Chicago (IL) – There is a not so apparent feature in the latest version of Google Earth: A flight simulator.
Now there is some added realism available as the latest version of the software sports a flight simulator: If you press [CTRL][ALT][A], you can put yourself into a simulated plane and travel in the speeds of a Cirrus SR22 propeller plane or a General Dynamics F-16 jet fighter aircraft.
It is a neat feature, but don't expect the Google flight sim to be close to what you would get to see from Microsoft's Flight Simulator. There are just basic controls and a very limited view that does not go beyond of what you would be able to see from a flight you are simulating yourself; still, these two planes are rather difficult to fly and you should expect frequent crashes.
The flight simulator has some sort of an entertainment factor, but it can get frustrating as landscape and 3D building details require much longer load times than during a regular flight and, if realism is important to you, this simulator will be disappointing: For example, the planes can fly right through buildings and crash only, if you hit the ground, i.e. an elevation of 0 ft.
The simulator is an interesting functionality and an obvious application idea for Google Earth, but it isn't quite ready yet. If you enjoy these simulated flights, the Space Navigator is the device to have at this time.