As of X-Plane v9, it is no longer possible to map basic flight controls to keyboard keys. As a private pilot and software engineer, I was disappointed to see this happen. My use of X-Plane is purely for enjoyment and I'm not terribly interested in the additional accuracy that a good joystick and/or pedals can offer.
Austin Meyer (the creator of X-Plane) is a brilliant guy and I can only assume that removing the ability to fly via keyboard was carefully considered. As such, there is little chance of seeing this feature replaced in a later version of X-Plane.
Update: With the release of X-Plane v10, keyboard flight controls have still not been restored so it is highly unlikely they ever will without a third-party plugin like this one.
This plugin allows the following commands to be mapped to the keyboard
In addition to the above 9 commands, there are also commands to center elevator and ailerons simultaneously or center all three axes simultaneously.
Installing the plugin is a simple matter of copying a few files to your hard drive. Detailed instructions are provided within the download. Once the files have been moved into the correct locations, the next time you launch X-Plane, navigate to Plugins | Plugin Admin | Enable/Disable and make sure the box to the right of the KeyboardFlightControls item is checked.
Although the plugin is installed, it is still necessary to map keyboard keys to the new flight control commands that this plugin exposes. The simplest way to do this is to use a text editor to edit the X-Plane Keys.prf file located in Output/preferences. Simply copy/paste the following lines to the end of this file and save it:
However, if you prefer, you can always use X-Plane to map the new commands in the Keys tab of the
Joystick & Equipment dialog the next time you run X-Plane. Just keep in mind that you will need to check the box
at the top of the dialog labelled "custom cmnds from plugins" to access the new flight control commands.
Shortly after using the plugin, I noticed that my nose wheel was being controlled by aileron deflection rather than rudder. Apparently, this is the case when you do not have a joystick connected. "cafeine" (a fellow member of the X-Plane forum) pointed out that enabling PFC serial port rudder pedals causes rudder deflections (rather than the ailerons) to correctly control the nose wheel.
To do this, go to Settings | Joystick & Equipment and click on the Equipment tab. On the right side of the dialog, check the box labeled PFC serial port rudder pedals.
The X-Plane Keyboard Flight Controls plugin will run on all versions of Windows that X-Plane supports. It will also run on Mac OS X.
Sorry, I have no current plans to support Linux.
For $10, you can be flying X-Plane with a keyboard. Payment is made via PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to make this payment. Once you have submitted your payment to PayPal, you will receive an email containing a link to download the plugin. IMPORTANT: Please
be sure to check your spam folder after completing payment as a number
of Gmail users have reported their payment confirmation email being automatically filed as