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FlightGear 3.4

Learn to fly for (almost) real with this impressive open-source flight simulator

by Mike Williams

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License: Open Source
Operating Systems: Mac OS X, Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows 8, Windows Server, Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP
Requirements:
Languages: English
Software Cost: Free
Date Updated: 27 February 2015
Watchlist: Add download to my watchlist
Downloads To Date: 19869
Developer: FlightGear
RSS News Feed: http://www.flightgear.org/feed/
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FlightGear
FlightGear is an attractive flight simulator

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 3.4 changes include:
    •Improved frame-rates on some systems from more efficient use of Uniforms
    •Reduced memory occupancy for scenery tiles
    •Built-in web server now includes a moving map, a screenshot grabber, and supports SVG-based panels
    •In-application launcher for Mac, based on Qt5
    •Improved rendering of runway and other lights under ALS
    •New and improved aircraft:
          •Extra EA-500
          •North American P-51D Mustang
          •Cessna Citation II
          •F-14b
 

Verdict:

An attractive simulator with quality graphics, realistic scenery and accurate flight dynamics. It's far from the usual arcade game, though, and you should expect to spend some time learning the basics before you'll get the most from FlightGear.

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