Step By Step

A guide for new users and Flight Simulator veterans

To keep an airplane in the air—and to land it safely on a runway—a real-world pilot must understand and manage many controls. There's a lot to know about Flight Simulator, too, but that's part of the fun and challenge.

Navigating through Flight Simulator

After you install and start Flight Simulator, use the links on the left side of the screen to navigate among the sections:

Navigating through Flight Simulator

After you install and start Flight Simulator, use the links on the left side of the screen to navigate among the sections:

If you're an experienced Flight Simulator pilot, you already know a lot about flying. Your task will be to learn how to learn about the latest Flight Simulator features.

If you're a new Flight Simulator pilot, you'll need to spend a little more time getting up to speed. The best way to learn involves a lot of exploring: Start by taking an introductory flight, then study a few flying lessons, practice flying on your own, and take some historic flights. Keep flying, learning, and having fun.

To get the most out of the latest Flight Simulator features, you may want to try exploring in the following order:

Getting Started

Getting Started—hosted by John and Martha King of King Schools—gives you an introduction to key features of Flight Simulator and a gateway to your first flight.

To learn all about this version of Flight Simulator, watch the introductory videos. The Product Overview video covers this version's exciting features, including dynamic weather and interactive cockpit controls. The videos under New to Flight Simulator? will prepare you to take an introductory flight after teaching you how to use a joystick and read basic flight instruments.

Getting Started

To begin exploring Flight Simulator, click Getting Started on the left side of the screen.

Flight Simulator News

If you have an Internet connection, Flight Simulator News will download the latest news and information about Flight Simulator. To get updates, click News on the left side of the screen.

Century of Flight

Step into aviation history with Flying magazine's West Coast editor Lane Wallace as she recounts her experiences with the nine historic aircraft featured in this version of Flight Simulator. Wallace's nine evocative essays give perspective on the planes, the pilots, and the passion that drove the development of early aviation and fueled some of history's epic flights. Each Century of Flight essay includes links to re-created historical flights. After reading about each aircraft, you can fly into history: pilot the de Havilland DH–88 Comet in the MacRobertson Air Race, or fly an early airline route through the Rocky Mountains in a Douglas DC–3.

A Century of Flight

To read about—and fly—the nine historical aircraft in Flight Simulator, click Century of Flight on the left side of the screen. You can also find the same historic flights on the Select a Flight screen.

Create a Flight

Once you've learned to fly, the Flight Simulator skies are wide open to you. Choose your aircraft, your starting location and time, and the prevailing weather… then start flying. This is your chance to be a bush pilot, airline transport pilot, air mail pilot, air racer, glider pilot, private pilot, or just about any other sort of aviator that you can imagine. To design your own adventure, click Create a Flight on the left side of the main screen.

Create a Flight

Select a Flight

Flight Simulator features historical and modern flights that take you to some of the world's most spectacular destinations. These flights cover a wide range of difficulty, and include briefings with backstories or historic scenarios to help make your adventures more realistic. To choose a flight, click Select a Flight on the left side of the main screen.

Select a Flight

Flying Lessons

Once you've learned the basics, you'll want to take Flying Lessons with one of the world's renowned flight instructors, Rod Machado. Rod walks you through in-depth ground school courses, followed by flying lessons that let you practice what you've just learned. Read the ground school material for each lesson, then fly the lesson with Rod's coaching.

Flying Lessons

Lessons range from Student Pilot tutorials all the way through Airline Transport Pilot courses, and offer a variety of challenges as your piloting skills improve. And as you progress through the flying lessons, you'll also move up to different and complex aircraft. During Student, Private, and Instrument lessons you'll fly the Cessna Skyhawk SP Model 172, one of civil aviation's classics. Fly your Commercial lessons in the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron 58, and then move up to the Boeing 737–400 in the Airline Transport lessons.

To learn to fly, or to earn a new Flight Simulator pilot rating, click Flying Lessons on the left side of the screen.


Learning Center

The Learning Center is your source for a wide variety of information about Flight Simulator. Here you'll find dozens of articles covering the basics of flying, including Using a Joystick, Using the Mouse in the cockpit, and Using Weather Themes. Articles in the Learning Center also explain new features, such as Dynamic Weather and enhanced Air Traffic Control, as well as specialized flying topics like Flying Taildraggers, Flying Twin-Engine Aircraft, and Flying Jets.

Navigating through the Learning Center is much like browsing the Web; each article includes related links that connect you to other articles.

The learning Center presents a visual way to explore major themes in Flight Simulator.

Along with the "In-Game" Learning Center presented within Flight Simulator, the "Web-Based" version you are now looking at gives you a chance to explore Flight Simulator topics at a more leisurely pace, and without having to load the actual Flight Simulator system.

These tutorials should help you get a more thorough understanding, explore parts of the Flight Simulator world you have not been to, and encourage you to become a better virtual pilot!


You can adjust Flight Simulator to suit your preferences, or to maximize your computer's performance. The Settings screen lets you adjust your preferences—for Display, Sound, Air Traffic Control, Scenery, Realism, Weather, and much more. To customize Flight Simulator, click Settings on the left side of the main screen. 

Other Ways to Learn in Flight Simulator

Help Buttons

Dialog boxes launched from within Create a Flight and Settings include Help buttons at the bottom. If you would like to read more about a topic, click the Help button and you'll be linked to an article in the Learning Center with relevant information.

Rollover Help

Point to the buttons and tabs on the Create a Flight, Select a Flight, and Settings screens, as well as the dialog boxes within each section, and look to the bottom left corner of the screen for an explanation of the button or tab.

Read about the Aircraft

Aircraft Information articles include detailed information about each aircraft in the Flight Simulator fleet, including its history, flight characteristics, flight notes, and checklists. From the Key Topics screen, click on the image labeled Aircraft Information, then select the article that describes the aircraft you want to learn about.

And that's just the beginning of your learning adventures. Now that you know where to discover a wealth of information and answers, you've got 24 aircraft, more than 23,000 airports, and an entire planet to explore.