How to Fly in "Microsoft Flight Simulator X"

by James Werning
Don Arnold/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Chances are you will not ever actually land a jumbo jet at the Jakarta International Airport, but you may feel as if you have done so when using "Microsoft Flight Simulator X.” Microsoft’s meticulous attention to realistic accuracy in the airports, planes, atmospheric conditions, maps, physics and more makes "Flight Simulator X" one of the most entertaining educational experiences around, especially for enthusiasts who might otherwise only dream of stepping into a real cockpit.

Free Flight

Step 1

Click “Free Flight” from the "Microsoft Flight Simulator X" main menu. Select an aircraft by clicking “Change” under Current Aircraft. Change the default Location, Weather, Time and Season by clicking “Change” under those categories, if desired. Click “Fly Now!” Your plane will start on the runway you have selected, facing in the direction of take-off.

Step 2

Type “F7” to extend the flaps. Type “Ctrl-E” to start the engine. Press “F4” for full throttle. Type number pad “0” (rudder left) and “Enter” (rudder right) as needed to keep your plane rolling straight down the runway. Type number pad “2” (elevator up) about three times (more or less as needed) to take off.

Type number pad “8” (elevator down) when you are flying high and fast enough to level out. Type “F6” to retract the flaps. Use the number pad keys to control the direction and altitude of the plane. The basic controls for taking off, landing and flying a plane include the number pad “4” and “6” (bank left and right), number pad “8” and “2” (elevator down and up), number pad “0” and “Enter” (rudder left and right), number pad “*” and “-“ (brake left and right), number pad “5” (center controls), “F6” and “F7” (retract and extend flaps), “Ctrl-E” (start engine), “F4” (full throttle), “F1” (cut throttle), “Ctrl-.” (toggle parking brake) and “G” (toggle landing gear up and down). Leave the “NumLock” key on for many of these controls to work. Press “Esc” and then choose “End Flight” when you are finished flying.

Flying a Mission

Step 1

Click “Missions” from the main menu. Select a mission from the list (e.g. “First Takeoff”) and click “Go To Briefing.” Review the Overview, Details, Maps and Charts. Click “Fly!”

Step 2

Review the information on the Message, Briefing and Objective tabs of the Kneeboard (the small window containing instructions). Move the Kneeboard by clicking and dragging the menu bar if it obstructs your view of the plane, scenery or instructions in the bottom left of the screen.

Follow the instructions in the bottom left of the screen. Use the basic controls to navigate to all waypoints and destinations. Type “Esc” and then “End Flight” when you are finished flying.


  • Click “Settings” from the main menu and then “Controls” to change the default keys of any controls. You can also enable the mouse and other devices as controllers from this menu.
  • The basic view controls include “F9” (3-D virtual cockpit view), “F10” (2-D cockpit view), “F11” (external view) and “F12” (top-down view; helpful for taxiing on the ground). Press “Ctrl-Up Arrow” to view forward, “Ctrl-Down Arrow” to view back or remove the “NumLock” and use the left, right, up and down arrows to adjust the angle of view.
  • For in-flight help with all controls, type “Shift-F10” and then click the “Keys” tab.


Photo Credits

  • Don Arnold/Getty Images News/Getty Images

About the Author

James Werning has authored books and articles on various websites. His scripts have aired for more than 15 years on radio stations across North America. He is a small business owner and a world traveler with a master's degree in communications from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

More Articles