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We’ve always known that Google has wanted to challenge Microsoft’s desktop dominance in a number of areas, but to date we didn’t know that extended to gaming.Hidden inside Google Earth is a secret Flight Simulator that takes full advantage of Google’s extensive satellite imagery.

To access the hidden feature, open Google Earth and hit Command+Option+A (note it must be capital A) or Ctrl+Alt+A if you’re using a Windows Machine.

The Google Earth Flight Simulator comes with two aircraft options, a F16 Viper and the more manageable SR22 4 seater. Players have the option of commencing the game from their current location in Google Earth or can pick from a list of pre-determined runways. Control instructions can be found here.

Overall the game play is fairly simple in terms of control, but the striking difference is flying over real pictures of locations. I took a quick flight from San Francisco International, headed North to the Golden Gate then turn back over the city before heading towards the Valley. It wasn’t perfect, but it was as good visually as the paid Microsoft Flight Simulator, and in terms of actually presenting real objects it was better.

Thanks to Marco for the how-to.

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PS: Techbuzz

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