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FlightGear Flight Simulator is an open-source project. Users can download it anytime and copy it to as many machines as they like. It can run on Windows (98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista and 7), Mac, Linux, Solaris, and IRIX platforms. Frustrated by the lack of customization and extensibility available in commercial projects, FlightGear’s founders wanted to create a simulator where educators, researchers, pilots, and flight simulation enthusiasts could build their own aircraft. FlightGear is bound by the open-source GPL license which allows anyone to contribute code, join development teams, and add aircraft and scenery.
None of that would matter much if the flight experience didn’t shine. FlightGear’s excellent flight dynamics models (FDM) are based on JSBSim, the main FDM since 2000, UIUC, or YAsim. The latter two were created solely for FlightGear. FlightGear’s FDM’s are known for their realistic flying experience. For example, some users report that the FlightGear Cessna 172 tends to pull to the left, a common characteristic of single engine planes in real life.
Information from the FlightGear Wiki Page:
FlightGear Flight Simulator (often shortened to FlightGear or FGFS) is a free, open-source multi-platform flight simulator developed by the FlightGear project since 1997.
David Murr started the project on April 8, 1996. The project had its first release in 1997 and continued in development, the most recent release being version 2.4.0 in August 2011. It has specific builds for a variety of operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, IRIX, and Solaris. FlightGear code is released under the terms of the GNU General Public License, thus being free software.
The commercial products Flight Pro Sim, Pro Flight Simulator, and others, are direct copies of FlightGear.
FlightGear may be free, but it doesn’t skimp on features, and rivals commercial packages with excellent airports, aircraft, and scenery.
Users can travel to over 20,000 airports worldwide. Each has accurate markings and lighting configurations. Bigger airports have taxiways complete with center lighting. FlightGear’s emphasis on realism is reflected in little details like sloping runways, airfield lights that change intensity as the view alters, and accurate runaway markings.
FlightGear uses the most accurate terrain graphics modeling in the world. SRTM, or Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, is a joint task force of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and NASA. Under the auspices of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, they have created a high-resolution database of Earth’s topography. Recent versions include updated Australian and South Sea island data.
As a result, FlightGear’s scenery is robust and vivid. Sparkling lakes and towering mountains fill the landscape. Buildings and infrastructure are accurate to the finest detail. At night, darkness is pierced by an expansive grid of brightly lit homes and streets. Pilots can even see the headlights of cars and trucks on the highways below.
FlightGear uses “time of day modeling” which means that the scenery accurately reflects the actual time of day. The sun, moon, and stars appear and fade right on schedule as days turn into night and back again. Users can set FlightGear to their own computer clock so that it depicts the real time of day in their zone. The system even tracks seasonal changes, with fewer daylight hours in winter and longer days in summer.
FlightGear is the kind of project that generates loyal fans. It has an amazing 93 percent approval rating at Sourceforge.net, one of the main download sites. At the FlightGear forums, one user explains, “Flight Gear is to flight simulation what Gran Tourismo is to driving simulations. It simply rocks. There are some Aircraft available that really behave very neatly like the real thing.”
Another user is more direct: “I choose FlightGear because it kicks Microsoft's FSX arse! Multiplayer AND free AND a flight sim? YES PLEASE!”
As can be seen, FlightGear fans love its potent mix of variety, power, flexibility, extensibility, and price- totally free.
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Most of the freeware add-on aircraft and scenery packages in our file library come with easy installation instructions which you can read above in the file description. For further installation help, please see our installation help page here or view the README file contained within the file.
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