Google Earth in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Google I/O 2010 is coming in May, but we’re already starting to hear about some of the neat projects that will be unveiled there.
The first one is called GEVision, from the guys at PlanetInAction, which is trying to evolve into a 3D scenery engine. Their initial goal is to use Google Earth as the scenery in Microsoft Flight Simulator: “In the past various attempts had been made to use Google Earth scenery instead of the one included in Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX. Yet due to limitations in the interface technology this has never been fully achieved. GEVision is a new project that will enable the use of Google Earth as a full blown 3D scenery engine.
There have been some integrations of MS Flight Sim and Google Earth in the past, but nothing to this extent. Previous integrations include a version that used Google Earth as an overhead map and an idea to take Flight Sim Scenery and use it in Google Earth.
Over the past few years Google Earth imagery, combined with improved terrain quality and more 3D buildings, has blown past the quality found in Microsoft Flight Sim. The only real downside would be less realistic airports (MS Flight Sim does a great job with those), but that is improving with each new imagery update as well. On the flip side, Google Earth has a built-in flight simulator, but it’s not nearly as full-featured as the one made by Microsoft. Combining the best of both could create something pretty neat.
The video below shows the vast quality difference between Google Earth and MS Flight Simulator X:

If you’d like more information about how to use the Google Earth Plug-in in a desktop application, this page should help. GEVision is expected to unveil some type of public release at Google I/O, so we’re looking forward to seeing what comes out of it.
If you know of other neat projects coming at I/O, send me an email and let me know about it.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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. ozybolair says:

    I’ve said this for a while now and it’s a real opportunity google is missing out on. All they need to do is enable 3d buildings in the google earth flight sim mode for the MS flight simulator fans to really see the potential. Some better cloud and lighting wouldn’t go a miss either (especially the shading on the automated 3d buildings, why isn’t that activated?!?). There are also .kmls that show real time flight tracking, so what more could a flight sim enthusiast want!
    Good job with the updates by the way, i check this site every day as i find google earth a facinating program and your coverage appears to be the best out there.

  2. There’s always been an issue of possible copyright infringement when GE is used within Flight Sim, to my knowledge this has never been resolved. Efforts to use GE data (ground textures) have tried to stay “under the radar”. Using GE 3D data is an interesting problem, as Flight Sim performance has tended to emphasize low poly count and high resolution textures, while I think GE 3D is kind of in the opposite direction due to texture download bandwidth issues. As indicated in the post, GE 3D seems focused on city centers, while Flight Sim tends to emphasize airport terminal buildings.

  3. ozybolair: You can fly the GE simulator with 3D buildings on.
    – Start Google Earth
    – Start Flight sim mode
    – Pause Flight simulation by pressing space bar
    – Click “View” in menu and check “Sidebar”
    – On Side bar turn on “3D Buildings”

  4. Ive been looking at this for some time now. The scenery in goole earth is unparalelled. but what about addon airports and where are the clouds.

  5. The ground may be better but the sky/weather in FSX is vital to a sim experience

  6. Jacob Moses says:

    in the youtube video “how to add planes in google earth flight simulator” how to you remove it???

  7. I prefer creating my own landscape although a Google Earth landscape is still interesting.

  8. By using google maps and their resources it will be amazing to see how realistic google can make thier game.

  9. 1. Although there is not much news about the new MS Flight, but I wonder if it will use Google Earth technology, and how.
    2. It would be really cool to have a cross country driving game using Google Earth.

  10. All I want, is for Flight sim to use google earth’s scenery! Is anybody out there looking into this matter???

  11. Mrs Plinky says:

    Microsoft is working on Microsoft Flight which will have continuously online updated dynamic data and scenery. It will be a bit how Google Earth works now with 3D buildings and such. Very exciting developments since such a 3D platform may be used for all kinds of simulations.
    You may play with others simultaneously in a public ‘layer’, private with others in a private layer, or just on your own with only AI. Imagine a vast detailed world with i.e. car and boat races, battle simulations, Grand theft Auto alike games, quests and such. This platform may reshape online gaming and social networks. As for the capabilities of Google Earth I always wondered why Google did not already develop this. A simple physics engine and some more powerful scripting commands/logic would have been enough.

  12. I have been told by some vendors of FSX aftermarket software that Google wants $10K a month to license their scenery for use in other programs. That is why there has never been a direct inclusion of Google Earth scenery in an existing flight simulator.

  13. You may want to look at an alternative to google earth, and that is something called Tile Proxy. I have used it and I maut say it is amazing, but you do need a powerful computer to run it (plenty of RAM) but is worth a look. $10k a month is just too much.

  14. A guy named Larry Woodson has developed photo-scenery for the lower 48 states. It’s very good. Check it out at Very reasonable price and it is outstanding.

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.