Flight Simulator HUD Display Guide, and an Advanced Tip

I’m sure Google will get around to creating some more documentation for the new flight simulator mode. But, I’ve had several people ask what the indicators mean in the head up display (HUD) – the green indicators when you run the flight sim. So, here is a diagram explaining the different indicators (click on the picture for a bigger version):

Inside a helicopter in Google Earth

By the way, if you have your Google Earth window too wide, parts of the HUD (like the heading indicator at the top) may be cut off. Simply make your window shaped closer to a box to get it to re-appear. Also, read my basic flying tips article for more help on how to fly Google Earth, or watch the video if you’ve never seen it in action.
Advanced tip
A GEB reader has discovered that there are configuration files in the directory where Google Earth is installed which allow you re-configure the flight simulator. CAUTION – make backups of these files and be aware that any problems you cause by modifying them are at your own risk. The directory on Windows to look for is: “C:\Program Files\Google\Google Earth\res\flightsim”. Here you will find flightsim.ini, and several directories with other ini files for the HUD, keyboard, and aircraft. You can edit these files with a basic editor and modify key mappings, flight physics for the aircraft, and other things like the choices of airport starting points.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Thanks very much for this. Could have done with this when first using flight sim, as you probably guessed from earlier comments, lol. 🙂 Was still unsure what some of the other indicators did so thanks for clearing them up.

  2. Using a widescreen notebook I didn’t even know there is a heading indicator. Thanks for the info.

  3. Tim Froehlich says

    Thanks for the tip. I looked in the folder and found the configuration files for my joystick, a Saitek Cyborg Evo. When I first heard about the flight sim, I tried it out, but the throttle was assigned to the rudder twist axis and the rudder was assigned to the throttle. However, when I tried the stick today, it worked just fine. I think that the configuration files are being streamed down and modified as GE is used, just like the different layers. Right now there are a number of different ini files for different joysticks in there that I don’t own.
    So to summarize, if your joystick isn’t working now, try it again in a few days, it seems like more are being added. Also, try some of the other buttons. My cyborg doesn’t have anything mapped to it’s buttons yet, but that could change.

  4. hi, if you want to change the display for the speed and altitude from knot and feets to km/h and meters so change in the file(for f16 plane):
    C:\Program Files\Google\Google Earth\res\flightsim\hud\generic.ini the following lines
    AirSpeedFactor = 3.6
    AltitudeFactor = 1
    now your altitude will be shown in meters and the speed in km/h, please note that 1 mach is 1,193.839 km/h

  5. I have to say that I love this article. This blog has been so simple and has a lot more features than other blog articles. The layout and design is great. I will continue to come back here for every articles! Thanks …… .
    Eva Maryam

  6. I’ve got a Cyborg 3D Rumble and its working apart from the fact that the throttle was assigned to the rudder twist axis and the rudder was assigned to the throttle. Is there any fix i can do ? or do i have to fait for them to fit it ?

  7. I have to admit, Frank. I’ve been exclusively in simulator mode since this started — and I’m wanting SO BADLY to make all that imagery look pretty!
    The more I fly this sim, the more I enjoy it. It’s way more accurate than I thought it would be — and now I’m lamenting the loss of a joystick.
    And if they include a helicopter physics model, I think I’ll wet my pants. (Umm, not literally.)
    (Me and the helicopter sims at IITSEC.: “Oh man, you again. *sigh* You went back around to the end of the line again, didn’t you? We know you worked on the imagery, and we know you’re good in a helicopter. But come on, man!”)
    I can’t help myself around those.

  8. There is a key, described in flightsim\keyboard\generic.ini, which is not documented, but rather useful:
    key “V” restores pilot viewpoint to its original position.

