10 Airplane Games You Have to Play

Last updated: 1/10/2024
5 minutes read

Airplane games have been around since the 1970s, with one of the first being Sega’s 1970 arcade machine Jet Rocket – an electro-mechanical combat flight simulator game. Worry not, intrepid pilot, because whether you’re looking for airplane games online or a supersonic flyby of some of the best flight simulator games of all time, this list has you covered.


Arguably the grandpa of airplane simulator games, the Microsoft Flight Simulator series has been going strong for over 40 years, with the first installment released in 1982. With plenty of add-ons, customization options, and a thriving community, Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSF) is an icon in the airplane game genre, and its regular releases don’t seem to be showing signs of stopping any time soon.


While your mind might not immediately go to War Thunder when you think of airplane games online as it also has tanks and naval vessels, its aerial combat is undeniably a high point. This free-to-play military MMO offers incredibly in-depth combat simulation, highly detailed aircraft, and a degree of historical accuracy unmatched by the majority of its peers – War Thunder is definitely an airplane game in spirit.

3. ARMA 3

The Arma series is well known for its infantry focus, but latest installment Arma 3 also includes a variety of vehicles including both military helicopters and combat aircraft. While not as in-depth as some of the airplane games on this list, there’s enough detail to get stuck into for most flight simulator game enthusiasts. With opportunities to be useful in battle in both air-to-air and air-to-ground situations, you get to feel a bit like a secret weapon you’d call into an RTS game.


The X-Plane series is considered by many to be one of Microsoft Flight Simuator’s biggest rivals, making it one of the most popular video games among flight simulator fans. Prizing itself on the authentic flying experience it offers its players, the X-Plane games give you the opportunity to fly everything from military jets to commercial airliners. With a thriving modding community, a number of different multiplayer options, and even NPC-manned airports, X-Plane is the choice of many flight game fans for good reason.


If you’re looking to explore space, Elite Dangerous is one of the best space combat simulators out there. Complete with an incredibly detailed replica of the Milky Way, there’s plenty of fast and furious space battles to be had whether you’re playing solo or against players across the world. While not a traditional airplane game, it’s hard to replicate the uniquely evolving narrative Elite Dangerous draws you into, and the DLC means you can even go so far as to explore distant worlds on foot.


While perhaps not the most realistic title on this list, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is a whole lot of fun, especially if you appreciate it for what it is: a ludicrous action movie that you get to play a part in. In this airplane game, you take control of a stable of futuristic fighter jets across a diverse selection of missions in both a single player campaign as well as a fast-paced multiplayer mode featuring 1v1 up to 8 players. Just be glad you don’t have to handle all those G-forces yourself…


At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking that Kerbal Space Program looks a little like a flash game given the benefit of proper – albeit cartoony – graphics. However, don’t be fooled – Kerbal Space Program is an exhaustively detailed space program simulator that is based on painstakingly replicated real-life aerodynamic and orbital physics. This flight simulator game of a sort has Science, Career, and Sandbox Modes, allowing you to either focus on advancing the knowledge of Kerbalkind or just mess around in a possibly not-so-fine-tuned spacecraft and hopefully bring everyone back in one piece (Kerbal is definitely horror game material in the wrong hands).


Did you think EVE Online was abandonware by this point? Think again. Although definitely far from a conventional airplane game, hear us out, because EVE deserves its crown as one of the greatest MMOs of all time in or out of (outer) space. A so-called single-shard MMO that even has what equates to RPG character classes, one server houses all of EVE Online’s players, resulting in all sorts of hijinks. Indeed, even if you don’t play EVE Online yourself, chances are you’ve heard tell of some of the game’s most devious heists or largest battles – for example, EVE currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest multiplayer PvP battle ever.


FlightGear is remarkable right out of the gate for being a free, open-source multi-platform flight simulator game. Ever-evolving, FlightGear was first released in 1997, and has been used by everyone from airplane game enthusiasts to professional aviation bodies in an educational setting. As well as presenting as realistic an experience as possible, FlightGear also encourages its players to explore a huge and accurately depicted open world – the airspace of which can be shared with other players if you so chose.


The IL-2 Sturmovik series has many devotees, and if you’re after historically accurate World War flight games then it’s definitely worth a look. The Great Battles games – its third generation of releases – let you pick which conflicts you’re most interested in. 

Challenging but accessible, the realistic in-game details and authentic settings provide the perfect stage for breakneck dogfights and whiteknuckle missions alike – and you can even test your piloting skills against other players online.