Google and Microsoft are getting users accustomed to the value and ease of use of 3d mapping tools. While these two sides (and others) are battling over better data, they are also setting user expectations about what is possible and what is available. The BBC covered an interesting case in which representatives of a government project in Liverpool complained to Google asking why their rejuvenation efforts in the city were not available in the popular Google Earth applications. Google responded:
A spokeswoman for Google Earth said the site relies on external companies to provide the aerial views.
Now, go and have a look at GetMapping's VFR Photographic Scenery. There is a demo video on the site which flies the viewer around Wales. This is perhaps the most realistic rendering of the earth that I've ever seen. It blows away anything that Google Earth or Microsoft is currently offering. So the real issue isn't really what is possible, but what is available and how much it costs. A personal copy of the GetMapping product is less than $100. You can drop it in to your flight simulator and you're good to go - off to Wales.
Below I've put a couple of screen captures. I managed to create these from Windows Media Player 9 following the instructions found here. Remember these are not photos.