I’m no pilot, but for Christmas I did get two new awesome remote control toys: A Blade CX2 electric helicopter and an AeroBird Swift electric airplane. These are not the cheap kind you get at Toys R Us, but the high end ones that come only from hobby stores.
Having never owned any high-end R/C machines before I unpacked my toys and proceeded to immediately crash them, with impunity!
After this costly little experience I decided that perhaps it would be less costly to get a little “virtual” practice before I put myself in the poor house buying replacement parts.
Not wanting to spend a fortune on flight simulation games either, I began searching for free flight simulator games that would be both entertaining and educational. Here now is my thoroughly tested list of the top free flight simulator games.
First, a little about the hardware I used for testing purposes.
- Logitech Extreme 3D Pro
- Saitek Aviator PS-33 flight sim joystick
- Dell 3.2Ghz P4 / 2GB RAM / SATA drives
- 128 MB Nvidia Graphics card with dual monitors
Now, on to the rankings – in reverse order of course, to keep you in suspense while you read on to number 1!
It seems like the big daddy of the bunch is FlightGear, an open source game available for just about any platform out there (Unix, Win, Mac, etc.). There are tons of airplanes and also scenery for the entire world!
Even with a joystick, it’s important to print out the Quick Reference because you have to use the keyboard too.
For me, this was a little too much of a real flight simulator and not quite enough of a “game”. Not being a pilot, I don’t really want the flight simulator game to be as realistic as possible. I just want to have control over the basics and be able to practice my takeoffs, landings and maneuvers.
3.) Aces High
When I first discovered the Aces High Web site I was not really all that thrilled. It is a nice looking site, but it appeared that the game was only free because you’d have to pay to go online and dogfight with other users. Still, I decided to install it anyway and check it out. I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be a great flight simulator game!
In my opinion this game offers a number of attractive features:
- The game appears to offer a lot of options for the more experienced flight simulator pilots, but it was also easy enough to use that I was able to get up and flying (and shooting) without even reading the manual.
- The game allows you to choose different planes, theaters, armaments, and all kinds of other options.
- You do not have to go online to fly around and shoot planes down. You can play in the practice mode as long as you want with plenty of planes to go after.
- The flight simulator seems pretty real to me. You can black out from G-forces, you can crash, run out of fuel or ammo, eject, parachute and much more that I haven’t even explored yet.
- Finally, if and when the day comes that you feel like going online and joining the community that option is always available.
2.) Flight Model Simulator
The reality is that this is the only free flight simulator game in the bunch that is actually realistic for flying model airplanes, which is of course what started me on the hunt for flight simulators in the first place! When I play this I realize just how much practice I actually need before going out and crashing my R/C plane and helicopter.
Seriously, I’ve practiced for hours and I still suck! So, the reason that I didn’t rate this game number 1 is that it’s not what I would call “fun” although it is educational.
Also, it’s a little rough around the edges in certain areas mainly relating to the graphics and to how the joystick interfaced with the game.
However, if you’re needing some software to practice for a remote controlled airplane you need to get this one and use it!
Of all the free flight simulator games here, this one impresses me the most because it was created by just one guy, who happens to also be a pilot.
The fact that it comes from a lone developer doesn’t seem to have been a problem though because the game allows you to fly more than 40 types of airplanes, dogfight, ground attack, be a formation leader, take off & land on an aircraft carrier, try cross wind landings, network play, and more!
The best part about this game is that you can use it as a flight simulation trainer, or you can use it as an air combat game! It is a relatively small download, the plane choices are actually planes you’d want to fly, and it’s just plain fun.
YSFlight simply wins this contest hands down!
If anyone has other good freeware flight simulator games that I should check out, I’d love to know about them! Just drop a comment below.
Other software I already evaluated includes:
try http://gefs-online.com I think it’s as good as the others AND you don’t have to download anything to use it!
I must have misunderstood what you wanted , you said you wanted to practice flying your rc heli or airplane , none of these help with that , I have FMS witch does not have good graphics but really helps with learning how to use your controls. HeliSimRC works really well for heli’s only, good graphics good controls and only one back drop of a school back yard is almost the best. BMI Flight Simulator is really good not good heli’s but good planes and a couple of fun chase the birds game. AeroSim-RC is $80 ish it covers a lot of ground and is worth the money.
You can check FreeFalcon, originally an mod for Falcon 4.0, now is an stand-alone free game.
Nice post. I like flightgear out of everything there. I think flightgear is even better than fsx simply because fsx is nothing without addons :P
VNAF Aerobatics says
For those of you that have read this and like YS Flight, please visit ysfhq.com for thousands of addons including scenery, aircraft, and more. Also we have events that we plan such as air shows (online yes), Virtual airlines to join, and combat squadrons. You will get the most out of your virtual flying experience from ys with these enhancements!
You are a major time saver and you helped me get my money back (long story).
try TU-95 Hypergames flight simulator. Reliable flight controls and aircraft response
i think you should try GEFS Google Earth Flight Simulator
you should try Xplane.
link for free demo is here: http://www.x-plane.com/downloads/x-plane_10_demo/
Aren’t you forgetting Google Earth?
It has the most realistic flight simulator by far.
How about ‘Google Earth Flight Simulator’
i like to practice
Cool flight sims, I already knew some of them but not all.