  9. Comments from Google:
    Tim Froehlich thinks that the joystick configs are streamed. This is definitely not the case. They’re installed by the GE installer and stay the same unless the user modifies them.
    We hope that joystick manufacturers will figure out the config file format and then they can offer specialized configs for their joysticks. The format is pretty much self-explanatory.
    No caution needed when playing with the config files—you can always reinstall GE if they’re messed up.
    Ctrl+Alt+Shift+R will reload the *aircraft* and *planet* config file on the fly. This is very useful for tuning the flight model.
    The HUD compass can be moved by adjusting the Y coordinates of the tick marks (Compass{Small,Large,Huge}Y{0,1}).

  10. Julian Martin says

    @Douglas: I had the same problem with a Microsoft Sidewinder Precision 2. The solution for me was to move all files except generic.ini away from the res/flightsim/controller/ directory and to change the axis section in the generic.ini to:
    axes = [
    A1 set(DE, 1.0, 0.0)
    A0 set(DA, 1.0, 0.0)
    A2 set(DR, 1.0, 0.0)
    A3 set(DP_0, -0.5, 0.5)
    I hope it helps you too.
    Good flight good night.

  11. I have the Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback 2 controller.
    Can anyone help me configure this for GE Flightsim???

  12. Finally got it to work (sort of)by using the suggestion of Julian (above) to change the generic.ini fileand also changing the controller section to
    controllers_supported = [
    Controller(‘Microsoft*Sidewinder*Force*Feedback*2’, 0, 100, 0, 100)
    However – sometimes it works and sometimes not – so it is not 100%, to say the least 🙂
    Hopefully someone on the Flight Simulator team can figure this out…

  13. aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!
    Today, the joystick no longer works at all with the GE Flight Simulator!!!
    Oh well, it was fun while it lasted….

  14. SA McIntosh says

    About the HUD compass adjustments, what numbers should I change them to? What is there is just vague.

