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Google Earth Flight Simulator 187

Posted by kdawson
from the now-that's-an-easter-egg dept.
insidedesign writes "Blogger Marco has recently discovered that the newest version of Google Earth includes a flight simulator. Though simple in comparison to full-blown simulators, Google Earth's is fun and addictive. To get started, press Ctrl+Alt+A for the initial dialog (on OS X, Command+Option+A). Then choose your plane (F16 or SR22) and initial airport. Joysticks are supported; it has even been reported that force feedback works. The game's controls are sensitive so it takes some getting used to. Here are all the available controls. For a quick overview, check out this YouTube video."
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Google Earth Flight Simulator

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  • by Tom9729 (1134127) <> on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:19PM (#20437439) Homepage
    This is kind of like the Doom "game" hidden in one of the old Microsoft office programs. If I remember right, one version of Excel also had a flight simulator.

    I love easter eggs.
  • by Will the Chill (78436) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:22PM (#20437463) Homepage
    when Microsoft embedded an entire FPS into an old version of Excel. It was truly surreal to be working in a "serious" application and be able to open up a secretly-coded real game engine.

    Weird with a beard!

    -Will the Chill

    *this sig intentionally left blank*
  • by brteag00 (987351) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:22PM (#20437465)
    > If I remember right, one version of Excel also had a flight simulator.

    Yep, Excel '97 had a flight sim.
      - Hit 'F5'
      - Jump to cell X97:L97
      - Press 'TAB'
      - Hold down and
      - Press the "Chart Wizard" button on the toolbar.

    I bet the graphics in this one are a little better, though.
  • Sweet (Score:5, Informative)

    by John Frink (919768) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:25PM (#20437481)
    Just tried a flight, shows hills and everything. Way more than I expected from an easter egg. Kudos to the guy who dreamed this up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:29PM (#20437507)
    Except that it's not exactly an easter egg. It's under the Tools menu. Verifying that it exists is easy: open up Google Earth, use Help/Check for Updates to make sure you have the latest version, and pull open the Tools menu. There it is.

    Also, here are the keyboard controls off Google's website [].

    Saying that it was "discovered" makes it sound like it was hidden. It wasn't.
  • by Goaway (82658) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:50PM (#20437625) Homepage
    Quoting the very page you linked to:

    Once you have entered flight simulator mode for the first time, you can re-enter the mode by choosing Tools > Enter Flight Simulator.

    So no, it's not in the Tools menu by default, and yes, it's an easter egg.
  • Re:Wise Guys! (Score:4, Informative)

    by hottoh (540941) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:16PM (#20437715)
    We can all thank Mayor Daily for the airport distruction (I think I spelled the Mayor's name wrong, but correcting it is not worth the effort).

    Paraphrasing the reason for the destruction, "the people of Chicago live in fear of terrorist attacks, and I need to do what I can to keep Chicago safe."

    Secretly planning to destroy the airport in the early morning hours acheives that end?
  • by Bob Gelumph (715872) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:01AM (#20437949)
    Zoom to San Francisco airport and try it from there.
    It is weird, but it works.
    Also, use fn-up and fn-down in place of page up and page down on a powerbook.
  • Re:Sweet (Score:3, Informative)

    by shird (566377) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:18AM (#20438021) Homepage Journal
    Its nice and all.. but I don't think it would have been terribly hard to implement. You can already pan the view around in the same manner.. it would have been just a matter of adding some controls and basic physics to pan the view around. The 'hills and everything' are already part of Google earth. It shows the 3D buildings too in some places.
  • by Riquez (917372) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:44AM (#20438123) Homepage
    Yep, it does work, but you have to hold the keys down for a few moments to trigger the dialogue box.
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @02:03AM (#20438397)

    There isn't a lot of air at FL500, so your IAS is gonna be pretty low.

    Quickie: IAS or Indicated Airspeed is a flight dynamic that measures the unidirectional force of air along an aircraft's angle of attack and presents this data as a speed; it is measured with a "pitot tube," a metal tube on the wing or nose of a plane that collects air and measures the amount of force being applied down the tube. At standard temp and pressure, with no wind, and with the aircraft's angle of attack parallel to the surface, this number will theoretically give you the speed at which you are traveling along the ground. As ambient pressure goes down (say with altitude), IAS for a given ground speed goes down; as wind picks up, depending on the wind's bearing to the aircraft's orientation, IAS can go up or down (A plane flying a 100 kts headwind and 100 kts IAS will, all other things being equal, in fact have a ground speed of zero). As angle of attack increases, ground speed goes down. You might be flying at Mach 2, but if you're pointed straight up, your ground speed will be zero.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @05:56AM (#20439325) Journal
    When Google released Desktop Search for Mac, all I could read on Mac forums was "meh, nothing new compared to Spotlight"

    That was because it was nothing new compared to Spotlight.

    What's wrong with google earth, besides trying to muddle through with Qt instead of having a native UI, is that it has a nasty habit of buggering window server memory that it shouldn't be touching. It even has a preference for "safe 3d graphics mode", for heaven's sake, and it still manages to scribble all over the backing stores of other apps' windows.

