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Take to the skies anywhere, anytime, with mobile apps in hand.

The rise of smart phones gives gamers yet another way to soar virtually via flight simulations. This month we take look at three Android flight sims from the Google Play store (iPhone versions are also available), a sampling of the new mobile apps now on the market.

Although today’s phones are powerful, developers must make compromises for their small screen size and limited memory. Most of the apps are less costly than desktop applications, however, and some are free. All the simulations reviewed here take advantage of motion-sensing technology: Users control the aircraft by holding the phone in landscape orientation, rotating it left or right to bank and tilting the top edge of the phone forward or back to change the pitch.

X-Plane 9 ( is a free mobile version of the venerable desktop flight sim. It benefits from the extensive experience of its developers and yields a solid physics model. X-Plane 9 provides the most content of the free apps, with 10 aircraft and six locales to enjoy. It’s also distinguished by an immense selection of purchasable add-on craft (the only one to include planes with combat features and also some helicopters), equipment failure options and some robust weather options.

Mayday! ( focuses on landing a passenger jet under a mechanical failure or inclement weather. Each scenario starts with the aircraft in approach. Players don’t have control over the types of failures or the aircraft. Simplified play makes this feel more like an arcade game than a sim, but I found it easily accessible and challenging.

Newest of this bunch is Infinite Flight, a full-featured sim similar to X-Plane 9 (flying It’s a fine effort that looks and plays well and has what I found to be the best overall interface. The flight model is more forgiving than X-Plane 9’s, and there are some handy pilot aids, like a navigation overlay and an autopilot. This app also has the most modern feel, plus there’s a good selection of 16 aircraft and five regions with the base game.

Note that with all three sims additional airports, aircraft and challenges can be purchased for a few dollars each. I’m impressed with these apps, which offer a diversion to PC pilots away from their desktop.


Originally published in the November 2013 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.