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Learning Centre: Basic Guide to Installing Third-Party Software for Flight Simulator (Part A)
Posted by pete on Monday, May 01 @ 07:27:19 EST
Training and Education One of the most rewarding aspects of Flight Simulator is the ability to be able to install third-party add-on software. There is a myriad of add-ons available both freeware and payware for scenery, aircraft and other various programmes. They can both enhance and personalise Flight Simulator to suit your needs. The purpose of this article is to act as a basic guide for those that are new to Microsoft Flight Simulator by describing some of the methods of installing third-party software. There are several methods of installing add-on software and the intent of this article is to act as a guide only.

Step 1: First of all we will need to organise an area on your hard drive where you can download to, and install from. It is important to organise your files in a structured manner.

Here are some examples.

Downloads folder, organised by type to extract files to install folder.
Installs folder for checking files and copying to FS2004
Archive folder organised by type for the purpose of storage and backing up.

Screenshot example of Aircraft backup folder
Screenshot example of Aircraft backup folder

As you can see from the example shown in the screenshot, folders will be organised according to Type for easy installation and backup purposes. Most files are in some kind of compressed format, usually ZIP; this means that the archive will need to be extracted either directly into flight simulator, or a folder according to the instructions given by the author. Most flight simmers prefer to extract the archive into a seperate folder and then move the contents into flight simulator manually. By employing this method you should be able to ensure that all files are placed as intended, some self installing files have been know to be unreliable and the person installing the software has no way of knowing where the files are put and which files are overwritten. This can make things very difficult should you choose to uninstall the software or need to diagnose any problems.

Screenshot of example Scenery backup folder
Screenshot of example Scenery backup folder

Screenshot of example install folder with an extracted aircraft folder
Screenshot of example install folder with an extracted aircraft folder

Screenshot of folders in FS2004 commonly used for extracted files to be copied into.
Screenshot of folders in FS2004 commonly used for extracted files to be copied into

Typical Installations


1. Download to archive folder
2. Extract file to install folder
3. Open folders and confirm contents
Typical folder installations:
Aircraft folder: this folder should contain another folder with the name of the aircraft itself, e.g., Petes747-400; this typically contains the following subfolders, panel, sound, model, texture, documents, aircraft.cfg, and aircraft.air. This should be copied into FS2004’s aircraft folder. (See screenshot)
5. Test FS2004


1. Download to archive folder
2. Extract file to install folder
3. Open folders and confirm contents
Typical example: sydneyAirport, this folder should contain further subfolders, texture, scenery, documents.
4. COPY folders and files to FS2004 Addon Scenery folder as per screenshot
NOTE: The FS2004 Addon Scenery folder is a common folder to install into, but the author of the scenery may specify a different location, scenery can be located almost anywhere but be sure to point FS2004 to it when you activate the library as described below.

Many third-party scenery packages require Nova textures, these should be installed into FS2004 Main texture Folder (not the new scenery texture folder) Visit the AusFlightSim file library Microsoft FS Essentials area to download them.

Self installing files

Sometimes the author of the package will be very specific about using the self installer supplied with the package and allowing it to perform the installation for you. If you have any reservations about following this method it may be prudent to monitor the appropriate forum to find out if there are any problems with the installer. Normally there is no reason why you cannot point the installer to your install folder, and then move the contents to the appropriate folders in flight simulator. As mentioned before this will then give you control as to what is being installed, where it is being installed, and what is being overwritten. On many occasions it is better to allow the installer to do its work as it may need to backup various files and folders required for the package to operate successfully.

Activating Scenery

To activate the scenery, run the sim & click SETTINGS/Scenery Library. Click the Add area button.
Browse to the Addon Scenery folder & select the parent folder of the scenery you just installed.
Click OK. The scenery is now installed & activated.

After doing this in FS9 you will see this warning.

FS2004 New Scenery Warning

Simply click OK, exit the sim & restart it for the new scenery to display.
5. Test FS2004

Important considerations

Applies to any software installation

BACKUP - Be sure to back up any files that are likely to be overwritten.
If you are using XP run the system restore before installing any software
Back up windows registry

Be sure to read all the documentation supplied with the package.
If you are unclear about any aspect of the installation you would be well advised to contact the author for clarification.
Seek advice from the forums eg. AusFlightSim of course, there are many experienced flight simmers more than willing to help.

Configuring your computer and flight simulator can be very time consuming affair, I cannot recommend highly enough a system that will back up your whole hard drive. Example, Norton’s Ghost. A typical example might be a fresh installation of Windows completely updated, any third-party software that you would like to have on your computer, flight simulator installed as default.

You might then make a second backup, where flight simulator is fully configured with all your new third-party software. Ideally you would need a second hard drive where Nortons can save your backups too. It has been my experience that I can restore a typical backup in approximately 30 to 40 minutes, and this can often be faster than trying to diagnose any problems.

This will then give you the peace of mind knowing that should something go wrong in a reasonably short time you will be able to restore your computer back to a pristine condition.

Watch for the final part of this article in the very near future: Basic Guide to Installing Third-Party Software for Microsoft Flight Simulator. (Part B)


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Associated Topics

Add-On AircraftAdd-On SceneryOther Add-Ons

Re: Basic Guide to Installing Third-Party Software for Flight Simulator (Part A) (Score: 1)
by Flighthappy on Monday, May 01 @ 09:29:42 EST
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Congratulations Pete! Not only is your article logical, practical and user-friendly it is very eloquently written!  Will keep an eye out for your future articles. I needed to read this just at the right time.
  Wish I had a navigator like you.

Re: Basic Guide to Installing Third-Party Software for Flight Simulator (Part A) (Score: 1)
by mrxxxs on Monday, October 15 @ 04:53:52 EST
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