WARNING: My Anti-Virus pop-up a warning about this site, it seems you have some kind of script redirecting code to/from malware detected at: http://taintfurl.org/gw5uxczxw1iksjzye/
It’s So Cool This Game
Well the best graphic levels are always on Microsoft FS products but if you do not mind it you can have fun with same reality effects on FlightGear for free…
Also in multiplayer map here http://mpmap02.flightgear.org and it is very fun to fly with other players or the ATC with Voip or Skype…
I have never test a real dogfight in FlightGear although there are models of miitary fighter with firing weapons and realistic machinegun sounds.
AirAttack is good for a free dogfight but the design is not the maximum… of course.
I wonder if someone could create or restore a free web site just to play online (and in multiplayer battle rooms) some of the “old flight simulations” now abandon softwares such as CrimsonSkies etc. etc.
There were beautiful simulators easy to play and to enjoy for me.
FMS is great, really, if you want to practice model airplane flight. It’s a shame though it isn’t available for Win7… I still have an XP machine at home I can use it with, but eventually that XP machine will go. what would I do then?
sagar mankame says
hey john i am very fond of planes and can land bigger planes from middle of runway…i can also do dogfights…i have old version of ys fs2000..can you tell me the details of the new flightsim and hw to down load thatx
On the Aces High II program, there is a way to get a free 2 week trial of the online play. I did it, I loved it, I owned all, and then the trial ran out. The offline version is still amazingly fun, and you can do LAN flying on it, too. I think Aces High II should be on the top of this list. My favorite planes to fly are the Fokker D.VII, Focke-Wulf 190A-8, Spitfire Mk.V, P-39Q Airacobra, F-6F Hellcat, and the Messerschmitt Me-109G-14. It’s an awesome game, you should all try it out!
I purchased a Dynam R/C simulator that came with a R/C style control box, cost about $30 with shipping from Nitroplanes, you can also find the R/C controller on other hobby sites. The Dynam one comes with FMS. I have also tried something called CRC and it also worked. Note FMS has some issues with Nvidia cards.
you were asking if some people knew any free flight simulator I know google earth flight simulator it is included from google earth 4.2 to the latest and better grafics than fsx microsoft game great for beginners wel that is how I learned how to use flight sims but there is no airplane I mean you can search for some to add on the internet more info check my video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBYx9oT8v2M
I am a big fan of ww2 flightsims. Il-2 1946 is increddible but not free. There are 2 that are for free when not using the online accounts. Both are called warbirds. Ik like the old one warbirds 2.77r. Find the biggest install. Or put artpack and sounds in after first installation. First set kill all Eye-candy in windows by setting it to performance instead of looks. Otherwise you have a freeze when selecting a plane. graphics are a bit dated, but planes fly well. Lots of planes, fighters and bombers, even some doubledeckers. game starts up fast! Dawn of aces is the ww1 version of it. Then there is a heap of warbirds progs called WB3. WB2004, 2006, 2008 etc. sometimes a bit difficult to find the right download. the lastest update can kill the free part of the game. So keep your installer and make a new extra copy before trying. Or ask around for older installers. Nice graphics and good gameplay, though I prefer the older 2.77r better in that respect. Ciao Simmers.
Thanks for the advice. I was going to invest in a simulator but after seeing these i’ll keep the money.
Chief Redelk says
I have a HZ Swift. It’s under powered. Up grade to Brushless and Lipo for a better flying plane. Enjoyed your site. Chief.
Chief Redelk says
Hello John..I have the Hz Swift..If you up grade it with brushless and LiPo you will enjoy it more. It’s under powered with a brushed motor..I enjoyed your site..I use FMS to train my students. Also if you start on a Air Hogs jet type of two channel FIRST you will be glad you did. Just don’t fly in the wind. Once the wind banks it over get off the throttle. My grandson started on the F/A 18 Hornet over a year ago. It has been a plane saver of the first degree. blessings, Chief.
Hey why don’t we all make a forum that we can all post a time and date for when we all get on YSflight and have a fight together. I am a pro at it and my specialty is the F-22
Kieren Biggs says
Hi there, im going to try the flight gear game as i am pro at flight unlimited 1 2 and 3
so maybe a more realistic game is what i need. will post a review within 2 days.
Have u checked out airattack? its an online flight sim-dogfighting-ww2 game and its free as well!
you have to set the key bord it is actually pretty easy once you get used to it try and download the pre-flight simukator u can downlaod a demo its like the game and prctice good frre one too
Glad you thought YS was best of the lot!
Btw, incase you havnt found it, YS has a massive fan base over at . With a large number of addon aircraft, probably more than Flight Gear…
Did you check out Fighter Ace 3? It’s kinda a lot like Aces High.
Nah… that is too complicated for me. I stick to bubble-shooter.
cheers and nice weekend
I have YS Flight. I use the mouse to steer. Pulling it down makes your plane go up, pulling it up makes the plane go down, and pushing it left and right will make your plane move accordingly. Use the rudder controls (Z/X/C in default) and the mouse in harmony. =)
I’m glad u put YSFlight on the top of ur list. ^^,
Comment by John P.
Yikes. Sorry, but I can barely fly them even with a joystick. :-) I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a clue how to do it with just a keyboardÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
to think….. i was gonna try
John P. says
Yikes. Sorry, but I can barely fly them even with a joystick. :-) I don’t have a clue how to do it with just a keyboard…
Hi John, thanks for the wonderful collection of websites….
i tried Flight model simulator and ysflight.
i dont have a joystick connection….
i m unable to takeoff the plane using keyboard….in YSFlight
can you help me on this….thanks
you can use your mouse to control the aircraft and if you want to take off you can press Q for sometime and press tab in fighter planes to use afterburner or burner in simple.
sims work great exellent web site ….thanks