Flight Unlimited III was the third and last of the Flight Unlimited series of General aviation flight simulators created by Looking Glass Studios, released in 1999. It included ten user-flyable aircraft in total, and several new features. It was preceded by Flight Unlimited and Flight Unlimited II.
Some of the Flight Unlimited community still exists, with some websites remaining, and third-party updates are still being produced. In many ways, with recent updates, this simulator offers a vastly improved experience compared to the originally-released product.
Flight Unlimited III was re-released in 2005 as 'budgetware', under the 'Sold Out' label.
One of the most significant new features was the new weather engine. Before a flight the user could generate and manipulate weather fronts, which would then change dynamically while flying.
The simulator also included the Raytheon Beechjet 400A. In previous versions, only small- to medium-sized propeller-powered aircraft were included. The Beechjet added a fast jet to the line-up, with a glass cockpit, GPS, an autopilot and a working weather radar using the new weather engine.
There are now many more aircraft available than when FU3 was first released. These have been created by individual developers and made available via various websites. Examples include: DC3, 747 (and SP), GeeBee, DHC-6 (Twin Otter), Dash-8, various gliders and other small aircraft.
As with Flight Unlimited II, the simulator concentrated on one small but highly detailed part of the USA, in this version Seattle. It was once again sourced from USGS satellite photos and real-life elevation data. Outside of the Seattle area, covering more of the Pacific Northwest, was a less detailed area called the outer terrain region.
AI controlled aircraft would populate the airspace and displayed all phases of a flight, from taxi and takeoff to landing. There were a large variety of aircraft, meaning the user could see airliners at larger airports as well as small private aircraft flying the traffic pattern at local private airfields.
Air Traffic Control was also programmed into the simulator and was much more advanced than any other home flight simulator at the time, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 which had none at all. The user would build up a message from options and transmit it over the radio. ATC would then reply with instructions. These were accompanied by voices speaking the messages. The many various computer controlled aircraft flying in the airspace were also taken into account.
Other features from Flight Unlimited II include 3d cockpits (although still without working dials), more realistic crashes, water landings, challenges and flight lessons.
If the user had Flight Unlimited II, the high-resolution San Francisco scenery could be installed, making flights between there and the high-resolution Seattle area possible.
The simulator also came with a program called the Flight Unlimited Editor (FLED), which allowed the user to edit the simulator's scenery. This is still one of this simulator's great strengths - it has a free, built-in scenery editor. Anybody can create their own airport, scenery package or just place a few model objects wherever they want. If saved as a scenery 'package', users can upload to the internet (via Avsim.com or similar) and other users can share in the experience. One user (Chris Low from the UK) has created huge super-sets of packages covering entire regions. These substantially improve the flying experience. There are also currently hundreds of extra models available for users to experiment with.
Some features were also removed, such as the FBO airport interface used in previous versions, which was replaced by a standard menu.
The simulator included ten user-flyable aircraft, with the six from Flight Unlimited II being carried over and updated with new external visual models. Some of the names were changed, possibly due to licencing issues.
- Fokker Tri-Plane (based on Fokker Dr.I)
- Muskrat Seaplane (based on DeHavilland Beaver)
- North American P-51D Mustang
- Piper Arrow
- Trainer 172 (based on Cessna 172)
- Twin Engine Windhawk (based on Beechcraft Baron)
Add-on aircraft by other developers:
- Boeing 747 and 747-SP (by Ansgar Avermeyer)
- Douglas DC-3 and XC-47 (floatplane version) (by Ansgar Avermeyer)
- De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver by Markus Brunner, DHC-6 (Twin Otter) and DHC-8 (Bombardier Q300) by Jon Point
- Gee Bee R2 replica (by Jon Point)
- Blanik LET L-13 glider (by Jon Point)
- Grumman Goose amphibious transport
- Beechcraft Baron - various models and repaints by Hennie Van Rooyen, Ansgar Avermeyer and Hans-Petter Roverud.
- Various Microlight aircraft (various developers)
Note: this list is not complete and aircraft are still being built for this simulator.