• Help For New Flightsimmers

    Popular Flight Simulator Software:

    Welcome to FlightSim.Com, The Ultimate Flight Site. This site is open to all and no access fees are charged. This site is devoted to the hobby of computer flight simulation where people use their PC's along with suitable software and control devices to simulate flying in aircraft. To sign up as a new member, go register.

    If you don't already own flightsim software you need to start there. The most popular simulator is that published by Microsoft. With the first version having been published more than 30 years ago, millions of people have learned to fly using some version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Most people will want to use one of the two latest versions, either FSX or FS2004. Usually the latest version is your best choice but it does require that you own a new and very high speed computer. If your computer is older, then an older version of the simulator is a better choice. Another good choice is X-Plane from Laminar Research. Unlike Microsoft Flight Simulator, X-Plane is still a current product that is being developed and improved.

    Since you're new to flightsimming here's some information about using this web site that will help you get started in this great hobby.

    Getting And Using Files

    There are lots of add-on files you can use with popular flightsims, and best of all most of them are free. But it does take some skill to use these files, more than a store bought add-on which most likely will install itself automatically. Here's some basics you need to know.

    ZIP Files

    Most files that you download come as zip files. If you look at the complete file name (you may have to adjust your Windows settings to do this, so you're not seeing icons instead of the full text name) these files are readily identified because they always end with the letters .zip. There are a number of reason why zip files are used, the most important being that it puts everything together in a single file so you don't miss anything while at the same time making the file size smaller (and thus your download time faster).

    To use zip files you need a zip file utility. Some versions of Windows have one built in that you may find to be sufficient. Otherwise, the most popular ones are WinZip and PKzip. These utilities, and many of the other files that you will have to have, can be found on our Must Have Files page.

    Exactly how you use zip files depends on what zip file utility you choose. It's not hard to unzip the files you download but you will need to read the instructions for the zip file utility to get started.

    EXE Files

    A few files you download will be exe files instead of zip files. You can recognize these because their complete file name ends with the letters .exe. Any file whose name ends with these letter is a complete program; to use it all you need to do is run it. "Run" is a feature you can find by clicking on the Windows "Start" button.

    Downloading

    To download files all you need is a standard Web browser. Here are the steps involved in downloading a file:

    1) Click on the word "download"

    Pretty tough, huh? First you need to find the file you want though. That's covered in the next section but first a few tips on downloading. Some browser add-ons (also known as "plug-ins") seem to cause problems with downloading files. This even includes add-ons that are supposed to make downloading easier! At least one add-on thats purpose is to hide banner ads is also known to foul up downloading. If you have problems downloading try removing these add-ons from your browser.

    Security software, such as firewalls, can also prevent you from downloading. Depending on how you have your security set, a download may be deemed a security hazard and won't be allowed. If your downloads just won't start this is the first place to look.

    One other common problem is that your browser may rename the file. If you end up with a file on your computer different from the one you thought you were downloading usually you can fix the problem simply by changing the name to the correct one. This seems to happen more often with exe files than with zip files.

    Also, when downloading files your browser may give you the option to "open" or "save" the file; you want to choose "save" in order to download and store the file on your computer.

    Finding Files

    We offer many ways of finding the files you want, from simple lists of files to a powerful search engine. Many people start their daily visit to FlightSim.Com with the New Files list. This list has the latest files from the past few days. The File Library tab in the blue menu bar gives you several options for different new files lists. Several of our landing pages (hangars) have separate lists with only new files appropriate to that topic. See the FSX Hangar X-Plane Hangar or FS2004 Hangar for an example.

    The most powerful tool for finding files is our Search Engine. This tool lets you find files by file name or by description. If you know all or part of the file name of the add-on you want you simply fill in the file name box and start the search. For most cases, though, you will use the text string search which allows you to search on a single word, several words or a phrase. For complete details on searching use the Help link on the search page or read this tutorial. We also offer an Advanced Search that includes many more search options. Both Search and Advanced Search can be reached using the blue File Library button at the top of any page.

    Please note: the search form in the upper right corner of each page on the site is NOT suitable for finding files; use that search for finding feature articles, reviews, tutorials, etc.

    There are also a number of less often used tools for finding files, including lists of popular files, a map based system for finding scenery and a list of aircraft files organized by country and airline. All of these can be found on the blue menu by by clicking on File Library and choosing Specialty Searches.

