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FlightGear – Free Open Source Flight Simulator

by Johnny Karp 8 August 2009 6 Comments

Features Overview

  • Available for virtually any OS out there, from Windows and Linux to Mac OS X or Sun-OS.
  • Can be played in single player and multiplayer modes.
  • Real plane models and real locations available in the game.


FlightGear is an open source flight simulator with good graphics and realistic gameplay. This free game was recommended to me by Harmon a few days ago and I was pretty curious to see how it works. After a long download and a few minutes until the installing process was finished I finally got the chance to run the game. First you have to pick a plane or a helicopter from the huge range of options available in the game. The great thing is that the planes are replicas of the real life models, a great touch of realism. You can pick just about anything, from small planes to huge airliners or even Concorde jets.

flightgear screenshot 1

Then you have to set up a few display and gameplay options and you’re ready to go. Well, just about ready, because if you want to be able to get your plane in the air without too many headaches you should take a look at the game manual.

flightgear screenshot 2

Just take a look at how many keys you have to master in order to take your passengers from here to there in only one piece. That’s why reading the manual is absolutely necessary, or you can browse through the various video tutorials available on YouTube.

flightgear screenshot 3

My first flight was a disaster, my plane hit the ground about a minute after I finally got it up in the air, so I guess I still have a lot to learn. Here’s how the game is supposed to be played, a complete flight video capture of the game.

The greatest thing about this game is that you don’t have to own a top notch PC in order to play it, the system requirements are quite OK: a medium speed AMD Athlon64 or Intel P4 and a decent graphic card that supports OpenGL.

Version Tested




Operating System

Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Sun-OS

Download link


It’s open source.

Doesn’t need a high end PC to run.



The game also has some tutorials available on certain aircraft, you can access those from the help menu. The game is incredibly realistic, from the nicely designed aircraft to the landscapes and airports. Overall this free game is a great achievement for the open source world, a huge amount of work went into making this game and we have to be grateful that its authors decided to make it for free. As I’m grateful to Harmon for recommending it to me 🙂

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If you have any trouble with this software just leave a comment, I’ll help you out! If you know better free programs in the same category, please let me know!



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  • Harmon said:

    Hello Johnny,
    Nice review. I favor real-world sims like FlightGear over climbing into a Warthog and blasting tanks, although that can be fun for a little while too. 🙂

    SGI’s (Silicon Graphics Inc.) OpenGL is a great piece of work and FlightGear is the best Open Source project I’ve found to show it off. It really does look great. How it became “open” is an interesting story. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenGL#History

    OpenGL is used in many programs, most famously the grandaddy of all graphics programs: Adobe Photoshop. Its in several commercial games – Quake, Doom3, Call of Duty, etc and even the top massive multi-player online role playing game, World of Warcraft, uses it on non-Windows boxes.

    Besides FlightGear, OpenGL also powers the top free MMORPG, Runescape. And a couple of the ‘picks’ on your Freeware list: TORCS and Frets on Fire.

    Thanks for the mention. It feels good to give back a little to a site that helps so many others. Now i’m off to download TORCS. It looks like a lot of fun. My brother always used to whoop me bad at auto racing sims so i’ll be practicing a Whole Lot before challenging him to a race … but he’s Going Down! 🙂

  • Johnny Karp said:

    Hey Harmon, thanks for the info. And good luck with your brother, if you work hard and practice you might have a chance 🙂

  • flightgear009 said:

    A wonderful flight simulator…with minor falws i guess..Yep Flightgear does have its occassional lags…this happens when you are in multiplayer environment and what the MP server reaches its capacity. Having said these, for a totally free flight simulator, Flightgear beats some commercial products based on its accuracy and realism. Get flightgear and additional add ons from the website http://www.unitedfreeworld.com and you have a near complete simulator…which you will enjoy!


  • Ellie Hughes said:

    Auto racing is the name of my game. I like to watch auto racing and i’m a muscle car fanatic..–

  • ATX Power Supply %0A said:

    racing is the first thing in my heart and i also love to join auto racing for the adrenalin rush ,“

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