  15. Flying with GE-FS F-16 looks nice but that HUD looks like something out of a comic book. So I went and changed some here and there. Looks a lot more like an F16 now! I cant get the compass to show heading every 10 degrees. Can anyone help??
    Copy this generic.ini:
    % Generic Head Up Display Config
    AirSpeedX = -0.4
    AirSpeedFactor = 0.194384 % 1/kt
    AirSpeedY0 = -0.2
    AirSpeedY1 = 0.1
    AirSpeedRange = 16
    AirSpeedDV = 1
    AirSpeedSmallInLarge = 5
    AirSpeedLargeX0 = -0.05
    AirSpeedLargeX1 = 0
    AirSpeedSmallX0 = -0.03
    AirSpeedSmallX1 = 0
    AirSpeedValueX = -0.06
    AirSpeedValueTextFlags = [left middle]
    AirSpeedPointerX = 0.005
    AirSpeedPointerAngle = 3.14159265
    AirSpeedPointerLength = 0.015
    AltitudeX = 0.4
    AltitudeFactor = 0.0328084 % 1/ft
    AltitudeY0 = -0.2
    AltitudeY1 = 0.1
    AltitudeRange = 16
    AltitudeDV = 1
    AltitudeSmallInLarge = 5
    AltitudeLargeX0 = 0
    AltitudeLargeX1 = 0.05
    AltitudeSmallX0 = 0
    AltitudeSmallX1 = 0.03
    AltitudeValueX = 0.06
    AltitudeValueTextFlags = [right middle]
    AltitudePointerX = -0.005
    AltitudePointerAngle = 0
    AltitudePointerLength = 0.015
    VerticalSpeedFactor = 196.85 % min/ft
    VerticalSpeedRound = 10.0
    VerticalSpeedX = 0.4
    VerticalSpeedY = -0.25
    VerticalSpeedTextParams = [center middle]
    VelocityMark =
    -.01 .00 .00 .01
    .01 .00 .00 .01
    -.01 .00 .00 -.01
    .01 .00 .00 -.01
    -.03 .00 -.01 .00
    .01 .00 .03 .00
    .00 .02 .00 .01
    VelocityMinSpeed = 0
    CompassSmallInLarge = 2
    CompassLargeInHuge = 3
    CompassTextParams = [center bottom]
    CompassSmallY0 = -0.310
    CompassSmallY1 = -0.295
    CompassLargeY0 = -0.325
    CompassLargeY1 = -0.295
    CompassHugeY0 = -0.330
    CompassHugeY1 = -0.295
    CompassTextY = -0.331
    CompassRange = 20
    CompassX0 = -0.15
    CompassX1 = 0.15
    RollScaleHalfAngle = 60
    RollScaleR = 0.2
    RollScaleCenterX = 0
    RollScaleCenterY = 0
    RollScaleLarge = [30 60]
    RollScaleSmall = [10 20 45]
    RollScaleLargeR0 = 0
    RollScaleLargeR1 = 0.025
    RollScaleSmallR0 = 0
    RollScaleSmallR1 = 0.0125
    RollScaleTextR = 0.07
    RollScaleTextParams = [center bottom]
    RollScaleSegments = 10
    RollScalePointerR = 0.005
    RollScalePointerL = 0.02
    SkidIndicatorMark =
    -.01 .005 .01 .005
    .01 .005 .01 -.005
    .01 -.005 -.01 -.005
    -.01 -.005 -.01 .005
    SkidIndicatorY = 0.17
    SkidIndicatorX0 = -0.1
    SkidIndicatorX1 = 0.1
    SkidIndicatorMin = -2.5
    SkidIndicatorMax = 2.5
    PlaneMark =
    -.01 .04 .01 .04
    .00 .05 -.00 .03
    PitchLadderDV = 5
    PitchLadderSmallInLarge = 2
    PitchLadderSmallMark =
    -0.08 0.0 -0.04 0.0
    0.08 0.0 0.04 0.0
    PitchLadderLargeMark =
    -0.13 0.0 -0.04 0.0
    0.13 0.0 0.04 0.0
    PitchLadderY0 = -0.35
    PitchLadderY1 = 0.35
    PitchLadderXOffset = 0
    PitchLadderLetterOffset = 7000
    HUDColor = 65280
    StallColor = 255
    StallX = 0.7
    StallY = -0.65
    StallText = STALL
    StallMinSpeed = 6
    StallTextParams = [center bottom]
    GearX = -0.85
    GearY = -0.65
    GearText = GEAR
    GearTextParams = [center bottom]
    FlapsX = -0.7
    FlapsY = -0.65
    FlapsText = FLAPS
    FlapsTextParams = [center bottom]
    HUDLineWidth = 1.3
    HUDLineSmooth = true
    ThrottleIndicatorX = -0.95
    ThrottleIndicatorY0 = -0.8
    ThrottleIndicatorY1 = -0.8
    ThrottleIndicatorWidth = 0.00
    ElevatorIndicatorX = -0.7
    ElevatorIndicatorY0 = -0.5
    ElevatorIndicatorY1 = -0.5
    ElevatorIndicatorWidth = -0.0
    AileronIndicatorY = -0.5
    AileronIndicatorX0 = -0.8
    AileronIndicatorX1 = -0.8
    AileronIndicatorWidth = 0.0
    RudderIndicatorY = -0.6
    RudderIndicatorX0 = -0.8
    RudderIndicatorX1 = -0.8
    RudderIndicatorWidth = 0.0

  16. This is a very accurate ground reference sim. It is extremely valuable in familiarization with strange airports. I can’t say how utterly fantastic it is to be able to “fly” approaches to unfamiliar airports and be able to reliably identify ground reference markers accurately, without having to deal with flying an actual aircraft, ATC, circuit traffic and weather while you’re trying to learn the approach plate and spot reference landmarks.
    This is probably the single most undervalued familiarization tool available to pilots today. Kudos to the developer(s) that decided to include this feature. It is very, very much appreciated.

