Users Guide

This page illustrates how to use FlightGear Mac OS X 1.9.x, especially the use of the launcher. See Users Guide for 1.0.0 for 1.0.0 and Users Guide for 0.9.10 for 0.9.10.

Installing FlightGear

Full Package

Installing FlightGear is as easy as other Mac applications.

  1. Download the disk image file of the dmg file from Downloads page (should be FlightGear-1.9.1-r232.dmg or something like that)
  2. Mount the disk image file by double-clicking it (Safari may automatically do it).
  3. Copy the FlightGear icon from the mounted disk to the Applications folder.
MountedDiskImage.png SIZE:663x310(?KB)
Figure 1. Installing FlightGear to Applications Folder


You MUST install FlightGear by copying FlightGear icon from the mounted disk into /Applications (or some other writable) folder . Launching FlightGear from the mounted disk is no good since it doesn't allow you to add new aircraft / downloaded scenery data

Using FlightGear Mac OS X

Launching FlightGear Mac OS X

Launch FlightGear by double-clicking its icon at the Applications folder, and the GUI Launcher window shows up (Figure 2) The GUI Launcher is a GUI front-end of FlightGear simulator that helps you select and specify options available on FlightGear in a easy way. It also provides you some neat features like installing add-on data, aircraft preview, aircraft/airport search.

LauncherMain.png SIZE:589x300(?KB)
Figure 2. The GUI Launcher for FlightGear

Selecting an aircraft and an airport

At the GUI Launcher window, you can select an aircraft and an airport by clicking gear buttons at the right end of the airport/aircraft name. The thumbnail image of a selected aircraft will be shown at the image panel on the window. The airport that you select here will be the starting point of your flight. FlightGear uses ICAO 4-letter airport codes, which is composed with one or two prefix letters followed by two or three airport code. For example, the ICAO code for San Francisco International Airport is KSFO. “K” in this case shows The United States, and SFO is the airport code for San Francisco International Airport. You can use "Advanced features" >> "Position" or "Aircraft" tab to find an airport or an aircraft. You can also find ICAO airport codes from Air code database search.

Enabling on-the-fly scenery downloading

By checking "Download scenery on the fly" at the launcher window, you can download scenery while you're flying through the network (using a utility called TerraSync). Keep it checked if you're not sure. Needless to say this feature requires the network connection.

Launching FlightGear - the simulator

Clicking "Start Flight" button at the window opens up another window - the FlightGear main window (Figure 3). FlightGear immediately starts loading tons of data required for simulation. It may take a while on slower machines to load everything.

fgfs-splash.png SIZE:840x662(?KB)
Figure 3. FlightGear Main Window - splash screen

Using advanced features of FlightGear

FlightGear has many features and options that you can specify at the time you launch it. Some of these are not changeable from the menu in the FlightGear main window. To enable / disable these features, click the triangle-shaped button at the left-bottom of the launcher window. Then the advanced features tabs come up (Figure 4). All option values are saved so you don't have to specify these every time.

GeneralTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 4. Advanced features - General


Not all availabe options are implemented on the launcher. We selected the options by the follwoing criteria:

  • command-line options that you cannot change from the menu on the FlightGear window
  • frequently used options

If you have any suggestion on adding options to the launcher, please let us know.


There are some options available at this moment as shown in Figure 4.

Save preferences on exit
lets FlightGear save preferences that you changed from the menu in the FlightGear (fgfs) main window will be saved to $HOME/.fgfs/autosave.xml
specifies the control device you will use in FlightGear. "auto," "joystick," "mouse," and "keyboard" are available. You can leave it as "auto" unless you really want to change it manually.
specifies the unit used in FlightGear. "feet" and "meters" are available.
Time of day
specifies the time of day. Available options are real, dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, dusk, evening, and midnight.
specifies the season of FlightGear world. You can choose either summer or winter


FeaturesTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 5. Advanced features - Features
Disabling this will cut all the sound in FlightGear.
Instrumental panel
specifies if 2D panel is drawn from the beginning. You can also enable/disable the 2D panel from FlightGear menu
Random objects
specifies whether FlightGear draws random objects or not
Clock never advances
specifies whether the clock advances in FlightGear or not
No fuel consumption
makes aircraft consume no fuel while it's flying
Start in a frozen state
starts FlightGear with frozen state. it doesn’t seem working at this moment.
Display HUD
displays HUD at the beginning, I guess. You can turn HUD on/off by pressing 'h' while you are flying.
enables 3D HUD if an selected aircraft supports it
Real weather fetch
enables fetching real weather condition using METAR
Horizon effect
enables horizon effect
enables drawing clouds
3D clouds
enables drawing 3D clouds. You need to enable 3d clouds by checking "3D clouds" from the View >> Rendering option from the FlightGear main program (fgfs)
specifies the strength of turbulence. 0.0 is calm and 1.0 is severe. You need to specify value from 0.0 through 1.0
specifies the visibility in meter. You can specify 3000 or 2000 if FlightGear runs slow on your machine.


RenderingTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 6. Advanced features - Rendering
Fullscreen mode
Enabling this will launch FlightGear as full-screen mode
Window size
specifies the size of FlightGear window. It will be ignored when full-screen mode is enabled
Sky blending
enables or disables FlightGear to blend the sky depending on time and surrounding environment. DO NOT disable this option, or FlightGear crashes.
enables or disables textures on runways, buildings, and scenery objects. Disabling this will give you some more fps, effective especially on G4 Macs.
lets FlightGear draw wire-frames so you can see how the world of FlightGear is drawn. This should be enabled only for debug / development purpose.
specifies how fog is drawn. "disable," "fastest, "nicest" are available.


FavoriteTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 7. Advanced features - Favorite

Favorite list provides a means of preserving a named set of current options like a book mark of Safari. To save the current set of options, press "+" button on the top window or at the bottom of the Favorite tab. Once favorites are added, You can switch from one configuration to another by double-clicking a row in the table view in the Favorite tab. Pressing "-" button (or delete key) on a favorite in the table view, the selected favorite will be deleted.


You can find airports or aircraft carriers by searching with a keyword into the filter text area. Available keywords are:

  • For airports
    • a part of airport name (e.g. international, ranch, or civil)
    • country name (such as Japan, USA, or France) if available
    • location name (such as city or county or U.S. state abbrev. if available)
    • IATA code (such as SFO, LAX, HND) if available
    • ICAO code (such as KSFO, KLAX, RJTT) - works on all airports
  • For aircraft carriers
    • carrier name (nimitz or eisenhower)
    • "carrier"

Airports and carriers that match the keyword are shown at the table view below the filter text area. The airport name at the upper pane is synchronized with the currently selected airport or carrier. You can also open this tab by clicking the gear button at the right end of airport name on the top pane.

PositionTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 8. Advanced features - Position

Choosing a runway

When you choose an airport, available runways are shown at the "runways" pop-up button. You can choose a runway or leave it as "default".


You can find aircraft by searching with a keyword into the filter text area. Available keywords are:

  • a part of aircraft name (e.g. p172, zero, shinden)
  • configuration file name without -set.xml (e.g. a6m2b, p51d)
  • fdm (Flight Dynamics Model) name (e.g. yasim, jsb)
  • status (e.g. alpha, beta, production, development)

Aircraft that match the keyword are shown at the table view below the filter text area. The aircraft name at the upper pane is synchronized with the currently selected aircraft. You can also open this tab by clicking the gear button at the right end of aircraft name on the top pane.

If you want to find more aircraft data from the internet, click "Get Aircraft" button at the bottom of the Aircraft tab. It opens a web browser to lead you to the Aircraft Links page on this site. you can visit some links there and download an aircraft you want. Once an aircraft is downloaded, open "Others" tab to install it. Note that you must not launch FlightGear from mounted disk image that you downloaded from this site since the folder in the mounted disk image is read-only, which prevents you from installing any add-on data. you need to install FlightGear by copying the FlightGear icon from the mounted disk image to /Applciations folder.

AircraftTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 9. Advanced features - Aircraft


If you encounter some weird behavior in searching aircraft, removing a cache file for aircraft database might solve your problem. The cache file is at /Applications/ you can remove it by typing:

% rm /Applications/

from /Applications/Utility/


NetworkTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 10. Advanced features - Network

Multi Player

Enable Multiplay
enables or disables multi-player mode. Enabling this will open a new browser window to show the map on a multi player server.
specifies the name shown in the map. Username must contain only alphabet letters, numbers, underscores, and dots. FlightGear will exit when you specify a call sign with invalid characters. A user name with 8 or more characters will be truncated into the first 7 characters.
specifies the server to connect. are available at the time of writing this.
Your Mac
specifies your Mac's IP address. Usually the launcher detects the address automatically.
should be 5000.


