User:Johan G/Howto:Improve an aircraft
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Improving an aircraft that already exist, rather than creating a new one from scratch, is one of the better ways to get into aircraft development. This will help you get familiar with how aircraft can be done in FlightGear faster than by making an aircraft from scratch.
In addition, starting by improving an existing aircraft will also get you more aware of the hurdles involved and the time it takes to develop an aircraft.
Even though you are not making a new aircraft, skimming through Howto:Make an aircraft will be of help.
That article will also give you pointer to more things you can improve.
Contributing to the official hangar
By having your improvements added to the aircraft in FGAddon, the official aircraft hangar, in essence contributing upstream, your changes will be available for everyone.
How to contribute
You typically do this by
- Contacting the maintainer
- The current maintainer is typically the one committing changes to the aircraft of interest in FGAddon (flightgear/fgaddon/trunk/Aircraft/). Typically you would find the email address in the Aircraft-set.xml file
- Asking for a review of your changes or additions
- So that the maintainer can check if they fit the file structure of the aircraft, is not too hard to integrate, does not seem to infringe copyright, etc.
Not too seldom is this an iterative process.
For third party hangars the process is often the same.
Why contribute upstream?
The big advantage of contributing back to the maintainer of the aircraft, whether it is the official hangar or a third party hangar, is that everyone else will be able to enjoy your contributions. In addition, contributing to the official hangar will also make your improvements live on (possible even after you have passed on).
Licensing and copyright
If you want to add your improvements to FGAddon, FlightGear's official aircraft hangar, you will need to have them licensed as "GNU General Public License, version 2 or later" (commonly abbreviated as GPLv2+). It is highly recommended that you skim through the full license as there are some common misconceptions (yes, you will copyright your work, and yes, people can copy and sell your work, and no, people who have copied and added to your work is not obligated to contribute upstream to your copy).
You will also need to make sure that all the content of your aircraft is compatible with that license, for example by either making it yourself or using GPLv2, CC0 or content.
Kep in mind that sometimes it pays off to ask an author, modeler or photographer if you can use his work under GLPv2+.