Gaming, Geek, Tech

Are Flight Simulators The Ultimate Geek Experience?

A flight simulator is a computerized way to simulate the experience of flying an aircraft.

The instruments used in flight simulators replicate the equations used in actual instruments. This makes it possible to train pilots how to accurately react to the readings on their flight control applications like cloud precipitation, wind shear, turbulence, and air density.

Since a flight simulator recreates the aircraft environment, it can serve to either train pilots or help aircraft designers to research characteristics of an aircraft and its control handling features.

In learning how to fly, a student can practice on PC flight simulators and full flight simulators before even stepping into the cockpit of a real aircraft.

The Role of PC Flight Simulators


Naturally, PC flight simulators are not even close to the realism of a multimillion dollar full-flight simulator, but they still serve great value. These hardware and software programs should not be confused with computer games, but are actually FAA­approved hardware and suitable for use in flight academies and professional aviation training facilities. They can be obtained from specialty pilot shops like, which offers a wide range of programs for different aircraft and different certification tracks.

Their principle value lies in preparing a student for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) certification. The training augments the 40 hours of flight time with a certified instructor necessary to get a pilot’s license, and students can use them to learn basic aviation concepts and the theories of navigation. In fact, the instruments are close enough to the real instruments to learn kinesthetic skills like how to be light on the controls to avoid putting the airplane through hard, sudden, volatile movements…something that would be disastrous if actually flying a plane.

PC flight simulators are also an inexpensive and affordable way to trim down the time it would take to learn the basic concepts through full flight simulators and real flight lessons.

While, of course, students don’t experience what it’s like to have real airflow over controls or bounce on or off a runway, a PC flight simulator allows a student to practice fundamental skills like working on communication, navigation, and instrument recognition and manipulation

Full Flight Simulators

A Brief History of Aircraft Flight Simulation.

Practicing on a PC flight stimulators allows students to recognize the various instruments in a full flight simulator. Without this basic preparation, a full flight simulator would be overwhelming. Full flight simulators cost millions, and one for a Boeing 747, for example, would cost about $30 million dollars.

Full flight simulators are self­contained pods driven by state­of–the art electronics mounted on hydraulics tracks. Students and their instructors must use a walkway to take them into the cockpit. Once inside the cockpit, the walkway retracts to allow a faithfully reproduction of the kinesthetic effects of flight.

Total Immersion Experience

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The simulator cockpit is an exact replica of an actual model of the plane. The instructor walks a student through the basics of instrument recognition and then sets the simulator parameters.

The scenery through the cockpits will be astonishingly amazingly similar to the runway of an airport that an aircraft might be taxiing on. This visual imagery has realistic depth and it is created by giant concave mirrors and multiple projectors mounted on the front of the bay.

In the beginning, the instructor handles the controls and runs the aircraft down the runway and to a safe takeoff. As the aircraft lifts off, the unfolding scenery replicates what the trainee pilot would actually see as they flew over an actual landscape. If flying from Heathrow Airport, for example, the student would see Thames River and the city of London exactly as if viewed from an actual aircraft.

The simulator can also be used to change the weather display, and a turn of a knob can turn a clear day over the city to look as if shrouded in heavy mist.

Toward the end of the flight, the automatic pilot engages for landing, and the instructor tells the student to monitor the controls for landing. Then an electronic voice begins to count down the altitude ­­“1000, 500, 100, 50, 30, 20,10” ­­ then, following the instructor’s cue, the student engages reverse thrust and coasts onto the runway.

Flight simulators can reproduce as many as 24,000 airports from around the world, and if a student were to fly from say, Hong Kong Kai Tak airport to St Maarten, they would see, hear, and feel everything as if they were actually flying between these two airports.

Uncanny Realism

We Review Qantas’ $30 Million Flight Simulator

In short, modern full­flight simulators are marvels of technology because they accurately replicate the experience of flight and are highly cost­effective. Besides the difference in training costs between flying in a simulated airplane and a real one, there is no risk of crashing a supersonic plane.

However, if necessary to learn maneuvers, a pilot can experience a crash if they make mistakes when flying under extremely poor weather conditions. A crash in a sim will recreate the sound of breaking glass and cause the visuals to freeze and the hydraulics to lock abruptly.

When entering into a full flight simulator, it is almost identical to being in an actual aircraft.

The realism is uncanny. The student sees the same switches, instruments, and flight management computers, feels the same way as if in actual flight, and experiences the same visuals as if looking out of a cockpit window.


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PC flight simulators are an excellent way to get grounded in the basics. Then full flight simulators take this knowledge to the next level, creating a full immersion experience. By the time students get into a real cockpit, everything looks strikingly familiar.

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