Who released the first PC flight simulator game - what company?

Ravindran Rahman Guest

I have only been flight simming for a short while and it's all very new to me.  I took it up because I am training in the real-world for my PPL.  I use it to mainly practice my navigation skills.

My question is - what was the first ever PC-based flight simulator?  Who released it?  If you can give me a detailed insight, that would be most helpful!

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Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hello! It's fantastic to hear about your journey into flight simming, especially as you train for your Private Pilot License (PPL). Using a simulator can be a brilliant way to sharpen your navigation skills and deepen your understanding of aviation dynamics without leaving the ground.

Let's dive into the rich history of flight simulators on PC, which has its roots deeply embedded in the early days of computing. The first-ever PC-based flight simulator was "FS1 Flight Simulator", developed by Bruce Artwick and released by subLOGIC in 1979. This simulator was quite rudimentary by today's standards, but at the time, it was a revolutionary step forward in flight simulation technology.

Key Points About FS1 Flight Simulator:

  • Graphics: It featured basic wire-frame 3D graphics.
  • Functionality: Included a single aircraft, the Cessna 182, which was flyable in a pseudo-3D environment.
  • Platform: Originally developed for the Apple II, and later ported to IBM PC as technology evolved.

Bruce Artwick, the brain behind this innovation, founded subLOGIC and initially began working on flight simulation as a project at the University of Illinois. His work led to the creation of a simulation that was not only a commercial product but also a tool that helped many aspiring pilots and enthusiasts to understand the basics of flight mechanics.

As technology advanced, so did the capabilities of flight simulators. Microsoft entered the scene by licensing Artwick's flight simulator, leading to the development of Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.0 in 1982. This partnership pushed the boundaries of what simulators could achieve, offering more sophisticated graphics and expanded functionalities.

Impact on Training and Recreation:

  • Real-World Skills: Early simulators like FS1 helped users develop an understanding of flight controls and instrumentation, essential for real-world flying.
  • Technological Evolution: Each iteration of simulator software brought improvements that mirrored advances in computing and graphics technology.

How This Applies to Modern Simulators:
If you're using platforms like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 or X-Plane 12, you're experiencing the culmination of decades of development in simulation technology. These modern simulators offer incredibly realistic scenarios that can help you practice:

  1. Navigation using real-world aviation maps and GPS technologies.
  2. Weather understanding, as these platforms simulate various meteorological conditions.
  3. Aircraft handling in different flying conditions and environments.

These features, rooted in the pioneering work of developers like Bruce Artwick, are invaluable for both training and recreational purposes.

In conclusion, whether you're using these simulations for fun or as a complement to your PPL training, the legacy of early simulators like FS1 continues to influence how we experience virtual flight today. As you continue your journey in both real-world and simulated skies, remember the simplicity and innovation that started it all.

Final Tip: Leverage the scenario-based training modules available in modern simulators to simulate specific flying conditions you might face as a pilot. It's a safe and cost-effective way to hone your skills and build confidence.

Safe flying, and enjoy every moment of your flight simming and real-world adventures!

Feel free to ask more questions as you delve deeper into both the practical and historical aspects of flight simulation. We're here to help you make the most of this fascinating hobby and training tool.

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