FlightGear Newsletter August 2015

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This newsletter is a draft.

Please feel free to add content you think will be of interest to the FlightGear community. You can read the latest newsletter at FlightGear Newsletter July 2015.

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August 2015

Development news
Atmospheric Light Scattering
In the hangar

Scenery Corner
Community News
Wiki updated to MediaWiki 1.25

Translators required
FlightGear logos

Development news

ATC-pie tower viewing

ATC-pie logo.

For when most of the Northern hemisphere comes back to FlightGear from their holiday time off, new ATC-pie r6 has come out this month, featuring a tower viewing system working for both solo and multi-player games. It uses FlightGear to render the airport scene, and allows to overlook ground traffic and follow airborne aircraft in the surroundings. An integrated packet forwarding system also allows to connect to multiple views for all sorts of camera shots.

Following a departing aircraft at good old San Francisco int'l, with the basic FG scenery

Also added in this new version:

  • secondary radar screens with own viewing options and zoom levels, e.g. to monitor ground and full airspace simultaneously without zooming in/out repeatedly;
  • multiple weather tab view for quick lookup of any METAR information in the world.

Atmospheric Light Scattering


In combination with Advanced weather, ALS now simulates the flashes of lightning illuminating clouds at night during a thunderstorm. The simulation keeps track of all thunderstorms inside the field of view and generates a changing pattern of lightning strikes with variable frequency.

Lightning strike

At night, depending on the intensity of the lightning bolt, clouds at a distance of up to 20 kilometers may light up, giving rather stunning visuals of massive clouds suddenly torn out of the darkness.

Clouds illuminate at night

Since the simulation writes the position and range of the lightning strike relative to the current eye position into the /environment/lightning node of the Property Tree (lightning-pos-x, lightning-pos-y, and lightning-range), aircraft modellers can use this information to trigger a thunder sound after a delay.

The lightning bolt simulation will work without ALS, but clouds and rain will not be illuminated.

Irradiance maps

As part of a more detailed interior model effect, the ALS framework now offers the possibility to select irradiance maps for the cabin. What is this, and what is it for?

Most simple rendering schemes make a difference between directional (specular and diffuse) light and non-directional (ambient) light. However, in reality indirect light is not really non-directional. Even if the sun (the main source of directional light) is hidden by an overcast layer, the sky is still brighter than the ground, so upward-facing surfaces will be brighter than downward-facing surfaces. The indirect light has a weak directionality — it is stronger from the zenith than from the ground, but it is never really absent.

Irradiance maps modify the ambient light channel to mimic these effects. ALS has long used an open sky irradiance map for the terrain and the exterior of models, but the interesting thing is that irradiance is different in enclosed spaces. In particular, in a general aviation (GA) aircraft cockpit, the light usually doesn't fall through the ceiling but through the windows, making the irradiance distribution strongest at the horizon. In contrast, in a fighter cockpit, most of the light comes from directly above.

The most pronounced visual effect of irradiance is that it sculptures the 3D structure of objects even in the absence of direct light by a gentle shading. Consider the interior of the C172p rendered without an irradiance map in the absence of direct light underneath full cloud cover (i.e., using omnidirectional ambient light):

C172p cabin interior rendered without irradiance and grain map

This scene appears largely bland and featureless. Now compare with the second scene rendered with an irradiance map maximizing the horizontal ambient light (where the windows are located). Suddenly, gentle shades sculpt the 3D structure of the roof.

C172p cabin interior rendered with irradiance and grain map

In addition, the effect also allows to specify an internal residual ambient light (e.g., the illumination of the cockpit from lit instruments) with its own irradiance map, thus the glow of the instruments will produce a soft light coming from the front of the aircraft into the cabin.

Read more on ALS technical notes § Irradiance maps.

In the hangar

Scenery corner


There are several new buildings near EDDL:

In addition, two static models have been added for the city of Bochum:


The Atomium has had some renovation, and now uses effects/shaders to replicate the shiny stainless steel.

Community news

Wiki updated to MediaWiki 1.25

On August 10, the MediaWiki software was updated to the latest stable 1.25.1 release. Coming from the previous 1.24 major release, this brings plenty of new features and improvements. An extensive overview can be found in the release notes. Issues can be reported at FlightGear wiki:Village pump#MediaWiki updated to 1.25.1.


Translators required

En.gif The FlightGear Wiki still needs help for translating it into various languages. If you are interested in making the FlightGear Wiki multi-language then start at Help:Translate.
De.gif Das FlightGear Wiki benötigt immer noch Hilfe bei der Übersetzung in verschiedene Sprachen. Wenn Du Interesse daran hast, das FlightGear Wiki Mehrsprachig zu machen, dann fang doch mit Help:Übersetzen an.
Nl.gif De FlightGear Wiki kan nog steed hulp gebruiken bij het vertalen van artikelen. Als je interesse hebt om de wiki meertalig te maken, raden we je aan om een kijkje te nemen bij Help:Vertalen.
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Pt.gif A wiki de FlightGear ainda necessita de ajuda para traduzi-la em vários idiomas. Se estás interessado em tornar a wiki de FlightGear multi-lingual, por favor começa em Help: Traduzir.

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

Entries for this month's best screenshot can be submitted to this forum topic. Be sure to see the first post for participation rules. For purposes of convenience and organization, after all entries have been submitted, a new post will be started containing all shots in an easy to view layout. There voting will take place. The best screenshot which will be presented on this page.