FlightGear Newsletter August 2010
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.
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.
- writing articles for the next issue of this newletter
- sending corrections/updates to the FlightGear Manual
- helping new users on the forums/IRC
- writing a wiki page
- organising fly-outs
One of the easiest ways to help is to improve the scenery in your local area by placing buildings/structures using the UFO and submitting them to the FlightGear Scenery Object Database. It's easy, and best of all requires little time to have a real impact. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the wiki, Placing 3D Objects with the UFO.
For other 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. Some easy ways for contributing right now would be:
- suggest new project ideas
- browse the forums or mailing list archives and look for viable candidate projects
- help refine and improve existing project proposals
- help finalize the application template that we are preparing
- help us find suitable students who might be interested in participating in 2011
- help us find mentors
- summarize all related discussions, and document them here in the wiki
If you have any questions or other feedback, please use the forum to get in touch.
Nasal for newbies
New software tools
FlightGear addons and mods
In the hangar
Two aircraft that have been around in FG for many years got updates this month - the North American P-51D Mustang and the Douglas A-4F Skyhawk. There are a huge number of aircraft in the FG hangar (over 300), and while new aircraft are always welcome, there are many existing aircraft that would benefit from some spit-and-polish. Creating a completely new aircraft to a high standard represents a monumental amount of work. Those wanting to contribute, but without the time available to create a truly world-class aircraft from scratch might want to consider improving a favourite aircraft from the hangar instead. The effects are more immediate, and you can improve it one piece at a time.
North American P-51D Mustang
Hal V. Engel has made some massive improvements to the P51-D. Using NACA (the pre-cursor to NASA) published data, he's produced a very impressive JSBSim FDM. He's also made a number of improvements to the 3D cockpit and the engine systems. Those who enjoy their WWII warbirds will be very interested indeed. Your correspondent has still to manage a take-off from the runway without at least one bounce, but can report that the landing characteristics, while not benign, are at least manageable. This is an aircraft that will really repay some effort on the part of the pilot to get to know, and almost certainly represents the most accurate warbird FDM we have available.
Douglas A-4F Skyhawk
On a smaller scale to Hal's improvements to the Mustang, Stuart Buchanan has been making a number of changes to the venerable A4-F Skyhawk, or "Scooter". Rather than change the existing A-4F Blue Angels model, Stuart has instead modelled a normal Navy A-4F with dual drop-tanks. As well as some minor FDM tweaking, improvements include a completely new exterior and 3D cockpit, and some more accurate flight control systems including auto-deploying spoilers. The A-4F is an interesting carrier-based light attack aircraft, designed on the principle of simplicity and lightness by Edward Heinmann. In particular, by making the wings short, they didn't need to be folded for storage on carriers, which meant they didn't need complex wing folds, and hence were lighter and stronger.
Aircraft of the month
Airport of the month
Screenshot of the month
FlightGear on YouTube
- A wonderful example of the possibilities and power of FlightGear, in which FlightGear is connected to some avionics equipment (including flight displays and EICAS).
- Chances are big that you never saw anything like what is done in this video, before. These people connected a radio controller vehicle to their computer and visualized its movements with FlightGear's jeep.
- Our home-director, Oscar, uploaded a nice video summarising the KLM fleet in FlightGear.
Watch the FlightGear PlayList for a collection of all (somewhat) quality FlightGear videos ever uploaded to YouTube.
In the aftermath of a forum topic, work has been started on expansing the number of Nasal related articles at the wiki. These articles should help (new) developers to understand the scripting language and eventually write their own scripts.
All Nasal articles are collected in a special category. More articles are welcome, as always, so feel free to share your Nasal knowledge!