|experience the adventure|
|Using Microsoft Flight Simulator X|
Essential Scenery Addons for your
Microsoft Flight Simulator installation
for flying in the Northeastern US and Eastern Canada
I've collected links to a number of scenery and support addons for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight for flying in the Northeastern US and Eastern Canada, as well as a number of sceneries for other areas around the U.S.. If you are looking for scenery for other locations, I suggest you also go here or here. I highly recommend purchasing Ultimate Terrain - USA (and also Ultimate Terrain - Canada and Alaska if you plan to fly up north), as well as FSGenesis US Landclass. The freeware FSGenesis Mesh (see below) is excellent, but unsupported. But I have so far only found a couple of very, almost unnoticeable issues in the Northeast. The mesh available for purchase from FSGenesis is under continual revision and is fully supported.Freeware (All links to www.Avsim.com unless otherwise noted)
(* - Not needed if Ultimate Terrain:USA is installed)(** - Not needed if Ultimate Terrain:Canada is installed)
Essential Aircraft Addons for your
Microsoft Flight Simulator X installation
I've collected some links to a few my favorite aircraft available for Flight Simulator, both Freeware and Payware. This is just a small sampling of what is available. I highly recommend searching the many websites available for the aircraft you like. Many of the author's below have developed multiple aircraft. I've created links to those others where I could, and I suggest you search further as well. I list a number of great sites under the "Links" section. Notably Tom Gibson's "California Classics" for classic propliners is great, some of which are ready for FSX, Milton Shupe's aircraft look and work GREAT; and Jens Kristensen has released a plethora of very nice 1930's and '40's propliners for FSX. There are many others. My favorite download libraries to search are at Avsim, Flightsim.com, Simviation, and Sim-Outhouse I fly almost exclusively from the Virtual Cockpit view, which is the default now in FSX, so you will note that all the aircraft I have chosen here have a 3D Virtual Cockpit. I also HIGHLY recommend that you check out the TrackIR 4. I find it indispensable. Get $30 off on your purchase here.Default Aircraft
(Click on the name or button for a description of the aircraft. Use the selection boxes on the top row to filter by type.)
I've collected here a sampling of what I think are some of the best freeware aircraft for FSX in a wide range of categories. I have installed, modified if necessary, and tested each of them in FSX. Look for my tutorials on what I've done to those planes not designed for FSX to make them work in FSX.
(Click on the name to download the aircraft. Use the selection boxes on the top row to filter by type.)
(All download links to www.Avsim.com unless otherwise noted) - Don't forget to search for repaints, too!
- FSX ready version available. Others may require some editing to work in FSX.
Here is a sampling of payware aircraft either currently available for FSX, or which are currently in development for FSX.
(Click on the name to purchase the airplane. Use the selection boxes on the top row to filter by type.)
Installing Microsoft Flight Simulator
Click Here for a step by step process sheet I use when I install Microsoft Flight Simulator on a system. In order to understand this process, you must be familiar with moving and copying files in Windows. Please see FSX Directory Structure for a description of where FS9 expects to find the files you will be installing. If you are not familiar with how to manipulate and move files around, I offer services to help you install the software. Give me a call and we can set up an agreement and I'll help you get set up. I charge $25/hour ($15 minimum on first call), or you can choose a package installation deal. Quick email help is free. The references to Disk1 and Disk2 are the disks I give away with my class, but all the files listed below, except those that are payware, are freeware available at www.Avsim.com and www.flightsim.com and other sites. FS9 is the directory you installed Flight Simulator.Installation tips: Aircraft
Installation tips: Scenery
Whenever you are installing software, it is a good idea to back up the files which are about to be overwritten with newer versions, or to deactivate instead of deleting files which are no longer needed. To deactivate a file, you need only change its extension to something unrecognizable to FS. And make sure to VERY CAREFULLY follow the author's installation instructions in every addon you install. You will almost always find a readme file with each addon you download.
