The sim has a very intuitive environmental set-up screen that allows you to quickly configure the weather for whatever conditions you seek. From perfectly clear skies and no-wind to hurricane conditions or low visibility, this sim can do it all. You can set the conditions manually, or you can check the two boxes that will automatically download and import real weather reported from across the country into the sim. Here I’ve set up conditions that mirror the weather in the south-east this evening: including thunderstorms, winds, turbulence, wet runway, and other factors.
A look at the weather radar map in the sim after setting the conditions shows the thunderstorms just to the south-east of Pensacola, the first rain bands associated with tropical storm Arlene.
The weather is reflected in the cockpit weather radar display and is positionally accurate on the EHSI, showing the major cell activity to the south-east of the field. This aircraft is an Airbus A300, one of the many incredible free add-ons you’ll find out there. (Airbus model by C. Riviere, FedEx panel/paint by flyjwa and Geoffrey Legg)
Flying in stormy conditions is a real treat in X-Plane, with lightning flashing, thunder rumbling and the most realistic rain sounds I’ve heard. When you fly through heavy rain in real life it sounds like you are getting pelted by gravel and X-Plane models this well. The turbulence and wind shears are very nicely done and lend a realistic feel to the feeling of flight. Even sitting on the ground you can see the airspeed indicator fluctuate as gusts of wind enter the pitot tube.
One of the finest add-on aircraft I downloaded was Jan Grundke’s superb rendition of the Beech 1900D commuter turbo-prop. This is a fine example of an aircraft that was free, but in my opinion was good enough to have charged money for had he been so inclined. This version was actually created for X-Plane 7 and has been updated to allow for importation to X-Plane 8. The external 3D model, the panel, sounds and flight model are all outstanding and really show off what a good aircraft designer can do with X-Plane.