Where do you want to fly today?

Thursday, September 6, 2007 at 11:08 AM

Word is out that the new version of Google Earth includes a hidden Flight Simulator. Good sleuthing!

You might be wondering why we hid it in the first place. Well, we know that discovery is what Google Earth is all about, and you've proven yourselves quite adept at finding the unexpected. We knew it would only be a matter of time before you happened upon this new, enjoyable way to appreciate the spectacular scenery in Google Earth.

Check out the Swiss Alps from this vantage point:

And the Grand Canyon:

If you haven't tried it yet, we encourage you to give it a go. The two plane models featured in the simulator are intended to be easy to fly, even for non-pilots. There are no complicated engine-start or takeoff procedures — simply add power and off you go.

Frank Taylor, author of the Google Earth Blog, has compiled some flying tips, which you can use to get started. I'd say the most important thing to know is that flying is much easier with mouse controls (or a joystick if you have one) instead of the keyboard.

Another tip: If you don't yet have the "Enter Flight Simulator" item in your tools menu, you can activate the simulator by entering "Lilienthal" in the "Fly To" box. It just so happens that this magic little word works in the same way that the key combination Ctrl+Alt+A does.

Once you've found a nice vantage point, just use the space bar to pause the simulator and enjoy the view for a moment. Then, you can calmly look around using the control and cursor keys.

Safe travels!