In case anyone doesn't know this: new flight sim in Google Earth

From the start Google Earth has been fascinating in its own right. But since its introduction about two years ago, it has been additionally interesting as a "development platform" -- a layman's glimpse at the sophisticated world of "geographic information systems," which are essentially ways of mapping complex data onto a real, visible map. (More info here. Subscribers only.)

The latest and in a way most surprising application to be laid on top of Google Earth is its new, semi-hidden flight simulator. You call it up with Ctl-Alt-A in Windows systems, and Cmd-Opt-A on the Mac. If that doesn't bring up the simulator, you don't have the current release of Google Earth. which you can find here. I haven't played with it enough to know whether it matches the best real flight sims, from Microsoft and X-Plane. Also, any flight simulator, IMHO, requires a joystick rather than control-key operation to be any good. But that it exists at all is interesting, and its connection to the worldwide terrain coverage of Google Earth is a plus.

Nice touch: the two aircraft it offers are the Air Force's F-16, its design influenced by John Boyd and his "fighter mafia" allies; and Cirrus Design's SR-22, its design determined by the Klapmeier brothers and their colleagues in Duluth. More info about the flight sim, which has already been extensively publicized in tech blogs, here and here.