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Artificial aviation

Try your hand at a free flight simulator as you prepare for the real thing.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Access to a computer
  • Access to the internet

Before you begin

  • It’s up to you whether you run this activity in your meeting place or ask others in the community to help. It’ll depend on what equipment you have – we’ve included some key things to consider below.
  • However you approach the activity, think about how much time it’ll take your group. It may take longer if people need to share devices and take it in turns, for example. How long it takes will also depend on whether people are trying something totally new or fine tuning existing skills.

 Do it yourself

  • It’s up to you whether you use computers, laptops, tablets, or games consoles. Mobile phones probably won’t work – the screens are so small that it’d be really challenging.
  • You could also introduce other equipment. Projectors make it even more exciting (and help people feel involved when they’re not taking control). Joysticks can make the experience more realistic, too.
  • Consider how reliable your internet connection is – will it cope with this activity?
  • Some free flight simulators work in your internet browser, such as Geo-FS and Flight Arcade. There are plenty more that you could download to your desktop.
  • If you want to explore flight simulators you have to pay for (such as Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane), speak to your wider area.

Ask your community

  • If you don’t have the equipment or internet access, see if you can do this activity while visiting somewhere with the right facilities, for example, a library or local aviation or gliding club. Check out ‘Do it yourself’ for tips on what equipment and simulators you could use.
  • Some air museums have state of the art flight simulators – these may be an option if you’re a small group, but they often cost money to use.
  • If you’re an RAF recognised Air Scout Group, you could ask your local Air Cadet Unit about running a session together or using their facilities.

 Time to fly

  1. The person leading the activity should introduce everyone to the flight simulator.
  2. The person leading the activity should introduce challenges for everyone. For example, people could fly a specific journey.
  3. Everyone should take it in turns to have a go. They may need to try a few practise flights before they take on the main challenge.


This activity was all about trying new things. Had anyone used a flight simulator before? How did people feel before they gave it a go? Did it make a difference to watch other people try it first? Flight simulators let everyone experience some aspect of flying without the cost (or risks). Can anyone think of another cheap and safe way to get a taste for aviation? Would they like to give it a go?

This activity also needed people to keep going, even when things were tricky. Was it easy to fly the flight simulator right away? Was it easy to stay focused on a longer flight, or was it easy to get distracted by other things? How do people think pilots stay focused? Did anyone have any setbacks – perhaps they crashed or got a bit lost in the sky. Everyone makes mistakes. The most important thing is that people get back up and try again.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.