point. Therefore, he cannot determine and simulate either the height of the mountain ridge next to which the glider flies, all the more, determine where to arrange the “wave of the wave” that you dream of. He will determine that you are currently flying over the water surface (river, lake, pool), but does not know that it is very small and there is a desert around. He will determine that you are currently flying over trees, but does not know that this is just a small alley in a big city. He will determine that you are currently flying over a steep slope, but he does not know that this is a sconal of a small trench and a slope of the embankment of a small height. Do not build illusions!
If Asobo scanned the area around the location of the glider, and took into account the surrounding area at least within a radius of 1 km at several points located on the surface of the earth with a step of 100 meters, then the modeling of air movement would be much more correct. At the same time, the possibilities of accurate modeling of the elevator on the slopes, solar elevator and even lens waves would have appeared. All negative factors and errors of modeling air movement would disappear.
The introduction of 3D-visualization of thermal shows that this is quite possible and feasible in the near future.
I have not yet completed all the measurements, but I plan to publish a vast report the other day about the existing state of all types of vertical wind after SU11, about their features and their aggregate influence.


76 votes in 4 days! It’s looking promising :slight_smile:

I’d love for the sim to be as realistic as possible when it comes to this stuff.


Sounds similar to what happened with turbulence. They said had an accurate model, then changed it to be easier but less realistic because some people were complaining during testing. People in the forums then said they wanted a sim, not an arcade game so they started making it more realistic again.

I hope they will go with the full-blown realistic model for gliders in the next update and that we don’t end up with some kind of halfway-house compromise between easy and realistic.


I was wondering how to make gliding attractive to all armchair pilots - and I had an enlightement!

Asobo can add easy to implement and spectacular glider races - please read, comment,upvote this wishlish item:

The more people will get attracted to soaring the more motivation Asobo will have to continue improving this gliding project!


We can actually stop digesting now that we know what’s going on.

You guys can call me Mystic Homie cause I predicted this back in the beta:

and now we have this:

I also asked them in the beta forum if they actually can say what they currently try to achieve so we can stop guess working, but got no response (the first and only response was in the Glider Twitch stream).
Everybody searching for realism while we have the arcade version of the thermals.

They were actually testing if the majority of people would notice the simplistic implementation, because if not, no further updates would be needed…

So we can stop wasting our time testing the ‘‘arcade cry baby version’’ and actually start demanding the updated ‘‘realistic’’ version of the thermals.

Would be helpful if you could change the first post to something like that, because waiting and saying nothing will lead to nothing in this case we need comments and votes, so the head of development sees ‘‘ok they actually want realism, we have to invest in that’’. The thermal developer from Flightsim Studio basically said it himself.

You are not the first to whom this idea came to mind.
You don’t know that you don’t know that the competitions in the Gliders in the MSFS2020 have already been implemented and have been held for 2 years?
Another thing is when they need to be introduced into the MSFS2020. This would attract a large number of participants, XBox users.
But, the organization of the competition is not such a simple matter. It is necessary to organize in accordance with the rules for holding the FAI competitions. Otherwise, it will not make sense.

And You dont’t know how much wrong your assumptions about me are :smiley:

  • I won (well it was more like a fun ride at that time) one of the first Albatross races - it was as far as February 2021 :slight_smile:
  • I created first few native thermal races in Albatross once I discovered how to walkaround thermal limits forced on us at that time
  • Finally the front page picture you have on (this one with “Be ready for the challenge”) is my own picture! It is a screenshot I put in my own thermal race you reused for front page :slight_smile:

So please hold on with more assumptions.

Please also read the description I put in races wishllist and you’ll see that the scope and target audience is quite different than Albatross - it is way more simple, but also way more accessible so we can have way more players attracted to gliding and possibly to Albatross as well, and what is also important Asobo will have motivation to work on gliders longer.

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Exactly! I don’t know who are their testing people which cry about everything, but they are ruining this sim for everybody else. These people were the reason they completely flatlined the up & down drafts and it took them 2 years until now before they start to put them back in, it’s ridiculous.

‘‘Making stuff easy’’ should never be mandatory, if at all it should only be optional for an simulator.
Realism should always be the goal, otherwise you can’t name it simulator! If they can’t reach it that’s one thing, but if they don’t try or even worse: decide against it while having the realistic version, it’s an complete fail.

Who ever is in charge of the development decision making doesn’t understand it, implementing this arcade thermal version is just wrong and unrealistic and on top of that it will get boring very quickly.

The people who didn’t understand the ‘‘realistic thermal version’’ are the first ones who will abandon gliders after 2 trys with the current arcade version anyway and the people who love gliders are left with it,
so what is the point?


In my opinion, it would be great if they fixed first ridge lifting. Right now it’s too easy to get to a small mountain and with moderate winds climb more than 5x the height of the mountain. It really makes no sense and ruins the fun of trying to remain airborne.


Yes, I’ve wondered about this for a while. I think they must be casual or new users, people who haven’t used the sim much and might not stick around for long. There are very few, if any, long-time users of flight simulators who actively argue for the sims to be made less realistic.

The problem is that the casual users are more likely to be vocal about asking for changes because they were not expecting that some aspects of flying in a simulator actually take time to master. People who fly sims regularly understand and welcome that you can’t just jump in and fly in 5 minutes. They enjoy the learning process.

All of this results in a few casual users shouting loudly that it is all too difficult, while long-term committed users don’t say anything because they expect and welcome a degree of difficulty commensurate with actually flying a plane.