FGCOM enables you to make a real voice communication using radio setting. You can talk at a selected radio frequency (COM1) while pressing space bar. You can listen to some other player's talking in the frequency if some others are using the same radio frequency and you are in range.

FGCOM Server
specifies an fgcom server. Leave it as it is unless you know what you're doing.


You can specify any options other than aircraft, airport, and the options shown in the launcher. Entering space-separated options as shown in Figure 11 will pass additional options to FlightGear. You can see all available options by pressing "View Options.'' Some options might cause FlightGear crash. If you encounter such crashes with a specific option, please let us know.

OthersTab.png SIZE:589x622(?KB)
Figure 11. Advanced features - Others

To install additional aircraft and scenery data, press "Install Add-on Data." You can specify multiple files and/or folders to install to the FlightGear data folder. Acceptable file types are:

  • zip
  • tar
  • tar.gz
  • tar.bz2
  • a folder that contains a data

And the valid add-ons are:

  • Aircraft models (e.g. or 777 folder)
  • Scenery data (e.g. e130n30.tar.gz or e130n30 folder)
  • Scenery Models (zip or tar.gz format)
  • GUI Launcher updater (various files)
  • Nasal scripts (.nas) - will be stored under data/Nasal

You will see the message window when all the data are successfully installed, otherwise error message will show up. You can select both aircraft and scenery data at a time. If you select an archived file that does not contain aircraft files, it will be extracted into the data folder, but will be ignored. When you finish installing new aircraft, you can see it on the Aircraft tag immediately (If not, restarting may show it).

Taking a snapshot

To take a snapshot, you can use either F3 key (Option-F3 or Option-Fn F3 key on some Macs). It stores ppm file into /Applications/ folder. Unfortunately there is no fancy image converter inside FG so you need to use some graphics editor like gimp or imagemagik to convert it to some other format like JPG or PNG.

The best way to take a good shot is press 'p' key to pause FlightGear, tweaking the viewpoint to find a great angle using either mouse or joystick, and press F3 to save it. If you want to hide menu bar, press F10 (option-F10 or option-fn-F10 on some Macs).

Resetting to default options

You can trash $HOME/Library/Preferences/net.sourceforge.macflightgear.plist to restore the default option values.

Some useful tips

How to specify a parking position

If you want to use a parking position, you can specify


onto Advanced Features >> Others >> Command-line options textbox. This will allow you to start from a given parking position. <POS> can be D53 for KSFO. You can check the valid parking position by referring to data/AI/Airport/<ICAO>/parking.xml where ICAO is a 4-digit airport code like KSFO.


Specifying a parking position will overwrite the runway option. Thus you need to clear the --parkpos option on the Command-line options textbox if you want to change airport or runway. Otherwise you'll be starting at an unexpected runway.

How to specify an Airport that is not available on the GUI launcher

The GUI Launcher that comes with 1.9.x doesn't have a list of heliports / seaports (Sorry!) You can specify such airport with the following steps:

  1. Choose KSFO from Position tag, leave the runway as default.
  2. Add the following command-line option to Command-line options textbox on the Others tag:
       --airport=<ICAO code>
    • e.g. If you want to specify Childrens Hospital Emergency, then you can add --airport=0WA8
  3. Press "start flight"

How to investigate the problems

There are some ways of investigating a problem. You can see:

  • a log file using Features >> General >> view log after the flight.
    • You can select a log level from none, warn, info, debug, and bulk. none gives you least information and bulk gives you pretty much, so warn or info is enough for many cases. You can gradually increase the log level from warn, info, and debug.
    • You need to select a log level before the flight.
    • You should select "none" unless you need a log since increasing the log level slows the simulator down.
  • some console messages available from /Applications/Utilities/
    • You can see some messages regarding to FlightGear or fgfs.