    I don't know if it's as badly behaved on Windows or Linux, but on the Mac it's not up to what I'd consider a beta level yet. It's fun to play around with, but it's definitely in the "you get what you pay for" category.

  • by DohnJoe (900898) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @06:27AM (#20439415)

    As angle of attack increases, ground speed goes down
    I think you mean pitch instead of 'angle of attack'

    Angle of Attack is defined as the angle between the direction of the airflow wind and the wing, and has by definition little to do with the ground speed or the wind direction.
  • by mikeboone (163222) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @08:16AM (#20439911) Homepage Journal
    Apparently, someone else did it for them with an addon called TileProxy...I have not tried it, but there's a video here [].
  • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @11:35AM (#20441789)
    You might try tinkering with one of these files, I'd start with this first:

    %PROGRAMFILES%\Google\Google Earth\res\flightsim\controller\generic.ini

    These others in the same directory seem to be for specific brands of controller:


    From generic.ini

    axes = [
        A1 set(DE, 1.0, 0.0)
        A0 set(DA, 1.0, 0.0)
        A3 set(DP_0, -0.5, 0.5)
        A2 set(DR, 1.0, 0.0)

    povs = [
        P0 set(HAngle, 1.0, 0.0)

    It looks like:
    A0..3 = the four axes
    P0 = hat switch
    DE = elevators
    DA = ailerons
    DP_0 = power
    DR = rudder
    HAngle = head angle

    I swapped A2 and A3 and everything was hunky-dory!

    Check out the other *.ini files and see the there are also button press and release events that can be programmed:
    B0..n = buttons

    Proceed at your own peril. And don't be a dummy like me, backup your files first!

    If you want to get really adventurous here are the flight characteristics of the available aircraft (these are also plain text files):
    %PROGRAMFILES%\Google\Google Earth\res\flightsim\aircraft\*.acf

    It's like Christmas!
  • by scaryjohn (120394) <> on Sunday September 02, 2007 @11:44AM (#20441895) Homepage Journal

    Most of the joy of flying General Aviation (small) planes is the view - nothing like it anywhere else, including that commercial jet. (which rockets up to 45,000 feet in 10 minutes where you can't see jack) Flight simulators have typically given depictions of the landscape - patterns that are rough analogies of what you'd actually find out the window.

    But this is the real McCoy! Resolution is still weak, and the plane handling characteristics are lousy, but when I'm flying 5,500 VFR over the East Bay, it actually IS the East Bay. I noticed that once you've started the Easter Egg, you can re-launch from any view, which let me spin a few circles above local Oroville, CA.

    For a better mix of realistic scenery and handling, have you tried Flight Gear []? I haven't gotten it to work on my computer so I'm not speaking from experience, but I was taken in to try it by the fact that they have 10 degree by 10 degree texture packs you can get if you want to see the area you're in, instead of a white bread approximation of it. Or get the whole world on three DVD's!

  • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @11:45AM (#20441907)
    I guess I was a little too excited and posted before checking everything out. There are more files in the controller director for various sticks. And the files are pretty well documented. You can also create a custom HUD and keyboard setups. Damn! You can even change the gravity and atmosphere. And apparently you don't have to modify existing configs, you can add new ones and reference them in the flightsim.ini file (where you can also setup addition airports). Haven't tested that part yet. Fun-fun-fun!
  • by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @12:12PM (#20442235)
    Bah! You can't add new planes without rebuilding the dialog box resource and compiling it into flightsim.dll. Weak, Google. But thanks for making everything else so easy to monkey with.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 02, 2007 @03:28PM (#20444385)
    The new flight simulator is NOT awesome. There is a HUGE difference between its control input the the flight response, compared to that of a real airplane. So it is worthless in that respect.

    While reasonably anticipating the response to a control input is an important part of real flying, a much more important part is judging the attitude, altitude and airspeed during approach to landing. (After all landing is the __ONLY__ really important flying skill required. Well, there are other ways to screw up but landing is number 1 by a long shot.)

    I have found that the Navigation Mode Flight Control (Ctrl-G) is far more 'realistic', especially when it comes to developing a feeling for attitude, altitude and airspeed from visual inputs during approach to landing. The only major improvement I would like to see here is the ability to use keyboard input to adjust speed rather than the (relatively insensitive) right mouse button.
  • by IngramJames (205147) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @04:22PM (#20444923)
    I'm reply to THIS parent so that this post floats to the top.

    Call me a karma-whore if you will, but this may save y'all some time.

    The shortcut that worked for ME was CTRL-WINDOWS_BUTTON-A, not ALT.

  • by notanatheist (581086) on Sunday September 02, 2007 @04:44PM (#20445101) Homepage
    It may depend on your window manager. On Fluxbox I just used Ctrl+Alt+A to get into it. One thing for sure though, my crappy joystick works better with X-Plane which happens to run beautifully on linux as well.

"Ahead warp factor 1" - Captain Kirk