Ever since man first looked into the sky, witnessed the majestic soaring of a mighty pterodactyl, thought ‘I wish I could yabba-dabba-do that’, then took his brontosaurus ribs home on the side of his foot-powered car to his caveman wife (history’s not my strong point) – he has wanted to harness the power of flight for himself. And ever since I desperately tried to pretend the 1990-era graphics of F-19 Stealth Fighter on my Commodore Amiga was just like being in the real cockpit of a military fighter, I’ve wanted to harness the power of virtual flight, seeing as how it’s safer, warmer and comes with a pause button to facilitate regular refuelling of Fanta and biscuits.
Flight sim fans have endured much over the ages. For years we were the king of the swingers, cock-a-hoop top cats of the gaming world, admired for our cutting-edge graphic luxuriations and ultra-deep gaming experiences that adorned magazine covers and topped the charts with a regularity that was almost sickening. MicroProse, DID, Spectrum Holobyte, Digital Integration, ‘Wild Bill’ Stealey – these were gaming’s brightest stars. Then it all started to go a bit funny. Other genres discovered ‘polygons’. Suddenly different game people were hosting swish parties and our names had somehow been left off the guest lists.
So we went underground. While those horrid ‘video’ game consoles with their Super Mary Brothers sequeled their way ever further into the limelight, we flew on. While him off Masterchef laser-shot his way through Halo-wearing aliens, we flew on. While Apollo Creed assassinated his way through history, we flew on.
In a way, it’s a shame we’ll probably never again see the likes of Falcon 4.0, F-22 Total Air War, Gunship, A.T.A.C., and Birds of Prey, and that if we want guns with our virtual wings, it’s WWII-era or nothing. True, the flight sim will probably never rise to its former height, catch the headlines it used to or lead the technical charge ahead of other genres. But the desire to explore the skies has never left and it’s precisely this spirit that we’ll be hoping to communicate here at PCGamesN’s dedicated flight sim channel.
While the behemoth that is Microsoft last had anything worthwhile in the arena back in 2007, others have taken up the mantle and the sim community is strong and still pumping out material that has extended the lifespan of things like Flight Sim X far beyond their natural expiration dates. Meanwhile, specialist sim developers took up the reigns of power as Microsoft seemed to try its best to distance itself from the throne. The superb X-Plane, FlightGear, IL-2 Sturmovik and the like showed the aviation passion was still aflame, as strong as ever and large enough to monetise into what is now a thriving niche market of third-party scenery, aircraft and add-on developers.
So we’ll be doing our best to bring you all the news of great moment and import from this plucky front line of fliers. Be it a stunning new scenery pack, a breathtaking collection of modern planes to fly, the latest in home cockpit peripherals or just people doing excellent things with virtual flight, we’ll bring you everything you need to know about flying from home in one place. See you in the skies.
You’re reading the flight sim channel at PCGamesN. We combine new, original content with feeds from the best flight sim websites and reader submissions. For the best, new stuff about all flight sims, check our homepage and follow our flight sim Twitter account for regular updates. Check our retail partner SimStop for Flight Simulator add ons and more.