FlightGear is a flight simulator program that’s becoming more and more popular and it is free. It is a superb alternative to paid flight simulator software. it has all of the features that you would expect from a realistic flight simulator software package, including many different types of aircraft, airports from around the world and detailed scenery. In this article we will cover the main features of FlightGear and the all important question – can you use your existing flight simulator gear with this simulator.
FlightGear has a variety of aircraft including Cessna, Piper, Boeing, Airbus as well as helicopters, gliders, military aircraft and historical aircraft. FlightGear even comes with free tools that allow you to create your own aircraft. The standard package comes with over 20,000 airports but again you are able to extend and edit the layouts and models if you wish. Scenery is available for the whole world and once again if it is missing, you can add it with free tools.
An important question though, is how can FlightGear be controlledc Even the best flight simulator would not be realistic if you have to control it with a keyboard and mouse. The basic controls for an aircraft, the joystick or yoke and rudder pedals are needed to be able to have a pleasurable flying experience. The good news is that FlightGear does offer support for joysticks, yokes and rudder pedals, the bad news is that it can sometimes be tricky to setup.
FlightGear does have an automatic detection system to try and configure joysticks, yokes or rudder pedals that you plug in. Sometimes you will be lucky and FlightGear will detect the gear automatically and correctly and you will be all set. If it does not detect your equipment, you will need a little patience to get it to work. There are two options for those using Windows – a more technical option that lets you exactly specify all of the controls and a less technical option that will at least get it working.
The first way to help FlightGear detect your joystick is to edit an xml file that holds the configuration of the device. It tells the system what the axes, button and switches the device has. It helps if you have a control from a well known brand such as Saitek or CH products, as FlightGear comes with a ready made xml file. If you do not have a ready made file, you will need to edit the standard file for your control.
The less technical option for configuring your joystick, yoke or rudder pedals is to use a tool that comes with the package. This is the option for those that do not want to try to go and fiddle with an xml file. With this tool, you basically push the buttons and move the joystick or other device in all directions as directed, so that all of the possible movements are recorded.