24 Responses to “Users Guide”

  1. FSGHB Says:
    I have no idea how to move!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. Tat Says:

    FSGHB, saying only that doesn't help you. Visit Help and Open Discussion and ask people about it. You also need to tell them your machine spec, what type of input (keyboard or joystick) you're using. Then they will answer your question. You can also get some info by reading Jump Start Guide

  3. Mike Says:
    When taking off with a Cessna, I immediately vere left. Why? I turn off the brake, but that doesn't hlep.
  4. Tat Says:
    [[This tutorial>]] will help you. You can also ask other users about it at [Help and Open Discussion>[]]. One thing I can tell you is 'You need more speed before taking off.'
  5. QB Says:
    cannot move
  6. Dave Says:
    the problem with the cessna is because propellers create a gyroscopic effect so the plane steers the direction of the propellers roation
  7. Chris Hanson Says:
    Installed on an Intel Mac os10.4. No choices in aircraft or airport drop downs.
  8. Nicola Says:
    Also Installed on an Intel Mac os10.4.8 No choices in aircraft or airport drop downs.
  9. Gwenou Says:
    I try to change the language to french. I use --language=fr Nothing change I use your FlightGear-0.9.10-r114-launcher updater Thank for the dmg package it work fine on Imac intel core 2 duo, Osx 10.4.8
  10. jamison803 Says:
    i cannot uninstall. It keeps saying quit app first, but nothing is running.
  11. kkdxdfh Says:
  12. derekj Says:
    I can download , and install properly on my imac os x . but gameplay is slower than a snail on valium?? why. impossible to play
  13. Kay Says:
    If you're not already a trained pilot, it's very difficult to get started in this program. For example, when I launch the flight simulator, where am I? Am I on the ground? If I'm on the ground, how do I get up in the sky? And why isn't there a list of all the commands in one place? I also find that many of the commands don't work on my G5 with Intel chip, particularly the "shift 7" type to move to the right, etc. The tutorial tells me to hit "shift B" to turn off my brake, and I hit shift B, and then it tells me the exact same thing again. Is it just me, or is this program a big mess? I've been trying to figure it out for 90 minutes, and all I have is a big headache.
  14. mike hunt Says:
    i love this game it makes me get all silly and makes me want to spank myself . i do anuff speed that i think im a fucken 747 i love it wont play any outher games for big boys only
  15. hkgjhgjhgj Says:
    thannks for the help this game is awesome
  16. Cory Edwards Says:
    where is the aircraft folder
  17. mac99xl883c Says:
    Installed on a mac OS 10.4.9 and can't select an aircraft or airfield. What gives?
  18. Gina Says:
    Why is it that the sound shuts off and the controls don't work when I click "reset?" Thanks in advance!
  19. Mike Stranger Says:
    Thanks 123 adware
  20. Rusty Says:
    Installed 0.9.10 full on iMac, 10.4.9 no aircraft or airport. Are they somewhere that the simiulator can't find? There is no way to do a search from the program. Rusty
  21. LoOpY Says:
    You guys suck. I'm not a pilot and I've been playing for a few days. To take off is simple: With Keyboard: Press 'Page Up' To Accellerate, If you turn in the beginning to the left press 'Enter', if you turn to the right press '0', Press '5' to center the rudder(It's how you turn when you taxi) Press Down to pitch up, If you can press 'g' to get the landing gear up, Off you go!! When landing: Press 'G' to get the landing gear down, Press 'Down' to lift flaps to not crash, Press 'Left' and 'Right' to rotate if you are spinning, Press 'b' about 3 secs. after you hit the ground to slow down, When you're finally rolling press 'B' to use parking brakes, When in air: Press 'Left' and 'Right to spin that way if you are rotating, Press 'down' to pitch up if you are crashing, Press 'up' to pitch down so that you son't stall, *capitalizations count.=) You're welcome (For Advance : ) ), -The LoopY_KING-
  22. LoOpY Says:
    but anyway how do you go to the tutorial? (Not that I really Need it(Ijust want help with the individual planes=)) I mean I can go to the tutorial thing and see choose tutorial and that stuff but there is no tutorials.
  23. LoOpY =) Says:
    but anyway how do you go to the tutorial? (Not that I really Need it(Ijust want help with the individual planes=)) I mean I can go to the tutorial thing and see choose tutorial and that stuff but there is no tutorials..
  24. John Says:
    I cant figure out how to get FULL TROTTLE, and I do not feel inclined to do a lot of programming of the keyboard. I'm using a PowerBook G4 with a wireless (apple) keyboard. It seem's to me that all keys are working - except the key's for trottle up/down (9 & 3). I can change views and direct the airplane - but not control the up/down. (I'm using a external screen alos connected to the PB - do I have to disonnect it all and use the PB itself only?)