[Review] Pilotwings (SNES) – Air Canada Won’t Be Hiring Me Any Time Soon

One of my earliest memories of travelling on a plane was when I was almost 6. My family and I took a trip to Florida to go to Walt Disney World. That was a special moment for me, especially since the airline had effed up the seating arrangements and forced me to sit away from my family, next to strangers. So to prevent my Mom from losing it on Air Canada, I got the royal treatment on the plane; I got to go into the cockpit and meet the pilots where they gave me a wings pin, and some Wonder Woman playing cards (FTW!).

Airplanes are amazing. I’ve always been curious as to how people pilot these large tin cans, especially since I don’t feel comfortable driving something the size of a cube-van, let alone a plane. So, when I saw there was an actual flight-simulator type game for the SNES called Pilotwings, I thought it would be a fun (safe?) way to try my hand at flying a virtual plane.

Pilotwings begins on your first day of flight class, where you meet Tony, your instructor. The whole point of the game is to get certified to fly a plane, and the game also allows you to learn to skydive. The first lesson in flying a plane is to learn to land, but, the game gives you no real instructions immediately on the plane’s controls. Going into the menu after dying a few times, you discover that what you thought would move your plane up, actually runs it into the ground (hee hee oops!). You are given the view of the runway, and a series of green dots that you are to follow and hit *just so* to land your plane properly (and not get yourself killed). With each green target you hit, you get points that go towards your certification. I was never successful in landing the plane, and Tony was getting pissed at me.

Skydiving, another thing you can do in this game, was an interesting activity. Essentially, you jump out of a plane hooked up to a parachute. The game gives you the same green targets to hit, and you try to land your butt right in the field it tells you. But, I was not able to hit the targets at all, and even if I could land properly, I could not advance until I got enough points to be certified.

Playing Pilotwings made me realize I’m not fit to fly – nor fit to flop out of – a plane. But, don’t take my experience as any indication not to try this game out; it has some fun aspects to it, and even though I didn’t manage to land my plane, it is not a bad game at all. It’s a rudimentary flight-simulator, but could be fun once you get the controls down pat.

Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1991



    1. I took my first flight (to Edmonton) at roughly the same age. I too got to go to the cockpit!

    2. I never had this game but I do love simple flight simulators. Who am I kidding, I’m not training to be Chuck Yeager. Gimme something like this. Still, even with simple games the landings are always where I get messed up!

    It’s like Indiana Jones when asked by Sean Connery if he could fly a plane. “Fly? Yes. Land? No.”


    1. Yes, we jailbroke our old Wii and put an SNES emulator on it that has most of the SNES games on it. So essentially, I’m playing SNES games with the Wii gamepad. We own an SNES too, just don’t have a large selection of cartridges, and there aren’t too many to buy outright.


  2. If it’s one thing that cracks me up about this game, it’s that these people are perfectly okay with giving someone a license even if they crash multiple planes as long as they land on the moving target and score enough bonus points in the minigames. Half of the fun for me was messing up in creative ways to get different reactions out of them. Funnily enough, if you skydive without opening your chute in Japanese version, one of the instructors will think you’re trying to kill yourself (literally, the line can be translated as “Do you intend to die?”), though that was excised in the localization.


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