But you should spend another $20 on a good joystick also. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 will teach you how to fly a number of real planes. Let me put it to you this way - if you are on a plane and the airhostess asks suddenly over the intercom "Can anyone fly a plane?" and if the answer is - "No one here can", then your next best bet is to go with whoever has the most flight time with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004... and its all thanks to John and Martha King of King's Air school and Rod Machado, your flight instructor who feature in a couple of hours worth of scripted tutorial videos that play in the games menu and describe everything that could ever possibly want to learn about flying a plane. When you are done with that then you can start reading the couple of thousand pages of documentation that range anywhere from using digital GPS tracking systems to flying with damaged equipment. Let us be clear here for a moment - if you get into it, then you are in it for the long term and will almost certainly save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in real flight lessons because when you go up for real you will know nearly all of it except for actually doing it.
For $20 you are on your way to joining the best and cheapest flight school there is and really the tutorials are the Gem of the box, not to mention the fact that a round the world trip is possible with this simulator, including real-time weather events. I have the latest 256mb Radeon Graphics card and even it has trouble rendering everything on full detail so this game will certainly last a very long time. The 512mb card generation should be able to cope with everything.
As a note there are classic trips you can take like missions - for example the Wright Brothers first flight. There are also plenty of mods and addons for it if you search the internet.
This is a great and educational Simulator. If you like flying then what are you waiting for? It is massive improvement on previous versions of this sim (it has a couple of thousand airports to choose from). There is nothing else even remotely like it.