FlightGear Newsletter October 2021

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We would like to emphasize that the monthly newsletter cannot live without the contributions of FlightGear users and developers. Everyone with a wiki account (free to register) is welcome to contribute to the newsletter. 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.

The new Visual Editor makes editing the wiki as simple as using a Word-processor, and even easier than using the forum as you don't even need to know the syntax for a url. Just hit the 'edit' link and start.

Development news

Note  FlightGear is currently undergoing a lot of huge changes. More importantly: Adopting OSG 3.6+[1], moving to the OpenGL core profile, WS 3.0, Osm2city buildings, Photoscenery and Compositor shadows & lights.

In addition, adopting OSG 3.6 means that the experimental CompositeViewer Support can be more widely enabled and tested[2] (it is already enabled by default on next).

Also, as part of the CompositeViewer effort, Canvas FBO rendering is in the process of being moved out of the scene graph into dedicated viewer-level cameras, which provides better support/integration with OSG threading and fixes the long-standing issue where Canvas textures were being rendered twice per view unnecessarily due to the original new/far camera scheme.

Furthermore, to support Canvas (actually CanvasPath/all SVG handling) on Core profile, the plan is to migrate our Canvas Path backend from Shiva to ‘something else’ (see Shiva Alternatives) which implements the required drawing operations, unlike Shiva, ShaderVG or NanoVG can target Core-profile OpenGL.[3]

It is likely the non-shader code path (fixed-function pipeline) will also go away in the next twelve months (~ early/mid 2022). We tried to communicate this: 2020.3 is the last release that will work on really old hardware: 'next' and future releases will need a more modern machine with an OpenGL 4 / DX12 class GPU.[4] 'next' is work-in-progress: likely 12 or 18 months before it becomes a release. In that time the build dependencies, minimum system requirements, performance baseline and basically everything else are going to change (and keep changing). Of course, we'll try to make it work on as wide a range of hardware as possible, but right now we don't know, and it would be incorrect to speculate or promise anything. (Eg, we cannot say 'an Intel 4000 will work but an Intel 3000 won't - we have no idea!)

If 'next' works for someone, that is great, but if you want stability, stable FPS and compatibility with older hardware, there is an easy answer: use 2020.3. That's what we recommend for everyone who wants to fly and enjoy flying. [5] The macOS and Windows nightly builds are now running OSG 3.6.5, so people can hopefully start testing WS3.0 [6] Also, be aware that the binary builds also switched to OSG 3.6, so that may have an FPS impact as well (either higher or lower…)[7]

2021 Hackathon - Nov 5th-7th

1rightarrow.png See Virtual FSweekend Hackathon 2021 for the main article about this subject.

Back in 2020, we held a Virtual FSweekend Hackathon over the first weekend in November as the real FSweekend was cancelled. We had a good group of people and it was quite successful. Stuart's write-up of the weekend [8], and a wiki article are available: Virtual FSweekend Hackathon 2020

For those who have not participated in a hackathon before, the broad idea is to get people from a wide variety of experience and backgrounds together to solve problems over a short period of time - typically 24 or 48 hours. Details vary, but typically at the start of the event, people pitch ideas and groups form organically based on what people are interested in. The groups then work together intensively, often fueled by pizza and caffeine etc. At the end of the hackathon the groups present their work and there are often prizes for the best hacks.

The general idea of virtual FSWeekend hackathons is to encourage existing and new contributors to collaborate over the course of a weekend to create new and exciting features for FlightGear in the broadest sense. The core developers would particularly like to use it as an opportunity to encourage people to get their hands dirty in the core code, so they will be primarily there to help/coach people rather than hacking themselves, but anything is possible :)

No prior development experience is necessary - there might be run some education sessions ahead of the weekend so people can hit the ground running (otherwise you will learn during the hackathon). Also, do not feel you have to commit to coding the entire weekend to the exclusion of all else. We think participants will still get real value if they can just commit to one day and some late evenings. We've recently heard that this year's FSweekend has been postponed to March 19/20th 2022. The organisation of a new Hackathon during the weekend of 5/6/7 November following the same format as last time has been started and is being documented in Virtual FSweekend Hackathon 2021.

One of the key lessons Stuart learned from the weekend was "Don't be the organizer, a floating consultant, and lead a hack all at the same time.", as Stuart ended up spread too thin and unable to give each of the roles the time they required.

In 2021, vanosten (Rick) has taken over the organization role, as Stuart thinks he can provide more value by providing consulting and helping out technically, particularly on WS3.0 topics. We will re-use a lot of the infrastructure and setup from last time and are finalizing the needed changes on the wiki.

If you're interested in taking part, either as a participant or helping with the organization, please do get in touch, either privately or on-list with vanosten (Rick).


