I never played around with Google Earth for lonwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwg and did not follow the news that closely. Maybe that is why I never heard about the flight simulator that is build into Google Earth. I read about it today in a computer magazine and thought it would be cool enough to post it along to all those other unknowing ones.
If you have not done so download Google Earth (link here) and install it on your system. Press CTRL + ALT + A after starting Google Earth for the first time to enter the flight simulator. You get to chose between two planes, the F-16 and the SR22 and several airports as your start position.
Joysticks are supported as well and it is easier to fly and more fun if you use one. After that Google Earth loads the airport and you can fly the plane using a mixture of keyboard shortcuts and the joystick or keyboard and mouse.
It takes a while until you get all keyboard shortcuts right. The most important ones are Page Up and Down to increase and decrease thrust, G for the landing gear and Space to pause the flight sim.
Note that it's quite difficulty to fly the plane using the keyboard alone as you need to be very careful with adjustments that you may. You also need a fairly powerful machine as it takes quite some processing power to display the world underneath the plane. While you can still try to fly around if you have a slow PC or Internet connection, you may notice that the program can't keep up with the rendering of the land that you see from the plane. While you still see land underneath, it is not highlighting all the landmarks and places it would if you had a more powerful machine at your disposal.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.