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The Best Flight Simulators: 11 Picks for Aviation Enthusiasts

The control tower gives you the affirmative – it’s time for takeoff. You flip a few switches, start down the runway, then pull back on the yoke. Up she goes as you launch into the air, climbing higher with each passing second! You climb steadily until you reach the perfect cruising altitude. You’re playing one of the best flight simulator games, and it’s time for action.

The best flight simulators are the perfect video game for aviation enthusiasts. Choose your favorite simulation environment, take control of a plane or chopper, then launch your craft into the atmosphere for exciting stunts and action! There are all types of different flight simulators out there, including options that feature true-to-life training & even wargame combat. To help you choose the best title for your tastes, we’ve curated this list of popular flight sims for various platforms. Ready to get started? Let’s check ‘em out!

11 Best Flight Simulators

The following list features the top flight simulator games for PC and console, with a summary and overview for each option.

1. X-Plane 11


Our pick for one of the best flight sim games

  • Website: https://www.x-plane.com/
  • Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: Flight Simulation
  • Developer: Laminar Research
  • Release: 2016

If you’re looking for a modern and ultra realistic flight simulator, X-Plane 11 is one of the best options around. The game boasts a sleek interface, true-to-life cockpits, and incredible world-wide scenery for unbelievably immersive play! With stellar 3D models and incredible user ratings, you’re in store for a breathtaking flight that’s sure to deliver for everyday gamers and enthusiasts alike.

2. Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition

Microsoft Flight Sim

Our pick for one of the best flight simulator games for PC

Originally released in 2006, the award-winning Microsoft Flight Simulator X was totally rebooted and re-released for modern day play. Hop into the cockpit of your favorite aircraft and fly across the world to over 24,000 different destinations. Whether you’re a fan of simple cessnas or jumbo 747s, there’s a great craft waiting for you to take the wheel. This is one of the best flight sim games for PC, and it’s packed full of immersive missions and sandbox play!

3. Kerbal Space Program


Our pick for one of the best space flight simulators

Build spaceships and launch them into the atmosphere with your own Kerbal Space Program. From research to building, to interstellar travel and more– you’re the captain of this spaceship. Take control of the wheel and engage in exciting flights, maneuvering through space as you please. The game boats a number of different modes and missions, and it’s lauded as one of the best space flight simulators around.

4. Take on Helicopters

Take on Helicopters

Our pick for one of the best helicopter simulators

Get in zee choppa! Take on Helicopters has players assume the role of a helicopter pilot who’s been tasked with reinvigorating a struggling aviation business. Take on new contracts, go on missions, and build an aircraft empire! The game features amazing open world maps that are modelled after real-world terrain and environments, and there’s always more to explore.

5. Rise of Flight: The First Great Air War

Rise of Flight

Our pick for one of the best historical flight simulators

Rise of Flight was an acquisition by aviation game experts 777 Studios, as it fits perfectly into their portfolio of realistic combat flight simulators. The premise? The era is World War I, and aircraft are making their way into battle for the first time in history. Take control of an early model aircraft to aid the allied forces against the fight against the Central Powers. Think you’ve got what it takes to pioneer the rise of flight? The game is available on Steam today.

6. Infinite Flight

Our pick for one of the best flight simulators games on mobile

If you’re seeking an exceptional flight simulator game for mobile devices, look no further. Infinite Flight boasts breathtaking aerial graphics as well as unbelievably immersive gameplay. Moreover, it features an amazing range of aircraft, locations, and dynamic atmospheric conditions. Take to the cockpit as you explore the open world environment to enjoy the sights and test your skills as an aviation expert.

7. FlyInside


Our pick for one of the best VR flight simulator games

VR is the ideal platform for flight simulation games, and FlyInside is here to pioneer the industry. Slip on your headset and enter the cockpit of your favorite aircraft to sail over the entire continental United States. The game features an incredible physics engine that mimics real-life flying conditions, as well as realistic 3D models and graphics. FlyInside offers a truly immersive experience for everyday gamers and aviation aficionados alike.

