How to fly your favorite aircraft in X-Plane, for free

How to fly your favorite aircraft in X-Plane, for free

Hi! This is Randy Witt again. Yesterday I sent you a guide to installing and using the X-Plane demo you downloaded. (If you missed it, you can still read it online.) This is the first email in the month-long course you signed up for about getting the most out of X-Plane.

Today I’d like to share with you how you can find a virtual version of your favorite aircraft and then fly it in X-Plane.

Where do you find more aircraft?

X-Plane comes with about 40 airplanes, but in the 20 years we’ve been doing this, no one has ever said “40 airplanes, huh? That’s probably all I’ll ever want to fly.” Of course you want more aircraft!

There are a few great places to find new aircraft. One is the X-Plane 10 Aircraft page on our fan site, (Note: Before downloading from, you’ll need to create a free account there.) Another is the X-Plane France site.

Most of the airplanes on those sites are free (known as “freeware” in the flight sim world), but a small number require purchasing (these are “payware”). Hint: You can sort the aircraft on by “highest rated” to get the best aircraft models first.

To get you started, here are a few more of my favorite freeware airplanes:

And, in case you missed the list from the email I sent yesterday, here are five more:

You downloaded an aircraft… Now what do you do with it?

If you missed the instructions on adding aircraft in the last email, here they are:

When you download a custom aircraft from the web sites above, it will typically be in a compressed folder (usually a ZIP file) that contains the airplane and all its various paint jobs, airfoils, etc. Once that compressed folder is downloaded, you should be able to double-click on it to open or expand it.

You should move the contents of that compressed folder into the folder called “Aircraft” within the X-Plane 10 directory. If you followed the instructions in the previous email I sent, you should be able to find the X-Plane 10 directory on the Desktop. So, to install your custom aircraft, just:

  1. Double-click on the X-Plane 10 folder on the Desktop.
  2. In that folder, double-click on the “Aircraft” folder.
  3. Open the compressed folder that you previously downloaded and drag-and-drop its contents into the window that you opened the “Aircraft” folder in.

Be sure to place the new aircraft files in a folder with the name of the aircraft—for instance, for a newly downloaded Piper J-3 Cub, the folder path in Windows might look like this:

C:\Documents and Settings\User\Desktop\X-Plane 10\Aircraft\Piper Cub 

With the new aircraft in the proper directory, open up X-Plane. In the aircraft selection portion of the Quick Flight Setup window, you can now click on the aircraft you just added. Cool!

At this point, all that’s left is to go flying!

Coming up next…

A couple days from now, I’ll send you an email on flying approaches in X-Plane. If you’re a sim pilot only, you’ll get to experience the thrill (and challenge!) of the perfect touch-down. If you’re a real-world pilot, you’ll be able to tune up your stick-and-rudder skills before your next flight review. In any case, I think you’ll enjoy it!

If you’d like more information on adding new stuff to X-Plane (including custom scenery), check out the “Expanding X-Plane” section of the X-Plane 10 manual, written by yours truly.

Until next time,

– Randy
X-Plane Customer Support

P.S. If you had any trouble with the guide, drop me a line at [email protected] and I can help find a solution. I’d also love to hear about what topics you want to see in this course in the future!

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