Professional pilots know and clearly understand the benefits of training with an open source, free flight simulator such as FlightGear. To the amateur, it may appear that using a flight simulator is akin to playing a video game, and that it in no way represents the real experience of flying.
A Flight Simulator As A Bonafide Training Tool
But on the contrary, actually the opposite is true: Did you know that today’s professional airline pilots, military air force personnel, and other commercial aircraft operators all have trained with flight simulators at one point or another? In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States even authorizes the use of certain, approved flight simulator software programs, as bonafide training tools. Yes, you can actually receive flight instruction through the use of a flight simulator, in order to the meet the requirements for your flight training. Indeed, the use of a flight simulator is approved and counts as credit toward your minimum required training in order to obtain your pilot’s license or advanced aviation certificate.
A Flight Simulator Is More Than Just A Game
A flight simulator is a complex conglomeration of the efforts of multiple programmers. It is a team effort to compile a computer program as sophisticated as a flight simulator. It is no ordinary, run-of-the-mill arcade game. It requires the culmination of the knowledge of physics, aeronautics, meteorology, electromagnetism, and cartography, the precise mathematical formulas that govern the various laws of nature involved in making human powered flight possible. All of this knowledge must be translated into machine-readable format, that can be processed by a computer and converted into a three-dimensional, virtual reality computer simulation.
Suspension of Disbelief
Video games can get away with a lack of realism because the focus is on entertainment and making the experience of flying “fun” and “easy”. The laws of physics can be broken in a video game. But in a true, state of the art flight simulator, every single action you take in the cockpit and every single external force that acts upon the aircraft can affect the flight, just as it does in real life.
Art Imitates Life
For example, if you were to nudge the control yoke in an aircraft just a tiny bit while in flight, you can send the aircraft into a climb or a descent. And depending on factors such as your airspeed, your altitude, and the outside air temperature, your aircraft’s responsiveness and sensitivity to the control inputs can vary. This all must be translatable into the computer simulation.
There are those who would argue that a flight simulator is nothing like the real experience of real flight, by virtue of the fact that you cannot experience any of the real sensations of flight, such as turbulence, G-forces, vertigo and spatial disorientation. Moreover, the “fear factor” associated with the self-preservation instinct that keeps you from crashing the airplane, is entirely absent when using a flight simulator. You cannot die or get injured by crashing a flight simulator aircraft.
Instrument Flight Training
Instrument flight training, or the ability to navigate an aircraft in the blind, in zero-visibility conditions, without relying on any outside visual cues, is perhaps the most common professional use of a flight simulator. Instrument training, in real life, requires you to rely exclusively on your instruments and not to trust your senses or what you see outside of the cockpit window. As a matter of fact, the FAA specially allows up to a certain number of hours of instrument flight training to be conducted using a simulator, in lieu of flying a real aircraft, as credit toward your instrument flight rating.
By mmisof from Pixabay