My first taste of Flight Simulator came with the release of FS2004, and the first thing that struck me was the sheer quality of modelling, terrain and weather effects. Then I discovered that you could add new aircraft to fly by simply unzipping downloaded aircraft into the aircraft folder and wallah… you are up and flying.
So off I went on a wild internet hunt and within a week I had over 300 flyable aircraft to choose from. All of this had me wishing that my beloved Falcon was the same.
After so many years on the market, why could adding new flyable aircraft not be so easy in Falcon. From just one internet site, you have over 10 000 aircraft available for FS98 to FS2004. And in Falcon? Well Falcon, despite being “open source” has remained the exclusive domain of a handful of expert developers.
Well let me tell you, until now, I knew ZERO about Falcon or FS2004 editing, and I mean ZERO. But the thought of being able to utilise what is already out there in the FS2004 community for Falcon got me thinking and researching.
FS2004 aircraft are in .mdl format, which I could not open in any well known 3D package. Well one Google search for MDL converter got me a breakthrough. A clever bloke by the name of Henry Voppling, had written a MDL2DXF file converter.
DXF format files are AutoCad files. Downloading another great piece of shareware called 3D Exploration, I managed to load the converted file and then export it to 3DS format. I knew that LODEditor could import 3DS files, so I tried it, but it kept crashing LOdEditor. Trying various combinations of export formats before going to 3DS did not seem to work either, and I began thinking it was a lost cause.
I somehow (Google again) came across another shareware program called Quick3D Professional, and skipped 3D Exploration. saved my DXF file as 3DS, opened LODEditor and well well well – it worked !!! I had a workable LOD file in 3 easy steps !
You know what this means? It means we in the Falcon community have a HUGE allready made model database of FS2004 aircraft, to pick and choose from for adding to our beloved Falcon.
Anyway that is it in a nutshell, I will show you how to deal with some problems that sometimes occur in this conversion process. Please when you make use of a model created by someone else, please in your work, give that person the credit for doing the work ! In the following tutorials, I will introduce you to the software utilities and programs needed.
Wait till you see how easy it is to build new cockpits in Flight Simulator …. but that is another tutorial.
Have fun – ‘Mad Dog‘ McEwan