Aileron roll

An aileron roll involves a four-step maneuver.

You’ll rotate your airplane 360 degrees around its longitudinal axis. However, to do this successfully you must keep the nose following a tight circle around a point on the horizon.

Thanks to the brisk roll rate of the Extra 300S, the aileron roll one is an easy aerobatic maneuver to accomplish. As with many aerobatics in the Extra 300S, performing an aileron roll occurs very quickly (its roll rate exceeds 400 degrees per second).

The following is the diagram of the roll: Start by selecting a reference point on the horizon, such as a smokestack, road, building or even a cloud. In this example, I’m using an antenna/smokestack.

Maintain a level flight and airspeed of about 140 knots. Bring the stick back slowly so you’re raising the nose smoothly to 20 – 30 degrees above the horizon. This neutralizes the elevator and deflects the aileron fully in the direction of the roll.

Remember, pulling the nose up too much or too little at the start of the maneuver results in a bad roll. Look to the left and make certain you’ve set the correct pitch attitude.

Otherwise, by increasing backpressure after you’ve established the correct pitch attitude may force you from the reference point (the smokestacks in this example) or may drop the nose too much when you’ve started inverted flight.

Most aerobatic professionals believe it’s easier to start with rolls to the left. Therefore, hold backpressure on the stick and move it quickly, but smoothly, all the way to one side.

Maintain controls in that position until you complete the roll. Center the stick as the wings become level with the horizon. After the roll is completed the nose is usually 20 – 30 degrees below the horizon.

Try these to test your skill:

Slow rolls and snap rolls

Other types of rolls you can try include slow rolls and snap rolls (called flick rolls in Europe). Most slow rolls must be flown normally on a straight line.

Maintain a constant rate for the roll and the longitudinal axis of the airplane must be straight.

To fly this type of roll successfully means that you must constantly change rudder and elevator control inputs throughout the roll.

A snap roll also must be flown normally on a straight line.

A snap roll is an autorotation with one wing stalled. You must intentionally stall your aircraft by applying positive G-forces and in an outside snap, you need to stall your aircraft by applying negative G-forces.

The rudder is then used in either case to start autorotation as in a spin.

The Immelmann The Immelmann turn is a simple yet very effective maneuver under the proper technical circumstances.

Many historians credit a World War I German ace named Max Immelmann with creating this maneuver.

However, the version of the maneuver with which most of us are familiar today from aerobatics is not the maneuver that Max Immelmann found so successful.

Library Objects

Try Some Aerobatic Maneuvers In Flight Simulator

Do you think that Patty Wagstaff has an easy career simply flying around the country and performing aerobatics at different airports?

Don’t be fooled…you may be surprised by the precision and difficulty involved in these aerobatic maneuvers.

You won’t need great physical strength to perform aerobatics. However, you’ll be tested on your skill, coordination, finesse and knowledge on how your airplane handles.

You need to make split second decisions to execute the maneuvers successfully while facing disorienting visuals, eardrum rattling engine roar, a changing environment and G-forces that can cause you to black out.

You also must always be aware of where you are in the “aerobatic box,” the sequence you are flying, the traffic that may wander into your flight area and definitely where the ground is at all times. If you think you can handle it, try it yourself?.

In this article we’ll look at a few examples of aerobatics you can perform in FS2004. We’ll even use the same airplane that Patty flies in her shows — the Extra 300.

If you’ve ever attended an airshow, you must have marveled at the aerobatic artisans as they perform their aerobatic maneuvers.

I know that I was impressed and amazed last July at the Air Venture show in Oshkosh watching pilots such as Sean D Tucker, Patty Wagstaff and others fly beautiful, precise aerial routines.

Unfortunately, there’s little chance I could tolerate the G forces the maneuvers would place on me.

These G forces are real and definitely affect the performance and ability of every pilot. Therefore, I get my aerobatics thrills in FS2004.

Perhaps it’s the excitement of attempting the same maneuvers flown by airshow performers before cheering crowds or it’s completing an impressive aerobatic routine.

But I think it’s mostly because performing aerobatics in FS2004 is just plain fun.

Preparing To Fly Selecting your aircraft Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to fly a propeller aircraft to perform aerobatic maneuvers. Many jets, especially in FS2004, make excellent aerobatic aircraft.

You’ve probably already thought of one of the various military jets available in FS2004.

But today’s military fighters, like the F-15, offer supersonic speeds and maneuverability but even these impressive aircraft cannot perform some of the maneuvers that a propeller-driven airplane can do.

Then again, military jets aren’t designed for aerobatics, just as the Extra 300S isn’t designed to provide air cover for soldiers in Iraq.

Although you can do aerobatics in some jet aircraft, we’re only talking about piston-powered aerobatic aircraft in this article, specifically the Extra 300S.

The reasons that aerobatic performers fly piston powered aircraft is that slipstream, p-factor and torque all play an extremely important role in aerobatics, (including FS2004) and jet aircraft have none of those advantages.

Setting the FS Views You should consider turning on smoke when you try your aerobatic maneuvers. The smoke gives the best reference of your performance and flight path. Otherwise, a flat spin is not impressive when viewed from the outside.

