Microsoft Flight Simulator is a popular series of flight simulation programs, and popular competitors include X-Plane and FlightGear, which is a free program. These programs replicate the actual physics of a wide range of airplanes, jets and other flying machines.
Microsoft Flight Simulator was first released in 1983. Through the years, developers updated the program to support better hardware and provide a more thorough experience. In 2006, Microsoft announced that it would cease production of the series; however, in 2014, Microsoft released a version of Flight Simulator X for the Steam gaming store.
X-Plane was first released in 1993 for the Apple Macintosh platform. In addition to the flight simulator, X-Plane also includes tools for designing aircraft and airfoils. The game also supports helicopters and other types of aircraft that don't use fixed wings. X-Plane's DVD comes with 22 aircraft, and its community allows users to share their own aircraft designs with other players.
FlightGear began development in 1996 to serve as a free and open-source competitor to proprietary flight simulation programs. Although the base package contains a relatively small number of aircraft and limited scenery, FlightGear's large collection of software allows users to download more than 230 aircraft and large sections of land to fly over.