DCL writes:

 > I personally think that fdm/autopilot is overkill given that they're dots
 > in the sky unless you're illegally close.

Not always -- for example, watching another plane land or take-off
while holding short is the best way to tell what the wind is doing (is
the plane in a major slip on short final?  is it crabbed way to the
right on climbout to hold runway heading? is it bouncing around like a
mechanical bull from gusts and turbulence?).  In a busy circuit, it's
not uncommon to be following only 0.5mi behind another plane, and
depending on screen resolution, you can probably tell again whether
it's crabbed, what its pitch angle is, etc.  I agree that you should
not normally be close enough to see control surfaces move unless
you're practicing formation flying.

Temperature and air pressure are important because they affect density
altitude -- the plane should climb very lethargically on a hot day at
a mountain airport and quite vigorously on a cold day at sea level --
again, these are things you watch while holding short of the runway.

Furthermore, above FL180 (and north of about 60deg latitude at all
altitudes) altimeters are set to pressure altitude, so you'll have to
take air pressure into account eventually.

Even in the circuit, circuit altitude is based on the altimeter
reading, which (even when corrected for pressure) can be off a bit due
to temperature and humidity.  That's not a problem as long as
everyone's altimeter is off the same amount.

You can go through and try to support all of this, but in the end, it
will probably be easier just to create a new instance of an FDM and
autopilot and let them fly the plane.  Note that I'm not suggesting
that you do this now -- what you've done already is quite impressive.
However, be careful that you don't end up unintentionally creating
your own new FDM in its stead.

All the best,


David Megginson, [EMAIL PROTECTED], http://www.megginson.com/

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