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Fly around the world

Use a joystick or keyboard shortcuts to explore the world in a flight simulator.

Flight simulator requirements

To use the flight simulator, you need:

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

Launch the flight simulator

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

  • In the menu: Click or tap Tools and then Enter Flight Simulator
  • Windows: Press Ctrl + Alt + a
  • Mac: Press ⌘+ Option + a
Choose your plane

Choose which aircraft you want to fly, where you want to start your flight, and how you want to control your plane.

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

  1. Choose your aircraft
    • If you’re a beginner pilot, use the SR22 to learn how to fly.
    • If you’re a skilled pilot, use the F-16 to climb straight up and keep going.
  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.
  3. Set up your flight controller
    • Computer joystick (optional): Under "Joystick support," check Joystick enabled. Check your joystick’s manual for more detailed instructions.
    • Computer mouse: Place your cursor in the center of the screen. Then, click your mouse button once.

Fly your plane

Monitor everything that’s happening on your flight with the head-up display (HUD). To get help while you’re flying, press Ctrl + h (Windows and Linux).

Head-up display

Flight simulator display panel

  1. Speed: current speed in knots
  2. Heading: direction the aircraft is pointed
  3. Bank angle: angle you’re using to slowly turn the plane in a new direction
  4. Vertical speed: rate of ascent or descent in feet per minute
  5. Exit flight simulator feature: click this button to exit the flight simulator
  6. Throttle: level of the engine’s power
  7. Rudder: angle of the vertical axis of the plane
  8. Aileron: angle of the plane when you roll or bank it
  9. Elevator: angle and lift of the plane’s wings
  10. Flap and gear indicators: where the flaps and gears are set
  11. Pitch angle: angle between where the airplane is pointed and the horizon in degrees
  12. Altitude: how many feet above sea level the plane is flying
Fly using a joystick
  1. To taxi down the runway for take off, press the joystick forward to pick up speed.

  2. Once the plane is moving quickly, pull the joystick back slightly 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 to pause a flight. Then, press it again to resume your flight.

Fly using a mouse & keyboard
  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. Small corrections work best.
  5. To look around, press the arrow keys + Alt to turn slowly or + Ctrl to turn quickly.

For more keyboard flight controls, see the keyboard shortcuts.

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.
  • Press Ctrl + Alt + a (Windows) or ⌘+ Option + a (Mac).