GEFS - Free Google Earth based Flight Simulator
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A bug in the latest version of Google Chrome (25.0.1364.x) is causing keyboard control issues in GEFS. Investigation pending.
User accounts: You must now be logged in in order to specify a callsign and use the chat.
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GEFS is a free, online flight simulator based on Google Earth. Whether you are a licensed pilot practicing VFR, an aviation enthusiast or just looking for some fun flying a plane in beautiful sceneries, you can enjoy GEFS quickly, directly from your web browser.
  • built on Google Earth: worldwide photo-realistic sceneries
  • simulate fixed wing aircraft, helicopter, paraglider and hot air balloon
  • supports joystick control
  • realistic flight model (lifting-line theory)
  • real-time weather, dynamic wind lift
  • multiplayer: fly and chat with other pilots across the globe
  • over 30,000 runways and global airspace map

New in version 1.0
  • User accounts, self moderation
  • Instrumented cockpits
  • Flight record/replay
  • Autopilot
  • PAPI
  • Reworked aircraft 3D model
  • Antonov An-140
  • New user interface
  • Google Chrome native joystick support (experimental)

Instructions

Requirements:

To use this flight simulator, you will have to install the Google Earth plug-in. The installation should begin automatically as the game starts.
For sound to be enabled, the Flash player must be installed too, but you should already have it.
Finally, if you want to play using a Joystick, you will have to install a browser extension: more details here.

How to control the flight simulator?

Option bar

The option bar, at the bottom of the game screen, is the main way to interact with the flight simulator:
  • The first three yellow button are used to choose your aircraft, location and camera mode.
  • The "options" button opens the configuration window: use it to set your pilot callsign, configure controls, weather preferences, etc.
  • The "pause", "mute" and "reset" buttons respectively pause the game, mute the sound or reset your flight to the last state.
  • The "talk" button shows an input field to type a chat message. (Chat is disabled by default, enable it from the option panel)

Keyboard:

Configurable:
  • Arrows up & down: tilt the aircraft
  • Arrow left & right: roll the aircraft (mixed with yaw by default but can be configured)
  • <Enter> to re-center keyboard control input
  • < & >: steer the aircraft (Yaw) (only effective when roll/yaw mixing is disabled)
  • + & - (or PgUp & PgDn): Increase or decrease throttle
  • [: lower the flaps one step (when available)
  • ]: raise the flaps one step (when available)
  • Home/End: increase/decrease elevator trim
  • <Delete>: Reset elevator trim
  • G: raise or lower the landing gear (when available)
  • B: extend/retract air-brakes (when available)
  • E: start/stop engine
  • <Space bar>: brakes
  • <;>: Engage/Disengage parking brake
  • You can configure the keyboard sensitivity from the "option" panel.
Fixed:
  • 0 to 9: Directly set throttle by 10% steps
  • A: Toggle autopilot
  • C: cycle camera mode
  • N: open navigation panel (map)
  • O: open option panel
  • <Tab>: fly to camera location (in free camera mode)
  • P: Pause the simulation
  • S: mute/un-mute sound
  • K: set controls mode to "Keyboard"
  • M: set controls mode to "Mouse"
  • J: set controls mode to "Joystick"
  • T: to start typing a chat message
  • H: to hide/show the HUD (indicators)

Mouse:

  • Mouse acts as a Joystick
  • push/pull for tilt
  • left/right for roll (mixed with yaw by default but can be configured)
  • You can configure the mouse (sensitivity, exponential) from the "option" panel.
  • All other keyboard controls (except for arrows) are the same

Joystick:

Note: see how to enable the joystick.
  • Joystick axis and button are by set by default
  • If available, yaw is set on twist axis
  • You can reconfigure every axis and buttons of the joystick from the "option" panel.
  • All other keyboard controls are the same

Flying helicopters:

Helicopters are by definition much more difficult to fly than airplanes. The basic principle is to play with collective pitch (going up and down), cyclic pitch (going forward, backward, right and left) and anti-torque control (rotation/yaw). By default, mouse and keyboard controls are mixing roll and yaw (aileron and rudder). This has to be disabled (in configuration panel) in order to properly fly the helicopter. Idealy, you would have to use a joystick to be accurate enough with the helicopter but the mouse should be enough for a start. In GEFS, the collective pitch is controled using the same input as the throttle for airplanes: if you press '+' several times, the helicopter will lift-off, if you press '-' it will go down. Cyclic pitch can be controled using the arrow keys or the mouse. When roll/yaw mixing is disabled, use the rudder keys (default are keys A & D) for the anti-torque (yaw). The rest is just practice and finesse.

Flying Major Tom:

Major Tom is probably the easiest and most relaxing way of flying in GEFS. With just two keys you can take to the skies and look down at the earth. The 'up' arrow key fires the burner and when air is hot enough the balloon will take-off. The 'down' arrow key open the parachute vent to release some air and initiate a descent. To navigate, you can try to climb to different altitudes and reach different direction and speed of wind.

Camera:

Five cameras are available. You can choose between these five modes from the option bar or by pressing "C" to cycle through all modes.
  • Follow: the camera follows the plane at a distance.
  • Cockpit: the camera gives a view from the pilot seat.
  • Cockpit-less: same as "cockpit" but without visible 3D model.
  • Chase: the camera is static but look at the plane.
  • Free: this is the default Google Earth camera (uses default controls).
In "Follow" and "Cockpit" mode, you can left-click and drag your mouse to change the camera orientation.
In "Follow" mode, you can right-click and drag to set the camera's zoom factor/distance.
When in "Free" mode, you can position the camera to a location you like and press <Tab> to place the aircraft where the camera is.

