FlightGear Newsletter September 2010
- 1 FlightGear events
- 2 Development news
- 3 Nasal for newbies
- 4 New software tools
- 5 FlightGear addons and mods
- 6 In the hangar
- 7 Scenery corner
- 8 Aircraft of the month
- 9 Airport of the month
- 10 Screenshot of the month
- 11 Suggested flights
- 12 Aircraft reviews
- 13 Community news
- 14 Useful links
- 15 And finally ...
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.
Water shader improvements
Our all-time favourite shader-artist, Gral, picked up yet another project. This time it is something that covers over 70% of the entire scenery: water.
Local Weather v0.85
The version 0.85 (also on GIT) of the Local Weather package is out - with new cloud types and textures and most importantly a significant performance gain over previous versions. There is a new menu to allow the user at runtime to specify cloud visual ranges, so that the impact on framerate can be adjusted to the situation.
The increased performance means that 3d clouds on fast systems can be rendered out to 45 km, and high altitude 2d cloud sheets sometimes up to 80 km - vastly improving the visual impression of the sky from airliner altitudes.
In addition, some bugs in the wind modelling and long-range weather patterns have been ironed out - with Flightgear 2.0.0, the package performs good in tests.
In the works:
- better hard-coded support for e.g. terrain sampling
- a METAR interface to use real-time weather and wind data
- full dynamics of the life cycle of convective clouds as they drift over the terrain
- and as always - improvements to cloud placement algorithms and cloud textures
A small feature gallery:
Weather supporting core code
The weather supporting core of FlightGear has been modified during the last weeks to better support new weather models like the above mentioned Local Weather system. Data flow between environment systems is now defined in XML config files using welll known syntax and elements from the autopilot. Complex rules using predefined filters and arbitrary expressions can be defined without the need for C++ or Nasal coding. Along with this patch comes a unified weather settings dialog, combining previous dialogs for weather conditions, scenario, clouds and precipitation. Further plans are to integrate a new real world data source NWX, providing METAR, aloft and temperature at altitude.
Nasal for newbies
New software tools
FlightGear addons and mods
In the hangar
Livery hangar reaches 300
Early September, the FlightGear Livery Database welcomed its 300th livery! It is a livery of the Polish Air Force's Lockheed C130, created by Maciej Zgódka, one of the latest additions to the painters-team. In the same time, the database was upgraded with a couple of new "features":
- thumbnails of liveries pop up when you hover over a link.
- a contact page was added, to ease contacting the database maintainer.
- each livery has a "Report this livery" button, through which visitors can notify the maintainer of a broken download, incorrect or unknown author, licensing issues etc.
I would like to emphasize that lots of liveries are not yet assigned an author. Please check for yourself if there is any unknown-author-livery of which you known/are the author. Lots of liveries are still in the need for a thumbnail, so those are welcome as well.
UK Football Stadiums
Andyramone has completed and submitted three football stadiums to the scenery database. These include Carrow Road (Norwich), Emirates Stadium (Arsenal) and Stamford Bridge (Chelsea.) Portman Road (Ipswich) and White Hart Lane (Tottenham) are complete and will be submitted to the scenery database this month. The project will continue later this year with more London stadiums including Wembley on the to do list.
Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Andyramone has begun modeling Liverpool Airport (EGGP) in the UK. The terminal is complete and will be submitted to the database this month. Work has already begun on the control tower.
Aircraft of the month
Airport of the month
Screenshot of the month
Do you use TerraSync? If so, try a flight around Hawaii! Take off from PHNL in a light aircraft and head west until you hit Pearl Harbor; a right turn north will take you post the USS Arizona Memorial, and the Punchbowl Crater will be to your right. Or, fly east from PHNL past volcanic craters Diamond Head and Koko Head. If you follow the O'ahu coastline north from Koko Head, you can land at either old World War II airbase Bellows Field (now a wildlife reserve in real life) or at Keahole MCAS.
For a potentially more scenic route, fly east toward Molokai, and stay to the north (left) of the island. The northern part of Molokai features huge sea cliffs and a tiny airstrip on the Kalaupapa peninsula - the peninsula being the only respite from the cliffs. A former leper colony existed near the airstrip!
Also of interest are the volcanoes on Maui and the 'Big Island' of Hawai'i - flying VFR in a small plane from PHTO to PHKO over the plateau between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa can be a challenge, as you have to take off from sea level, fly through a pass of 6500 feet, and then drop back down to sea level to land! The Hana coast of northern Maui is also a nice flight - a circumnavigation of Haleakala, starting and ending at PHOG, is quite a nice flight.
The islands will be available through the download center with the next major scenery release, but for now, fire up TerraSync and your favorite VFR aircraft and have a blast.
FlightGear on youtube
- Ten students at NASA's LARSS (Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars), put together an autonomous robotics lab, using mostly open source tools. One of which is a FlightGear Multiplayer Server.
Watch the FlightGear PlayList for a collection of all (somewhat) quality FlightGear videos ever uploaded to YouTube.
And finally ...
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.
Reminder: Google's Summer of Code 2011
We would like to remind all readers that the FlightGear project is planning to participate in GSoC 2011. However, doing that really requires a fair amount of work, planning and organizing. This is not something that can be done by a single person. It really needs a coordinated team effort, or otherwise FlightGear won't be able to apply/participate at all.
So all users are invited to help us progress further with our preparations for GSoC 2011. If you have any questions or other feedback, please use the forum to get in touch.