Fixed-wing aircraft, or aeroplanes, are aircrafts that primarily use wings for lift when in motion and propellers or jet engines for thrust.
Aeroplanes were first made available as controllable vehicles with the introduction of the Dodo in Grand Theft Auto III, which was significantly difficult to fly. Unlike helicopters, however, controllable aeroplanes do not enjoy consistent appearances since GTA III, with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City featuring only one aeroplane, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas featuring up to eleven such aircraft, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories featuring none at all with out a third party mod or cheat device, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories featuring two aeroplanes. In Grand Theft Auto IV there were aeroplanes, but none were controllable. It was revealed in the debut trailer that aeroplanes will return in Grand Theft Auto V. It was later revealed by Rockstar that planes would return in their biggest open world game to date, which is GTA V.
Aeroplanes are naturally aircraft that rely on their propellers or jet engines for horizontal speed, generating lift using their wings in the process. Controls while on the ground, however, are often heavy and are only effective at low speeds due to their weight and little traction from the landing gears. As such, aeroplanes often require a stretch of flat surface in order to take off or land, making the presence of airport runways in games they appear in useful in this regard. The only exception to the rule is the Hydra in GTA San Andreas, which is capable of both conventional and vertical take off, flying, and landing by the simple act of adjusting the direction of its jet thrusters. (see VTOL )
Since its introduction in GTA III, aeroplanes possess a wide range of controls: Including working ailerons, elevators, and rudders, allowing it to roll, pitch, and yaw, and retractable landing gears in GTA San Andreas, which impacts their aerodynamics and speed. In their initial appearances in GTA III and GTA Vice City, certain aerobatic stunts (i.e. barrel rows or loops) are very difficult to execute (likely because the aeroplanes featured in these games, the Dodo and Skimmer, are underpowered), a limitation rectified in GTA San Andreas, which allows aeroplanes to perform said stunts and are even showcased during Flying School, where a number of aeroplane stunts must be executed by the player.
The size of aeroplanes vary greatly throughout the series, with the Dodo and Stuntplane being the smallest, and the AT-400 and Andromada being the largest aeroplanes and aircraft in general. Airplanes in the series have encompassed monoplanes and biplanes, as well as seaplanes.
Initially, aeroplanes in GTA III and GTA Vice City are relatively resilient to damage, capable of hitting solid objects head on at full speed and sustaining only the same amount of damage a road vehicle may have from a similar crash. Like helicopters, aeroplanes will also cease to function outright in water if they do not have pontoons (i.e. the Skimmer).
GTA San Andreas includes realism in the damage engine of airplanes by allowing certain portions of an airplane to malfunction and weaken controls or engine power (indicated by smoke and flapping aeroplane parts) if they lightly hit an object, and programming the aircraft to explode on impact if flown head on to any solid object or water. Also, planes can catch fire as a result of heavy damage, and, like most other vehicles, is a sign of an aircraft's imminent destruction, although airplanes can sustain fire for a much longer period of time before exploding. Despite these refinements, the models of all aeroplanes still remain generally unchanged despite heavy damage or high-speed collisions (apart from flapping parts).
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, if you fly over a no fly zone such as Area 69 (or the Easter Basin Naval Station during Vertical Bird) in an aeroplane and a SAM missile is fired at you, your airplane will rapidly beep as a missile warning sign. You will also see a small red blip on your minimap so you know how close the missile is to your airplane, so you can time your evasive maneuvers.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has a unique and sometimes irritating random factor in that planes will occasionally fall out of the sky and crash, whether in rural areas or in the middle of a city. The crashes generally occur close enough to Carl to cause damage to (or often destroy) the vehicle he may be driving in.
- On the ps2 version the airplanes\helicopters will have a fuzzy blade animation when rotating fast. You can also see the animation change as it starts to spin. Also in the ps2 version all aircrafts have a default shadow and it also reflects like in Grand Theft Auto Vice City. The controls are more harder on ps2 but been impoved on PC & Xbox. Normally on PC the tail rotor blades spin slowly making it look like they never spin at all. The main rotor blades however spin fast. The Xbox version has wide rotor blades with a slow spinning animation handling still remains the same though. AI planes and helicopters can be seen flying around when the player exits a building. The AI planes however do not show up when the player is in an aircraft. This could be so the player cannot chase the AI. The only way the player can chase the planes are to enter the hydra cheat half way through, exit the building and press it when hearing another aircraft noise. All AI planes\helicopters have no pilots but are driven by themselves.