    Using Files

    You've got a file downloaded onto your computer and you have your zip utility installed and know how to use it, now how do you use the file you've downloaded? To start, read the docs!. Reading the instructions is something people are resistant to do, no matter what new thing has been acquired, but it's still the best way to get things working smoothly. This is just as true with files you download as with something you buy in a store. Use your zip utility to see what's in the file. You should see a file or files with names that end with .doc or .txt or with names something like readme. There's no standard, but usually it's not hard to figure out which files to look at. Unzip those files and read them. If they are .doc files you'll need Microsoft Word or something compatible. For other files you should be able to use Word or any word processor, text editor or text viewer.

    If the docs are incomplete or missing there are places you can turn for general help. We have tutorials providing general knowledge on installing add-ons; these can be found in the landing pages for each individual sim. FlightSim.Com also has a "FAQ" ("frequently asked questions") area for several of the most popular sims. You can find these FAQs on the landing pages for each sim. There are also forums available for all popular sims (again, reached from the blue menu bar) which have message areas; there you can write messages to other flightsimmers asking their help. Generally, there are knowledgeable people available who can answer most questions. Finally, you can ask the person who created the file. Most designers include their email address in the docs.

    FSX Users

    If you are using Microsoft Flight Simulator X ("FSX") you will find additional information in our FSX Hangar which is available from the blue menu bar on our home page, directly below "Home". This FSX landing page includes only information and links related to FSX, such as reviews, tutorial articles on installing add-ons, links to upgrades, links to the latest FSX files and more.

    Visit the FSX Hangar here.

    You can bookmark the FSX landing page using this special URL:

    fsx.flightsim.com

    FS2004 - A Century Of Flight Users

    If you are using Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 - A Century Of Flight ("FS2004") you will find additional information in our FS2004 Hangar which is available from the blue menu bar on our home page, directly below "Home". This FS2004 landing page includes only information and links related to FS2004, such as reviews, tutorial articles on installing add-ons, links to upgrades, links to the latest FS2004 files and more.

    Visit the FS2004 Hangar here.

    You can bookmark the FS2004 landing page using this special URL:

    fs2004.flightsim.com

    X-Plane Users

    If you are using X-Plane you will find additional information in our X-Plane Hangar which is available from the blue menu bar on our home page, directly below "Home". This landing page includes only information and links related to X-Plane, such as news, reviews, interviews, links to the latest X-Plane files and more.

    Visit the X-Plane Hangar here.

    You can bookmark the X-Plane landing page using this special URL:

    x-plane.flightsim.com

    FS2002 Users

    If you are using Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002 ("FS2002") you will find additional information in our FS2002 Hangar which is available off our Help menu under Flight Sim Hangars. Included are several how to articles on using the sim as well as information on finding and installing downloadable add-on files.

    Visit the FS2002 Hangar here.

    FS2000 Users

    If you are using Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 ("FS2000") you will find additional information in our FS2000 Hangar which is available off our Help menu under Flight Sim Hangars. Included are a FAQ ("frequently asked questions") section, how to articles and complete information on finding and installing all types of downloadable add-on files.

    Visit the FS2000 Hangar here.

    Have Questions?

    The information here is pretty general, though it does offer a lot of information to get you started. If you still have questions, help is available! Our message forums allow you to read and write messages to other flightsimmers, exchanging information on all kinds of flightsim topics. And even better, we have a forum specifically for newcomers.

    Visit the Newcomer Services message forum here.

    Having Problems?

    Having problems just seeing the site? Certain browsers seem to have bugs that cause problems when using a site like this one. To make use of this site, and most Web sites for that matter, you really need to be using the latest Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer.

    Even with these browsers, there can be problems with the way the browsers cache Web pages, which causes problems with forms such as the login screen, new user registration form and dynamic pages (such as file search results) used here. The problem can be worked around simply by hitting the browser's reload button whenever you get an error. You should also look in your browser configuration and turn caching and proxies (proxy servers) off.

    For many people this is the key to using Web sites like FlightSim.Com where the pages change dynamically. Exactly how you turn off caching depends on the browser you are using, and since there are so many versions we cannot give exact instructions. You'll simply have to learn how to use the software you are running. In general, browsers use one of two ways of controlling caching. There may be a check box to turn it off or on. Or they may be a cache size that you can control; setting the cache size to 0 (zero) is the same as turning it off.

    As an example, on some versions of Internet Explorer it's done this way: Click on the "Tools" menu, then on "Internet Options". Several pages of options are available; you want "General". On this page is "Temporary Internet Files"; click on "Settings" under this section. Settings gives you a choice to "Check for newer versions of stored pages". For best results, select "Every visit to the page". Then click "OK" to close the menu.