Speaking of weather, FSX has some outstanding weather modeling and effects. From the patter of rain on the roof to the rendering of clouds and reduced visibility, this is the best atmospheric modeling in the FS series to date. Though FS9’s payware add-on Active Sky 6 edges out default FSX weather it is an admirable effort and once again I’d suggest that casual to intermediate players might find that the out-of-box modeling is plenty good. Turbulence effects are subtle and believable. As noted before the runway puddling “sheen” effect is pretty overdone and not very realistic, but it is an interesting effect. Reduced visibility with fog is nicely done with a nice gradual transition from nothingness to the airport environment at ultra-low minimums. Contaminated runways (ice, snow, rain) also seem to have an effect on aircraft stopping distances. To test the theory I loaded up the 747 and ran several tests on dry and contaminated runways and each scenario resulted in progressively longer aborted takeoff distances as the runway condition went from dry to set to snowy. Thunder and lightning are nicely done and add a bit of foreboding, although honestly I think I’ve only ever actually heard thunder in an airplane one time despite many encounters on the ground and in the air; headphones and ambient airplane noise just drown all that out. Also interesting is that there is no upper-limit to the atmosphere now so flights high enough to see the darkness of space and the curvature of the earth will now be possible. In the default aircraft inventory however, none of the aircraft would normally be capable of reaching altitudes much above 46,000 (I’m guessing that the Learjet 45 has the highest service ceiling of the included aircraft?).