Q: How long have you been involved in FlightGear?
For over ten years. I’m the development coordinator (and occasionally accused of being the BDFL) for JSBSim. It’s been just a few months more than ten years since JSBSim became the default flight model for FlightGear – although it should be said that in these days a “default” flight model has less (or no) meaning compared to back then.
Q: What are your major interests in FlightGear?
Flight dynamics and control, but I really like the whole aspect of specifying a model in XML (and other) files – a truly data-driven simulation.
Q: What project are you working on right now?
Continued development of JSBSim. There are always things to tweak. Recently, I extended the PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) control component in JSBSim to support some work I have been doing.
Q: What do you plan on doing in the future?
Writing more documentation. Adding more features to JSBSim as needed. And trying to get an official v1.0 release out.
Q: Are you happy with the way the FlightGear project is going?
I really enjoy seeing the progress being made in the visuals (as a spectator) – in particular I find the Rembrandt project fascinating.
Q: What do you enjoy most about developing for FlightGear?
Since JSBSim is a standalone project, there are other applications that use it such as Outerra, OpenEaagles, and others. However, FlightGear has the longest history with JSBSim and the most active developer community. It has been both enlightening and exciting to see developers stretch the limits of JSBSim, and use it within FlightGear in ways that were not foreseen previously. For instance, the P-51D that Hal Engel has been developing over the past couple of years (or more?) is very good. Also, the recently published skydiver flight model was an instance of a commercial use of FlightGear with JSBSim that resulted in code being shared with us in the spirit of the GPL. With that said, the most exciting part for me of working with the FlightGear community is seeing the very real strengths of open source development on display, and contributing to that effort.
Q: Are there any “hidden features” you have worked on in FlightGear that new users may miss?
There are many features that are not hidden, but are not known about because they are not yet part of our reference manual.
Q: What is your background in Flight Simulation?
I was graduated from the University of Minnesota (as was FlightGear Development Coordinator Curt Olson). I earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering there and in 1987 I went to work for Link Flight Simulation. I wrote the flight control simulation code for the F-16 as it was migrating from an analog control system to a digital control system. In the years following that I supported the Engineering Directorate at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, working with flight simulators almost continuously since then. Most recently, I went to work for Sierra Nevada Corporation to do simulation and analysis work, as well as supporting some wind tunnel testing, all for the Dream Chaser lifting body project. I have been a member of the AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technical Committee along with Bruce Jackson, author of LaRCSim.
Q: What else do you enjoy doing, besides coding in C++ late at night?
I enjoy playing acoustic guitar (fingerstyle), photography, hiking along the Colorado Front Range, playing catch/fetch with my dogs, tending to a 150 gallon saltwater aquarium, and doing various home remodeling projects. But what I really need is more sleep!