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Subject: rec.aviation.simulators Frequently Asked Questions

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Archive-name: aviation/flight-simulators Posting-frequency: semi-monthly (5th, 19th) Last changed: 2/21/96
rec.aviation.simulators FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS This FAQ is maintained by rwittick@msu.edu (Bob Wittick) and is posted twice a month. Any comments, suggestions, additions or corrections are welcome, so feel free to send me your ideas. Similar to the FAQ on rec.aviation, there are |'s (pipes) at the beginning of each line that contains new information. This way those of you with 'grep'-like utilities can immediately search this file for the new stuff. Our "unofficial motto" (smiley-captioned for the humor-impaired): "Any product (flight/computer oriented) that considers Angle of Attack in an at least semi-realistic way is a sim, any other a game." :) -- Gary Cooper (not the dead one) A special thank you is extended to John Mechalas, who founded this FAQ and spent several years maintaining it. His many contributions to the Internet flight simulator community have been invaluable. Thanks also to: Glenn Wallace, Hayden Nanton, G. David Frye, Robert Dorsett, Mark Strawcutter, Brooke Anderson, Jeff Beadles, Joel Murray, Linda McGarry, Dan Sharpes, Bruce Jackson, Mary Shafer, Rob Jones, Michael Jones, Stefan Frick, Gary Cooper, Jim Knutson, Brian, Paulo Ney de Souza, Tim Tessin, Scott Chan, Brad Bass, and Alan Epstein for their major contributions. Also thanks to the countless others who have provided John and me with constant feedback and other helpful hints. Abbreviations you may see used on this news group: 3DAGS Amtex's ATP Companion: 3-D Advanced Graphics System AAF or A&AF Mallard's "Aircraft and Adventure Factory" for MS FS4 ACM "Air Combat Maneuvers", a flight simulator for Unix AOTP "Aces of the Pacific" ASD or A&SD Microsoft's "Aircraft and Scenery Designer" for MS FS4 ATP subLOGIC's "Flight Assignment: Airline Transport Pilot" AW Air Warrior BAO The Bruce Artwick Organization DOF Degrees Of Freedom (used in describing flight models) F15III "F-15 Strike Eagle III" F3 Spectrum Holobyte's "Falcon 3.0" FAQ Frequently Asked Questions FS "Flight Simulator", usually referring to Microsoft's FSFS BAO's Flight Simulator Flight Shop FS4 Microsoft's Flight Simulator, version 4 FS5 Microsoft's Flight Simulator, version 5 FTP TCP/IP "File Transfer Program" FU Looking Glass Technology's Flight Unlimited MS Microsoft MS FS Microsoft "Flight Simulator", usually referring to the IBM version PC Personal Computer, not necessarily referring to IBM PC's SB Sound Blaster sound card for IBM computers SEE Mallard's "Scenery Enhancement Editor" for MS FS4 w/ A&SD SGA or S&GA Mallard's "Sound and Graphics Upgrade" for MS FS4 USNF Electronic Art's "US Navy Fighters" VLB VESA Local Bus (usually referring to the video card) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- INDEX Section A: General information about rec.aviation.simulators A1. What is rec.aviation.simulators? A2. Is it okay to discuss games? A3. Can I post binary files here? A4. What posts *don't* belong here? Section B: Flight Simulation Theory B1. Where can I learn about flight simulation? B2. What do you really mean by "realism" in a flight simulator? B3. How does the flight model influence fidelity? B4. What is a 6 DOF flight model? B5. What is DATCOM? B6. How "realistic" are the various PC based simulators? Section C: PC-Based Products C1. Which flight simulator is best for me? C2. Can I maintain my FAA currency with a PC-based simulator? C3. Will a FPU/Math co-processor improve my simulator performance? C4. Are there any space simulators? C5. What simulators are available for Unix or Sun systems? C6. Are there any Air Traffic Control simulators? C7. Where can I buy flight-related software? C8. Are there any flight-simulator-related mailing lists? C9 . Are there any magazines devoted to flight simulators? C10. What new products are available or are expected? Section D: Microsoft Flight Simulator D1. What kind of performance should I expect from FS5? | D2. How is the FS5.1 CD-ROM version different from the floppy disk version? D3. What add-ons are available for FS5? D4. What are the various "companion books" available for FS? | D5. Can FS5.1 be used in Windows-95 protected mode? | D6. Must Flight Shop be installed before I can use FSFS planes? | D7. Why did FS5.1 lose all my scenery when I added some new scenery? Section E: Specific Questions on Other Products E1. Why doesn't my Sound Blaster card work with ATP? E2. The KU antenna won't deploy in shuttle, and I can't de-orbit. Is there a fix? Section F: FTP and WWW Sites F1. Are there any FTP-sites that have flight-sim related material? F2 Is there a way to get flight-sim related materials via e-mail? F3. Where can I get ACM, FltSim, and Aviator? F4. How do I upload files to the various flight-sim FTP sites? F5. Where else can I get flight-sim related materials? F6. Are there any www sites devoted to flight simulation? Section G: Misc. G1. What happened to Mallard? | G2. What happened to SubLOGIC and BAO? G3. How do I submit comments, suggestions, or corrections to the FAQ? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Section A: General information about rec.aviation.simulators A1. What is rec.aviation.simulators? rec.aviation.simulators is one of many sister groups that are under the "parent" group rec.aviation. This USENET news group is specifically for the discussion of air and spacecraft simulators, whether they be PC-based, Workstation-based, or "real". Mostly, you will see talk about PC sims, since most of us can't afford (and consequently don't have access to) the real things. For those that are interested in discussing the theory of flight simulation, you may also want to check out sci.aeronautics.simulation. A2. Is it okay to discuss games like "Falcon" or "Hellcats"? Since the software market doesn't really differentiate between games and flight simulators, we don't either. However, you are more likely to find game-related simulators on the newsgroups comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.flight-sim and comp.sys.amiga.games and others, whereas discussion of "pure" simulators on here. If you need help with a game, you are probably going to have better luck (and more responses) by posting to the games newsgroups. However, if your questions are about flight or combat technique, flight modeling, realism, or other issues related to the software you are using, then this is the best place to post. A3. Can I post binary files here? In the past, some uuencoded binary files have been posted to this forum. In general, most of these files have been airplanes or scenery for MS FS4 and such. Although there's nothing really wrong with posting such files to the news group, use a little common sense before doing so, and ask yourself the following questions: * How big is the file? Whereas posting a 2k TRACON/ATC sector is probably not a big deal, a 50k scenery file is probably pushing things. Most administrators probably don't want to store several large binary files in their news spool directories. * Would it be better to put it up for FTP? In the case of larger files, it would be better to post the file to an FTP site such as ftp.iup.edu or wings.ark.com, and then just announce its existence on the news group, telling people where they can find it and what it is. See Section F for a listing of FTP sites that carry Flight-Sim related material. A4. What posts *don't* belong here? In general, if it's not related to flight simulation products or theory, you're better off taking it somewhere else. This includes, but is not limited to, political discussions, flames, chain letters, government propaganda, and anything by Robert McElwaine or Melvin Gladstone. Also note that requests for cheats, cracks, or other ways of bypassing copy protection, are not welcome. *Several* major product developers read this forum, and you're more likely to offend the people that are trying to make their living than you are to get any help in illegal activities. Section B: Flight Simulator Theory ----------------------------------- B1. Where can I learn about flight simulation? For the actual flight dynamics, try the references listed below. You would be best off reading books on computer graphics for handling the graphic displays: Foley et. al., _Fundamentals of Interactive Computer Graphics_, Addison-Wesley. [Basics only. -R D Dorsett] _Microcomputer Displays, Graphics, and Animation_, Bruce A. Artwick, Prentiss-Hall, 1985, ISBN 0-13-039322-3. Previously published as _Applied Concepts in Computer Graphics_. _A versatile computer-generated dynamic flight display_, Bruce A. Artwick, Aviation Research Laboratory, Institute of Aviation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, prepared for Engineering Psychology Programs, Office of Naval Research, May 1975. _Flights of Fantasy_, by Chris Lampton, completely implements a PC based flight simulator. While it isn't Strike Commander or Falcon 3.0, it _is_ much better than any other book on the market for learning implementation details of 3d graphical games. [ -Brian] The following references are mostly academic texts, and provide more of introductions to dynamics and flight dynamics theory. Additional references are listed in B4 and B5. _Aircraft Control and Simulation_, by Brian L. Stevens and Frank L. Lewis, John Wiley & Sons, 1992, ISBN 0-471-61397-5. This is what a lot of people seem to think Rolfe's _Flight Simulation_ is. Develops a 6 dof F-16 flight model. [ -RDD] "Modeling Flight," in _IEEE Potentials_., April 1990. Performance-based model of bizjet-category airplane; Turbo Pascal source available on various ftp sites as "SIMULATE.PAS" _Simulation Of Aircraft_, Connelly, Mark E. Report 7591-R-1. Feb 15, 1958, Servomechanisms Laboratory, MIT. It is a bit dated but its what CAE Electronics used to throw at new graduates in the Aero Group to educate them. [ -Iab Maclure] J. D. Anderson, Jr., _Introduction to Flight_ (McGraw-Hill, 1989). [A great intro to flight dynamics. Read this first before tackling the more difficult texts that follow. -B Anderson] C. D. Perkins and R. E. Hage, _Airplane Performance, Stability, and Control_ (Wiley, 1949). [One of the best books I've found on the gritty details of flight dynamics, including all of the complicated effects ignored by all PC flight sims. Written by and for aircraft designers. -BA] B. Etkin, _Dynamics of Atmospheric Flight_ (Wiley, 1972). [A more modern treatment. Relies more on linearization, which I don't like, but the treatment is more well organized. -BA] R. Von Mises, _Theory of Flight_ (Dover, 1959). [Another detailed book like the one by Perkins and Hage. This one is even a little more involved than Perkins and Hage's, and it's not suitable unless you are comfortable with physics and math at the freshman or sophomore level. However, since it's a Dover book, the list price is only $13-- a steal considering that Perkins and Hage's and Etkin's books cost about $90 each. -BA] J. M. Rolfe and K. J. Staples, eds., _Flight Simulation_ (Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 36-60. [This is a book about the development of flight sims. Pages 36-60 (Chapter 3) contains information on the quaternion formalism for representing an aircraft's attitude. This is the way to do it in a flight sim. It is much simpler and faster than the Euler-angle formalism (i.e., it is much more suitable than using the gimbal equations). -BA] Another excellent reference is _Spacecraft Dynamics_ by Kane, Likins, and Levinson (McGraw-Hill, 1983). [Also details the quaternian formulation, as well as gives transformation equations between the various sets of parameters. Also lists transformation matrices for several sets of euler angles. -JM] If you want to see a flight model in action, you will definitely want to check out the flight model used in ACM (a Unix-based flight simulator for X11 environments. A separate FAQ for ACM is maintained and posted periodically). Tim Tessin writes: ACM uses a 6 DOF model with roll, pitch and yaw modeled using NACA stability derivatives. Also ACM actually models the spring and motion damping effects of the landing gear struts, as well as the contribution of ground friction by the wheels. B2. What do you really mean by "realism" in a flight simulator? Robert Dorsett Writes: There are two major issues to consider: realism and fidelity. Realism is how "real" a system