How to Create Your Own "FSX" Planes
By William Council
Updated September 22, 2017
Items you will need
3D modeling software
Photo manipulation software
The "Microsoft Flight Simulator" franchise originally focused almost exclusively on people desiring a pilot's license. Its intricate controls and realistic cockpits prepared aspiring pilots. The latest game for the franchise, "Flight Simulator X," includes missions for flying gamers looking for greater challenges. The game is modding friendly and Microsoft freely provides a software developer kit for making planes, airports, landscapes and props. With these tools, you can build helicopters, jets and military aircraft to your flying delight in "Flight Simulator X."
Download and install the SimObject Creation Kit. This is part of Microsoft's ESP Software Developer Kit. 3-D modeling software that supports the ESP format is required to make planes for "Flight Simulator X." The SDK includes plug-ins for 3D Studio Max and Photoshop.
Customize a path in your 3-D modeling software. Add the SDK plug-in directory to the program's recognized paths. Exit and reboot the program. It will now be able to access the SDK plug-ins and export models in ESP format.
Design the exterior of your plane in your 3-D modeling program. The developer kit includes several models to get you started. Some of the "FSX" models also have interior designs as well, but that is only optional for your airplane.
Create textures in a photo manipulation software package that supports DDS (Direct Draw Surface) format. "Flight Simulator X" uses this format for its textures. The developer kit includes a Photoshop plug-in. Load and attach your textures to your model in your 3-D modeling program.
Use the "XtoMdl" in the developer kit to begin conversion of your finished plane for "FSX." It will appear on the main runway of the Sea-Tac airport. Edit the "aircraft.cfg" file for your plane. This file contains your plane's in-game stats including turn rate, maximum flight speed, brakes, fuel consumption and electrical systems.
Boot "Flight Simulator X" and test drive your new plane.
Aircraft texture maps cannot exceed 1024 by 1024 pixels.
William Council has a B.A. in English from Columbia University and is a Desert Storm Marine Corps Veteran. A lifelong fan of comics, Council interned at Marvel Comics under the tutelage of editor Gregory Wright. Both a writer and graphic artist since 1992, Council currently runs Zephaniah Comics.