The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has actively explored the design and implementation of networked, real time, three-dimensional battlefield simulations on low-cost, commercially available graphics workstations. The most recent system, NPSNET, has improved in functionality to such an extent that it is considered a low-cost version of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) SIMNET system. To reach that level, it was necessary to economize in certain areas of the code so that real time performance occurred at an acceptable level. One of those areas was in aircraft dynamics. However, with “off-the-shelf” computers becoming faster and cheaper, real-time and realistic dynamics are no longer an expensive option. Realistic behavior can now be enhanced through the incorporation of an aerodynamic model. To accomplish this task, a prototype flight simulator was built that is capable of simulating numerous types of aircraft simultaneously within a virtual world. Besides being easily incorporated into NPSNET, such a simulator also provides the base functionality for the creation of a general purpose aerodynamic simulator that is particularly useful to aerodynamics students for graphically analyzing differing aircraft's stability and control characteristics. This system is designed for use on a Silicon Graphics workstation and uses the GL libraries. A key feature of the simulator is the use of quaternions for aircraft orientation representation to avoid singularities and high data rates associated with the more common Euler angle representation of orientation.

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