If you've only ever played flight simulators in their basic, combat form, then FlightGear might at first seem a little tame. After all, there are no dogfights here, no precision bombing raids, no infantry support missions. Why bother?
Give it a try, though, and you'll find this amazing open-source project has plenty of challenges. Like learning how to take off, for instance, by mastering fully operational 3D cockpits of a wide range of aircraft, from the 1903 Wright Flyer, to various light aircraft, a Boeing 747, Airbus A320 and more.
Once in the air you'll encounter realistic weather, and an accurate sky model where the sun, moon and stars are all positioned correctly according to your location. Not sure where you're going? There's plenty of choice - the full scenery set (which requires more than our starter download) covers more than 20,000 real world airports.
If you've chosen a long distance trip then the flight could take a while, but there's plenty to enjoy along the way. The scenery also includes major lakes, rivers, roads, railways, cities and more. This is even lit up realistically at night, with cities glowing brightly and headlights visible on roads, helping you follow landmarks to reach your destination.
And then, of course, you'll have to land. This can be almost as tricky as it is in real life, as you must locate the correct runway, follow the approach lighting and take account of changing runway elevation (you didn't think they were all flat - did you?) It's far from easy, but once you begin to master the program, it's very rewarding: you'll feel like you've really learned to fly.
Version 3.0 brings:
- improved usability (tab key cycles mouse mode, integrated multiplayer voice communications client)
- more realistic scenery (Scenery 2.0 available, shallow oceans are a different colour, building textures are improved)
- terrain loading times are cut
- improved APIs for creating maps, navigation displays (no programming experience required)
- New and improved aircraft: Robin DR400 Dauphin 180ch: Robin_DR400_Dauphin, CAP10C, Boeing 707, North American P-51D, Boeing 777
- Logitech Flight System G940 (joystick, pedals and throttle) supported out-of-the-box