Where can I fly?

Virtually everywhere!
  • You can pick a preset destination from the option bar.
  • The location selector also offer a searh input field in which you can type any destination. The aircraft will be positioned at the chosen place and at an altitude of 1000 feet.
  • The last (and best?) way is to use the in-game map to fly from over 30,000 runways in the world or anywhere else you may choose.

How to use the map?


See the standalone live GEFS map

Open the map using the "map" button in the option bar.
Three types of map are available: standard, runways and aeronautical.
In Runway mode, every coloured dot marks a runway threshold. You can click on these dots to open an info balloon in which you can see two links to "take-off from" or "fly by" the clicked runway. When chosing "take-off from", the aircraft should be positioned on the threshold and facing the runway. note: due to some imprecision in the collected data, this is not always true (especially for small airfields).
Dots are colour coded depending on the length of the runway: blue for major runways (>3,000 ft), green for airfield size runways, yellow when length is unknown.

A right-click on the map will bring a window to fly to the clicked destination from 4 pre-set altitudes.
In "Aeronautical" mode, the map shows a layer of airspace areas. This overlay has been generated using DAFIF data. While this can be useful to practice some flight patterns, these data are to be used with this game only and should not be used for real life flying.

How to block users in the chat?:

You can block a user's chat messages by clicking on it's callsign (name) and clicking the "block" button. If you accidently blocked a user, you can un-block him from your profile panel (home page > profile > blocked users).

How to improve the graphics (Anti-aliasing):

Note: this does not work anymore with Google Earth plugin version 7. The Google Earth plugin does not offer any 3D graphic settings but if your graphic card is recent enough, you can probably force anti-aliasing from the driver's configuration panel.
Refer to your graphic card manual to know how to access the configuration utility. From there, you may be able to force anti-aliasing, anisotropic and texture filtering, etc...

How to enable Joystick control:

DirectInput

Most old hardware will come with a DirectInput driver. You need to install the Javascript Joystick Plug-in (by Carl Woffenden)
Or get the latest from the project page(Recommanded)

XInput

Google Chrome (from version 22) is equiped with native Joystick support (although very experimental). Chrome ships with a DirectInput/XInput emulator so your old DirectInput joystick "may" work natively. According to Google, you need to press one of the joystick's buttons in order to have it detected. I could not test this feature as I did not have the required hardware and I am looking for feedback.

Known issues and troubleshooting:

The plane or some of its parts are not visible:
The plugin cached half loaded resources. Try the cache clearing procedure described bellow and restart the game.
  • Clear your web browser's cache
  • In your process explorer (Ctrl+Alt+Del), kill the process called geplugin.exe
  • Restart the simulator: planes should now be loading properly.

Your joystick model is not working properly:
GEFS uses a browser extension to enable joystick control. This extension has been build and is maintained by Carl Woffenden. You can file bug reports on his project page at http://code.google.com/p/javascript-joystick

The flight simulator is slow
  • GEFS requires a recent computer and a good graphic card in order to achieve confortable frame-rate.
  • Make sure GEFS only is running (close other browser tabs and background applications)
3D rendering is broken (ground not visible)
  • Some people experienced this issue with the latest Google Earth plugin version. Google is working on a fix which should be availabe soon.
In general...
  • If the flight simulator does not work on your computer, please try using a different web browser.
  • Try to clear you cache, re-install the plug-in and refresh the page.

For any other issues, please submit a bug report (see below, and remember to mention your web browser and operating system version).

Bug report:

You can report issues on this Google Group.
When reporting a bug, please be as descriptive as possible and indicate what operating system and web browser you are using to run this game.
A "debug info" tab is available in the option panel. Please communicate this info when reporting a bug.

About:

I am Xavier, a web developer by day and building GEFS in my free time. I have always been fascinated by flight simulators ever since I ran SubLOGIC FS1 back in the 80s. I built a few simulators over the years, GEFS being my best shot at it I believe.

GE Flight Simulator takes full advantage of Google Earth and enables a realistic flight experience in a fantastic scenery.
While simple, the flight models are complete enough to deliver a realistic flight simulation experience. More than just a game, GEFS is a real flight simulator.

From the Piper Cub to the Airbus A380, the range of available aircraft should satisfy every aviation enthousiast. Flight simulation is a vast subject and I hope to be able to improve and enhance this game further. Even though GEFS is built on top of Google Earth, I am not a Google employee and GEFS is not related to - or a product of - Google.

Credits

Aircraft:

  • Piper Cub: Original model by "Monte Cristo"
  • Douglas DC3: Original model from Microsoft
  • Alpha Jet: Original model by sletch2003
  • Hughes 269/TH-55: Original model by sletch2003
  • Sopwith Camel F.1: Original model by sletch2003
  • McDonnell Douglas MD-11: Original model by Aakash Kalaria
  • Sukhoi Su-35: Original model by "mandun"
  • Airbus A380: Original model by sletch2003
  • Airbus A380 Cockpit: Original model by Paul Aherton
  • Concorde: Original model by sletch2003
  • Cessna 152: Original model by sletch2003
  • Zlin 50: Original model by sletch2003
  • An-140: Original model by sletch2003

Joystick extension:

by Carl Woffenden (http://code.google.com/p/javascript-joystick/)

Weather Data:

Airspace Data (served by Google Fusion Tables):

Thanks to:

  • the Google Earth community for all the many buildings and various models around the globe
  • the GEFS community for their support, bug reports, suggestions and enthusiasm
  • Google for providing the Google Earth platform and the Javascript API through the Google Earth plug-in
© 2010 - GEFS Online - contact@gefs-online.com