Are there any free and open source flight simulators for Linux that are fairly realistic (i.e. if I play one for a while, I will have some idea of how flying a real plane works)? The only "flight simulator" (if you can call it that) I've tried is the one in Wii Sports Resort; even with my very minimal understanding of flying, I know it is not done by tilting a Wii remote, and you should not fly inside volcanoes.

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    $\begingroup$ This question might get closed as off topic as it is asking for recommendations, but I personally have found FlightGear to be decent. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ Why is "free and open source" important? Real flying costs real money, too, but still: Simulators are much cheaper, specifically crashes. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – U. Windl
    Commented Sep 24, 2022 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ @U.Windl I prefer to use open source software when possible, and "real flying costs real money" is why I don't plan to fly a real plane in the foreseeable future. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Commented Sep 24, 2022 at 21:26

2 Answers 2


From Wikipedia:

FlightGear Flight Simulator (often shortened to FlightGear or FGFS) is a free, open source multi-platform flight simulator developed by the FlightGear project since 1997.

David Murr started the project on April 8, 1996. The project had its first release in 1997 and continued in development. It has specific builds for a variety of operating systems including Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, IRIX, and Solaris. FlightGear is an atmospheric and orbital flight simulator used in aerospace research and industry. Its flight dynamics engine (JSBSim) is used in a 2015 NASA benchmark to judge new simulation code to the standards of the space industry.

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    $\begingroup$ The level of realism depends on the aircraft used. There is anything from arcade style to realistic A320 or the shuttle. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ To be fair, if NASA is using it, it's gotta be pretty good. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan. I think there are a couple of steps missing in your reasoning. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan, there are two parts to a simulator: the engine and the models. The JSBSim engine (the part of FlightGear that handles flight dynamics) is good, but it has to be provided all the aerodynamic coefficients. The models provide those, and there is a lot of them. Some are quite accurate, some are just guesses (there is even a coefficient-guessing tool based on Roskam's books). And even for the good ones the coefficients tend to only be provided in the normal flight envelope, so stall and spin behavior is … way off (not simulated at all, mostly). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan … there is also the Yasim engine, which tries to guess the coefficients itself from the shape and weight distribution, and does it even outside the normal flight envelope, but it does not implement any compressibility effects, so it's only decent for slow aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 18:16

I know it is not done by tilting a Wii remote

Actually, with FlightGear, you should be use Wii remote with a headtracking addon, to look around and/or point & manipulate cockpit controls. Linuxtrack supports it. Might need a bit of IR reflective tape or IR led.

Looking around and using it on the default C172P should look something a bit like this youtube video

that are fairly realistic

Like Jim NASA said FlightGear is as realistic as it can get [for an available space industry standard flight dynamics engine] - with better developed aircraft FDMs. Use the launcher to filter by FDM and Systems. Look at JSBSim planes especially, at the beginning.

Look at the Fightgear wiki, and this youtube tutorial playlist to get off the ground

Edit: looking at it, new user section of wiki has updated aircraft recommendations


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