Jim Wilson wrote:

Probably I've got this wrong, but isn't the c-172 our most refined/realistic
flightmodel? My impression of yasim, from using it for the p51d, but not as
an aero engineer, is that getting an aircraft working is about 2 parts theory
and 1 part voodoo (the part that the basic formulas don't cover).

I have access to a commercial FAA Level 3 FTD certified C172 model. I haven't done any direct comparisons, but I can say that there are some aspects of our C172 that are waaay off. Some day when I have time I'd like to do some more direct comparisons and at least nudge some portions of our C172 in the right direction, but I've been keeping busy with other stuff lately.

Let me steer this discussion in another direction ...

I would really love to start talking about doing a v1.0 release of FlightGear ... maybe this spring or early summer. There are a couple things that I feel are holding us back. We will live with or without fixes, but if we do a 1.0 release, it would be nice to make it ... well ... really nice. I would like to see at least the following items addressed:

1. Documentation (getting started manual) really needs to be made current.

2. Spiffed up and much improved C172 (inside and out.) Or the pa28-161 ... the goal would be to have one nicely done model that demonstrates all the functionality and features of our simulator and does it in a really nice, polished way.

3. Fix the JSBsim low speed gear jitters. Here's my one and only *big* gripe about JSBsim ... gear handling when stopped. At some point we *must* solve that problem and make the gear stick, stay put, not jitter, and not swing into the wind when the aircraft is stopped. YAsim figured out a (pragmatically) reasonable way to do it, so it must be possible. It would be really, really, really, really, *really* great if we could get that one problem cleared up in the near future.

4. We need to do some work on the fgrun front end to make it more user friendly. Frederic and Bernie (and others?) have done a *lot* of great, difficult, and tedious work on this tool to bring it to where it is, but there are still some gaps and things that could be much improved to make the tool work for new users. There are also some human factors/feedback issues with fgrun and launching flightgear that (again are hard but) would be nice to address.

I think we are really close to a nice v1.0 release. We have a good solid infrastructure in place. We can do a lot of really neat and cool stuff. We offer FlightGear 100% for free. But we should mentally follow the process of a new user seeing a post about FG somewhere on the net, clicking on the link, arriving at our web site, downloading the setup.exe, installing it, launching it for the first time, selecting an aircraft/airport, selecting other options, and finally running FlightGear. What issues will they see? What will cause confusion? What doesn't work well without additional knowledge? For better or worse, 90-95% of our users are going to be on the windows platform, so some of us at least do need to consider (carefully) the perspective of the typical windows user.

It's my sense that we are entering a new phase of FlightGear. Our popularity and web traffic and downloads continue to grow. I'm not sure the best way to verbalize this, but I think it is getting to be time for us to take a step forward in our own growth as a project; to step up to the next level; to take responsibility for some of our short comings; to attack some of our tough/boring issues. This might be too much of a USA-centric analogy, but it's perhaps similar to the sports world where a standout high school athlete is now contemplating moving to the college level. (or maybe it's a college athlete moving to pro ...) :-) Can they step up and compete at the next level? Can we?

Like it or not, our popularity is pushing us towards the next level. It's my intention to respond with a really nice v1.0 release, but clearly this project is nothing without all the great help of the many volunteers that do such a great job, and a nice v1.0 release is only possible with everyone's help and participation.



Curtis Olson        http://www.flightgear.org/~curt
HumanFIRST Program  http://www.humanfirst.umn.edu/
FlightGear Project  http://www.flightgear.org
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