feels; fidelity relates to the actual models used. Realism is a highly subjective issue: a simulator might model each blade of grass on the approach end of a runway, but if the user's flying overhead at 37,000', that won't affect his perception of *realism* at that point. Similarly, a graphics system might provide a high- resolution database, but if it only uses an orthographic projection, it won't win over many pilots! Simulation is, therefore, the *art* of providing the expected cues and response characteristics for a specified mission. Most military simulators are so specialized that they're optimized for certain missions or flight regimes; airline simulators tend to be much more flexible (all regime). For each regime, appropriate feedback must be maintained. Real-world systems models are usually (but not always) the cornerstone of high-fidelity simulation; final "realism", even in airline simulators, is obtained only after an exhaustive survey and fine-tuning process. The acceptance process for even a production-run simulator can take up to a year. A third issue is perception, and the intent of the game as an entertainment product. For example, pilots realize that airplanes are essentially very easy to fly and land: non-pilots may expect them to be horrifyingly complex to fly, given a lot of the mystique surrounding aviation, a lot of which has been enthusiastically promoted by pilots themselves. :-) All retail flight simulators are just games, and, to some degree, help shape and feed off the perceptions of their users. So if the users expect an F-16 to be almost impossible to fly, an F-16 simulator that IS almost impossible to fly wouldn't disappoint anyone except real pilots. Conversely, a simulator that is actually easy to fly might disappoint game-players as too easy, or "arcade-ish," because it IS too realistic. In discussing "realism," one should really pay attention to three factors: 1. The flight dynamics and flight instrumentation. (flight simulator) 2. The visual system. 3. The systems support. (systems simulator) The basis for such discussions in this forum should be from the pilot, not entertainment, perspective. B3. How does the flight model influence fidelity? True fidelity in a flight simulator comes from the flight equations used in the flight model. In general, the more complex the flight model, the better performance you are going to get, though there are instances where even a *good* flight model can lead to poor flight simulation (more on that in a minute). In general, most of the low-end, low-cost simulators on the market use what is known as a "3 Degree of Freedom", or 3 DOF, flight model. This means that the equations of motion only determine x, y, and z displacements of the aircraft in space, and then use this information to determine the flight attitude. The actual characteristics are based on the so-called "performance" equations, which themselves are usually only defined for steady-state situations. Various other characteristics, such as roll rate, must be fudged by the author. Some simulations don't even pay any attention to angle of attack, using stick input or airplane pitch as the final determining characteristic. Most high-end simulators use a 6 DOF model, described below, and a lot of PC-based simulators tend to ignore these kinds of models completely, and rely on a "point-space" performance model instead. The equations of motion do not make the flight model, however; they merely set the limit on what is and is not possible. In order to support these equations, you must also have good models for finding the lift-curve slope, drag coefficients, stability derivatives, and other parameters. In addition, you have to decide how you want to calculate these parameters. Should you calculate your lift on each wing independently, or just the lift on the whole wing surface area? The latter method would be faster and easier, but the former would allow you to model such flight dynamics as the "Dutch roll" modes, stall-spin conditions, and other common effects. How about downwash effects, which alter the effective angle of attack of the tail? There are several issues that need to be considered. Finally, after you have your flight model together, you need to find the parameters that fit your aircraft, so that your *plane* flies just as realistically as your flight model does. For example, you could have a high-end, 6 DOF flight model, but if your Cessna 172 has the wrong wing area modeled, it won't *fly* like one. B4. What is a 6 DOF model? Robert Dorsett writes: A 6 degree of freedom flight model provides for a fairly accurate modeling of the motion and flying characteristics of an airplane. It is generally used when the airplane is to be modeled as a "rigid body." It considers both rotational (yaw, pitch, and roll) and translational motion, both centered around the center of gravity. Since there are three axes to consider in each case, this is referred to as a six- degree-of-freedom model. This model actually considers twelve variables, since both the instantaneous rate of change *and* position have to be considered. These are referred to as the state variables, which are applied to varying matrices of coefficients to get the desired fidelity. Several people recommended "Aircraft Control and Simulation," by Frank L. Lewis and Brian L. Stevens (Wiley Interscience, 1992, ISBN 0-471-61397-5). It is a comprehensive work, using an F-16 model as a case-study example. It includes FORTRAN code. A couple of people recommended NASA CR-1756, "The simulation of a large jet transport aircraft volume I: mathematical model," by C. Rodney Hanke, March 1971. This deals with the simulation of a Boeing 747. I've found the second half, containing the aerodynamic data, is all but impossible to find, however. One of the more accessible references is J. M. Rolfe's _Flight Simulation_, a survey of the art. It has a bottom-line description of a 6 DOF flight model, adapted from the Hanke paper. It is more useful for its insights into other aspects of system and flight simulation. One respondent suggested "A review of flight simulation techniques," by Max Baarspul, in _Progress in Aerospace Science_, Vol. 27, 1990. This is a comprehensive monograph (120 pages), detailing the art of simulation. Portions