Planeception: This person flew transatlantic in Flight Sim while taking the same flight in real life

Rami Ismail playing Microsoft Flight Simulator on a flight.
(Image credit: Rami Ismail)

Game developer Rami Ismail, formerly one half of Vlambeer and general good egg, yesterday decided it was time to go all Inception on Microsoft Flight Simulator's ass. "I've had the idea since Flight Simulator was announced properly at a presser somewhere I think," Ismail writes to us. "Hadn't been able to do it yet as COVID happened, so I didn't fly in real life since release."

But yesterday came his chance. Beginning in Montreal, Canada, Ismail set up to fly the same route in-game as his passenger plane was taking in the real world, final destination Schipol Airport, Amsterdam.

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Ismail flew across the Atlantic, posting regular updates on a long thread that you can read unrolled here. The account shows just how remarkably close Flight Sim manages to match the real flight: shortly after takeoff Ismail notes the "Clouds entry was seconds apart, climbing out of them was maybe 30-ish seconds difference. Wild."

Ismail's in-game flight lagged around five or six minutes behind real-life at one point, before overtaking and eventually landing in Amsterdam a few minutes ahead. "The sim was about 4 minutes fast. Weather matched, light matched, stars matched. Wild. Absolutely staggering."

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Microsoft Flight Simulator is a unique experience, and Ismail's not the first to tease out the game's remarkable recreation of our world through mapping software. How to top this? The next step, surely, is wiring-up MSFS to a real plane, and letting Twitch take the controls.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."