There's so much freedom in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Pick a spot anywhere in the world and you can be taking off, landing on, or flying over it a moment later in any aircraft you choose. Fun as that is, there's something to be said for a bit of progression, starting small and working your way up instead of becoming the captain of a 747 on a flight over Tokyo before you've even completed the tutorials.
If you're looking for a some structure in Microsoft Flight Simulator, there's a really neat plugin called NeoFly (opens in new tab) that can give you some focus and an extra bit of challenge. I've been using it and not only does it work extremely well, it's made flying a lot more fun.
NeoFly is a bush pilot plugin, and with it downloaded and running on my PC I can select from a list of short but often challenging missions. They may involve transporting cargo, flying passengers between small airports, or taking important VIPs from one place to another. There are some critical missions, too, like delivering medics or firefighters into a difficult landing zone where there are no airstrips or runways. There's even a bit of intrigue like cargo airdrop missions and "secret passengers" who can only be transported at night. I'm sure that's totally on the level.
The plugin works great on a second monitor, if you've got one. All you need to do is pick a mission, then select the corresponding starting airport and airplane in Microsoft Flight Simulator. Make sure you're in a parking area with your engine off, and the plugin will get the mission started. NeoFly shows a series of green lights in its tracking tab if you've got the starting mission requirements correct, which may involve using the MFS menu to tweak the payload weight of your plane to simulate the mission you're attempting.
There's even some fun sound effects of cargo loading and passengers boarding, and then you're given the go-ahead to taxi to the runway and take off.
While in flight, NeoFly tracks your progress on a lovely, detailed map (you can see my second monitor in the image above) making it easier to stay on course. Best of all, you'll earn some virtual XP and cash from each successful mission, which can unlock new ranks, new jobs, and the option to purchase bigger planes.
But you do need to be careful: Erratic flying and bad landings can damage your plane, which will need costly repairs. Some missions have time limits and other specific requirements. Fly a VIP and you'll need to make sure their flight is comfortable by not banking too sharply, and if you transport sensitive cargo you'll need a suitably soft landing so it isn't damaged—which could prove extremely difficult with some of the small rural airstrips you'll be flying to.
If you've been looking for some new challenges and a feeling of progression in Microsoft Flight Simulator, I highly recommend checking out NeoFly. It's free, though if you enjoy it you can donate to the creator's PayPal on the website's main page. Download NeoFly here (opens in new tab), and get some starting tips here (opens in new tab).