I just read about an extraordinarily interesting project that has sprung from the ashes of the old Terminal Reality Fly! community. For the non-flight sim savvy, Fly! was a general aviation flight simulator released for PC and Mac OS in the late 1990′s. It had a sound foundation with unheard of realism in simulating cockpits and systems, and though it was clearly a 1.0 release, garnered a great deal of fandom. They followed on with a release of Fly!2K, which addressed some of the shortcomings of the sim, and in 2001 released Fly! 2.
Fly! 2 suffered from a rushed release schedule and high performance requirements, and shipped before it was anywhere near ready. Terminal Reality couldn’t shell out the cost to get actual manufacturer names on the aircraft, so instead of a Cessna Skyhawk we would be flying a Skyhawk, etc. As with the original Fly!, most of the airports in the world didn’t have scenery or accurate taxiways.
Sadly, the lead developer, Richard Harvey, passed away from cancer. He was a great guy, even replied to me personally in an email once. Truly, he was the lifeblood of the project, and with his passing and the dismantlement of Gathering of Devleopers (GoD), Fly! 3 never began serious development. A fairly active fan community has remained with the project at AVSIM, and I check the forums occasionally to see what’s going on.
Today, I noticed Chris Wallace’s post annoucing Fly! Legacy. Fly! Legacy is an attempt to build an open source flight simulator around the foundations of Fly!. It’s extrememly exciting, because the framework of Fly! is in many ways superior and more refined than that of the only other open-source flight simulator, FlightGear. Chris goes on to explain that he had once considered donating his source code to the FlightGear project, but found many fundamental differences between what he was trying to do and FlightGear.
To this point, there isn’t a great deal that is “consumable”. There are SourceForge project and public pages set up, and the project status is only roughly about 20% complete. There are two screenshots posted:
ROTW’s Seneca V visits Lake Tahoe
The trusty old Flyhawk panel, gauges are under construction
I’m just hoping that all this isn’t coming too late to save the spirit of Fly!. There have been so many other advancements in the Flight Simulator world since Fly! made its splash… AI traffic, Air Traffic Control, 3D “virual cockpits”, and of course refinements to scenery. I would certainly hope that Fly! can continue on as a reverse-engineered open-source framework, whether in conjunction with or a successor to FlightGear.