Howto:Install scenery

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Revision as of 15:53, 18 October 2010 by Martin.spott (talk | contribs) (Airports directory is being used upon request)
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Obtaining scenery

You can download the official World Scenery terrain from the FlightGear website. Alternatively, custom scenery is available for certain specific areas. They are distributed separately due to their license, or because their level of detail is not suitable for low-end machines. See Suggested Airports/Scenery for a list of custom scenery projects.

There is also a 4 DVD set available for download via BitTorent, which can be a higher performance option for those wanting to download the entire world. And, last but not least, it can be purchased as 3 DVD set from the official FlightGear website.


TerraSync is a very useful utility that automatically downloads and installs needed FlightGear scenery and keeps it up to date while the simulator is running.

Downloading from mirrors

A list of mirrors can be found here.

On most of the mirrors, the latest scenery can be found under Scenery-2.0.0/. Downloading from mirrors is often better than the official site, because mirrors are sometimes faster and have more user capacity. Use the graphical interface to find the appropriate chunk. Be careful about confusing N with S, and E with W!! Here is how to find an airport's co-ordinates:

  1. Go to the Wikipedia page for the airport in question (for example, PHNL for Honolulu)
  2. Find the co-ordinates (often at the top or right and side, marked with a small globe)
    • e.g. PHNL is in 21 N 157 W. If it's in the western hemisphere, you should round it up... so you should find the block with W160N20 If the co-ords were 21 N 157 E, you would round it down.. meaning that this location would be E150N20.

Installing scenery

You can optionally use a GUI installer, called FGAdmin, to (un)install scenery.


If you are under a Linux operation system and you are not using a graphical interface to extract the tar archive, you can use one of the two following set of commands in a shell terminal.

cd $FG_ROOT/Scenery
tar -xvzf input_file.tgz


tar -xvzf 'input_file.tgz' -C $FG_ROOT/Scenery

In the above two examples it is supposed that the variable $FG_ROOT is set to the root of the data directory. If this is not set, you should substitute in the above examples the $FG_ROOT with the full pathname of this directory. In the above examples 'input_file.tgz' should be substituted with the filename of the archive to be extracted (the filename should be completed with the full pathname or any other valid method so that the shell could find the correct archive).


Simply unpack the downloaded scenery into your $FG_ROOT/Scenery directory, using software like Winzip or 7-zip. Do not forget to press the "Refresh" (German: "Neu Laden") button on the airport selection page, when using the FlightGear Wizard.
"Modern" Windows Versions (e.g. XP, Vista, Win7) tinkering a lot with user rights on access level. Therefore it's a bad idea to install and run FlightGear to and from "C:\Program Files" (German: C:\Programme). Find another drive / folder where you as logged in user have all neccesary right to read, write and execute the files you installed. Additionally there's a space / blank in folder's name which could cause weird behaviour. Use something like "C:\FlightGear".


Scenery for FlightGear is determined by looking at the environment variable $FG_SCENERY. Should the paths in $FG_SCENERY not be valid, FlightGear falls back to $FG_ROOT/scenery.

Mixing scenery types is almost universally a bad idea, and is unsupported. In this connection you should note that the scenery packaged with the base package/windows installer may not be the latest scenery.

For this reason it's probably better to extract scenery files you've downloaded into a new folder, which we'll call, for the sake of this exercise, $FOOBAR/Scenery. In this directory, create two subdirectories: /Objects and /Terrain. You should untar individual files into the /Terrain folder.

Then you should set up $FG_SCENERY to use the new path:

  • On POSIX Clients
  • On Windows (FGRun)
    Go back to the first page of fgrun, and add the $FOOBAR/Scenery folder to the list.


The Scenery directory will show the following (scenery is shown for completeness and for easy reference to above):

  • Scenery/
    • Terrain/
      • w130n30/
    • Objects/
      • w130n30/

If you download a scenery module called w90n40.tgz from and extract it in Scenery, the result will resemble something like the following:

  • Scenery/
    • Terrain/
      • w09n40/
      • w130n30/
    • Objects/
      • w09n40/
      • w130n30/

Note that the directory structure is already present in the tar archive, starting from the Scenery directory. Note that you have to extract the tar archive in the Scenery directory, not in the FG_ROOT directory, because the Scenery directory is not present in the archive.


Objects and models can be found at the FlightGear Scenery Objects Database.

These objects are included in each scenery release, but as the object database is more frequently updated than the terrain, one may want to occasionally update the Object subdirectory from the FlightGear Scenery Objects Database between scenery releases. Another option is to download or update the scenery on-demand by using the terrasync program described below.

Objects are really part of the scenery and can be found in the Scenery directory under $FG_ROOT.

  • Scenery/
    • Objects/
      • w130n30/

Any objects should be installed under the Scenery/Objects directory.


Currently FlightGear does not use this directory. However, in upcoming releases, it will be is being used to extract airport data (like runway usage and parking spots) from.

See also: Howto:_Animated_jetways#Usage

The directory tree might look somewhat overwhelming, it simply follows the Aiports/[I]/[C]/[A]/ code (see ICAO-code).

  • Scenery/
    • Airports/
      • K/
        • S/
          • F/

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