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 Tools Enter Flight Simulator
- Windows: Press Ctrl + Alt + a
- Mac: Press ⌘+ Option + a
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Speed: current speed in knots
- Heading: direction the aircraft is pointed
- Bank angle: angle you’re using to slowly turn the plane in a new direction
- Vertical speed: rate of ascent or descent in feet per minute
- Exit flight simulator feature: click this button to exit the flight simulator
- Throttle: level of the engine’s power
- Rudder: angle of the vertical axis of the plane
- Aileron: angle of the plane when you roll or bank it
- Elevator: angle and lift of the plane’s wings
- Flap and gear indicators: where the flaps and gears are set
- Pitch angle: angle between where the airplane is pointed and the horizon in degrees
- Altitude: how many feet above sea level the plane is flying
- To taxi down the runway for take off, press the joystick forward to pick up speed.
- Once the plane is moving quickly, pull the joystick back slightly to lift off.
- When your plane reaches flight altitude and the wings have leveled off, center the joystick.
- 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.
- Press the Page Up key to increase thrust and taxi the plane down the runway.
- Once the plane is moving, move the mouse slightly down. When you’re going fast enough, your plane will take off.
- When your plane reaches flight altitude and the wings have leveled off, center the mouse on your screen.
- To change directions, make course corrections, or bank right or left, use the arrow keys. Small corrections work best.
- 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).