Aircraft add-on installations come in basically 2 flavors these days.
1. Executable Installation Program
2. Manual Installation by Copying Files
The first type usually comes in the form of a setup program or other .exe style installation utility that handles placing files in the correct places for you. Normally the only question you will be asked is where the current location of Flight Simulator installed on your hard-drive is. Normally it will have already detected or assumed the correct location, as it is a pretty well known directory.
The second requires the user (you) to unzip the downloaded add-on and copy files from the freshly unzipped file to the correct locations to be added to your game. I will try to give a basic synopsis of the types of folders and files you will find and where they will normally go. Each installation can be slightly different, and many will have additional instructions from the author that will direct you to take additional installation steps in order to enjoy the full features of their add-on.
1. Download the File
2. Unzip the file to a location of your choice using WinZip or the Extract option in your windows operating system. You can right click on any zip file to see the "Extract All" option in Windows XP. The extracted folder will by default thave the same name as the zip file when ever possible.
3. Navigate into the newly unzipped folder to examine the folder structure that the author has created. Sometimes it will be necessary to drill down a few layers to find the files we will need. Often the deeper you have to go into the folders to find the necessary files, the less experience the author has in developing and packaging add-ons for release mass consumption. Just a tip.
4. Find the folder which will normally look like the name of the aircraft and that contains the following types of folders and files. It may contain additional items, but these are the important ones to find:
- aircraftname.air (where aircraftname can change)
Copy the parent folder (HELICOPTER123) of the folders listed above to your aircraft directory inside the Flight Simulator 9 folder, normally:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9\aircraft
In some cases this will be all that is required. In other cases custom gauge files or effects might be included. read next step.
5. Somtimes you will also find additional folders or zip files such as:
If you don't do the right things with these additional files, you might not have a full panel of gauges when you load the aircraft in the game, the special effects the author has included will also not appear.
After navigating or unzipping any gauges the author might have included, select all of the .gau files included and use your right mouse button to select "Copy".
Copy these files to the Flight Simulator 9 Gauges directory normally at:
C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9\GAUGES
Do NOT allow an included gauge to overwrite any of your existing gauges, because you have no guarantee about the quality of the gauges that an author includes, so they have no bunisess expecting you to overwrite your existing default gauges. Chances are they have just mistakenly included default microsoft gauges in their package.
Next, after navigating or unzipping any additional Effects the author might have included (which is becoming more popular all the time). Copy any effects files to the Flight Simulator 9 effects folder normally at:
C:\Progam Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9\effects
Like with the gauges, be very careful about letting an author overwrite any of your existing effects files. Unless you specifically want to replace an existing effect, I recommend that you DO NOT allow the author to overwrite your default microsoft effects files. These files control things like smoke, contrails, water waves, etc. If the author doesn't know what they are doing, there is a high chance that the default effects they are trying to overwrite are actually HIGHER in quality.
6. Start Flight Simulator
7. After loading up, use the Aircraft->Select Aircraft option to choose a new aircraft type. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a new aircraft on the list because of the author's choice of packaging. Usually its best to look for the aircraft manufacturer's name first, if you don't find the new aircraft try looking for the author's name or company name (some choose to do this). If you still can't find the new aircraft try going to the "Any" category and looking for the aircraft description. Some older style aircraft packages will show up here because of differences in the aircrafts configuration files.
8. If you still can't find the aircraft after considerable searching, you might have performed the installation incorrectly, or you might have downloaded a package put together by a new author who doesn't know what they are doing yet. If you have searched hard, and can't find the new aircraft try posting a message in the "general discussion forum" asking if anybody else had the same problem. You'll usually find that you aren't the only one that has downloaded the aircraft, and others will be quick to offer tips or suggestions.