World Scenery 3.0 Update

Scenery generation for world-build

The scenery generation part of World Scenery 3.0 (WS30) is at an advanced stage.

StuartB has written a guide on how to build WS30 scenery - see the Virtual Planet Builder (VPB) page. See this download for a sample of the latest quality scenery from mid October - covering most of the United Kingdom (you can start at EGPH).

People interested in generating WS3 scenery for the WS30 world build should start learning the process of using Virtual Planet Builder. There are no Windows binaries at this stage, so VPB needs to be compiled. This includes people who are working on custom landclass and elevation data for their home regions, and areas of interest. The resolution or output format may change for the final world-build, but the process of getting/preparing/cleaning data, and putting it into the tool chain is roughly the same.

The upcoming hackathon is a good opportunity to get help with the process, and talk to people about getting work in.

Building scenery with VPB is extremely fast compared to the old TerraGear. Scott was able to build the whole of UK in a matter of hours - see his post. A group of volunteers should be able to to do the entire worldbuild.

There is a vast improvement in the general availability of terrain elevation and landcover data in 2021, compared to the very old WS2 build.

The road ahead

See Help Wanted.

There are a lot of big projects that are currently under way - see the January newsletter for details for some of these projects. A lot of work (but not all) is already on the next branch (i.e. nightly builds). See the July newsletter for info on an experimental rendering pipeline that has just been added to the next branch, as well as a new project to add Virtual Reality headset support to FlightGear.

There is a lot to check out if you are curious - power users can run multiple installs of FlightGear in parallel. To contribute to any aspect of these projects, get in touch via the "fg-devel" mailing list.

Nightly builds with some of the big changes are available at download.flightgear.org as usual.

Nightly builds and the "next" branch are building towards a "development preview" release currently planned for sometime in the 2nd half of 2021 - see the April newsletter. As usual, plans can change and progress depends on the availability of contributors (including testing).

Please report bugs and issues via the sourceforge tickets system if you come across any on the next branch, or LTS.

Flight recorder/replay improvements

SP-ROM on youtube has made a video showcasing the improvements to Fgtape on the "next" branch, including UI changes. The video also shows what FlightGear approximately looks like in regions with well developed scenery with settings turned up (including AA and driver control panel settings), and some use of the environment menu (see the requirements page for a discussion of hardware for high-ish settings). The video has audio in polish, but shows changes fine.

Improvements to flight recording and replay (FGTape) in FlightGear next branch. The video also shows what FlightGear roughly looks like with settings turned up. 7:12 - 9:18 shows flying through volumetric clouds. Video by SP-ROM on youtube (Polish audio).

In the hangar

C172P with 6-DoF head tracking

Murat Vishnyakov on youtube has demonstrated the 2020.3.x LTS C172P cockpit with 6 Degrees of Freedom (6-DoF) [[Head_tracking|head-tracking] using Opentrack. 6-DoF means the movement of the head in 3d space is tracked, as well as the rotation on 3 axes. This shows the 3d cockpit well.

The video shows a dark startup with the use of the ALS flashlight.

The C172 on the next branch (i.e. nightly builds) also has a FG1000 integration.

C172p cockpit with 6-DoF head-tracking using opentrack, and cold and dark startup showing the ALS flashlight in FlightGear 2020.3.x LTS. Video by Murat Vishnyakov on youtube.

The 2nd 6-DoF video, shows the C172P in a short flight in Norway. It shows both fogging and icing of the canopy glass well. This video isn't representative of FG at high settings, and it seems things like AA are disabled which makes trees look rather different.

C172p cockpit with with 6-DoF head-tracking using opentrack, and a flight showing fogging and icing effects. Video by Murat Vishnyakov on youtube

DHC-6 lighting

Video by SurferTim showing implementation of Compositor lights on the DHC-6, in the FlightGear "next" branch.

DHC-6 with Compositor lighting on FlightGear next branch. By SurferTim.

Lazarus Mk2

Wayne has created some videos showing improvements to the work-in-progress Lazarus Mk2, a human powered aircraft. This is on the FlightGear "next" branch. You can see videos of the real version on the Human Powered Aircraft Society youtube channel.

Lazarus Mk2 wingflex demo, WiP aircraft. By Wayne Bragg.
Lazarus Mk2 . By Wayne Bragg.

Scenery corner

Help wanted

Post LTS work

After the 2020.2 release, some work lies ahead to improve the LTS and to help us pave the way for migrating to the OpenGL Core profile - any help would be greatly appreciated.

This may for example include:

Please get in touch via the developers mailing list to learn more. See Post FlightGear 2020.2 LTS changes and 2022.X Release Plan for more details.

