Virtual Hang Gliding
You may have read TTT member Eric Carden's article on virtual soaring in Hang Gliding & Paragliding. What he didn't mention is that he wrote the recommended software, Cross Country Soaring 2004 (CCS 2004), which generates lift in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 (MSFS9). He's also assembled a Moyes Litespeed for use in MSFS9 with correct flying characteristics based on manufacturer's specs, polars, and his experience with the glider.
These programs, along with improved Sequatchie Valley scenery and slope data by Kris Feldman, allow a hang gliding ridge soaring and thermal flight experience somewhat similar to reality. It's certainly far superior to simulated flights you may have tried in the Sequatchie Valley without such add ons. Furthermore, importing "Real World Weather" with winds aloft turned on in MSFS9 allows soaring something like current conditions on the ridge. It's a hoot!
But, what's really amazing is the ability to gaggle. On Sunday afternoon, November 27, with real winds light out of the south, Eric and I synced our clocks, loaded a flight at Henson's with north winds at 10, accessed MSFS9's multiplayer function, and both appeared on the radial ramp at Henson's. We launched, flew down the valley in a combination of ridge and thermals, topped out at about 5500 because that's how high the thermals were programmed to go, and flew XC to the Lookout LZ. It took about two and a half hours. Just about right.
Although it's true that no other experience on the planet can quite parallel hang gliding, this kind of simulation is at least extremely reminiscent of the real thing. Take a look. Everything you need is listed below, all now directly downloadable.