8. Aerofly FS

Ace Combat 7

Our pick for one of the best flight games for PC and Mac

  • Website: https://www.aerofly.com/
  • Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android
  • Genre: Flight Simulation
  • Developer: IPACS
  • Release: 2014

Jump into your favorite aircraft and explore the world in high definition. Aerofly FS boasts environments from around the world, as well as 200 different airport destinations and a large swath of open-world USA. Perform stunts, fly commercial aircraft, and glide over cities and states as you please. The game engine boasts realistic flight physics, and the detailed 3D environments offer the perfect eyecandy.

9. Pilotwings


Our pick for one of the best retro flight simulators

The Pilotwings series consists of three different games. Namely, Pilotwings, Pilotwings 64, and Pilotwings Resort. The series is lauded for its innovative 3D gameplay that boasts playful elements like Hang Gliders, Jetpacks, and simple aerial craft. Go on missions and explore the environment as you sail overhead the exciting world of Pilotwings. It’s an exciting retro flight simulator, and it can be picked up for your favorite old-school console or handheld.

10. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

Ace Combat 7

Our pick for one of the best combat flight simulators

There are few combat flight simulators on the consumer market that compare to the realism and true-to-life mechanics of Ace Combat. Assume control of an pilot as you earn your stripes soaring through the sky and engaging in critical aerial combat missions. The game features photorealistic graphics and 360 degree 3D movement for unbelievable detail and immersion. Ready to rumble? Check out Skies Unknown on PC, console, and VR headsets!

11. Il-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Bodenplatte


The Il-2 Sturmovik franchise by Russian developer 777 Studios features amazing World War-era flight simulation games for combat junkies. Battle of Bodenplatte was released in December of 2019, and it features the mechanics you know and love with an entirely new storyline and immersive settings! The war is nearing its end, and it’s up to you to bring the allies to victory.

Top Upcoming Flight Simulators

We’ve also researched the hottest upcoming flight simulators to ensure they won’t fly under your radar.

1. Squadron 42

Squadron 42

After a successful kickstarter in the early 2010’s, Squadron 42 has undergone a long development cycle full of surprising twists and turns. The good news? After several delays, the official release is nearly upon us! This epic cinematic space flight adventure has players embark on an epic journey of intrigue and interstellar missions. It’s packed full of intense space combat mechanics and do-or-die controls that’ll thrill even the most battle-hardened gamers. Interested? You can follow development and pre-order from the link above.

2. Combat Air Patrol 2

Combat Air Patrol 2

Combat Air Patrol 2 is another flight sim that’ll whet the appetite of combat pros. This military simulator has players take control of the AV8B Harrier II as they embark on missions and battle it out against hostile forces. Take to the breathtaking skies as you fly through geographically accurate real-world environments to carry out orders and stop the enemy fleet. Combat Air Patrol 2 is slated for a 2020 release, but you can explore early access game modes on Steam today.

What are Flight Simulators?

A flight simulator is a type of simulation video game that mimics piloting and aviation. Not to be confused with professional training tools, flight simulator video games are designed for aviation enthusiasts and the general gaming community. The premise? Players take to the cockpit of an aircraft, typically a plane or fighter jet, to practice aerial maneuvers or partake in combat exercises. Plus, players get to enjoy the overall experience of flying without the costs or risks associated with it.

The first flight simulator games were developed for arcade systems. Jet Rocket, for instance, was developed by Sega in the 1970s to mimic combat flight. Another popular game released in the era was called Interceptor. This game had players take control of a fighter plane and use an 8-way joystick to maneuver and aim. As you might expect, once PCs hit the market, the genre blew up in new and exciting ways. The result? Today’s flight simulators boasts incredibly realistic graphics with genuine cockpit interfaces and aerial terrain.

About Flight Simulators

General Thoughts on Flight Simulators

We’ve penned some additional thoughts on the flight simulation genre to give you a deeper look at these awesome games.

