One of the things I discovered back in 1995/1996 when I really first felt the need/desire/motivation to participate in an open-source flight simulator project was that so much of the field was a closed black box.  There were a couple PC companies that figured things out and rolled out respectable products, and there was the big flight training motion sims that did astounding impressive realistic work.  But none of these guys were talking.  Even if they were (to be fair some of them were if you could find the right individual and strike up a friendship with them) the breadth of knowledge required to build a real flight simulator was so vast that it can't really be addressed in a single book.  What to do?

I will submit that FlightGear itself is one attempt to address the problem of cracking open the black box and exposing the mysteries and magic to anyone who wants to see.

I also observe that if a person wants to tackle a huge and difficult area, it's hard to know where to start.  Really there isn't one single good way to do this.  I find that I really have to hit the subject from different directions ... and I have to take turns nibbling away from different sides.  It's a huge challenge, and no one can just hand you it all gift wrapped on a silver platter.

So if there are folks out there staring at what seems like a big black box mystery full of impenetrable magic when it comes to flight simulation, here's my advice:

1. It is hard, there is a lot to learn, you will be frustrated, it will take a lot of time.

2. Think about hitting things from multiple directions.  It won't be easy, but these days you have more resources than ever before.

3. The book that is the subject of this thread might be a good introduction to expose you to a number of the areas that you need to think about and consider.

4. FlightGear code serves as a proof by example.  It's not *the* way, it doesn't do *everything*, it doesn't always do what it does perfectly, but it is serves as a huge collection of examples for how to solve a variety of challenges in the flight sim world.

5. The flightgear project has "collected" (and I use that word with ample smiley faces as I type) a great cross section of talented developers in the flight simulator arena.  We have mailing lists, we have a forum, we have IRC ... if you do have specific questions, we have a lot of folks that can offer suggestions and ideas.

6. FlightGear isn't the only open-source flight simulator project on the net.  There are others, so if FlightGear is too big and overwhelming to start out with, maybe go hunting for a project that has a smaller/tighter/more focused code base and that might be a way to get up to speed in many areas more quickly.

For me, one of the *big* things that makes something worth spending my time on, is if I'm learning.  The more you learn, the more experiences you have, the more areas of life you explore (and some of those explorations might terminate in a dead end or a 'failure' but it's still good experience) ... the more of this that you accumulate, then the more you are capable of doing and the more interesting and fun projects you can work on.  Wow, sorry to get all philosophical here!


On Tue, May 25, 2010 at 10:44 AM, John Wojnaroski wrote:
I've got a copy. aka everything you wanted to know about flight
simulation in 25 words or less"

Probably not a bad book for someone who is thinking of doing some
simulation stuff, but really light on any in-depth analysis.

So if you're an aero major, you'll blow off the stuff on flight
dynamics, but perhaps you want to know something about OSG, so go to
Chap 8 for an overview but don't expect much else.

I found Chap 4 particularly unuseful!  If you are not a control theory
type, the few sections on LaPlace transfers, time domains, transfer
functions, PIDs, etc is a lot of words, equations that create more
confusion than explanation.  OTOH, if you've studied or worked in the
field, skip over this section....

All in all, as with most survey books, he touches all the bases, but
never spends any time drilling down into the nitty-gritties. On a more
gentle positive note, the list of references and citations at the end of
each chapter will be useful to the reader who wishes to explore further.
A good starting point for the beginner or anyone who wants to know "how
things work"

John W.

On Tue, 2010-05-25 at 09:31 -0500, Curtis Olson wrote:
> Hi Gene,
> Thanks for posting the link, this looks like it could be an
> interesting book.  Years ago I found a book with similar aspirations
> at barnes and noble, but at the time it was hopelessly dated.  We were
> way beyond it already with the FlightGear project.  This book looks
> like it is much more up to date (the author makes reference to
> OpenSceneGraph for instance.)  If someone decided to jump in and buy a
> copy they will have to post a book review here.
> Thanks,
> Curt.
> On Tue, May 25, 2010 at 9:18 AM, Gene Buckle wrote:
>         I was perusing the free issue of Computer Pilot that was
>         recently put
>         online.  They've got a little blurb about a new book that some
>         here may
>         find interesting - it's called Principles of Flight Simulation
>         by David
>         Allerton.  The ISBN # is 978-0-470-75436-8.
>         Here's an Amazon link for it that has more info:
>         g.
>         --
>         Proud owner of F-15C 80-0007
> - The only one of its kind.
> - The Me-109F/X Project
>         ScarletDME - The red hot Data Management Environment
>         A Multi-Value database for the masses, not the classes.
> - Get it _today_!
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