are reminiscent of Rolfe, but he develops a flight model for a DHC-2 "Beaver" in much more detail. Dan Sharpes dug up the following two: _Aircraft Dynamics and Automatic Control_, by McRuer, Ashkenas, and Graham, (Princeton University Press, 1973, ISBN 0691080836), which apparently has a detailed DC-8 model at the end. _Flight Stability and Automatic Control_, by Robert C. Nelson (McGraw Hill, 1989, ISBN 0070462186). Dan transcribed the following derivatives for a 747-100 or -200, on page 260: Longitudinal Mach Alt CL CD CLa CDa Cma CLadot CLq .25 SL 1.11 0.102 5.70 0.66 -1.26 6.7 5.4 .90 40k 0.5 0.042 5.5 0.47 -1.6 0.006 6.58 Mach CMq CLM CDM CmM CL-De CM-De .25 -20.8 -0.81 0.0 0.27 0.338 -1.34 .90 -25.0 0.2 0.25 -0.10 0.3 -1.2 Lateral Mach Alt CyB ClB CnB Clp Cnp Clr Cnr .25 SL -0.96 -0.221 0.150 -0.45 -0.121 0.101 -0.30 .90 40k -0.85 -0.10 0.20 -0.30 0.20 0.20 -0.325 Mach Cl-Da Cn-Da Cy-Dr Cl-Dr Cn-Dr .25 0.0461 0.0064 0.175 0.007 -0.109 .90 0.014 0.003 0.075 0.005 -0.09 W = 636,600 lb CG @ 25%MAC S = 5500 ft sq b = 195.68 ft sq c-bar = 27.31 ft Ix 18.2 E6 slug-ft sq Iy 33.1 E6 slug-ft sq Iz 49.7 E6 slug-ft sq Ixz 0.97 E6 slug-ft sq All derivatives are per radian. For more aircraft models, check out the following references: Robert K. Heffley and Wayne F. Jewell, _Aircraft Handling Qualities Data_, NASA CR 2144, December 1972, 343 pp. Aircraft described are NT-33A, F-104A, F-4C, X-15, HL-10, Lockheed jetstar, Convair 880M, B-747, C-5A, and XB-70A. G. L. Teper, "Aircraft Stability and Control Data, NASA CR-96008, 1969. Aircraft covered are A-7A, A-4D, F-106B, T-38, F-5A, F-104, F-105B, B-58, Navion, and DC-8. B5. What is DATCOM? A description of DATCOM, from Dan Sharpes: The Datcom is the short-hand title for the "USAF Stability and Control DATCOM." It contains methodologies for determining the S & C derivatives for just about any type of configuration. It does NOT contain the S & C derivatives of aircraft (popular misconception!). Here's what the Guide to Datcom says: "Fundamentally, the purpose of the Datcom (Data Compendium) {OK, I was wrong. Flame me!} is to provide a systematic summary of methods for estimating basic stability and control derivatives. ... For any given flight condition and configuration the complete set of derivatives can be determined without resort to outside information. The book is intended to be used for preliminary design purposes before the acquisition of test data. ... there are many cases where the Datcom can be used to advantage in conjunction with test data. For instance, if the lift-curve slope of a wing-body combination is desired, the Datcom recommends that the lift-curve slopes of the isolated wing and body, respectively, be estimated by methods presented and that appropriate wing-body interference factors (also presented) be applied. If wing-alone test data are available, it is obvious that these test data should be substituted in place of the estimated wing-alone characteristics ..." The Datcom has nine sections: 1) Guide to Datcom and Methods Summary 2) General Information (notation, parameters of wing, body, section, and platform) 3) Effects of External Stores 4) Characteristics at Angle of Attack (static derivatives in alpha) 5) Characteristics in Sideslip (static derivatives in beta) 6) Characteristics of High-Lift and Control Devices (section and wing forces and moments, including hinge moments) 7) Dynamic Derivatives (in p, q, r, alpha-dot, and beta-dot) 8) Mass and Inertia 9) Characteristics of VTOL-STOL Aircraft (thrust characteristics) The methods are a mixture of theoretical and empirical equations. Each section starts with a description of the aerodynamics that contribute to the derivative as appropriate to the configuration. The methods are then discussed with sample problems following. Next are the references, the tables showing accuracy of the methods, and finally, the charts. You'll probably recognize these - several authors use them liberally in their texts. Where to get DATCOM: It's $175. It's distributed in four binders, is 3,200 pages, and can be ordered from: Global Engineering 7730 Carondelet Ave. #407 Clayton, Missouri 63105 800-854-7179 B6. How realistic are the various PC-based simulators? Robert Dorsett writes: This is difficult to establish, since, again, user enjoyment of a product isn't directly proportional to its realism. Also, different users might prioritize different aspects of the simulator, which can contribute to perceptions of realism. An instrument-rated pilot might value the fidelity of the nav database; a VFR pilot might want a detailed visual database and good "seat of the pants" controllability. A combat pilot will want a challenging adversary, whereas a would-be test-pilot would enjoy just flying the airplane. So far, there aren't any "combat airplane" equivalents of MS FS, which will just let one fly around a realistic civilian database in a really high-performance airplane, so it's not really possible to talk about "instrument" military simulators, even though a couple provide "ILS" approaches. Since "package" evaluations ARE a function of user expectations, take the following with a grain of salt. 1. _Civilian_ Considering flight realism, database design and fidelity, and instrumentation. Realism: Elite (Mac/PC), without a doubt. Developed with a 6 DOF flight model, very accurate. Followed by Microsoft Flight Simulator 5 (PC), ATP (PC) and MS Flight Simulator 4 (Mac/PC). Database: Elite, for its nav database; ATP and MS FS 5 for their visual databases. Navaids modeled better in ATP. Instrumentation: Elite (Mac/PC), without a doubt; ATP and MS FS 4 and 5 are about on par. 2. _Combat_ Considering flight realism, database design, responsiveness, and challenge. Flight: "Hellcats over the Pacific"'s (Mac) F6F feels the most like any airplane, but its performance near the edges of the envelope feels too stable. Next-up would be "Falcon 3" (PC), idiosyncrasies and all; followed by "P-51 Mustang" (Mac), and "Aces of the Pacific" (PC). Near the bottom of the list is "Falcon MC" (Mac), with its horrible flight model. Database: "Hellcats," again, the most detailed, modeling everything from moving aircraft carriers to the ammo cans on anti-aircraft batteries. "Falcon" (3 and MC) are mediocre seconds. Challenge: "Falcon 