Just Get Me Flying

Getting off the ground with as little fuss as possible


At the most basic level, getting into the air in Flight Simulator is a simple matter of clicking the Fly Now! button on the Create a Flight screen. If you don't make any changes to aircraft, weather, location, date and time, or options, your first flight starts in a Cessna 172SP on the runway at the default airport.

Depending on your level of experience, there may be more that you need to know to get up and flying.


If you're neither a pilot nor an experienced Flight Simulator user, the best way to get flying fast is by taking an introductory flight.


To take the introductory flight

  1. Click Getting Started on the left side of your screen.
  2. Click Introductory Flight.
  3. Follow the instructions shown on the screen.

First, John and Martha King's videos explain how to use a joystick or keyboard to control Flight Simulator, and describe the basic flight instruments. In the introductory flight itself, instructor Rod Machado will coach you through your first takeoff, flight, and landing.

When you're finished, you may want to take a more comprehensive course in flying. Click Flying Lessons on the left side of your screen.

The Learning Center provides a wealth of information. Designed as a one-stop location for answers to Flight Simulator questions, Learning Center articles cover all aspects of using the simulator. Trying to find out how to change the weather? Wondering how to fly the Curtiss JN–4 "Jenny" or any of Flight Simulator's other aircraft? Looking for tips on making Flight Simulator run better on your computer? The Learning Center is the place to find all of these answers, and more.

Real-World Pilots

For real-world pilots who are new to Flight Simulator, the path to proficiency is a little different than it is for pure novices. You already know how to fly, but you need to know how to fly in Flight Simulator. How do you change aircraft, weather conditions, or simulation options? How do you raise and lower landing gear? How do you find more information about using the simulator?

Use the Learning Center to help you explore what's available and to find answers to questions that arise. Articles in the Learning Center explain all facets of Flight Simulator's features and options, including how to choose aircraft, how to adjust the radios, how to set weather conditions, and how to create and share flights with other Flight Simulator users.

Essential Key Commands

Action Key Command
Bank Left (ailerons) Num Pad 4
Bank Right (ailerons) Num Pad 6
Yaw Left (rudder) Num Pad 0
Yaw Right (rudder) Num Pad ENTER
Center Ailerons and Rudder Num Pad 5
Pitch Down (elevator) Num Pad 8
Pitch Up (elevator) Num Pad 2
Retract Flaps (in increments) F6
Extend Flaps (in increments) F7
Engine AutoStart CTRL + E
Cut Throttle F1
Full Throttle F4
Landing Gear Up/Down G
View ATC Menu ACCENT (`)

(You can also press F10 from the in-game interface to view all key commands on the kneeboard.)

Experienced Flight Simulator Users

Veteran Flight Simulator users will want to know what's new in this version and where to find all the features that they're accustomed to using.

Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight celebrates the centennial of powered flight. To view information about Flight Simulator's historical aircraft, click Century of Flight on the left side of your screen. Lane Wallace, West Coast editor of Flying magazine, hosts a tour through the history of some of the most important aircraft in powered flight.

This version also marks the debut of the Learning Center, a new way of presenting Flight Simulator's instructional content. To explore a wide range of educational and entertaining content—and find answers to your questions—click Learning Center on the left side of the screen.

Since you're already reading this, you've found out that we've collected material from the "In-Game" Learning Center, and made it available to you in "Web-Based" form so you can read and enjoy the information at your leisure from anywhere. So when you're surfing the web on your laptop at the airport, waiting for a flight, you can read up on the Flight Simulator system!

What's New?

The Product Overview video will explain what's new and improved in this version of Flight Simulator. Join hosts John and Martha King for a quick peek at the features. To watch the video, click Getting Started on the left side of the screen, and then click Overview and Video.

Users of previous versions of Flight Simulator will notice dramatic enhancements to the weather system in this version. Improved cloud and precipitation textures, weather themes, and enhanced real-world weather make your flight experiences more realistic than ever before. Air traffic control features have also been enhanced: New ATC capabilities include non-precision approaches and in-flight IFR clearances. See the Weather and Air Traffic Control sections of the Learning Center for all the details.