Flightgear multi platform open source flight simulator revisited

Ok – I was thinking I might have been a bit too dismissive of flightgear. So, I took a second look (and a third and fourth.) In fact, I found a source rpm of the 0.99 version and rebuilt it for Mandriva 2006 and installed. And went in search of scenery for the local area. Now, to compare the two, X-Plane has more spit and polish and frankly the visuals (from the limited area I could see) are better. Flightgear is interesting from the standpoint that it’s open source (GPL) and can use a variety of flight models.

I did plug in a joystick and fly this time. (No real problem detecting the joystick, but the throttle control didnt’ work “out of the box” with flightgear – it does with X-Plane.) There is a tool to assign functions to joystick axis. (fgjs). Which seems to do well, but the “sitting still” activity level of this joystick (wingman something…) is too active. (the fgjs util asks for you to move the axis that you want to use for (fill in the blank function)…. the 0 axis on this controller registers for most everything unless I”m REALLY quick.)

Anyway, there are some interesting features of flightgear beyond open source/multiple possible flight models. It does let you do multi-monitor display using an interesting network approach. I haven’t yet tried this, but would love to do a side window on the laptop or something. The default flight model is probably more accurate than the old Microsoft Flight Sim that I used to use. That’s a good thing to me. I don’t want the simulator to make it easier to fly. I want it to be a simulator. I don’t see a way within the program to change planes, you’ve got to use the launcher, or specify the plane as a command line option.

Currently flightgear runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris, sgi, freebsd and Mac. (Which is probably the only flight sim to cover all those platforms.) Now, the problem I had starting out last time is that according to the manual… it says…

Main keyboard controls on the numeric keypad with activated NumLock key

9/3 Throttle

Which didn’t work. After finding how to “look” around the cockpit, I finally managed to see some throttle feedback with keypad 9/3 when I DISABLED number lock (which seems to be the opposite of what’s documented.)

At this point I’ve probably logged an hour or so in flightgear, flying around San Francisco and then from Asheville to Greenville. Another note is the download of flightear comes with just the block of map that includes San Fransisco, so for more scenery you need to either download specifically what you’re looking for, or buy the CD/DVD collection. It seems to do pretty well overall. I’ve spent the most time in the cessna that I started out with in the simulator. Like I mentioned last time it’s got me thinking about pricing flight yokes/rudder pedals.

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