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Google Earth Browser, Mini Flight Sim

Screenshot from Google Earth Browser Plugin Flight Sim Game

This is a miniature, arcade-type flight simulator which runs inside the Google Earth browser plug-in. Based around a much modified version of the Google Milktruck(!) demo.

The plane hugs the terrain, and the gas pedal is permanently down. Just use Left and Right cursor keys control it.

Click the following link to play.   Enjoy!

Mini Flight Sim

Note, the Google Earth Plug-in currently works in these web browsers and operating systems:

  • Windows: IE 6.0+, IE 7.0+, Firefox 2.0x-3, Netscape 7.1+, Mozilla 1.4+, Flock 1.0+
  • Mac OS X (Intel and PowerPC): Safari

Further Details:

  • The airplane starts by buzzing the Googleplex.
  • 3D buildings are on.
  • Type any address in the location box to teleport elsewhere.
  • The small window size is an attempt to keep on top of new terrain loading in.
  • The plane is my own lightweight (60kB) 3D model of a Hawk training jet as used by the UK’s RAF air display team the Red Arrows.
  • If you fly off the top of a mountain the plane might disappear briefly. This is a GE/model altitude display limitation – kicks in at a couple of hundred metres above ground.
  • It sucks up internet bandwidth like there’s no tomorrow, so don’t forget too close the page after you’ve finished with it!
  1. June 4th, 2008 at 12:46 | #1

    It’s a cool start! The altitude thing is a real bummer. I went to “Grand Canyon Village” and tried to fly over. But, it was more like driving Milktruck. The next project should be to fix the altitude thing. After that, you can move into the more ambitious flight models domain… 🙂

    Interesting about the bandwidth problem. I’m curious why its taking so much bandwidth?

  2. June 4th, 2008 at 12:48 | #2

    Also, it is very important to have at least the compass turned on. Hard to know where you’re going (especially at ground level) without it.

  3. June 4th, 2008 at 13:14 | #3

    Frank — I think it takes so much bandwidth because it flies so fast and NEVER stops loading data. With other apps (even Monster Milktruck), you often have periods of time where all of the data is loaded. Unless you just fly in the plane in a continuous tight circle, I doubt it would ever get to that point.

    I agree with your other points — altitude and a compass would be great features for version 2.

  4. James
    June 4th, 2008 at 15:23 | #4

    Re the bandwidth:

    As Mickey says, I meant because it permanently crosses new terrain. slightly away from great circle paths. Not so great if someone on a capped connection, leaves a browser window/tab open all day. 🙂

    This was really just a quick mock-up really to see how well the idea works. Easiest thing to do is add a ‘dead mans handle’ , to force it to stop after a certain length of time (since the last key press).

  5. June 4th, 2008 at 16:26 | #5

    If you had it flying at higher altitudes the algorithms for loading imagery/terrain work better. The built-in GE flight simulator seems to do better at higher altitudes.

  6. June 4th, 2008 at 16:54 | #6

    Added Compass and status bar options. Thanks for the suggestions guys.

    I’ll look into creating a custom screenoverlay for the compass, the regular nav control is a little confusing, doesn’t appear possible to disable its clickability.

  7. Dave Crosby
    June 7th, 2008 at 22:24 | #7

    Error received on page load using Firefox version

    Additional plugins are required to display all the media on this page.

    No suitable plugins were found.

  8. Jeep
    July 7th, 2008 at 22:23 | #8

    When will this be ready for Firefox 3?….

  9. James
    July 8th, 2008 at 10:24 | #9

    It should work in Firefox 3 now. Still Windows only though.

  10. jeff mallinder
    July 8th, 2008 at 17:43 | #10

    Hi – don’t know whether onyone has already mentioned this – but – I set the flight sim off from norther France – where I live – and let it fly due north – (should have read the instructions to know that you could turn it!!!) – it flew over the English channel and then over the UK – all this took a litttle time as I was reading my other mail (this all started this morning when I got the Google Earth newsletter). – Being in France I then went off and had a long lunch – when I returned to see what was happening the all I could see were stars and an altitude showing of 350 miles!!!!1 .
    Now some 12 hours later the altitude is over 4 thousand miles and the speed (Calculated from how quickly the miles tick away, about 1.5 miles per second it must be doing nearly 5000mph – is there a bug in the progrm?? -t obviously got to the north pole and kept going straight on? ie at a tangent to the earth, starbound. – QUESTION – WILL IT HIT THE MOON and are we all safe……..

  11. July 21st, 2008 at 07:53 | #11

    i love sims

  12. December 28th, 2008 at 20:22 | #12


    Thanks for dropping this. I used to play on MS flight sim a lot and this looks pretty cool, even with the crumby graphics.

    I don’t have Windows though, so I will have to see if this works in Wine.

  13. January 26th, 2009 at 03:05 | #13

    What will they think of next for Google Earth. It’s fascinating that such a simple research tool can bring out such creativity from people.

  14. PJ
    February 10th, 2009 at 22:52 | #14

    Why know sound or am I missing something?

  15. March 27th, 2009 at 16:56 | #15

    It’s a cool start! The altitude thing is a real bummer. I went to “Grand Canyon Village” and tried to fly over. But, it was more like driving Milktruck. The next project should be to fix the altitude thing. I agree it look just like that! Cheers

  16. April 6th, 2009 at 15:06 | #16

    Hi there!

    James, i’m truly flattered by this stuff you put together for GE, I just ran into your site while trying to assmeble (or win the chance to assemble at least 🙂 making a portal with Joomla that offers tours of contemporary art in Hungary.

    The thing is, I find your flight sim really useful, just it could be even better used for my purposes in case i could choose the location before loading the flight sim itself, or even better if the user can choose a location on the surface of GE or GM (inside the browser of course) and start the flight from there.

    Still without this tiny improvement your work speaks for itself. Thank you very much for making these things 😉


  17. April 12th, 2009 at 15:24 | #17

    Hi James,
    just to mention to your attention that there is also a little flying game/sim using the ge plugin : it is paraglide oriented, you can find it at http://www.paraglidingearth.Com/pgSim

  18. Rapha
    November 23rd, 2009 at 16:47 | #18

    how do you view your aircraft while in the sim?

  1. June 4th, 2008 at 13:18 | #1
  2. June 4th, 2008 at 19:25 | #2
  3. June 8th, 2008 at 18:03 | #3
  4. June 10th, 2008 at 10:18 | #4
  5. June 12th, 2008 at 18:55 | #5
  6. June 13th, 2008 at 15:43 | #6
  7. June 18th, 2008 at 11:17 | #7
  8. July 15th, 2008 at 15:45 | #8
  9. September 27th, 2008 at 06:46 | #9
  10. December 4th, 2008 at 01:31 | #10
  11. December 4th, 2008 at 20:00 | #11
  12. December 5th, 2008 at 01:00 | #12
  13. December 5th, 2008 at 03:09 | #13
  14. December 5th, 2008 at 04:04 | #14
  15. December 5th, 2008 at 05:39 | #15
  16. December 5th, 2008 at 18:51 | #16
  17. December 8th, 2008 at 20:52 | #17
  18. December 10th, 2008 at 23:21 | #18
  19. April 6th, 2009 at 23:13 | #19