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.

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.