FlightGear Newsletter June 2012

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Welcome to the FlightGear Newsletter!
Please help us write the next edition!
Enjoy reading the latest edition!


We would like to emphasize that the monthly newsletter can not live without the contributions of FlightGear users and developers. Everyone with a wiki account (free to register) can edit the newsletter and every contribution is welcome. So if you know about any FlightGear related news or projects such as for example updated scenery or aircraft, please do feel invited to add such news to the newsletter.

15 years of FlightGear, screenshot contest

July 17, 1997. Thirteen months after a group of people with a combined passion gathered, the first release of a new, open source flight simulator was unveiled to the public, called Flight Gear. Being open source, anyone could and can dig into the program to see how things are done and make edits or improvements. Unlike most other simulators, the community strives to merge addons into the program.

15 years later, FlightGear (we got rid of the space in 2001) is the best known open source flight simulator in the world, with users and contributors from all over the world. It is used by universities, companies and home enthusiasts for education, research and fun.

To celebrate FlightGear's 15th birthday, we decided to organise a screenshot contest. Not just any contest, but the largest contest ever held by the FlightGear community. Joining is easy, go to flightgear.org/contest and submit your best screenshots! Screenshots can be send in until July 31. Two weeks of public voting will follow, leading to the winners being announced on August 18 with the release of FlightGear 2.8.0. The winning screenshots will be used to promote FlightGear to the wider public.

Interested in reading more about FlightGear's history? See FlightGear History.

Development news

2.8.0 release preparations

1rightarrow.png See Release plan for the main article about this subject.

Since the feature freeze on June 17, no new features may be pushed to our Git repositories. Aircraft outside the base package can still receive updates till July 17, when release branches will be created from the repositories. That is basically the birth of a new release. From then on only bug fixes will be accepted.

Release candidates are available from flightgear.org/download, allowing (and encouraging) everyone to test the new version and report bugs at our bug tracker.

Thanks to the branching, development for the next-next release (3.0.0?) can start right away; even before 2.8.0 is released.

Taxiway signs support improved

Flightgear does now better support the taxiway signs syntax of the apt.dat 850 spec. Christian implemented the new specs and got rid of some old cruft along the way. The signs are also rendered now with a 3D case around and we support double sided signs as well!

Taxiway sign, front side  
Taxiway sign, back side  
special sign variants  

Emilian updated the signs textures to have some shading on top, which improves the overall appearance a lot. Also, Now it is possible to make use of new special types, such as {critical}, {safety}, {no-entry} and {hazard}. See the signs article for more details.

James was able to improve the rendering code considerably. The signs are now rendered per stg file into one geometry. This reduces the amount of geodes a lot.

Rembrandt controls

The Rembrandt dialog.

A special Rembrandt dialog has been created, to give the user full control over Rembrandt's rich feature set. The dialog can be reached via View > Rendering Options. By adjusting the various options, the framerate impact can be decreased.

A new Nasal Garbage Collector in the works

As of this month, a new incremental Nasal GC is being worked on:

Cquote1.png I have been working on a 4-color incremental mark/sweep collector with the intention of merging it into the Nasal interpreter. The work so far can be found at http://github.com/chrisforbes/incgc. There's still quite a lot to do, but the path is clear.
Cquote2.png

Snapshot releases

Every now and then, easy-to-install development snapshots are created (usually, twice monthly). These snapshots depict a recent state of the development version of FlightGear. By using them users can test out features that will be included in the upcoming release. Testers are encouraged to file bugs at the issue tracker.

The snapshot can be download via the links at the bottom of this page: http://www.flightgear.org/download/.

New software tools and projects

MPMap desktop application

Development has started on a multiplayer map, similar to MPMap, but as a desktop application rather than a web page and using OpenStreetMap instead of Google. OpenStreetMap data tends to be quite good for airports, since OSM have the option of using Bing aerial imagery and runway/taxiway/stand numbers tend to be readily visible from aerial photos.

