Flight simulators for budding pilots

Compound Eye photo of fighter jet pilotFans of Top Gun, Flying Tigers or Wings all share the same hidden ambition: to one day be able to fly a fighter jet at Mach 2. Now not everyone’s body can take the pressure and strain of flying such a sophisticated aircraft, and it often takes thousands of hours of simulation and practice before actually jumping into the hot seat. Just ask Maverick.

Luckily, the latest games available for PC offer very realistic flight situations and ultra detailed control boards, giving you a pretty good idea of what it would be like to handle one of these machines without the fear of ever crashing. These games range from the top notch Flight Simulator to WWII dogfights and futuristic interstellar travels.

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X – A reference even for true pilots, Microsoft’s classic offers 50 different missions, more than 24,000 airports worldwide and all sorts of aircraft from light jets to commercial carriers or helicopters.
  • Air Guard – Take part in massive dogfights during WWII to defend your family and country against Nazi Germany. A fast paced, arcade air battle simulator.
  • Flightgear – An open source flight simulator with excellent tutorials to learn all sorts of maneuvers with 20 different aircraft in 30 different locations. Offers highly detailed 3D graphics.
  • Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII – As a squadron commander during WWII, relive famous air battles like Pearl Harbor, the Battle of England or the bombing of Berlin. Excellent graphics and a gripping plot.
  • X-Plane – Another highly realistic flight simulator, X-Plane has a wide range of aircraft to choose from and lets you familiarize yourself with your cockpit. Used by US and Canadian aviation authorities to train their pilots.
  • Universal Combat A World Apart – Carry out frantic space battles throughout the universe. Needless to say this game won’t teach you how to fly, but the combat scenes are enjoyable.
  • Clearview – Learn how to handle remote controlled airplanes and helicopters before actually installing yourself into a real cockpit. Offers a multiplayer mode and cool camera movements.
  • Jupiter 3D Space Tour – Travel around the biggest planet in our galaxy, observing its ring, satellites and constant violent storms.
  • Flight Chase – Nothing of a flight simulator, this fun little arcade game is about collecting green spheres with your aircraft and avoiding enemy fire.
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