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.


Cquote1.png One of the better approaches for a noob is to start out working on improving something that is already there but needs work. It limits the steepness of learning curve and allows you to actually get something done in the short term. This allows you to keep the frustration level down while learning how things work. Only a small % of aircraft development noobs who start a new aircraft without having done some previous work on another aircraft actually manage produce something worth while. It does happen but it is rare - the recent Bonanza work by a noob is an example of one of these rare cases. A much larger % of those who start off doing smaller tasks on existing aircraft end up making a significant contribution either by doing smaller things to a lot of aircraft or by transforming an existing aircraft into something much better (the P-51D is an example of one of these) or after building a decent skill set doing their own aircraft from scratch.

Doing some cockpit work on the X-02 sounds like the next logical step for you. This will allow you to do some 3D modeling (pick something that is fairly simple for your first 3D model) and more XML work and will move you another step up the learning curve while still allowing you to get something working in a relatively short time frame.

We come in all different ages here. Some of us are very old and some are very young and many are somewhere in between. It does not matter. We can all learn new things and if we try we can all contribute something. What matters is your attitude and aptitude and you appear to be on the right track with both..

— hvengel (Fri Jun 27). Re: Idea: Ace Combat Fictional Aircraft Set.
(powered by Instant-Cquotes)

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 public domain This is a link to a Wikipedia article content.

Kep in mind that sometimes it pays off to ask an author, modeler or photographer if you can use his work under GLPv2+.


3D modeling and animation


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