1. Homebuilt cockpits add immersion.

Many aviation hobbyists build their own cockpits to use alongside a flight simulator. This provides endless entertainment and an exciting hand-on project for deeper immersion.

2. Consoles feature flight sims too.

While flight sims are mostly the domain of the person computer, there have been several successful console games with pared down graphics and lighter gameplay. This includes hits from Nintendo and Namco, with the release of Pilotwings and Ace Combat, respectively.

3. Space flight simulations are growing in popularity.

As the next space race draws nearer, space flight sims are growing in popularity. This exciting subgenre features next-level tech with realistic spacecraft, true-to-life atmospheric conditions, and powerful physics engines.

4. There’s a sim for every taste.

From stunt, to combat, to plane-jane flying games, there’s a flight simulator to suit every taste and style of gameplay.

5. VR flight sims are the next big thing.

Given their immersive nature, virtual reality consoles are the perfect accessory for flight simulation games. Just slip on the headset, enter the cockpit, and go for a flight. Our list even includes a game or two in this category!

Further Reading

If you’re a fan of flight simulation games, you’ll definitely love our other game rounds ups as well:


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Very cool list, if anyone interested about buying the best flight simulator game, these are great.

Thanks Penzionisan!


Lots of good info, thanks, this just made gift buying a whole lot easier.


I’m new and dump I like fiying War planes like the P51D what would the best simulator to use be. I a Thrustmaster T1600W and the rudder TFRP could you Help?

Bill Walker

Hey Bill!

Thanks for reaching out 🙂

If you like flying war planes in combat situations, I highly recommend Ace Combat 7. If you like flying older military aircraft for racing and general aerial maneuvering, check out Microsoft Flight Simulator (and note that an updated version is coming out in just a few months).

– Austin


I would recommend DCS world it is in my opinion the most realistic combat flight sim and it has planes from WW2 to current day. The game is free and it comes with the SU-25T and unarmed P51 but they have the armed variant available for purchase as well. The planes are almost 100% accurate so buying new planes can get expensive,


Digital Combat Simulator or better know as DCS World.
Try it if you are serious about a combat simulator.


Over G Fighters for Xbox 360 is the best flight simulator for a console, hands down…

Just gave that a quick once-over. Looks pretty cool. I’ll have to try it ^^


Hi Austin, your work is amazing mere seeing all the flight sims. Can you recommend the best free flight sims for windows PC? Thanks

Hi David!

Thanks so much for your kind words 🙂

I have two recommendations. The first is to check out the X-Plane 11 website for their free demo. The demo packs a lot of features, and it’s seriously the best program around.

Another one you could try is FlightGear. I’ve heard great things about the program, but I haven’t tried it myself.

– Austin


You should include Flightgear, as it’s the more accurate sim compared to fsx, Xplane, or Kerbal: flightgear.org/category/tours/

Physics are really great, and the advanced weather simulation is better than the others. Graphics look seriously nice in a bunch of areas with ALS renderer turned up, and there’s OSM city downloads. Flightgear’s orbital physics are realistic (the Space Shuttle), while Kerbal’s is simplified & unrealistic. You have to look for the really detailed craft in the launcher like the c172P,c182,PA28, saab viggen, f14, j3cub, space shuttle, or airbus a320 by using the filter settings to sort 4/5 stars


i would not recomend flightgear if you dont have a acual yoke or stick and throttle, i have flightgear and i love it, but you have to play with the setings otherwise it is very laggy


I think FS2020 will beat out Xplane11 by a long shot


Nobody has mentioned Prepar3d (P3D), the game that is essentially the updated FSX. It would come between X-Plane 11 and FSX as the graphics are better. Also, FSX is on Steam for £20 (I’m guessing that’s around $25) and it is now ‘owned’ by Dovetail Games, an English company that made Train Simulator 2020 and Train Sim World. They intended to make Flight Sim World out of FSX but it failed and everyone just wanted to buy P3D instead.

Yes Or No Spinner

I’m so excited for the new flight simulator games coming out!


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