World Scenery 3.0

The FlightGear project is in the process of exploring how Virtual Planet Builder can be adopted. For details, see: World Scenery 3.0 roadmap

Aerial (drone) photos for Terrain textures

Wanted: good top-down aerial photos to create textures from to use with the procedural Regional Texturing system. Drones This is a link to a Wikipedia article with cameras are ideal. People with access to drones are in a good position to take high-quality photographs.

A particular need as of 2020 is photos of agriculture (farm lands) from different parts of the world.

Good GPLv2 compatible photos suitable for textures are hard to find, and an easy way is for people to take photos of their region. Flightgear's procedural systems can do a lot with less art content, so photo contributions can strongly improve visuals.

See: How to: take photos of terrain for textures. For examples of final textures: see /data/Textures/Terrain. e.g. UK countryside.

You can get in touch via the Scenery forum or the flightgear-devel mailing list

Photos of trees for textures

Wanted: good quality photos of different trees and vegetation from various parts of the world. Flightgear's vegetation system can handle multiple layers of trees and bushes.

Strong shadows should be avoided. Each tree should be against a background of a different colour: sky (preferably) , clouds , or buildings. This allows the tree to be separated from the background in a photo-editor like GIMP.

See: How to: take photos of vegetation. For examples of final textures: see /data/Textures/Trees. e.g. Coniferous.

You can get in touch via the Scenery forum or the flightgear-devel mailing list.

Submissions of labels for craft

Wanted: Submissions of labels (tags) giving a rough description of aircraft - Metadata tags. A quick read of a craft's Wikipedia page will normally be enough to set labels. This info will be searchable from the launcher GUI. For example, filtering craft by propulsion like single-propeller or 4-engine jet craft, or by a manufacturer like Airbus or Grumman, or by speed like supersonic craft, or craft by era like WW2. A list of tags is here - more can be added if needed. To add tags to craft yourself, the tags are stored in the set-xml file.

A list of FGAddon craft needing tags is here. See this forum thread to submit tags. The flightgear-devel mailing list or the craft's maintainer can also be contacted.

Windows Package Maintainer

The core team needs help from Windows users able to maintain a good working Windows build. This process already exists to support our Nightly and Release builds, but we are seeking additional help to keep it in good working order. The ability to compile FG from source and some Windows batch scripting is a required skill. If you are willing and able to take up this role, please reach out to James Turner (mailing list), or get in touch via the forum [9]


The AI team makes FlightGear more realistic, colorful and lively every month. You can support the development of Interactive Traffic and contribute at the FlightGear AI subforum This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

Community news

University of Naples, study of uneven propulsion

DAFgroup of the University of Naples Federico II have created a video showing their work on distributed propulsion in multi-prop passenger craft, using JSBSim and FlightGear. They seem to have integrated CFD of the effects of uneven propulsion into the FDM.

Distributed propulsion in multi-prop passenger craft using JSBSim and FlightGear, by DAFgroup of the University of Naples Federico II. This is a low graphics settings video.)

FlightGear on Facebook

Since early December 2010, FlightGear has an official Facebook page. If you have a Facebook account please feel free to join the page.

FlightGear on Instagram

In January 2018 the @flightgear_sim Instagram account was brought back to life. If you've got nice screenshots to be featured, feel free to contact the maintainer This is a link to the FlightGear forum..

FlightGear on FlightSim.com

FlightGear has also a sub-forum on flightsim.com - just like the commercial flight sims. It is an opportunity to showcase what FG can do, get people curious and answer any questions they may have with regard to the software or the project.

Multiplayer events


Translators needed

En.gif The FlightGear Wiki still needs help for translating it into various languages. If you are interested in making the FlightGear Wiki multilingual, you can start by looking at Help:Translate.
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Zh.gif FlightGear 百科仍然需要志愿者将其翻译为各种语言。如果你有兴趣让FlightGear百科支持更多语言, 你可以查看 Help:Translate.

FlightGear logos

If you want some graphic elements for your FlightGear-related site (such as a hangar or YouTube channel), please feel free to visit FlightGear logos for a repository of logos. And if you have some art skills, please don't hesitate to contribute with your own design creations.


The FlightGear project always needs screenshots, which show features that were added since the last release. These should be of good quality, especially in content and technical image properties. It is therefore recommended to use the best viable filter settings (anti-aliasing, texture sharpening, etc.). More info at Howto:Make nice screenshots.

Screenshot of the Month

If you want to participate in the screenshot contest, you can submit your candidate to the this subforum This is a link to the FlightGear forum.. Be sure to see the first post for participation rules. For purposes of convenience and organization, at the end of the month or after 20 entries have been submitted, a new forum topic will be started containing all shots in an easy-to-view layout. The voting will then take place there.

Thanks for reading FlightGear Newsletter October 2021!