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Flight Simulator for Mac

Last updated Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:11:45 GMT
Originally posted on Mon, 01 Jun 2009 02:22:19 GMT

Why hasn’t Microsoft Flight Simulator, the best-selling flight simulator in history, ever been developed for the Mac? Hasn’t Apple proven itself as one of the most successful companies in history? In fact, Apple products make up 11% of the home computer market. 

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.


Aircraft landing using X-Plane on a Mac.

Aircraft landing using X-Plane on a Mac.

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.


Aircraft in FlightGear running on a Mac.

Aircraft in FlightGear running on a Mac.

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:

Ian Stephens

About Ian Stephens

Ian Stephens is a Flight Simulation enthusiast with a keen interest in aviation and technology. He has been writing for Fly Away Simulation for over 9 years.

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Brian TwomeyTue, 23 Aug 2011 00:05:11 GMT

I want a great flight simulator that can run on Mac OS X and I would like to get separate joy stick and throttle controls. Best Buy and Walmart don't carry these products. Any suggestions.


Pro MemberFly Away SimulationTue, 23 Aug 2011 10:07:59 GMT

I recommend X-Plane for Mac. It runs on both Intel and PowerPC architectures. I think you can get a yoke and throttle system from CH products that is also Mac compatible.

You can get X-Plane for Mac here.

Pro Memberghun1Wed, 07 Sep 2011 12:57:14 GMT

To Brian: If you want x-plane (for Mac, WIndows or linux) go to: where you will also find the joysticks you want.

Steve GreenFri, 04 May 2012 10:37:19 GMT

I recently purchased Real Flight 5.5 and was using it until the controller quit working. I am on a Mac running under parallels, and I had to plug in the controller just before loading of the program started, I now get an error saying to plug in the controller. I have done this many times both in the back of my iMac 27" and via the keyboard. It will not work. I wanted to know if my Real Flight controller called interlink elite would work on any other flight sim programs. I am trying to learn how to fly RC Helicopters and need an RC type controller to do so. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Sincerely Steve Green.

MichaelTue, 10 Dec 2013 20:59:48 GMT

Awesome texture graphics very realistic.

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