3's" probably the best, due to the necessity of learning and using the various types of weapons systems. "Hellcats" arguably provides the best air combat maneuvering guns environment, although enemy aircraft don't die easily enough when hit point- blank. "P-51" has a difficult ACM environment, but is only 1:1. However, when one wins, one has a real feeling of accomplishment. Section C: PC-Based Products ----------------------------- C1. Which flight simulator is best for me? The answer to this question, like all others of this type, is "it depends on what you want to use it for". There are a number of flight simulators out on the market, and they are (mostly) broken down into the following categories: * Cheap games -- These would be programs that aren't really flight simulators at all, but rather programs that have an airplane or some such thing in them. They are not intended to be flight simulators, any more than DOS's EDLIN and Mac's TeachText are intended to be word processors. * Flight Simulation Combat -- This category would include games like Falcon, Aces of the Pacific, Hellcats, and others. Some of these have better flight models than others, some have better combat modeling. It's really difficult to point out which of them is the best, since it all depends on what kind of planes you want to fly, and how complicated a program you want. * Low-end Simulators -- This category includes FS 5 and ATP, and consists of programs that are really intended to be basic flight simulation "games" (and I use that term loosely). You get a fairly good flight model at low cost, and also good graphics. They are usually intended for VFR flight, and not for serious IFR practice. * High-end Simulators -- This category includes software packages like Elite and IFT-Pro. They typically will have a 6 DOF flight model, realistic performance, high fidelity, and are designed to provide existing or future pilots with serious IFR practice. They are also considerably more expensive, ranging from $150 to $1,500 or so. C2. Can I maintain my IFR currency with a PC-based simulator? There is no PC-based program that can, at the present time, be used to log IFR hours. However, the following products are recommended for serious IFR practice: "Elite" by Aviation Teachware is an extremely expensive, but highly realistic IFR trainer that is available for the Mac and IBM. There are several different versions out, depending on what type of computer you have, and they all require a flight yoke of some kind or another. Elite is not a toy, and is probably the most accurate and realistic PC-based simulator, both in terms of flying characteristics, and instrument panel simulation. The list price for Elite varies from $400 to $700, depending on which version you purchase. "Instrument Pilot" by Precision Training is an IBM (386 or better) based integrated instrument rating instructional simulator. It comes with speech generation hardware to simulate communications and includes all equipment necessary for instrument training ground school. List is about $495, and it can be purchased directly from the company at (800) 452-0465. "IFT-Pro" from Flight Deck is also a good choice. Though not as complex as Elite, it still offers a high level of instrument and flight realism, and is an excellent package. It's also a lot cheaper.. list is somewhere around $350. It is available for IBM systems. | "FS200", by Jeppesen, is an IBM PC-based (486 or better) | flight sim that is intended for IFR training, and has a "pilot | console" that attaches to your serial port. The console has switches | for nav/com radios, throttle/prop/mixture, flaps/gears, etc.. | Databases constructed from Jepp NavData are available for $75 each. | Prices range from $800 to $1,500 and up depending on the hardware, | databases, and software options selected. FS200 can be purchased | directly from Jeppesen at (800) 732-2800. C3. Will an FPU/Math co-processor increase my simulator performance? Robert Dorsett writes: Most flight simulators, as with most games, use fixed-point integer arithmetic. They do this both because most production machines, until recently, haven't had an FPU, but they also do it because this approach is significantly *faster* than FPU performance. This approach is also used by real-life avionics and simulator manufacturers, and obviously is not a "limitation." A common misconception is that an FPU adds more "precision," and leads to greater "realism." This is wrong. A simulator must explicitly code for FPU use. Thus, simply by adding an FPU, one won't see any magical speed changes. So unless a simulator explicitly *requires* an FPU, or *states* that it will benefit from an FPU, don't bother buying one, unless you can use it elsewhere. Simulators that don't use an FPU: Hellcats over the Pacific (Mac) Leyte Gulf (Mac) ATP (IBM) FS4 (IBM and Mac) FS5 (IBM) Simulators that do: Elite (all versions, IBM and Mac) Falcon 3.0 (req'd for High Fidelity model, IBM) C4. Are there any space simulators? Virgin produces a simulator simply entitled "Shuttle". It is by far one of the most complex, detailed, and realistic simulators available for the PC, Amiga, and Atari ST. Another, older, program, called "Orbiter", is available for Mac systems. Microsoft's Space Simulator is a more recent entry into the space simulator product set. It was written by BAO, the designers of Microsoft's Flight Simulator. Nick Dargahi writes: Space Simulator is the most advanced and complex simulation program ever created for the PC. The program combines the awesome photo-realistic graphics engine of Flight Simulator 5.0 with a newly created orbital dynamics simulation, so that you can actually recreate the motion of spacecraft in outer space. Spacecraft can rotate and move in three dimensions, planets can rotate along their axes and move in their assigned orbits. Well-known comets, such as Halley's, Swift-Tuttle, Kohoutek, and West are plotted accurately, as are some of the larger asteroids of the solar system. Twenty-one nearby star systems have been recreated with imaginary planetary systems that you can visit with your spacecraft. It is also possible to take intergalactic trips to visit 21 deep space objects, including galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and black holes. Because