This version of the document was written for FlightGear version 3.4.0. Users of earlier versions of FlightGear will still find this document useful, but some of the features described may not be present.
This guide is split into three parts and is structured as follows.
Part I: Installation
Chapter 2, Want to have a free flight? Take FlightGear, introduces FlightGear, provides background on the philosophy behind it and describes the system requirements.
In Chapter 3, Preflight: Installing FlightGear, you will find instructions for installing the binaries and additional scenery and aircraft.
Part II: Flying with FlightGear
The following Chapter 4, Takeoff: How to start the program, describes how to actually start the installed program. It includes an overview on the numerous command line options as well as configuration files.
Chapter 5, In-flight: All about instruments, keystrokes and menus, describes how to operate the program, i.e. how to actually fly with FlightGear. This includes a (hopefully) complete list of pre-defined keyboard commands, an overview on the menu entries, detailed descriptions on the instrument panel and HUD (head-up display), as well as hints on using the mouse functions.
Chapter 6, Features describes some of the special features that FlightGear offers to the advanced user.
Part III: Tutorials
Chapter 7, Tutorials, provides information on the many tutorials available for new pilots.
Chapter 8, A Basic Flight Simulator Tutorial, provides a tutorial on the basics of flying, illustrated with many examples on how things actually look in FlightGear.
Chapter 9, A Cross Country Flight Tutorial, describes a simple cross-country flight in the San Fransisco area that can be run with the default installation.
Chapter 10, An IFR Cross Country Flight Tutorial, describes a similar cross-country flight making use of the instruments to successfully fly in the clouds under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).
In Appendix A, Missed approach: If anything refuses to work, we try to help you work through some common problems faced when using FlightGear.
In the final Appendix B, Landing: Some further thoughts before leaving the plane, we would like to give credit to those who deserve it, sketch an overview on the development of FlightGear and point out what remains to be done.
For those who don’t want to read this document from cover to cover, we suggest reading the following sections in order to provide an easy way to get into the air:
We know most people hate reading manuals. If you are sure the graphics driver for your card supports OpenGL (check documentation; for instance in general NVIDIA graphics cards do) and you are using Windows, Mac OS-X or Linux, you can probably skip at least Part I of this manual and use pre-compiled binaries. These as well as instructions on how to set them up, can be found at
If you are running Linux, you may find that FlightGear is bundled with your distribution.
Once you have downloaded and installed the binaries, see Chapter 4 for details on starting the simulator.
While this introductory guide is meant to be self contained, we strongly suggest having a look into further documentation, especially in case of trouble: