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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

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

This FAQ is maintained by (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
  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)


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 and 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

	 * 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 or, 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

     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

	   1.  The flight dynamics and flight instrumentation. (flight
	   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

     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

     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:

      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

      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


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

	 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

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

       * 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

     "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

|    "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

      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

     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 (, 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

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-
       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 <>
     with "subscribe flight-sim" in the body of the message.

     Falcon 3 users can join the Falcon mailing list by sending a
     message to " " with the line "subscribe
     falcon3" in the BODY of the message.

     Air Warrior mailing list can be subscribed to by emailing
     "" 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
     381 Casa Linda Plaza #154
     Dallas, Texas 75218

     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

     The subscription rate for Full Throttle is $39/year; it is published
     bi-monthly.  You can call them at:

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

     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 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_

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

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): (                Mostly FS5 files.  Most new
(This is a VAX/VMS machine)               files are in flight-sim/uploads (               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 may be access with the mail-based server  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 --                   /contrib

     Aviator can be purchased from QUALiX (yes, that's a lower-case "i")
     for $48 (US):

	1900 S. Norfolk St., Suite 224
	San Mateo, CA 94403
	Phone:   1-800-245-UNIX, 415-572-0200
	Fax:     1-415-572-1300

     A Windows port for ACM is under construction currently, and a demo
     of ACM for Windows is available at 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
     ----------               -------------              -------------              UPLOADS:                   Note the colon
                                                         after the directory
                                                         name-- it's needed.

     [for alternate methods of submitting files to please
     see the file [anonymous.flight-sim]00readme.txt on]          /pub                       Archiver puts new
                                                         files out every
                                                         month or so.  Mail
                                                         to archiver after
                                                         uploading.       /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
     CH Products
     Full Throttle
     E-Flight Center
     Flight 642
     FS Aircraft
     FS5 Scenery Design
     FS News Online
     Looking Glass Tech
     FS User's Guide
     NettWing's Faves
     FS Uploads
     Flying High BBS
     World of FS5
     General Aviation

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


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