Zip Files: Open the zip file. They will come in many different variations of how the author stored the files in the zip file. Look for a directory containing the aircraft directories and place this directory in FS9/Aircraft. You may want to edit the aircraft.cfg file to modify the manufacturer, type, and variation to your liking. Then look for any gauges and/or effects files you'll need to install. Often, they will have their own directories that you can just copy their contents to the FS9/Gauges and FS9/Effects directories respectively. Sometimes, you'll find gauge files in the Aircraft\PlaneXXX\Panel directory that need to be put in the main FS9\Gauges directory. Finally, once the plane is installed, I'll run FlightSim Manager and use its diagnostic tools to make sure all the gauges and effects and components have been correctly installed. This should be all you need to do to install the aircraft.
Self-Installers: Self-installers can be a good thing. They offer the ability to ease installation for those unfamiliar with the process. They usually allow you to uninstall the product when you don't want it any more. For many reasons, however, I prefer to install most addons in FS9 by hand. For instance, an uninstaller may delete a gauge that is being used by another aircraft. So for payware aircraft, mostly out of fear of screwing up the security, I'll just use the installer as it was designed. But for most freeware aircraft, I'll normally install the aircraft to C:\wutemp\Flight Simulator 9, check out what files were installed, and then install them where they need to go. This way, I won't accidentally overwrite any existing files that may be newer, and it gives me more control over the installation. After that, as above, I'll run FlightSim Manager to make sure the installation is ok.
Definitely check out FSX Directory Structure to understand the directory structure of Aircraft, and look through a few aircraft.cfg files to become more familiar with how this structrue works.
In Flight Simulator X, the procedure is basically the same, the only difference now being that the aircraft directory is now in the FSX\SimObjects\ directory. Everything else is pretty much the same, except that the user now has more control over where files can be stored. I'll write more about that after the SDK has been released.
Scenery is stored in directories on your disk (see FSX Directory Structure). Typically, a given scenery or airport library is installed in a directory under FS9\Addon Scenery. For instance FS9\Addon Scenery\XXX, where XXX is the name of the directory containing the scenery library. The XXX directory will contain two more directories, one called "Scenery" and the other called "Texture" (NOT "Textures"!). Their spelling is very important!
Once you have added a scenery library to the list, the order of the libraries in the "Area List" is very important. For all the different types of sceneries, except for mesh, having a lower number value in the list gives it a higher priority, 1 being the highest priority. Those items (except for mesh) at the bottom of the list are read first, and then the libraries are successively drawn on top of the last result as you move higher in the list (towards lower number values). So you will typically want the more important libraries you install higher in the list. I put my terrain files lowest, landclass on top of that, sceneries on top of that, and then the airports. Despite what you might read in some places, landclass is like all other scenery and follows the same priority rules. Most developers suggest you install their landclass libraries with a lower priority than their scenery libraries, but read the directions to be sure.
Mesh libraries are read in the opposite direction. The Mesh library with the lowest number (higher in the list) is read first, and then subsequent mesh libraries are read going downward (towards higher number values). For this reason, I typically move the default LOD 8, 9, and 10 mesh files into their own library, so I can install that library as item 1 in the list. That way, if any scenery has its own mesh, the mesh files of the addon scenery will have a higher priority than the default mesh. Despite the priority order of the mesh, it is my understanding that FS will use an LOD 10 mesh instead of an LOD 9 mesh, and so on. But if you have two LOD 10 meshes, the mesh with the higher priority (higher priority value) will take precedence.
Given these rules, my Addon scenery libraries are in the following order in the Flight Simulator Scenery Library manager window:
1. "Default Mesh" library
I highly recommend downloading and installing "Flightsim Manager" (FSM) by Ranainside. Rather than using the primitive Move Up/Move Down buttons in FS's scenery library manager, FSM allows you to easily move items around in groups in the list once you've added the libraries using FS's Scenery Library Editor. And every time I install new addons, I use FSM's checking facilities to check the scenery.cfg file and repair it if necessary (which is often).
Looking to Learn?
Here are some links to tutorials covering various aspects or Microsoft Flight Simulator, from navigation to scenery design and other topics. At the bottom of the list are links to other sites containing even more tutorials.
Moving Default Airports 2 - Scott Gridley
Further sites with tutorials and other learning tools and forums
Online - One of THE BEST Flight Simulator portals/File Library/Forum sites
FS-GS - Great forum for learning to use Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop!
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