It’s better to fly aerobatics from an outside view such as the tower mode.

Also, try either the Spot or Tower view when performing your aerobatics. Tower might be better because it’s fixed either on the ground or in the air and doesn’t move with your aircraft like spot view.

The cockpit mode is a good mode as well, especially for accuracy of competition style maneuvers that require crispness in banks and rolls.

If you want to use an external view mode, press s+Z three times to display speed, g-factor and altitude.

These three settings are all you really need for freestyle flying, but for competition style flying, it is best to be in the cockpit and flying in the aerobatic box.

Setting up options After you’ve decided on the aircraft, you should set up the realism options. Select the Aircraft | Realism Settings… command in the menu bar.

In the Flight Model area, set all the sliders to the right and make sure that Autorudder is left unchecked. You should make these changes to get the most out of aerobatic flying in FS2004.

All the other realism settings and options are your choice.

I would recommend leaving Crash mode off at least until you’re more confident about your aerobatic talents.

If you crash or when the aircraft suffers too much damage, the flight restarts and that can require too much time reloading scenery and other files.

But if you ignore crash and damage, if you’re unlucky enough to hit the ground, your aircraft will be back at 1000 feet AGL immediately. Also, don’t forget to press s+Z to toggle the flight information on the main window.

You can find this to be extremely useful. Loading your aircraft You’ll need to load in the Extra 300S in your version of Flight Simulator. Select the Aircraft | Select Aircraft… command in the menu bar.

Then select the “Extra 300S” from the list of available aircraft. (You may also need to select “Patty Wagstaff’s Airplane” in “Variation” if you have more than one Extra 300S aircraft.


Creating a new XML File

To make our scenery, we need to create an XML file.

Click Start | Programs |Accessories | Notepad.

Once Open, we’ll save this file into the BGLComp folder to make it easier for us. Click File | Save As.

Use the Drop down menu to select the C: drive. Next double-click the Program Files folder followed by the FS2004SDK folder and finally the BGLCOMP_SDK folder.

Once set, change the file name to TestProject.XML. Be SURE you remove the .txt from the default file name and add .XML to the end of your new file name.

With the TestProject.XML open in Notepad, we can start entering our code.


Now that we are finally at the point where we can enter the code, you need to understand that the code in this case is VERY PICKY.

In most cases, the difference between upper case and lowercase letters is not that big of a deal for e-mail addresses and websites, for example.

In code, it can be the difference between successful compiling and a complete failure.

Believe me – when writing this, I had an uppercase letter in the code and the scenery WOULD NOT compile until I changed it to lower case… It took 15-20 minutes to find out what the problem was! When entering the code below be SURE to enter it exactly as shown.

Failure to do so will cause it to fail! The start of the XML file has to contain a header that defines the basics of the file. In XML, like HTML, commands are started by a definition of the command. A definition is started by a less-then sign (<), then the command, then a greater-than sign (>).

This followed by information that is to adhere to the command. When a command is to end, you add another less-than sign, the command again as before but with a forward slash in front of it and finally a closing greater-than sign.

As an example, to make something bold in HTML, you would write:

This file lists all the object names and their corresponding ID. The names used are very generic and not very descriptive. For this example, we used line 1830: “large_tower3 4a841b6d412c4e5648aa708b212cc767”. All you have to do is replace the 32-digit ID above with a 32-digit ID from the spreadsheet file to place your custom object. Of course you will want to set new coordinates for it. Also note that this list includes all FS2004 objects as well as older Combat Flight Simulator 2 objects.

These objects are NOT actually available to the Flight Simulator 2004! Back to the new code… Notice the scale is also part of this section. A scale of 1.0 means the object is drawn at normal size. If you wanted it to be drawn smaller, you can enter a number smaller than between 0.1 and 1.0. To make it larger, enter a number larger than 1.0. Ending this section is a closing statement “/>” Be sure you have this in your file as well or again, it won’t compile.

The last parts of the code are the closing commands. Add this to the bottom of your project file: Since we started a ‘SceneryObject’ in the second part of the file, we need to close it. Notice the forward slash in the file. This denotes a close to the command. After that, we are closing the FSData which was opened in the first line in the same way. Now that the code is all entered, it should look like this:

alt=”0″ altitudeIsAgl=”TRUE” pitch=”0″ bank=”0″ heading=”0″ imageComplexity=”NORMAL”> The next step is to save so click File | Save in Notepad. Now we can close Notepad. Now, you should still have the BGLCOMP_SDK folder open. If not, see the “BGLComping” section above to see how to browse into the BGLCOMPSDK folder. In this folder you should have the following files: bglcomp.exe bglcomp.xsd Chelan.xml EULA.rtf FS2004BGLCompSDK.doc Generic Building Textures.xls LibraryObjects.xls MortonWa.xml readme.txt TestProject.XML The last file, TestProject.XML is our file with the object code. Note that in here is the LibraryObjects.XLS file. This is the Excel Spreadsheet with the library object names and their corresponding 32-digit ID. To compile, all you have to do is click and drag the TestProject.XML ONTO the BGLCOMP.EXE file as shown below.

