When the Top Gun: Maverick expansion launched for Microsoft Flight Simulator last month, simmers got the opportunity to experience the thrills of carrier operations aboard the F-18 Super Hornet, implemented as closed special events.
While the whole ordeal was quite fun, we couldn’t help but feel like the aircraft carrier designed by Asobo should have been available in free flight mode, located somewhere in the world where simmers could practice these challenging takeoffs and landings. Thankfully, an independent developer has just come to the rescue with an impressive freeware mod that puts the fully operational carrier in a few locations around the world, while also making it move for added realism and challenge!
Developer Jayshrike has devised a way to release the aircraft carrier from the chains of the Top Gun: Maverick expansion and bring it to 7 locations around the USA. And it comes will full functionality, including the Landing Signal Officer, who provides handy guidance as you approach the carrier for landing, but also functional arresting cables and catapult launch system.
Now you can use your F/A-18 Super Hornet in free flight and practice landings and launches from a moving aircraft carrier, which is pretty much what everyone was waiting for. Not only that, but other airplanes should be supported, such as the DC Designs F-14 “Tomcat”, which is getting an update very soon to make it compatible with this mod.
Jayshrike provides very clear instructions on how to use this mod, but it’s as simple as you’d expect. You can find the carrier’s locations by searching for it on the World Map. Then, select to departure from your desired location, and you’ll spawn near the carrier. Spawning directly on the deck is not yet possible, but it’s something the developer is working on for a future update.
To use the catapult system, you’ll have to bind a key to the “Toggle Launch Bar Switch”, which will enable/disable the catapult. The combined use of this key with the Parking Brake is what simulates the holdback bar that holds the aircraft before launch. Again, make sure to read the developer’s instructions for an easy understanding of each step!
Overall, this is just a fabulous work from Jayshrike that will bring joy to many Navy fighter pilots in MSFS. It’s a feature that will inevitably be covered by Asobo/Microsoft in a future update but, for now, is by far the best implementation of carrier operations in Microsoft Flight Simulator’s free flight mode.
This freeware mod is available now through flightsim.to, and can be easily installed by just dropping its folder in your Community folder.