Real vs. Simulated flight – debate and discussion

Can you learn to fly in a simulator?

 Landing a HondaJet       Landing a Honda Jet in flight simulator 

  What can you get from “flying” simulated aircraft?  

 Flight simulators are only training devices but you can get huge benefits if you understand their limits and advantages.    Even if you’re not a pilot and don’t plan to be one, you can learn a lot of useful things in a flight simulator

Night landing in simulator

Night landing in simulator

           It’s easy to discount the value of “flying” in a simulator by saying it’s “fake”, but if you take them seriously, you can get loads of benefits.   For example, you can practice using real charts, real navigation beacons, and real weather.   Or, you can set up your own weather scenarios and random mechanical failures to test your skill.    You can fly in all kinds of terrain, around the world, to try out situations that you may not encounter in your normal training, such as high mountains, large stretches of water, high altitudes, spins, and aerobatic maneuvers.   You can try out a huge variety of aircraft and compare  how they handle compared to the real ones you fly.

          Home flight simulators may seem like games, but tremendous skill and thought goes into their creation.   They are not toys.   Without flight simulators, learning to fly would be much more difficult and dangerous.   Many people who “fly” in simulators never actually have flown a real aircraft.    “Flying” in a simulator develops respect for pilots and a better understanding of how an aircraft works.     

In the early days of aviation, so much happened by trial and error.

       There was no simulated flight at all, and people paid with their lives.    Today, most students use a simulator at least a few times during their training, especially if they get instrument rated.    Many use them frequently.    If  you get up into multi-million dollar aircraft you will certainly practice in a simulator for a long time first, up to 90 percent of the training, in some cases.   Modern technology has made flight simulators extremely important for all commercial and military training.

Now there are some really cool full-motion 3-axis simulators for small general purpose aircraft made by a company called RedBird, and others as well.

So, what can you learn in a simulator ?

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About the Author

Professional aerial photographer, private pilot