Thermals, Up & Downdrafts - More Realism Updates

If their idea of thermals is the whole sky rising, and they don’t want to fix it because casuals will complain, then gliders serve no purpose in the sim other than for those who know nothing about soaring to play act on a superficial level. I’m a sailplane pilot, and the allure of soaring is the challenge it presents, and the sense of achievement that comes from first (as a new pilot) being able to find thermals and use them to climb, to eventually (with more experience) being able to use those skills to fly cross country (and of course, use other forms of lift as well).

Implement thermals correctly or just pull the gliders from the sim. I knew soaring would be really tricky for them to do right, because jumping into something with engines and just letting the thrust drag you around is relatively easy and will seem pretty authentic if they just get it fairly close to real life, but soaring is filled with nuance and requires both precise atmospheric and aerodynamic simulation fidelity to get it right. Sailplanes don’t just plow through the atmosphere, but instead exploit the full complexity of atmospheric movements. It has to be right.

Also, the current aerodynamic modeling of the sailplanes is wonky. There’s little adverse yaw (really, how do you get that wrong in an aircraft with a very long wingspan that is well-known for needing lots of rudder in turns?), and they are ridiculously twitchy, with instant roll, pitch, and yaw responsiveness that is impossible. The gliders jump around like weightless hummingbirds, as if they have no inertia and the wingspan of a Pitts or something. Just wiggle the stick left and right and watch how ridiculously fast the glider responds. That is most definitely not how they react in real life. The fact that something as basic as adverse yaw is so far off makes me really doubt the accuracy of their aerodynamic model, because if it actually worked you would expect that it would automatically model adverse yaw correctly, and would naturally adjust for things like wingspan and aspect ratio.

Asobo has done a generally good job with the visual modeling and the general setup, but the atmospheric modeling and aerodynamic behavior of the aircraft are nowhere close to accurate.


You wrote word-for-word exactly what I (also RL glider pilot) also think about current “glider experience” in MSFS.
I think they fell “gliders are just easier planes” trap as probably most PPL pilots who never did glider crosscountry think.

But if you present them analogy planes=motorboats, sailplanes=yachts, then suddenly noone thinks that it is easier to master traveling by motorboat than by yacht.

Current thermal model also feels as if someone based it on some cursory information about updrafts in PPL books, that is why I filed a bug report detailing spatial incorrectness between thermals and Cu clouds - the most basic aspect of thermals in soaring.

If you have RL experience with any of the official gliders please file a bug report about adverse yaw, accelerated stall, spin or any other thing you can.


I’m pretty rusty on my real life glider experience - I haven’t flown gliders for around 20 years, but had over 120 hours in them, all in Australia.

In general what I have seen to date is that the thermals are too broad, which then ends up with them too sparsely populated.

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I have many friends who are airplane pilots, and I’ve flown many different aircraft types, so not to knock powered aircraft pilots, but most pilots I know who have only flown powered aircraft are frankly not very well coordinated on the controls. They tend to use the rudder to track straight while on the ground and then almost completely forget it’s there once in the air. You can’t do that with a sailplane with a 15m, 17m, or 18m wingspan. You also can’t be successful at soaring if you’re always flying uncoordinated and therefore presenting the side of the fuselage to the slipstream, which increases drag and sink rate. Soaring requires excellent coordination and precise stick and rudder skills. The current state of the gliders in the sim, though, prevents that. With the barely functional yaw string and the weird aerodynamics, it’s hard to fly coordinated but strangely, it also doesn’t seem to matter much in the sim at the moment.

In many European countries, you cannot get your single engine rating unless you first get your glider rating. I think this is smart and something we should require here. There are far too many GA accidents due to the classic “impossible turn” when an engine fails while climbing out after takeoff. It shouldn’t happen, and wouldn’t happen nearly as often if pilots were first trained in sailplanes. Sailplanes perform very differently in such a situation, of course, but it’s more about the judgment that sailplane pilots develop. But I can see why it occurs so often because most power-only pilots get used to the engine dragging them around, and even through poorly-coordinated maneuvers, only to see the pilot panic when it unexpectedly stops running. All they have to do is first lower the nose to maintain airspeed, then assess whether they are high enough to turn back or (more likely) choose a landing site in front of them or to the side, and finally make sure that any turn they make is well-coordinated to reduce the potential for a spin. Instead, what often happens is they panic when the engine quits, either delay lowering the nose or worse raise it due to the reflex to avoid the ground, and instinctively try to get back to the runway even when too low to do so, skid the turn to get pointed back at the runway, and stall followed by a spin into the ground. Sailplane training and the keen appreciation that a pilot receives for managing the energy state of an aircraft and flying in the most aerodynamically efficient manner possible would prevent this outcome.

