OK, so Google Earth is already an awesome program: a digital world globe, 3D buildings, Panoramio and street view like Google Maps. But you may not have heard of Flight Simulator. It’s probably the only free airplane simulator in existence. So don’t spend your money on one of those fancy Microsoft Flight Simulators yet – see if you’re fine with the free stuff!
Here’s what to do:
- Open up Google Earth on your computer. If you don’t have it, download version 6 for free!
- Now, go to Tools > Enter Flight Simulator.
- Choose between two different planes, and choose to start flying in your current view OR instantly choose an airport to get right on the runway. There are around 25 airports, but you can fly anywhere by manually going to a place in Earth.
- You can also use a joystick to control the plane if you ever figure out how, or where to get one.
- Now, click “Start Flight” and you’re ready (hopefully)!
- If you’re on the ground, press Page Up to accelerate (on a Mac with a smaller keyboard, press and hold fn while you press normal arrow keys).
- When the plane reaches a certain speed, click the mouse so the cursor looks like a plus instead of an arrow. This will allow you to control the plane with the mouse. Move it down and up to pitch up and down, and move it left and right to roll. Rudders are Shift+Left/Right Arrow.
Woo-hoo! I’m flying!!!
To land, bring the plane slowly level to the ground. Slow the plane down by pressing Page Down, then align with the runway. Or not. On the “Viper” jet, make sure the gear is down (press “G”). Now, hopefully you’ll touch down and slowly come to a stop.
If the plane ever crashes, a window will pop up, offering to exit the sim or to resume the flight above the crash spot. Unfortunately, you cannot switch views, but remember – it’s free.
Check it out!