to clarify, in case someone else has this trouble....
it took me about 3 hours tonight to fix. program kept crashing before I could even select a pilot. Error message:
Player file has invalide radar range -1
File : plr.cpp
the problem is a corrupted player file.
I think I caused this when I tried to change the colors in my HUD.
delete your player file (yourname.plr) located HERE:
This is not intuitive, since I had expected the player data to be here:
C:\Games\Freespace 2\data\players\single - but it is NOT.
Good luck ! once I deleted my plr file the game works again. So I'll be sure to clone my pilot from now on in case I have to delete one again.