even at light speed, or 300,000,000 meters per second (186,000 miles per second), journeys of such vast distances can take thousands of years, Space Simulator gives you the option of accelerating and decelerating the passage of time. This means that you can fly to the heart of the our Milky Way Galaxy and return to Earth in time for lunch. Other features of the program include: choice of spacecraft and space stations astronomical observatory, external chase and internal cockpit 3-D view windows with auto-tracking and panning capabilities, video recordings/ space photographs/ situation recorder, autopilot, flight computer to link together autopilot commands, and both space shuttle and Apollo 17 LEM landing missions. [-Nick Dargahi] C5. What flight simulators are available for Unix systems? There are currently three flight simulation programs that you can run on a Sun workstation running SunOS/Unix, or on X-Window systems: Flight Sim (fltsim.tar.Z) -- A flight simulator for Sun systems. No documentation, only some notes on what systems it has been run on (Sun3, 4, 386, IPX with 8-bit color). [Latest reports suggest that this file is no longer available. Does anyone know of another source?] Air Combat Maneuvers (acm-4.0.tar.Z) -- A LAN-based combat simulator for the X-11 window environment. It simulates F-16 and Mig-23 aircraft and is a client/server package, meaning that several players can fly against one another when connected to the same server. A separate FAQ is maintained for ACM by Brad Bass (bass@convex.com), and is posted here periodically. Aviator (???) -- Stefan Frick writes: I think it started as a demo-project by two SUN-employees to exploit the performance of the GX-graphics-accelerator. One of them is Bruce Factor, can't remember the other one...[The other is Curtis Priem - Paulo Ney de Souza] A couple of years ago, you could get the program for free from your local sales-rep., but the authors formed their own company, called 'Artificial Horizons' and it became a commercial product. The simulator models the FA-18, X-29 and Boeing 727. Is uses terrain-data from the US Geological Survey and it gives at great sense of realism. The cost of Aviator is $40 (US) for the license + $8 (US) for the media. Scott Chan writes: Silicon Graphics workstations come bundled with a flight simulator located in the demos. One can take-off, land, and dog fight in a Cessna 150, B747, F15, P38, etc. Flight characteristics "seem" pretty good; frame rate is good, but depends on hardware platform and detail selected. Scenery is somewhat sparse. Instruments are useful but not realistic. There is also a heads-up display instrument panel. Dogfighting takes place against other employees goofing off over the network. I have no idea if it's been ported to other platforms which have OpenGL... C6. Are there any Air Traffic Control simulators? The newest addition to this category is "Tower" which was released by BAO in the Fall of 1995. Tower offers three different airports from which to control the traffic: (1) Canyon, a fictitious polygon based medium sized airport, (2) Washington's National Airport, and (3) Chicago's O'Hare International. The last two contain photo realistic graphics. "TRACON II" by Wesson International is available for many platforms. It is an excellent simulation of ATC, and the PC version can even be linked to Microsoft Flight Simulators for multi-player interactive flying and ATC. There are several variants available, including TRACON for Windows, and TRACON Pro (suitable for training real ATC personnel). C7. Where can I buy flight-related software? Here are several good places to try. I am sure there are more, but these companies really stand out (feel free to add to this list): Chips and Bits (800) 699-4263 DataWings (713) 431-1079 Electronics Boutique (800) 800-5166 Egghead Software (800) EGG-HEAD Software of all types. Flight Computing (800) 992-7737 Flight-related software and more. Very aviation- oriented. Flight Sim Central (800) 477 SIMS Software and hardware for flight simulators. C8. Are there any flight-sim-related mailing lists? The Flight Simulator mailing list is mostly centered around MS FS, but is not restricted to any particular product or class of products. To subscribe send a message to <mailserv@grove.iup.edu> with "subscribe flight-sim" in the body of the message. Falcon 3 users can join the Falcon mailing list by sending a message to "majordomo@falcon3.k9.com " with the line "subscribe falcon3" in the BODY of the message. Air Warrior mailing list can be subscribed to by emailing "listserv@cactus.org" with "subscribe 666th-etal <user>" in the body of the message. C9. Are there any magazines devoted to flight simulators? There are several magazines published that focus on flight simulators. Two of the more commonly available are: MicroWINGS Magazine Official Magazine of the International Association of Aerospace Simulations 381 Casa Linda Plaza #154 Dallas, Texas 75218 USA The subscription rate for MicroWINGS is $49/year; it is published bi-monthly. No telephone number given. Full Throttle The Microsoft Flight Simulator Pilot's Journal Published by The Cobb Group 9420 Bunsen Parkway, Suite 300 Louisville, Kentucky 40220 USA The subscription rate for Full Throttle is $39/year; it is published bi-monthly. You can call them at: 800-223-8720 or 502-491-3300 C10. What new products are available or are expected? The latest version of the Microsoft Flight Simulator is version 5.1. There is both a disk version and a CD-ROM version. This version includes better ground texturing, a visibility weather option, a scenery management system, and better autopilot capabilities. The CD-ROM version includes close to 200 additional airports as well as major mountains around the world. A scenery designer for FS5 was also alluded to in the readme file for FS5.0, but this product has yet to be | officially announced. The latest scenery set for FS5.1 is the | Microsoft Hawaii scenery. | BAO released Flight Shop late in 1995. It allows you to design new | aircraft for FS5. It also will convert FS4 aircraft to FS5, provided | you have the original crated file. It has adventure capabilities | similar to but more extensive than those offered in AAF for FS4. There | are now several hundred Flight Shop aircraft and adventures available | at the various FS archive sites. | BAO also released Tower toward the end of 1995. This is described in | section C6. | AMTEX has released ATP Companion: 3-D Advanced Graphics System. 