In reality, it’s not big enough of a market to justify the expense. But Mac users take heart! There isn’t a large Mac flight simulator community, however there are two few great flight simulators that run on Mac: X- Plane, and FlightGear.
X-Plane is considered the best flight simulator for the Mac. While you can technically download it for free, we don’t recommend it due to its enormous size. Most users pay to have the DVD version shipped to them.
X-Plane is powerful and comprehensive, with extensive features and realistic flight modeling. Because it was not originally designed as a game but as an engineering tool to examine flight dynamics, it has very realistic flight handling characteristics.
X-Plane is based on blade-element theory, which determines aircraft behavior by analyzing the forces on individual components. One of the side benefits of this approach is that complex designs can be modeled for a bewildering array of aircraft including:
- Zeppelin Hindenburg. Based on length and size, the Hindenburg’s were the biggest aircraft ever to take flight.
- V-22 Osprey VTOL. This vertical take-off and landing tilt-rotor aircraft was born from the ashes of the failed 1980 hostage rescue mission in Iran.
- Harrier Jump Jet. Another VTOL craft, the Jump Jet can take-off from very tight areas like the roof of a car park or a small open area in a forest.
- SpaceShipOne. This is a space plane that achieved the first manned spaceflight by a private entity in 2004. It also won the famed X-Prize for $10 million.
X-Plane has everything that blasts off from the ground or flies in the air: rockets and gliders to helicopters and jets. It uses predictive modeling, which anticipates how the aircraft will act in flight, giving the most realistic flying experience on the market.
Like X-Plane, FlightGear is also available for free download but most users will benefit from purchasing the DVD’s. FlightGear is exciting because any aviation fan that wants to can contribute to its development. It is an open source project (licensed under the GNU General Public License) that allows any user to create add-ons and enhancements. It was created due to frustrations from a cadre of flight simulation fans who wanted to be able to make changes to the core software in commercial simulation packages.
One of its strengths is extremely accurate time of day modeling which correctly places the sun, moon, and stars for the designated time and date. The software tracks the computer’s clock time to put constellations and planets in their proper orbit. The system also allows for seasonal changes such as 24-hour days north of the Arctic Circle in summertime. It also locks in the exact moon phase, tied accurately to the current day and time.
You can grab both copies from our free flight simulators section here: