My aim is to make a hot air balloon that will work in Aerofly. First the bad news: I have no previous experience of 3D modelling or games development. Now the good news: my background is in physics (as an academic subject though - not in the gaming sense) and I have a willingness to learn new things.
As stated in the Wiki there are 2 major stages to such a project: (1) creating the 3D model and importing it into Aerofly; (2) creating the aircraft description.
Regarding stage #1 above, I've played around with the trial versions of 3DS Max and AC3D, and quickly come to the conclusion that I have a lot to learn! However ultimately I feel that this stage is do-able so, rather than spending a lot of time creating the perfect model and then finding myself stymied at stage #2, I've decided to model the balloon as a simple cube and proceed immediately to stage #2.
For stage #2 the first thing I did was to copy and paste everything from the Sopwith Camel folder and delete all the obvious things - the compressed textures, sound files, etc. As far as I can see the only thing I'm left with that will cause me any trouble is the TMD file. I have in mind a very simple physics model for my cube/balloon ..... (a) constant horizontal velocity equal to the velocity of the wind, and (b) vertical acceleration (up or down) which is a function of the time the burner has been on and also the interval between "burns". My plan is to assign the gas burner to "throttle" and change its effect from the horizontal (x-y) plane to the vertical (z) axis. Looking through the contents of the Camel's TMD file I get the impression that I could probably delete/ignore 95% of it - but what is the 5% that I need to keep, and how do I translate from my mathematical model to the code used in the file? Is it even realistic of me to expect to be able to do this without being a professional developer? This is where I need some help. I expect there to be a lot of fiddling around and trial and error - but I just need some kind of pointer(s) to set me off in the right direction.