Flight simulators are popular among aviation freaks (like myself) and even among people who want to pretend they’re a pilot. Let’s check out some of the best flight simulators that you can get for your Windows PC.
“Human kind is already perfect, Technology is getting stronger but we are getting weaker”
― Pak Ho
Flight simulators are used by aviation enthusiasts, pilots, gamers, and basically anyone else who wants to play as a pilot. There are some free simulators and some that you have to pay for. Many flight simulators have both airplanes and helicopters, and some have commercial aviation planes (like Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s). Lets check them out!
Best Flight Simulators
X Plane 10:
You can download X Plane 10 for your Windows or Mac computer here.
X Plane is one of the best flight simulators on the market. Their controls are very realistic and you can pilot a bunch of different planes and even some helicopters. The simulation is extremely realistic and the graphics are incredible. You can fly B-52 stealth bombers, F-16s, and smaller planes like Embreaers and Pipers all the way up to the jumbojet Airbus A380 to the Queen of the Skies the Boeing 747.
X Plane 10 allows you to experience takeoffs and landings, severe weather, turbulence, taxiing to your runway, emergencies in mid air, pre-flight checklists, and many other real life situations. The physics are extremely realistic and you can’t just troll around, you need to take it seriously. It is essentially the airplane version of Eurotruck simulator.
Here are some of the planes you can fly in X Plane 10:
- Boeing 727
- Boeing 747 (picture below)
- Boeing 737
- McDonnell Douglas DC 10
- Beechcraft King Air C90B
- You can also fly a Apache helicopter in X Plane 10.
They do offer a free demo, and if you decide to buy it it’ll set you back about $59.99 USD. Buying X Plane 10 gives you 40 additional aircraft, and you can play it on your Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. If you are a big airplane and flight junkie, then definitely give X Plane 10 a shot.
DCS World allows you to fly different military planes and helicopters. You can fly in a bunch of different locations with a bunch of different planes you can select from. Whats cool is that DCS World allows you to play through different time eras, for example flying during WWII and flying now in 2016. You can add on different maps and planes very easily, and can even get different goals and objectives.
Here are some of the planes that you can fly:
- F-5E Tiger
- L-39 Albatros
- MiG-15 bis
- MiG-21 bis
- A-10AA-10 C Warthog (picture below)
DCS World has decently good reviews on Steam; out of 2,943 total reviews, 79% of them are positive.
While the game is free you can choose to buy some DLCs for $734.78 (you don’t need to buy them all at once, obviously).
If you are into military planes and helicopters then check out DCS World.
Google Earth Flight Simulator:
Google Earth flight simulator is easy to find on google Earth; click on the tools tab on the top of the screen and click on “enter flight simulator”. Easy as that. You can choose to fly 1 of 2 planes:
- F-16: this plane is harder to fly and it goes pretty fast too. If you have some familiarity with Google Earth flight simulator then go ahead and fly this bad boy.
- SR22: This plane is easy to fly and is perfect for beginners, so if you are new to flight simulators, particularly Google Earth’s simulator then try flying this plane first
Here are the controls if you have a keyboard and a mouse:
- Use page up to increase thrust
- Use page down to decrease thrust
- Use your mouse to navigate the plane
- Use either WASD or the directional arrows to make course changes to your flight
- Use the space bar to pause your flight and space to resume it
You can also use a joystick to control your plane. Here are the instructions for using a joystick:
- Joystick forward to taxi and gain speed
- After you have enough speed pull back on the joystick and take off
- Put the joystick in the middle to go straight and level off
This flight simulator is very basic and free, but it is fun top fly around and find your house. Definitely check this simulator out if you have Google Earth.
You can download and check out FlightGear at their website here.
FlightGear is another free flight simulator that you can download for your Mac, Windows, and Linux computer. You can fly military planes and helicopters as well as commercial planes, and as an added bonus you can pilot gliders.
FlightGear is open source and they have a lot of free extras and add-ons that you can use. FlightGear is often updated and is done very well. You can spread your display out to other monitors (if you have multiple monitors attached to your computers), and can fly at real airports.
Here are some of the planes you can fly for FlightGear:
- Piper J3 Cub
- Cessna 172P
- Airbus A320
- Boeing 707
- Boeing 727
- Airbus A380
- Boeing 787
- Lynx WG13 (picture below)
If you are lookin for a great and free flight simulator which a bunch of things to fly, check out FlightGear.
You can check out YS Flight’s website and download YS Flight here.
Out of all the simulators on this list, YS Flight is probably one of my least favorites. The graphics are decent and it is realistic, it just doesn’t really live up to some of the other simulators. It is free, so there is no harm in trying it out to see if you like it or not.
The controls are fairly simple, though not as easy as some of the other flight simulators. The OS for the game is pretty old and needs to be updated. They have a lot of different planes you can fly, which is really nice.
YS Flight is militaristic, so you do have military goals and objectives you need to do and complete.
Rise of Flight:
You can check out Rise of Flight as well as download Rise of Flight from their website here.
This is a WWI flight simulator game and it is incredibly fun. The graphics are stellar and the game play is really fun. It is free, which almost seems like a steal for this game. You do have to purchase planes with real money if you want to fly those. Here are some planes you can buy (you can find the full list here):
- Felixstowe F. 2A ($2.71) (pictured below)
- SPAD 13.C1 (free)
- Albatros D. Va (free)
- DFW C.V ($2.03)
- Gotha G. V ($2.37)
- Nieuport 17. C1 RUS (free)
You can control your plane with either your keyboard and mouse or with a joystick, it is totally up to the user. You can also purchase upgrades for your plane and can even buy new map packs from Rise of Flight’s online store if you are enjoying playing it.
Rise of Flight is focused primarily on military planes, so you won’t be flying commercial airliners in this simulator. The game is a lot of fun and you can’t beat that free price tag. If you enjoy WWI history and love flying, then do yourself a favor and check out Rise Of Flight.
The game is free, but if you want extra planes and extra options then you will need to purchase them through the game. You don’t have to buy planes, but the first plane you get is very slow and boring, so it may behoove you to check out the downloadable planes.
The game is really easy to get used to, so it is great for someone who is just starting off with flight simulation games. There are a lot of missions that help you level up and become more familiar with the game, and if you want you can do more challenging levels.
Here are some of the planes you can fly:
- Airbus A321
- Boeing 747
- BeechCraft Baron 58
- Robinson R22 Beta II (pictured below)
- Douglas DC-3
- Boeing 737
There are quite a few different aircraft that you can fly, and it actually gives you a good sense of flying those planes and helicopters.
Another really cool aspect about Microsoft Flight is that it is multiplayer, so you can actually fly with other people and friends. You can even play as an Air Traffic Controller and guide other planes around and where to land.
The graphics look great, and you do get a lot with the free version. You can upgrade it and buy the paid version and get more stuff for the game, but it is optional. I like that you get a good combo of civil aviation planes as well as personal planes, it really gives the player good options as to what they want to fly.