X-Plane Mobile Instructions

Instructions for X-Plane Mobile

Each of the X-Plane Mobile applications (excluding X-Planner, for obvious reasons) is built on the same framework. Flight controls in each app, on all platforms, function identically, though some apps add new sliders (such as the speedbrakes in X-Plane Airliner or the tail rotor in X-Plane Helicopter). While the controls are very intuitive, here are some instructions on the basics of operating the X-Plane Mobile aircraft.

These instructions apply mainly to the Palm Pre, Android, and iPhone/iPod Touch versions of the simulator; the iPad’s larger screen size has brought some changes in the user interface (especially in terms of the general usability of the panel view).

For full instructions, as well as information on using the more advanced functions of the simulator, please see the full manual for your specific app, available for download on the Mobile Manual page or for viewing on the X-Plane Wiki.

Primary Flight Controls

Found on the left side of every flight view is a scrolling bar labeled THROT (number 1 in the image above). This controls the throttle. Slide it all the way to the top of the screen for full throttle, or all the way to the bottom of the screen for none.

The scrolling bar on the right side of the screen (number 2 in the image above) controls flaps. When at the top of the screen, this commands no flaps, and when at the bottom, it commands full flaps.

Note that when dragging the scroll bar controls, the box with writing on it (such as FLAPS or THROT) shows where the user has commanded the controls to be, while the other box shows where the setting is at the moment. If the user commands a quick, large movement of the controls, it will take the aircraft a second or two to meet that command.

The button on the bottom left (number 3 in the previous screenshot) toggles the brakes on or off. When it is lit up, the brakes are on, and when it is off, the brakes are off.

The button to the right of the brakes (number 4 in the previous image) controls the gear. When this button is lit, the gear is down, and when it is unlit, the gear is up. Of course, this only applies to aircraft with a retractable landing gear.

To steer the aircraft left, tilt the device left. To steer it right, tilt right. This movement–when the wings dip down or rise up while the fuselage (the main body of the plane) stays pointed in the same direction–is referred to as roll. To pull the airplane’s nose up, tilt the device back toward you, and to push its nose down, tilt the device down away from you. This movement–when the wings remain at the same attitude, but the fuselage moves–is called pitch. See the Flight Dynamics appendix of the manual for a visual representation of this.

Because the mobile devices do not take input on a third input axis for yaw (as a joystick with a twisting handle does in the desktop version), X-Plane will attempt to stabilize the aircraft’s yaw for you.


Basic procedure for taking off (covered more in depth in the full manual) is as follows:

  1. Turn off the brakes.
  2. Drag the flaps about 1/3 of the way down to create some extra lift for takeoff.
  3. Slide the throttle all the way up.
  4. Tilt the device left and right to steer down the runway.
  5. When the aircraft reaches its takeoff velocity (which is different for every craft–heavier planes need greater speed), tilt the device back toward you, thus pulling back on the craft’s flight controls.
  6. Once the airplane is safely in the air, drag the flaps back up to the top of the screen and toggle the gear up (if applicable).
  7. Level the plane off once it is a few feet above the ground so that it can build up speed. This will act as a “cushion” to prevent it from stalling once it begins to climb in earnest.
  8. Climb at around a 10 degree incline (more powerful craft can handle higher climb rates) at full throttle until the desired altitude is reached. Note that once the power is set at full, the performance of the plane (in terms of its climb rate and airspeed) is controlled by pitching the nose up and down. If its nose is pitched too high up, its speed will drop until it stalls. This can be thought of as being similar to a car trying to go up a hill–an excessively steep hill will cause the car to go very slowly and its engine to overheat.