RGB Recommends: Digital Glider Airman (PlayStation)


Digital Glider Airman | デジタルグライダー エアマン

Developer: Ornith
Publisher: ASK, Co Ltd.
Formats: PlayStation, PSP (PS1 Archives), PS3 (PS1 Archives)
Released in: 1999, only in Japan

So this one’s a rarity - a game that really has been forgotten about in modern times. I counted a total of three(!) videos across the entire internet of it, with almost nothing written in the way of Japanese blogs and guides. Having finished the game recently I have to say it’s a shame it’s been so overlooked, because this is a flying simulation like no other.

As the title suggests, this is all about piloting gliders - aircraft without engines, and its through this one hook that much of the joy (and challenge) comes from.

It all starts off easily enough - just asking you to fly a few hundred metres before landing in water. Easily done. But then the second stage suddenly throws a curveball at you, asking you to make it to the goal a few miles out, while staying within a speed limit and appointed height limits throughout the area. It’s here where you’re forced to learn and understand how the physics work, and how to utilise the updrafts to gain height, then speed, then more distance. The speed and height restrictions force you to be careful - you can’t gain too much height, nor too much speed. And you need to pay attention to where the updrafts are - time to utilise the radar. Doing all this at once is easier said than done…

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…But with enough patience you’ll get there. Every new location serves up new terrain that the designers use to make you pull off what previously seemed impossible, and the different objectives within constantly ask you to rethink your approach to flight. One forces you to pilot a glider with the lowest wing strength, making it extremely brittle and prone to breaking in uplift, another asks you to circle in the air - clockwise and anticlockwise - before making it to the goal.

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Once everything clicks it becomes an extremely rewarding experience, since any knowledge you gain - whether it’s in the physics or utilising the informative HUD - can be applied to previous objectives that seemed too difficult at the time.

As @matt mentioned in another thread, it’s basically the thinking person’s Pilotwings. It’s big on the simulation aspect with its physics and how understanding the HUD’s instruments practically becomes a requirement. Air gliders are pretty slow and the environments and elements are huge and overbearing, so you can’t afford to make many stupid moves.

So you’re constantly thinking ahead. Each glider has its own lift, weight and drag characteristics which are further editable by messing with the wing dimensions. It’s really surprising how far, how fast, and how long you can pilot these things with enough practice and understanding.

There are signs that the developers knew this, because the audiovisual presentation elevates the experience beyond staid simulation game, suggesting a big appreciation for this type of flight. Each locale has a vagueness to it, and the the background music is both beautiful and majestic. The combination of the two really conveys the beautiful miracle of man-made flight in itself, flight without an engine.

If you’re after a unique, challenging but rewarding flying simulation game with a razor-sharp focus on mastery of a small amount of content, check out this game!

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I can vouch for this :100:

It’s a really beautiful game, full of mystery and with a great vibe across the user interface, locations and music. It’s interesting that it is a simulation yet you spend most of your time doing nothing but waiting - gliding - and planning your next move. It’s a real Zen game.

The difficulty curve, whilst appearing to be almost vertical at the beginning, is actually pretty much perfect - in the way Japanese developers of this era seem to do with ease. Once you relax and take things easy it really does come into its own.

A few tips that help:

  • the map doesn’t rotate, and given your slow speed it pans so slowly that it’s hard to ascertain your direction. You can use the azimuth dial to keep track of your bearings, of course, but you can also use the orientation/angle of the polygons that make up the ground to judge your heading.

  • use the gliders you unlock, the later levels are designed around their abilities.

  • the final levels require some glider setup adjustments to get a bit more speed (shorter wing length) or lift (longer wing length)

  • the only guide I found is this short Japanese one http://mikosans.web.fc2.com/game/digital-glider-airman.html (English machine translation)which has useful plane stats (manually measured by the author) and summary of how the glider setup works if, like me, you have no idea about the physics of flight

Finding gems like this is what keeps me going. Just a beauty of a game.

Thanks to whoever at Sony/Hamster picked this for the Archives collection - they’ve got impeccable taste and thorough knowledge of the PlayStation’s back catalogue.


Love the observations, particularly the way it renders polys in the distance to measure orientation, that helped so much in 5-3!

It’s funny how all the HUD guides and panel warnings made me end up forgetting about the lack of shadow rendering in the game. But I still can’t stop dreaming about a 3DS followup that never happened…


Might have been the original rights holder who decided, shame it doesn’t appear(?) to have sold well in rerelease form. Panekit finally turned a profit thanks to the Archives rerelease!

I can’t stop thinking about this game. My GOTY, no contest.

I really need to play this and also Kaze No Notam. I get similar vibes from it, not he most technically proficient game you will ever see but looks to be the same sort of experience that is so sorely lacking on consoles these days, the box art and menu aesthetic is incredible!

You’ve Probably Never Played… Kaze no Notam | Minus World

Kaze no Notam - Notam of Wind-0000


I’ve read about it in the Artdink issue of SCROLL but I don’t think I’ve played it. Will investigate.

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Thanks for the tip, just bought it! Original disc.

Can’t wait to check it out.


This looks so appealing, part Pilotwings, part Sky Odyssey. Is there a recommended version to get?


I’d be surprised if there were any changes in the budget “PS One Books” release. But I can’t say for certain.

Mine is the original release and @harborline_765 is the PlayStation Store Classics download.

I tried Sky Odyssey PS2 but it didn’t click. Should I revisit it?

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I think so. Personally, I enjoyed the craft handling model and the graphics have a charming ‘PS 1.5’ vibe which I dig but I understand isn’t for everyone

Me too. I have it but only briefly played it. Both games really highlight the high importance Japanese developers paid toward graphic and art design in their games in the era.

The presentation really elevates Digital Glider Airman beyond what could have otherwise been a staid simulation game.

Like @matt this game is still on my mind, had the soundtrack on last night.

Looking forward to reading more impressions about it!

Seller cancelled my order as still no postage to Australia :frowning:

Just saw a copy pop up on eBay and jumped on it. Hoping everything goes through smoothly. :confused:



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Just seeing the name of this games gives me the vibes.

Got this faster from Japan than some things I recently ordered domestically! Looks practically new and in perfect condition.

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Beautiful. Enjoy!

This is my first time seeing a boxed copy open like that, since I went for the PS Archives rerelease on PSP. Looks great!

Looking forward to reading your impressions!

I’d be interested to see the manual/booklet?