3DAGS, | as it is called, is an addon to ATP and it changes the scenery to 256 | color, gives new instrument panels for all the A/C including high tech, | glass cockpits for the A320/B767, realistic day/night visual transition, | gradual visibility changes while going into/out of clouds, a new | auto pilot for the A320/767 and 3D viewing with special glasses. | Flight Unlimited has been released by Looking Glass Technologies. It is | a high resolution, aerobatic flight simulator. It models five aircraft: | Bellanca Decathlon, Pitts Special S-2B, Grob G-103A Twin II Avro | Sailplane, Sukhoi SU31, and an Exta 300S. It requires a lot of computer | power for the higher graphic resolutions, but it appears to have | excellent flight models. Section D: Microsoft Flight Simulator -------------------------------------- D1. What kind of performance should I expect from FS5? The faster your machine, the better off you will be. Although a 386 is the minimum recommended processor on the box, you will find that you'll want a 486DX *at least* if you want to use most of FS5's features and still get reasonable frame rates. To give you an idea of the "low end" computers, John's former 386DX/25 gave a frame rate of between 2 and 5 fps at Chicago with the following configuration: ET4000 video card, 320x400 VGA (256 colors) Textured sky, gradient horizon Textured ground Normal scenery density No dynamic scenery No shadows No building textures No aircraft texture Airport lighting on "Enhanced readability" instrument panel No image smoothing Low instrument update rate He could increase this frame rate to about 3 to 8 fps by removing the textured ground. Removing the textured sky further increased frame rate, and switching to the 16-color mode essentially turns the graphics display to FS4 levels, but with a slightly lower frame rate than FS4 (this last one is difficult to measure accurately). These frame rates were playable and acceptable to him. When he upgraded to a 486/25, (same video configuration), the frame rate was roughly twice that of the 386/25. A 486DX2/50 or higher will (in most circumstances) allow you to run with all the special effects turned on with more acceptable frame rates. You'll find that your video card will make a big difference, especially if you are running VLB. Configuring for large disk caches (1 MB to 2 MB) will further increase performance, and FS5 prefers EMS to XMS. The main thing to remember is that you can't expect to turn on all the display options and dense scenery and still get high frame rates, especially if you have a slower processor. FS5 is essentially a 486 or Pentium program, and unless you turn down the details to match your processor, you will not be happy with the results. D2. How is the FS5.1 CD-ROM version different from the floppy disk version? | The CD-ROM version of FS5.1 contains about 180 additional airports from | all over the world. Note, however, that these airports only include | runways and fuel boxes. The CD-ROM version also has better coastline | definition, and major mountain ranges included. D3. What add-ons are available for FS5? There are several sets of scenery disks that have been published by BAO or Microsoft. The scenery sets that have been released so far include: San Francisco, New York, Paris, Washington DC, Japan, Caribbean, Europe I, Las Vegas, and Hawaii. Some of these sets are very graphic intensive, and have been known to give frame rates in the 1-2 fps range with all scenery options turned on. This has been a particular problem using the photo-realistic scenery sets. San Francisco, Washington DC, and Las Vegas were photo-realistic scenery sets distributed by BAO. This type of scenery requires a lot of hard disk space (around 17mb for each) and looks very blurry from low altitudes, but from high altitudes it is much more realistic than the synthetic scenery (all the others), which require much less hard disk space (between 3 to 6 Mb per set) and offers better resolution at low altitudes. | A new version of the Aircraft and Scenery Designer has been expected for | some time, but no formal announcement of the product's release has ever | been made. Several freeware scenery compilers are presently available. | They include: BGLGEN, BGLTOOLS, SCASM, AIRPORT, and FSASM. They are | available at ftp.iup.edu. They are not as easy to use as the A&SD for | FS4, but I have used BGLGEN, BGLTOOLS, and SCASM in designing my Hong Kong, | Scotland, and Michigan scenery for FS5, and they do work well, once you get | used to the edit-compile-test-edit-compile... cycle that is needed to use | them. | BAO's Flight Shop has also been released. This product is described in | section C10. D4. What are the various "companion books" available for FS? Here are three currently available books for FS5: Dargahi, Nick. 1994. _Microsoft Flight Simulator: The Official Strategy Guide!_. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. Stern, Jonathan M. 1995. _Microsoft's Flight Simulator Handbook_. Brady Publishing, Indianapolis, IN. Trimble, Timothy. 1994. _Adventures in Flight Simulator, Version 5_. Microsoft Publishing, Redmond, WA. These three can be used with either FS4 or FS5: Calfior, Fred, and Douglas Miller. 1994. _Flights of "13MIKE"_. CalMil Publishing, Prescott, AZ. Calfior, Fred, and Douglas Miller. 1994. _IFR Flights of "13MIKE"_. CalMil Publishing, Prescott, AZ. Calfior, Fred, and Douglas Miller. 1995. _Airienteering with "13Mike"_. CalMil Publishing, Prescott, AZ. These two are for Microsoft's Space Simulator: Barba, Rick. 1994. _Microsoft Space Simulator: The Official Strategy Guide!_ Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA. Dargahi, Nick. 1994. _Space Simulator Strategies and Secrets_ Sybex. D5. Can FS5.1 be used in Windows-95 protected mode? | The answer to this question is: maybe. That is, it will work depending | on your hardware configuration. I am able to use FS5.1 in Win-95 | protected mode, but others have complained that it won't work for them. | If you want to try it, take a look at Microsoft's FS5.1 FAQ, which is | available at http://www.microsoft.com/kb/faq/home/flight/all.htm. D6. Must Flight Shop be installed before I can use FSFS planes? | Yes, all planes designed by Flight Shop require a module in FS5 before | they can be used. This module is copied to FS5 at the time Flight | Shop is installed. D7. Why did FS5.1 lose all my scenery when I added some new scenery? | There is a bug in FS5.1 that sometimes causes this to happen. The best | way to minimize the impact of this bug is to save a copy of your | WORLD.VIS file (found in the \FLTSIM5\SCENERY directory) before you | add any scenery. If the scenery add operation is not successful, you can | copy back the WORLD.VIS file and restore your system to the way it was | before you began the change. Section E: Specific Questions about Other Products: ---------------------------------------------------- E1. Why doesn't my Sound Blaster card work with ATP? If you are hearing only the first word of every ATC message through your sound card, it is generally cause by an improper setting in the SETBLASTER line in your AUTOEXEC.BAT. Linda McGarry writes: I had the same problem with only 'Los' spoken from my Soundblaster card. After a few phone calls to my supplier, I found out that there is another option to the SETBLASTER environment variable that is not mentioned in the leaflet that comes with the upgrade, the T (type of soundblaster?). I have: SETBLASTER=A220 D1 I5 T1 (??) (I believe that the recommended value of T for current soundblaster cards is T3). Hope this helps! E2. The KU antenna won't deploy in Shuttle, and I can't de-orbit. Is there a fix? Joel Murray writes: There is a bug-fix available directly from Virgin. All you have to do is send them a letter stating that you want the fix and enclose the UPC code from the back of the box. I did and have experienced NO problems since installing the fix. By the way, if you type SHUTTLE /ALL (I think), all of the missions become available to you. Section F: FTP and WWW Sites --------------------- F1. Are there any FTP sites that have flight-sim related material? There are several places you can go (IP addresses are subject to change. Please use the alias/name if possible): ftp.iup.edu ( Mostly FS5 files. Most new (This is a VAX/VMS machine) files are in flight-sim/uploads Wings.ark.com ( A new ftp site with a lot of FS5 files (scenery, FSFS planes utilities, etc.) F2. Is there a way to get flight-sim related materials via e-mail? In addition to anonymous FTP, the Internet flight simulation file archive at ftp.iup.edu may be access with the mail-based server mailserv@ftp.iup.edu. Commands go in the message body, not the subject. Try HELP to get started. F3. Where can I get FltSim, ACM, and Aviator? The following sites are taken from archie as of 2/17/94: acm-4.0.tar.Z -- ftp.x.org /contrib pdq.coe.montana.edu /pub/mirrors/X11-contrib sunsite.unc.edu /pub/X11/contrib theta.iis.u-tokyo.ac.jp /pub1/contrib ftp.luth.se /pub/X11/contrib Aviator can be purchased from QUALiX (yes, that's a lower-case "i") for $48 (US): QUALiX GROUP, Inc. 1900 S. Norfolk St., Suite 224 San Mateo, CA 94403 Phone: 1-800-245-UNIX, 415-572-0200 Fax: 1-415-572-1300 E-mail: info@qualix.com A Windows port for ACM is under construction currently, and a demo of ACM for Windows is available at ftp.iup.edu in the FLIGHT-SIM.ACM directory. It requires a 386/7 for the floating point power, and runs as a native Windows App. F4. How do I upload files to the various flight-sim FTP sites? The incoming/uploads directories for some sites are given below. Read the README files at the particular site for details on the upload procedures. Site Directory Comments ---------- ------------- ------------- ftp.iup.edu UPLOADS: Note the colon after the directory name-- it's needed. [for alternate methods of submitting files to ftp.iup.edu please see the file [anonymous.flight-sim]00readme.txt on ftp.iup.edu.] ftp.ulowell.edu /pub Archiver puts new files out every month or so. Mail to archiver after uploading. wuarchive.wust.edu /pub/MSDOS_UPLOADS/games Remember to always send mail to the archiver after uploading a file. F5. Where else can I get flight-sim related materials? One other source, if you don't have Internet access, is to check out FSFORUM on CompuServe. The libraries and forums there cover flight simulation of all types, from games to simulators like FS to air traffic control and more. [Does anyone have information on Prodigy or Genie? --JM] F6. Are there any WWW sites devoted to flight simulation? Yes, there are many with new ones cropping up every week. Here is a list of a few of them that are either flight sim related or have links to flight sim pages: Comox Valley http://www.ark.com CH Products http://www.chproducts.com/ Thrustmaster http://www.thrustmaster.com/ MicroWINGS http://www.microwings.com/ Full Throttle http://www.zdnet.com/~cobb/fullthro/ BAO http://www.bao.com/ TekMate http://rampages.onramp.net/~tekmate/ E-Flight Center http://chantry.clever.net/e-flight/ Flight 642 http://www.flight642.com/ FS Aircraft http://www.intr.net/theduke/ FS5 Scenery Design http://www.pix.za/0/business/a.bruton/scenery.html FS News Online http://user.aol.com/fsnews/ Looking Glass Tech http://www.vie.com/lgt/ FS User's Guide http://www.surf-ici.com/fishman/fs51/default.htm NettWing's Faves http://www.flylnx.com/miahub/nuttfave.htm FS Uploads http://www.naples.net/~nfn00200/iup.html Flying High BBS http://www.mcs.net/~teleman/flyhibbs.html Aerodrome http://www.zdnet.com/~complife/ World of FS5 http://www.st.rim.or.jp/~kkitamur/fs5.html General Aviation http://aviation.jsc.nasa.gov/simulators.html Section G: Misc. ----------------- G1. What happened to Mallard? Mallard was a publisher of software titles for the flight simulator community. However, they fell on financial hard times and went out of business early in 1994. G2. What happened to SubLOGIC and BAO? | In the Fall of 1995 SubLOGIC was purchased by Sierra and BAO was | purchased by Microsoft. Microsoft has indicated that its first | new product will be FS6 for Windows 95. They announced that it | should be available by the end of 1996. G3. How do I submit comments, suggestions, or corrections to the FAQ? Send email to rwittick@msu.edu ----------------------------------------------------------------------------