Fly around the world with Google Earth

The Google Earth Flight Simulator lets you fly a simulated airplane using a joystick or keyboard shortcut keys and a mouse.

Find out if you can use flight simulator

To use the flight simulator, you need:

  • Google Earth installed on a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer
  • A joystick or a mouse and keyboard

First, open the flight simulator

You can open the flight simulator through the menu or using shortcut keys:

  • In the menu: Click or touch Tools>Enter Flight Simulator
  • Windows: Press Ctrl+Alt+A
  • Mac: Press ⌘+Option+A

Then, set up your aircraft

In the box that opens, you can choose which aircraft you want to fly, where you want to start your flight, and how you want to control your plane.

Step 1: Choose your aircraft

You can choose from two different planes:

  • SR22: Good for beginner pilots, this aircraft is a more traditional passenger plane and goes a little slower.
  • F-16: Known as the “Viper,” this aircraft is good for more advanced pilots. It climbs straight up and still accelerates.
Step 2: Choose where to start your flight

To start from your current location, choose Current View.

To start from an airport, choose Airport and pick an airport from the drop-down list.

Step 3: Turn on your computer’s joystick (optional)

Under “Joystick support,” check Joystick enabled if you want to use a joystick that’s attached to your computer.

Check the manual for your joystick for more information on how to use it for flying.

Note: To change your aircraft, start location, or controller, you must exit the flight simulator first.

Next, get to know your control panel

Monitor everything that’s happening on your flight with the display panel, called the head-up display or HUD.

Finally, fly your plane

Using a joystick

Set up your joystick

To use a joystick, first connect it to your device, then enable it.

Take off and fly

  1. Press the joystick forward to taxi down the runway and to pick up speed.
  2. Once the plane is moving quickly, move the joystick slightly back to lift off.
  3. When your plane reaches flight altitude and the wings have leveled off, center the joystick.
  4. To change direction, make course corrections, or bank left or right, move the joystick in the direction you want to go. Small movements work best.

Pause or resume a flight

Press the spacebar once to pause a flight. Press it again to start flying again.

Note: How joysticks work varies depending on the manufacturer. Check the manual for your joystick for more detailed instructions.

Using your mouse or trackpad and keyboard

Set up your mouse as controller

  1. Place your cursor in the center of the screen.
  2. Click your mouse button once. The cursor will show up as a plus sign +.

Take off and fly

  1. Press the Page Up key to increase thrust and taxi the plane down the runway.
  2. Once the plane is moving, move the mouse slightly down. When you’re going fast enough, your plane will take off.
  3. When your plane reaches flight altitude and the wings have leveled off, center the mouse on your screen.
  4. To change directions, make course corrections, or bank right or left, use the arrow keys on your keyboard. Small corrections work best.
  5. To look around, press the arrow keys+Alt to turn slowly or +Ctrl to turn quickly.

To adjust thrust, aileron, elevator, rudder, elevator trim nose or flap, see the keyboard shortcuts.

Pause or resume a flight

Press the spacebar once to pause a flight. Press it again to start flying again.

Exit the flight simulator

There are two ways to exit the flight simulator:

  • In the upper right corner of the screen, click Exit flight simulator or
  • On Windows, press Ctrl+Alt+A. On Macs, press ⌘+Option+A.
  • See flight simulator help

    To get help while you’re flying, press Ctrl+H on Windows and Linux computers.