TechCrunch just posted a story about a hidden feature of Google Earth: a flight simulator. To get there on a PC, just hit Ctrl-Alt-A and on a Mac, it’s Command-Option-A (capital A). You can choose between flying an F16 or an SR22 prop plane. The F16 is fast but the controls are a little pickier, while the SR22 is slow and more stable.
Some key commands to get you going (if you’re impatient, like me):
- left/right-arrow — ailerons left and right (this makes you roll if you’re unfamiliar with aircraft terms)
- up/down arrow — elevator up/down (this makes you go up or down)
- shift + left/right arrow — rudder left or right (this turns you right/left)
- page up/page down — increase or reduce thrust
Game play is a bit sucky, but as TechCrunch points out, the nifty feature here is the fact that you are flying over real images. The downside, of course, is that those images aren’t 3-D. In the screenshot below, I am flying up Broadway in Manhattan approaching Central Park.