KSFO during a quiet period

Features available in this map include:

  • Historical tracks ("breadcrumbs") showing movement of aircraft over time
  • Label decluttering, meaning that in a crowded area each aircraft's label will be visible, and each aircraft symbol will be visible
  • Colour schemes: stationary aircraft are grey, and you can give each aircraft symbol its own random colour to distinguish them in a crowded space. When you select an aircraft its label and trail will become bright red.
  • Selected aircraft: click on an aircraft (or vehicle)'s label, and some details will appear on right of screen - track, groundspeed, etc.
  • Measure distances between any two vehicles - select one and then the other and tick "measure" to see continuously-updated bearing and distance between them

More information and the download are available at http://almien.co.uk/flightgear/map/multiplayer/.

MPRecorder

MPRecorder is a new developed tool to record and replay multiplayer activities. By using normal aircraft while replaying a flight, you can easily create other views and record better videos.

In the following video you can see a lot of non standard views, recorded with the help of MPRecorder.

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In the hangar

Updated aircraft

Glaser-Dirks DG-101G

The winching and aerotowing rope that was discussed in the February newsletter is now available for the Glaser-Dirks DG-101G from Git.

Scenery corner

Airports

London Gatwick in 850

Islandmonkey has been working to make the already-great airport of London Gatwick (EGKK) 850 apt.dat layout.

Gatwick-850-version.png

Download link is here.

Berlin-Tempelhof (EDDI/THF)

User Frank (aka fmg) is currently working on Berlin Tempelhof Airport (EDDI/THF) scenery (airport of the month January), what is declared to be the "Mother of all airports" by the British architect Sir Norman Foster.

The Berlin Tempelhof airport was opened officially on 8 October 1923, but there was aviation activity in this area before. In 1909 the Wright brothers showed their flyer there. During the 1920's it was the one of the busiest airports in Europe. The old terminal was originally constructed in 1927 and was destroyed during the Second World War. Work on the modern building was started in 1936, but was not finished until the end of the war, when it became a U.S. military base. It became famous during the Berlin airlift of 1948-49. In the 1950's it was opened to civilian flights, and in 1993 it ceased to be a military base. The airport was closed on 30 October 2008.

Tempelhof airbase was not only an airport, but also a small independent town in the city of Berlin. It had its own power plant, waterworks, garbage incinerator, a railway siding, sporting facilities, barbecue area, and plant nursery. The aim is to have the airport area and the adjacent surroundings as complete as possible to bring a bit of the special atmosphere of this place to FlightGear. Most of the technical facilities have been modelled and send to the repository. The main building is in work. It's modeled partly based on original construction drawings and it is textured with photos of the real thing.

If you ever had the opportunity to arrive there by plane, you may remember the impressive experience of rolling with your plane under this mighty roof construction and walking away freely on the apron, even as a normal passenger. This gives a good impression of what aviation was like in former days.

Since you can't have this experience any longer in real life, maybe we will have it in FlightGear someday. But be patient: since it claims to be among the twenty largest buildings of the world, it will take some time to finish it.

Some impressions of the project and the progress can be seen in the forum topic and in this YouTube video.

EDDI3.jpg EDDI1.jpg EDDI2.jpg

Düsseldorf International (EDDL)

Düsseldorf International Airport is Germany's third largest airport. It was updated to a highly detailed ap850 ground layout with signs and generic buildings. The scenery was generated with corine and openstreetmap.

EDDL-generic1.jpg EDDL-night.jpg

Suggested flights

Kisimayu to Kilimanjaro

We have to take a big airliner for this trip. The runways are long enough but for this trip we need some altitude and a slow descend.

We park our Big Bird at HCMK, Kisimayu, Somalia, near the East coast of Africa. It's unsure what this airfield is used for but it's a long piece of tarmac. I could not find regular flights to and from this airfield, not so strange, there is no lighting, no radio beacons and... no fuel. What you can find is Global Air Rescue that has an air ambulance service based here (with a Learjet 35).

Our route will be around 425 nm in length. You know your aircraft and know what altitude you will need to fly.

Our destination, HTKJ, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, has only one ILS and I have learned, if an airfield has only one ILS there is probably a reason.

