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Chapter 3
Preflight: Installing FlightGear

You can skip this Section if you built FlightGear along the lines described in the previous Chapter. If you did not and you’re jumping in here, your first step will consist in installing the binaries. At present, there are pre-compiled binaries available for

  • Windows (any flavor),
  • Macintosh OSX,
  • Linux,
  • SGI Irix.

3.1 Installing the binary distribution on a Windows system

The following supposes you are on a Windows (95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP) system. Installing the binaries is quite simple. Go to

and download the three files,, and from

to a drive of your choice. Windows XP includes a program for unpacking *.zip files. If you are working under an older version of Windows, we suggest getting Winzip from

For a free alternative, you may consider unzip from Info-ZIP,

Extract the files named above. If you choose drive c: you should find a file runfgfs.bat under c:/Flightgear now. Double-clicking it should invoke the simulator.

In case of doubt about the correct directory structure, see the summary at the end of chapter 2.

3.2 Installing the binary distribution on a Macintosh system

If your Macintosh is running the conventional Mac OS 9 or earlier, there are versions up to FlightGear 0.7.6 available being provided courtesy Darrell Walisser). Download the file FlightGear_Installer_0.X.X.sit from the corresponding subdirectory under walisser/fg/.

This file contains the program as well as the required base package files (scenery etc.). For unpacking, use Stuffit Expander 5.0 or later.

The latest build available for Mac OS 9.x is 0.7.6, located in the same place. The base package is part of the download for Mac OS 9.x, but not for Mac OSX.

Alternatively, if you are running Mac OS X, download fgfs-0.X.X.gz from the same site named above. The Mac OS X builds are in a gzip file in the same directory. There is a Readme file in the directory to help people identify what to download.

Mac OS X requires that you first download the base package. Then extract it with

tar -zxvf fgfs-base-X.X.X.tar.gz
gunzip fgfs-X.X.X.-date.gz

Note that there is no runfgfs script for Mac OS X yet.

3.3 Installing the binary distribution on a Debian Linux system

Download the file flightgear_0.7.6-6_i386.deb (being provided courtesy Ove Kaaven) from any of the Debian mirror sites listed at

Like any Debian package, this can be installed via

dpkg --install flightgear_0.7.6-6_i386.deb.

After installation, you will find the directory /usr/local/Flightgear containing the script runfgfs to start the program.

3.4 Installing the binary distribution on a SGI IRIX system

If there are binaries available for SGI IRIX systems, download all the required files (being provided courtesy Erik Hofman) from ehofman/fgfs/

and install them. Now you can start FlightGear via running the script

3.5 Installing add-on scenery

There are two complete sets of scenery files with worldwide coverage available, now, being based on different source data. One data set was created by Curt Olson and can be downloaded via a clickable map from

Moreover, Curt provides the complete set of US Scenery on CD-ROM for those who really would like to fly over all of the USA. For more detail, check the remarks on the downloads page above.

An alternative data set was produced by William Riley and is available from

again using a .

While the first data set is based on the USGS data, the second one is based on the so-called VMap0 data set. While there may be more differences to discover, the first one has much better coast lines, while the latter sports world-wide coverage of streets, rivers, lakes, and more. Scenery provided in the base package is based on the second data set (though covering a small area around San Francisco, only).

Installation of both data sets is identical. You have to unpack them under /Flightgear/Scenery. Do not de-compress the numbered scenery files like 958402.gz! This will be done by FlightGear on the fly.

As an example, consider installation of the scenery package w120n30 containing the Grand Canyon Scenery.

After having installed the base package, you should have ended up with the following directory structure:




with the directories w122n37 and w123n37m, resp. containing numerous *.gz files. Installation of the Grand Canyon scenery adds to this the directories


You can exploit the --fg-scenery=path command line option, if you want to install different scenery sets in parallel or want to have scenery sitting in another place.

3.6 Installing documentation

Most of the packages named above include the complete FlightGear documentation including a .pdf version of this Installation and Getting Started Guide intended for pretty printing using Adobe’s Acrobat Reader being available from

Moreover, if properly installed, the .html version can be accessed via FlightGear’s help menu entry.

Besides, the source code contains a directory docs-mini containing numerous ideas on and solutions to special problems. This is also a good place for further reading.