OK, stepping off my soapbox now. Sorry for the diversion.


Very true. This year I have a first rl occasion piloting Az50 Puchacz. After many years on flight sims, the only one thing surprised me -the role of the rudder and intense use of it while itialisation of turn.

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You are not the first one experiencing this. MAny glider instructors hate simulators because lack of proper advere yaw/use of rudder simulation - current implementation of DG nad LS8 are lacking in this area too (unofficial gliders are better as they allow you to adjust adverse yaw strength).
I filed a bug report about not enough adverse yaw - Both official gliders should have stronger adverse yaw requiring use of rudder for turning please support it, as bad reflexes of not using rudder for turinig in gliders trained in the sim may cause RL deaths with unexpected sping during final turn when in stressful situation people return to the first reflexes.


Already done:)


Also here, because not only gliders are effected with unrealistic adverse yaw, it’s almost every aircraft…


And I just can’t understand how this could happen, if Asobo is actually modeling airflow and basic forces such as lift and drag. A halfway accurate airflow model should automatically create greater adverse yaw in an aircraft, like a sailplane, with a long span very high aspect ratio wing. The fact that it doesn’t seem to create even a little bit more adverse yaw than it does for something like a C-152 is very troubling, and makes me wonder what is really going on inside the simulation.

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We diverge too much from the main thread subject - but I just quickly some link with explaination Adverse Yaw - Basics still missing - #44 by MSGamerTag01 MSGamerTag01 is designer of 3 unofficial gliders and made adverse yaw adjustable on the scale - very good solution as for me I wan’t to recreate what I am used to in RL not to perfectly replicate what given glider has. Anyway I suggest reading other MSGamerTag01 posts - he is very experienced RL glider pilot and wrote many valuable posts about gliders in MSFS.


Incorrect spatial relations between thermals and Cu clouds makes realistic glider flights impossible

Reposting this really good sum up what’s currently wrong with thermals and needs fixing:


The other day I set up the weather so that there are some thermals. Switched on the thermal visualization. Then flying between 2 thermals I had a permanent climb of 1 m/s. Flat terrain.

So then I didn’t bother to enter a thermal because I was going to stay afloat forever. Try that in a real glider and reality will prove otherwise.


Yeah, unfortunately the glider implementation was the big disappoinment of the 40 Anniversary Update.

A few months ago I had a fantastic flight over completely flat terrain where thermals seemingly were right where you would expect them. After trying some more flights in different parts of the world I now know that this great flight was a fluke and that I couldn’t replicate that experience.

There is no rhyme or reason to where the thermals are located, even though Seb said it was based on the properties of the ground brightness and how much energy is being reflected / absorbed.

Well, unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. Thanks to the thermal visualization it’s pretty clear now that they are located in random and nonsensical locations, with no visual clues that you would find in the real world (terrain, clouds, circling birds).

The only way to find thermals/lift is by complete trial and error (which is extremely frustrating), by using ridge lift or the thermal visualization. Well, I don’t want to glide in the mountains all the time, and I don’t want to have that visualization spoil the view all the time either, as it breaks immersion big time.

I guess I will just have to give gliders a wide berth for now and hope for the better.


So here is the reason why it’s an disapointment:
when they chose an simplified version over an existing more realistic version,
then there was never a chance this could be any good.

  • MSFS currently uses simplified Thermals

Also that wavelift is off the development list is the next big disapointment,
the only possible way they considering a future implementation is if enough people beg for it…

  • Wavelift for MSFS only possible if demand is big enough

With discus 2c, picked up a thermal near a 1000m high hill, using live weather. Got to 8500m with constant 4m/s climb rate and wasn’t stopping. Headwind was more than 90km/h so I was standing still and going up like an elevator!

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If MSFS modelled wave lift that would not be totally unrealistic.
But from all Asobo have said, it doesn’t model wave, and no other form of lift should give lift to that sort of altitude.


It has happened ONCE to 2 people that I can find record of.

It was hang gliders, not fixed wing, and there was an exceptional weather phenomenon.

Sadly one of them died.

The main takeaway from this is this would only be possible under very specific conditions. i.e. a towering cumulonimbus(thunderstorm), assuming you survive the turbulence that is. Not just anywhere all the time.


i did that once together with my dad in his glider - 25 years ago. Picked up a wave at the north side of the alps, took us to 7500m. We had oxygen and it was freezing cold (-30 outside).
Once you got the right position it takes you camly all the way way up.
So yes, this can happen in reality - but in very rare circumstances.


there is now a seperate wishlist topic for Wave Lift

It’s related to thermals up&down drafts, but it’s such an special case it deserved an own thread.