News Roundup: Flight Simulator Goodies, PhotoViewer Stuff, Video tourism

Google Earth 4.2 has some substantial new features which have resulted in a number of new innovative applications and ideas for using GE. This is a news roundup dedicated to new things being done with GE 4.2 (make sure you’ve downloaded the latest).

  • Flight Simulator Goodies – The big news this weekend was when someone revealed GE 4.2 had an easter egg: A hidden Flight Simulator mode. Check out these basic flying tips (and a video showing GE flight simulator in action).

    • 3D Aircraft carrier in Google EarthAircraft Carrier Flying – Joey Wade posted a 3D model of an aircraft carrier off the coast near New York City in Google Earth. You can take off with the flight simulator mode from JFK and try to do touch and goes on the aircraft carrier . You can’t really land on the ship, because the flight simulator only knows about normal surface elevations. But, maybe Google will add an aircraft carrier you can land on in an upcoming version?

    • Blackbox recorder in Google EarthBlackbox recorder – Barry Hunter has created an application that lets you record your flights. You follow this link, and give your flight a name. Then you click on a link to get a network link. Hit the Record button, and then start up your flight simulation and fly somewhere. When your done, exit flight sim mode and then choose the “Download as linestring” option. This lets you view the flight you just made in 3D (as shown in the screenshot to the right – click on the thumbnail).

    • Aviation Charts – Richard Neal of sent me a message to point out you can use his aviation charts as image overlays and fly with them in Google Earth. You can also use free old charts from the GE Library.

  • Photo Viewer Stuff – The new photo viewer mode in Google Earth 4.2 is pretty cool. It enables you to add high resolution photos in the same position/view as you took them. Look at the new Gigapxl Photos layer to see examples. Here are some news items related to the Photo Viewer:

    • Reviews – Not all the remarks are glowing about the new photo viewer. Andy at DigitalUrban blog was disappointed in the new photo viewers implementation for spherical 360 panoramas. As his video shows, the implementation is jerky and has some quirks. Andy also has implemented a method for creating spherical panoramas without the photo viewer in 4.2, which works great if you have a SpaceNavigator. Actually, I found that if you pause your airplane from the flight simulator inside a spherical panorama using Digital Urbans technique, you can use the CTRL-Arrow keys to look around quite well. Maybe Google will use something like this in the next beta. Another comparison review with Microsoft’s HDView indicate some missing features in Google’s implementation.

    • Video Tourism – Virtual Tourism blog has been posting examples of including videos four tourist spots in Google Maps and Google Earth. The new ability in GE 4.2 (on Windows only unfortunately) to view YouTube (and other flash plug-ins) inside placemarks, means you can really add useful video content for tourism applications in both mapping applications. I agree that this new added element of multi-media will make Google Earth even more appealing for travel marketing and travel research. via DigitalUrban blog.

    • Adding Photos for Photo Viewer – Using Google Earth blog has posted about the new GE 4.2 feature allowing you to add your own photos for viewing with the Photo Viewer. You can learn more about how to do it with Google’s new brief tutorial.

  • Abora III Voyage – This has nothing to do with GE 4.2. But, I thought it was an interesting story. ‘danescombe’ at the Google Earth Community wrote me to let me know how he has been tracking this attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a historic reed boat. He has created a KML file documenting the track of the Abora III as it’s made it most of the way to the Azores. The KML file also provides links to more details to each segment of the trip. His post provides an overview of the mission and journey. Unfortunately recent storms have caused serious damage to the boat, and they may have to abandon the mission.

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. Seems it would be easy enough to auto-assign an elevation value to any model in GE, or from within SketchUp. It would probably be better done in GE itself, auto-calcing the distance between the surface height and the surface-height of the model.
    Throw a psychics engine into GE and I see virtually no limitation to its potential as well.

  2. Hi,
    I have Windows XP in French, Google Earth in French or English, and neither Ctrl-Alt-A, neither Ctrl-A, neither Ctrl-Windows-A works. Can somebody help me? Possibly a French OS and keyboard user should have the same problem.
    Thx !!

  3. Soon, We may be running busses, trains, boats and all kinds of vehicles.
    Also how about Google introduces data about the deep sea, like the coral reef, depths and more information below the oceans !!!!!!!!!!!! like we have now Sky in the Google earth.

  4. I had a play with combining a PhotoOverlay with Digital Urban’s panoramic spheres. If you overlay a transparent png and locate it at the same point as the sphere, you can use the PhotoOverlay control to view the pano ( ). It gives a nice alternative to the usual navigation, though I shall have to try the flight sim method you describe.

  5. Yffic: have you tried entering “Lilienthal” as the Fly To destination?

  6. Nicholai Fisher says:

    Hey all you guys. I have a challenge for you! I am a expert google flight simulator pilot and have you ever wanted to do a aircraft carrier landing? Well try this, go to Norfolk Virgina and find the aircraft carriers docked. Once you do that try and land on that with an F-16 without going off the ship. if you think you have mastered it email me at airnicholai -at- gmail -dot- com and tell me what your secret is to a perfect landing. As an expert on google flight sim i want to hear all about your flight experinces. please email me your thoughts at (airnicholai – at – gmail – dot- com) GOOD LUCK

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.