Library Objects

Placing Library Objects in FS2004 using BGLComp

Using this method, you would have to create a separate scenery BGL file for each occurrence of the tree in the Flight Sim.

Using the trees as an example, that’s 50 separate files, each containing the geometry and texturing of the trees, just put in a different location.

That forces the Flight Simulator work hard to load all of these files and use up precious system resources resulting in lower frames per second (frame rate). Again, this method will work, but there is a better way…

Flight Simulator uses libraries.

A Library is a single file that is loaded by Flight Simulator and contains the geometry, texture application and color assignments of the objects similar to the conventional method with one major exception – a library can contain hundreds of different objects.

When making scenery using this method, you will use the library (containing multiple objects) and a separate placement BGL file.

The placement BGL file is a very small file, less an 1K in size for a single object that tells Flight Simulator which object from the library to draw and how to draw it (Lat/Long Location, Altitude, Heading, Scale and so on).

So Flight Simulator loads only the library and is ready to draw on demand. The placement file specifies which object to draw and how.

How does it work?

Each object in the library has a unique 32-digit ID code.

The placement BGL file specifies that ID. Included with the Flight Simulator are objects 3 main libraries: VEHICLES, GENERIC and LANDMARK.

Combined, there are nearly 300 objects in these 3 libraries. Learning the Code BGLComp is a BGL file compiler.

This means it takes your instructions written as text and converts it into a Flight Simulator-readable format. The format for the BGLComp code is XML. XML files are similar to website HTML files with notable differences that we won’t get into here.

We will be creating a simple XML file that will have BGLComp compile a placement BGL file to assign a library object to a desired location in Flight Sim. Before we get too far into the code and understanding, we need to make sure that everything is in place to handle our operations.

The two things that are required to proceed are the BGLComp SDK and the MSXML4, both from Microsoft. First, visit flightsimulator/fs2004_downloads_sdk.asp#bgl and download the BGLComp SDK and install it. By default this will install to: C:\Program Files\FS2004SDK\BGLCOMP.SDK.

An important thing to note here is that this is not a typical Windows-based program.

You will NOT receive any Desktop icon or a shortcut to anything in the Start | Programs menu. BGLComp is a command-line program that is run using DOS commands.

No need to be worried, we won’t be getting into DOS for this procedure!

Another requirement for BGLComp is a support program called MSXML4. You can get this program by visiting details.aspx?FamilyID=3144b72b-b4f2-46da-b4b6- c5d7485f2b42&DisplayLang=en As you can see from the link, this is a Microsoft website.

On the page, there are 4 different download versions depending on your desired use for the MSXML. We recommend you download and install the MSXML.MSI file, which is 5.16 MB at the time this article is written.


Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark – Enjoying Nightime Flying

Instrument panel lights

The most important interior lights are those that illuminate the instrument panel.

These lights are so important for real world pilots that their instrument panels must have at least two light sources, usually an overhead light as well as smaller lights within the instrument casings.

To view the instrument panel during a nighttime flight, look for the NAV light toggle switch.

Move it up into the ON position. As you’ll see, when the NAV light switch is on, the instrument panel is reddish in color.

The reason for this is that your eyes work more effectively at night under red lights without losing their dark adaptation.

This real world visual effect is carried over into the reddish color of the instrument panel in Flight Sim.

Exterior aircraft lighting Most aircraft use two types of exterior lighting – navigation lights and anti-collision lights. We’ll first talk about the navigation lights since they are the most noticeable lights on your aircraft.

Navigation lights

The navigation lights include a red light on the left (port) wingtip, a green light on the right (starboard) wingtip and a white light is on the tail. (See image below for an example.)

These three lights are the most noticeable lights on the exterior of your aircraft and alert other pilots to both the location and flying direction of your aircraft.

To turn on the navigation lights, move the NAV lights switch up to the ON position.

As mentioned above, if you know the locations and colors of the navigation lights of another aircraft, you can determine the direction that aircraft is flying by looking for those lights. (See the diagram on the next page for more information.)

Anti-collision light Another light located on the tail of your aircraft is a red rotating beacon anti-collision light.

A good realworld habit to follow is turning on the anti-collision beacon whenever your aircraft engine is operating. Realworld pilots do this to warn anyone nearby to the danger of moving propeller blades or jet engine intakes.

To turn on the anti-collision light, move the BCN switch up to the ON position. Strobe lights One additional set of anti-collision lighting seen on many current aircraft today are white strobe lights located on each wingtip.

To turn on the strobe lights, move the STROBE switch up to the ON position.

Taxi and Landing lights

You also need t o spot potential obstructions while taxing at airports and to move safely on the taxiway.

Therefore, your aircraft should have a taxi light located either on the nose wheel strut/front empennage or on the port wing structure. To turn on the taxi light, move the TAXI switch up to the ON position.

The landing light is located either near the taxi light or is part of the taxi light. Pilots use the landing light to illuminate the runway during landing. To turn on the landing light, move the LAND switch up to the ON position.