  17. Does anybody no if you can bring the HUD forward in the display order? I have made a 747 cockpit which fills the screen and only allow vision of the earth/sky through the windows of the aircraft. The problem is that the HUD becomes obscured behind my image. I used Screen Overlay Maker which has a draw order option, but it doesnt allow the image to sit between the earth and HUD display. There is nothing obvious in the HUD ini file. Any ideas?

  18. I am trying to change the generic.ini file, but the computer says I can’t save it or I don’t have permission. Any help would be appreciated.

  19. the flaps, gear, and speed do not completely display

  20. Dears,
    Could somebody guide me about simulator training of B727 200 in Europe please.

  21. By the time I tweeked the HUD display for the F16 I was wondering if I could superimpose it on the HUD graticule of Gerardo’s F16 Cockpit.
    After reading the KML reference documentation I came to realise that with minor modifiction to Gerardo’s KML file I could cause the cockpit image to be displayed lower on screen and 4X larger which centers the HUD graticule and brings it closer to the viewer. This enabled me to fit the main navigation elements within the HUD graticule giving a realistic cockpit representation. The result is much like the view you get flying FS9/FSX.
    The easiest way to try this out is to make a second copy of Gerardo’s F16 cockpit KML file(give it a different name) and edit this file as follows:
    F-16 HUD (or whatever you like)
    make y=”0.45″ in overlayXY (was 0)
    make x=”2000″ and y=”2660″ in size (were -1)
    Once the files are loaded in GE uncheck whichever one you are not using. You will still need to modify the generic.ini HUD file mentioned earlier in the thread to fit the various elements to be displayed.
    You are free to switch between whichever view you prefer.
    Thanks to Gerardo for getting us/me started.

  22. Make sure you save any modified HUD settings before you do the latest update to GE 5.

  23. Hello,
    need help … please
    my system is an Windows Vista + SP1,
    Joystick = Saitek Evo Force (newest drivers installed)
    Google Earth
    DirectX 9
    with the FSX figtht sim i have no problems.
    if i select in GE the flightsim mode the program crashed directely. :-(((((((
    (only with joystick selected)
    i have in the flightsim.ini the line
    controller/generic.ini changed as …
    also programm crash direktly .. :-(((((
    someone an idea ?

  24. What does the green triangle and the green “upside down T” mean, at the center of the HUD? I’ve not seen anyone identify these marks? How is observing their position (relative to the pitch degrees gauge) helpful in positioning and flying the aircraft?
    Also what is “Elevator trim nose up” & “down”? What is it used for, and when do you use one vs. the other? I’ve tried both extremes, and all I notice is it changes whether or not the white mouse cursor “cross” is above or below the “green triangle” and “green upside down T”– while flying the aircraft. But while flying level (not gaining or losing altitude) the placement of the horizon on my screen appears to be the same, no matter which extreme I choose.
    Assistance and/or helpful hints would be appreciated. Thanks.
    — John

  25. Can anyone help? The Flt Sim of my installation of GE5.0 on Toshiba Laptop running Vista SP1 has a problem. A number of components of the HUD fail to display properly. All the numerics (speed, height, pitch angle) display but the associated line vector shapes don’t. Depending on the background, lines can occasionally be noticed albeit like ghostly objects but they are generally imperceptible.
    I have scanned the previous posts and the hud *.ini files but no clues there.
    Assistance or help ne most appreciated.

  26. Geoff P,
    It might help to change the line width and color of the HUD lines.
    (Defaults in hud\generic.ini)
    HUDColor = 65286
    HUDLineWidth = 1.25
    HUDLineSmooth = true
    But it almost sounds as if your view is defaulting to one step up or down from straight ahead (CTRL-DN or CTRL-UP). If somehow this is the problem, hit V or CTRL-DN/ CTRL-UP to look straight forward. (The only reason V wouldn’t work is if it’s been redefined.)

