For MSFS 2004 Users


Well-Known Member
I feel a little geeky starting a flight sim thread, but I thought this is pretty useful for people using MSFS 2004 to practice instrument stuff.

One major flaw FS2004 has is that when using 2D clouds (rather than 3D ones that really gag most computers) the sim does not produce a solid overcast very well. When you are in a simulated cloud deck you can always kind of see the ground and you can see approach lights much too far away. If other folks have noticed this and are looking for a fix there is a very good work around.

A new set of textures for overcast cirrus clouds was made to create realistic (for a computer sim anyway) overcast clouds. The zip file contains instructions, but the basic procedure is to simply replace the 4 default overcast cirrus textures with these ones (back up the originals) and then create a 1foot thick layer of overcast cirrus directly under a larger overcast cumulus layer. So for example if an ILS has a DA of 283 set an overcast cirrus layer from 283 to 284 and then make a overcast cumulus layer from 284 to 10000 (or what ever).

The effect is pretty cool. You get a much more life like transition from clouds to being able to see the runway environment when practicing approach procedures. You also cant see the approach lights until the last second when they slowly fade into view (if you have set the visibility to the minimum).

Anyway I thought some folks here would find this helpful. I downloaded the Zip file for the clouds from, but I put it on my own server for folks here.

***Reminder these textures replace the 2D overcast cirrus clouds. You have to have simple clouds (not 3D) checked in your weather settings.

Zip File 493KB
I had a similar problem when I tried to set a low visibility. Things like trees, buildings and runways would appear totally whited-out until I got close, but I could see normal green terrain to the horizon.

I turns out that my old video card (Radeon 9000) didn't support a "fog table", so stuff that should have been rendered wasn't. I wish I'd have known about a fix like this before I shelled-out for a better card (even though I would have eventually found another excuse to get one).
I hated that problem with the coulds of not being able to get overcast, thanks.
You will notice that it does not fix the overcast 100%. It gives you nothing but white when in the clouds and makes the transition practicing approaches much better. If you go above both cloud layers you will still get some funny views through the clouds like you do with the default textures. I have tried putting a 1-foot cirrus layer on top as well, but the third layer seems to have a substantial effect on performance (though it works). If you want to be able to fly on top of an overcast layer you might play with this. Also on occasion you might notice a thin seam in the clouds as a result of the new textures, though this is minimal if you make sure the one foot cirrus layer and the larger cumulus layer are right up against each other (don’t have any game between the two layers).

The idea of this fix is solely to allow you to set an overcast layer from a DA or MDA up beyond the level you will be flying at making instrument practice a bit nicer. (Basically set it so you are always in the soup above DA/MDA)
HAs anyone else noticed that you can get snow above a cloud layer...?

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Or you can set rain in and scattered clouds and it'll rain at places with no clouds.
When you are in a simulated cloud deck you can always kind of see the ground and you can see approach lights much too far away.

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I never have this problem when I download real-world weather. However, it does happen when I custom set the weather.
With my machine I found it impossible under any circumstance to create a solid overcast using the 2D clouds. There is always a slight hole under the aircraft. You could get around it by dropping surface visibility to .5 or .25 mile (which is probably why it works for you some of the time), but that makes doing non-prceision approaches impossible. Microsoft admits that it is a known quirk in how 2004 renders the 2D clouds. 2002 was actually much better this way. If you use the 3D clouds you can get a much better overcast, but they kill frame rates.

There is some suggestion from Microsoft (and on these simulation message boards) that the more system resources you have the better the overcast 2004 can render. Not sure what you need to have… I have a P4 2.6, Geforce 4 Ti 4400, & 1.5MB ram and I am not even in the ballpark

Anyway this fix allows you to set a hard overcast level right at or just above DA or MDA for practicing approaches and take no noticeable hit on frame rates. It is easy enough to swap the files just to try it and replace the default ones if they don’t do it for you.
I never have this problem when I download real-world weather.

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Download real-world weather today for this area and see if the airplane turns into a flying (or falling) icicle!
that is a good idea but I just close the outside view window and puse the sim and open it agin when I am at DH.