Flight Plan (short version):

  1. HCMK Kisimayu, length 12,177 ft, no navaids near.
  2. GAR Garissa VOR-DME freq 115.7 heading 268° dist 169 nm.
  3. KB Kilimanjaro NDB freq 393.0 heading 224° dist 258 nm, here is the holding pattern for the Kilimanjaro runway (and there is a 19,000 ft reason for this detour).
  4. KV Kilimanjaro VOR-DME freq 115.3 heading 70° dist 26 nm.
  5. HTKJ Kilimanjaro ILS freq 110.9 runway heading 88° elev 2,900 ft AMSL length 11,807 ft.

Prepare your flight well to receive amazing views of the landscape during the final steps of the route, if you don't you will discover why some pilots call Kilimanjaro Kill-You-Manjaro.

Youtube video: Kilimanjaro approach in real, in FG not much different.

More amazing flights can be found at Suggested Flights.

Hardware reviews

The full set of Saitek Pro Flight Cessna controls

Saitek are a well known joystick manufacturer, who produce a wide range of simulator controls. They recently produced a set of officially licensed controls intended to mimic Cessna singles like the 172, including a yoke, pedals and trim wheel.

Stuart has reviewed the controls for FlightGear. See what he thought in his review.

Wiki updates

As part of a big cleanup, 2,000 inactive accounts have been deleted. Those accounts were never used for anything. Most of them had rather dubious names, normally created by spambots. The total number of users is now 2,253.

In order to keep the wiki database clean and small, it's important that all editors try to apply the following tips as much as possible:

  • Limit the number of edits. One edit containing a big edit is better than several smaller edits (to one article). Every time someone saves an edit, the entire article is saved in history and thus the database. The following tips can help you minimise your edit count:
    • Do not edit an article on a per-section base (by clicking the [edit] link next to a header). If you would like to make edits in multiple sections of the same article, simply edit the entire article by clicking the Edit button at the top of the page.
    • Preview your edit(s) before saving, by clicking the preview button. Especially check for red links to non existing articles (usually the result of typos).

Community news

FlightGear on YouTube

Lukea visited London Gatwick (EGKK) with the new 850 apt.dat installed

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Air H5's training event from Amsterdam to Berlin filmed from the ATC tower

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Multiplayer

Thanks to Yves for setting up a multiplayer server in Switzerland, the total number of available servers is now 14! The host adress of the new server is: mpserver14.flightgear.org

Please refer to Howto:Set up a multiplayer server if you are interested in setting up a server yourself.

FlightGear events

FlightGear at the National Museum of Flight, Scotland

FlightGear at the Museum of Flight, Scotland

Stuart Buchanan (stuart on the forum), ran a booth showing off FlightGear at the "Robots Live" event at the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, Scotland, on Sunday 17th May. About 100 people tried landing an F-35C on a carrier, lots of flyers were handed out, and many compliments were received on the quality of the simulator. Demoing FG at an event at your local aviation museum is a great way to spread the word about FG. See our FlightGear Expo Checklist for guidance on how you can go about it.

FSweekend 2012

With still several months to go, the FlightGear FSweekend team got the confirmation that FSweekend 2012, the world's largest flight simulation event, will take place on 3 and 4 November 2012, at the usual location: Aviodrome museum (Lelystad Airport, the Netherlands).

FSweekend banner 2012.jpg

Until recently it was unsure whether the event would take place this year, because the museum announced its bankruptcy the Monday after last year's weekend. Aviodrome closed its doors by the end of 2011. Luckily a company was found that took over the museum and its collection; leading to the reopening earlier this year. The reopened museum is more attractive for children, as well as the average person (not just the true aviation enthusiastic).

The museum entrance fee gives you access to both the FSweekend and the museum. So when you've seen enough virtual stuff, there are plenty of real aircraft to discover. The FlightGear team would appreciate it if you are able to travel to Lelystad!

Facebook users can join the event's page to stay up to date and connect to other visitors.

And finally ...

Contributing

One of the regular thoughts expressed on the FlightGear forums is "I'd like to contribute but I don't know how to program, and I don't have the time". Unfortunately, there is a common mis-conception that contributing requires programming and lots of free time. In fact, there are a huge range of ways to contribute to the project without needing to write code or spending days working on something.

For ideas on starting to contribute to FlightGear, you may want to check out: Volunteer.