  27. John,
    The triangle represents the nose, while the upside down T is where your craft is heading.
    I won’t try to explain the trim tab since I’m not sure I fully understand how it helps in a flight sim, and I haven’t found it very useful. I also cannot get it to show up on the HUD (using terms in the .ini file such as “ElevatorTrimIndicatorX” or “TrimIndicatorX”).
    If I’m going to set the trim, I want to be able to see how it’s set.
    BTW, I have modified my HUD to display well on a laptop/wide-screen. I can post it if anyone is interested.

  28. The trim tab adjusts the nose up/down attitude of the aircraft in flight(it’s balance) and is used to set the neutral point on the elevator so there is no pressure on the control column in level flight. On takeoff you would set the tab full forward(nose down) to lessen the chance of a stall. Once in level flight you align a viewpoint on the windscreen/nose to the horizon so that you are neither climbing or descending.

  29. My HUD is not displaying the numbers lately. Otherwise everything seems to work ok. The HUD layout is there, but no values like airspeed heading, etc. I have been using the program for a year or so without any problems. Any ideas how I can fix this?

  30. My HUD is not displaying the numbers lately. Otherwise everything seems to work ok. The HUD layout is there, but no values like airspeed heading, etc. I have been using the program for a year or so without any problems. Any ideas how I can fix this?

  31. I love the ground truth of this simulator. With a few additions it could be close to the best out there.
    1. Add a Compass and Heading Indicator with read out for determining true heading.
    2. Add NAV1 and OBI for VOR navigation.
    3. Add detailed (3D)AP layout overlays.
    4. Add a few more “follow behind” plane overlays, including the SR22 and F16 and new .ini and .wav files for their performance characteristics.
    I don’t think this would be too involved given the capabilities GE already has.
    I know that someone is working on making MS FS work with GE, but how long do we have to wait for that?

  32. I have tried to edit the .ini files to get rudder and throttle the right way round on my joystick. GE FS does not appear to read my changes – added an airport and changed the spelling of another airport – still no response.
    Wht is the best way to edit these .ini files so the changes will be recognised ?

  33. Robert Pearce says

    I have found that when approaching a new airport in the SR22, fly at 1/2 throttle (120+/-) until the -5 attitude bar crosses the far runway end. Then zero throttle and decend keeping the triangle at the middle to far end of the runway until close to the near end of the runway. Use flaps as needed. VCI should be -1000+/- AS should be about 80mph w/flaps 110 w/o flaps. Use flaps on runways less than 4000 feet. (ruler now gives compass as well as length) This works from any altitude.

  34. I have the same issue that Alex (2010-05-01) posted. even tried edited these .INI files when the program was NOT running (first time through I did otherwise — poor decision).

  35. Same problem here, as hxl49 and Alex reported… can’t edit those ini files. Any solution, please?

  36. I have a Mac Book Air and it does not have a Page Up button to start the plane speed. Can anyone tell me how do I get the plane moving.

  37. Please, can anyone tell me if an autopilot can be used in GE Flight Simulator?

  38. “BTW, I have modified my HUD to display well on a laptop/wide-screen. I can post it if anyone is interested.”
    Please post it. thnx

  39. Th e Blue iGuana says

    @ Kryten
    How do i get the full hud on my screen. (i miss the compass and the throttle)

  40. Yes please. Post the HUD fix.

  41. To Fix the HUD compass problem on wide screens:
    Edit the generic.ini described above
    Look for these values
    CompassSmallY0 = 0.700
    CompassSmallY1 = 0.685
    CompassLargeY0 = 0.700
    CompassLargeY1 = 0.670
    CompassHugeY0 = 0.700
    CompassHugeY1 = 0.670
    CompassTextY = 0.660
    change them to
    CompassSmallY0 = 0.500
    CompassSmallY1 = 0.485
    CompassLargeY0 = 0.500
    CompassLargeY1 = 0.470
    CompassHugeY0 = 0.500
    CompassHugeY1 = 0.470
    CompassTextY = 0.460
    If you are not happy with it you can still change it just consider:
    – change the same value at all variables
    – lower value means closer to center screen
    Hope it helps

  42. where can i get this source code for android studio ?

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.