Thermals, Up & Downdrafts - Realism update needed!

Or add the 700+ votes right here and we have 2 topics in the top ten which support each other :wink:

I voted here too :grin: but I hope a lot of members will see our links and click Vote in the main thread about this subject . Mods won’t change anything about votes, we’ll have to add votes. Nice to see there are 71 potential votes here ! The subject is still alive ! I would love to have thermal upward airflow and be able to do ridge soaring… and an official sail plane, properly supported by the Flight Model. Sail planes are airplanes too…

This thread aims for realism in general.
Thermals, proper up and down drafts are a must for realistic aviation for every airplane.
So I’m asking for improvements in this context.

This is not another glider thread, but since gliders would definitely benefit the most from it I linked the glider topic in the main post to not split any votes in two :wink: .

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True, it’s not only gliders (planes), it’s the whole atmospheric model. It will be quite some work to make that realistic ! You’d have to take ground temperature into account, wind, altitude… resulting upward airflow at the altitude… flowing patterns near mountains… it is a challenging 3d model. But I am sure it would pay off. MSFS is ideal for sail planing, because of its beautiful nature scenery. And for other planes… some turbulation would be nice… because it is reality !

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I always wanted to enable those air visualizations they show in their videos. Is that not possible in dev mode?

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In Simconnect (part of dev mode), certain airflow scripts can be run. But if you script something, it feels unnatural. People tried in the past, there is Kinetic Assistent Addon which can provide for a “thermal spiral” at specific locations. But it is a separate executable from uncertified source, sometimes triggering virus checks. Upward and downward airflow should be built into the simulation model itself. Upward air flow has to do with temperature ! there are no ventilators in the real sky.

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As far as I know the visualization is not possible to enable right now with the dev mode.
Sebastian Wloch mentioned in one interview (about thermals) they want to implement ‘‘natural visualizations’’ like birds or gras movement etc. in the future.

I think it would show that thermals and a lot of airflow stuff doesn’t exist in the current state of the sim, that’s why there is no option to enable it, they just use it show what’s implemented right now, like terrain based up and down drafts (which are also unrealistically limited in their max. strength).

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It’s open source and you can easily compile it by yourself. I have pushed the gliding community from day 1, but your words make me some criminal. Not cool.

Anyway, I could say it is the least problem. All weather variables are locked for edit, even wind direction for the aircraft in the current moment. This hotspots trick I have used has nothing to do with reality and will never feel natural, so the only choice we have is to wait until native thermal airflow will be added.


@ thealx2901 pardon I said that, I did not intend to attack. And we agree about the latter. Maybe I was negative because I tried your addin back in februari. It gave issues with E-Set and when it got installed, it did not seem to affect anything, or I don’t understand the UI. I’ve never wanted to give you a response in your topic, because it would wind down to another complaint… and I’ve heard about the issues with updates. Maybe it is a good sign ? they closed the door because they are working on it ? IMHO airflow forces is one of the most important things in RW simulation. It should be in the sim, not only near ground or as “wind engine”.

How do we vote? Sorry i don’t speak english.

Blue vote button, left side, next to the headline. Thank you :slight_smile:

it’s good, I found it, phew! :grin: :rofl:

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Here is probably the reason why they didn’t include any microbursts/ thermals and why they limited up and down drafts. Because reality can look like this! :smiley:

(and probably the alpha tester looked like this as well, before everything got reduced and limited)
but even for a casual player, having weather conditions which are not save to fly could mean more fun.

Please Asobo/Microsoft, stop the up/down draft limit and give us more realism! :wind_face: :airplane:


Yes would defiantly to ave a different slider for real weather , although mine would be always on.

Is also going to be great to fly around my clubs and explore task possibilities.

Bring on the thermals , the gliders are well under way with a few models out already


:100: % ! If Asobo announced an official glider is on the way, I would jump through the roof because of joy!

On the other hand, we have a lot of very good glider mods in the making and few already out there, like the Discus 2b. So if we get realistic weather, we would be good to go until they come up with a own one.

Removal of the up/down draft limit could be there with the next sim update, because there wasn’t one in the alpha, so it’s really just a question if enough people ask/ vote for it. :slight_smile:

And if Asobo said the truth abouth thermals (that they are already in the sim), than the full implementation shouldn’t be too far off.


I’ve changed the first post a little bit, also included the first interview about up/down drafts and some ideas why it would be good to give us at least optional more realism, even without any additional visualisations.

I think the (third party) glider community would be happy as hell if we can achieve no more limit to thermals, up and down drafts for the next sim update :slight_smile:


IMHO the Asobo comment “we’re limiting the up/down draft to 1000fpm” is misleading a lot of people to believe thermal lift IS there but it’s being limited.

The only lift that has ever been detected in MSFS is the wind, when it hits a hill, will blow up the slope of the hill. Nothing wrong with that, and gliders can use it for soaring along ridges, but it shouldn’t be confused with the much more widespread thermal lift that results from the Sun heating the ground so vertical columns of rising air occur, typically capped with a Cu.


here are the bulletpoints of the thermal interview statement from Sebastian (Asobo):

  • we need a new (realism)slider to give control what is the maximum
  • we have thermals, they are simulated (we already have shown a few videos how the system works)
  • we currently limited them to about a 1000 fpm (which is low, compared to what we could get)
  • we need visualizations (to debug) and hints (birds, certain clouds, wheatfield movement)
  • it’s already there, but we need to make it better (no timeline)

He confirmed it two times, thermals are already in there, but hardly reduced because they need to make them better. But I never noticed even the slightest thermal even with the most extreme settings, 1000 fpm should be at least noticeable.

The real questions are:

  • what do they have to improve (besides visualizations)?
  • does the thermals cause unrealistic behaviour or any other sorts of problems?
  • can they even implement realistic weather based thermals without any slider settings?

it’s easy to forget this video, but it somehow can give us hope that weatherbased thermals, up/down drafts gonna be there, as soon as they improve whatever they have to improve. :slight_smile:

  • the airflow interacts with the 3D environment and the weather
  • new aerodynamics simulation (pressure, speed. moment, temperature)
  • volumetric clouds match turbulences, up&down draft
  • native support of storms, supercells, TCU…
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Back 10 years ago, I had a glider game for Apple Airbook, don’t remember the name. For the gamers, it is nice when they can see where the thermal upward and downward airflow is. In the game, they showed the airflow with grey upward and downward 3D spirals. But in a sim, you don’t want any visualisation. When the altimeter goes up, you know you’ve got to turn and go in circles. In RL this is easier because you can feel what happens. But I think “visualisations” for airflow should be minimal or absent, maybe you could define an assistent setting for it… make visualisations optional.

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