A journey of a thousand miles—or in this case, to a thousand feet—begins with a single step. Flight1’s Courageous Fliers take that step by testing their wings in a state-of-the-art flight simulator before moving on to a real Cessna 172.
But what exactly is a flight simulator, and why have they become a critical part of flight training all over the world? The concept of flight simulation took quite a while to successfully sync up with technology. It was just a few years after the Wright Brothers flew that people started trying to figure out an effective way to practice piloting skills on the ground. But early training devices were, to be charitable, not entirely realistic.
Fast-forward to today. Enthusiasts with nothing more than a computer and a sim program can take the Wright Flyer over the dunes at Kitty Hawk, ride an F-18 cat shot off the Nimitz, or pilot a 777 from Sydney to LAX. At the other end of the spectrum, commercial pilots train in full-flight simulators that tilt and bob atop several pairs of telescoping legs and replicate every nuance of flight with stunning realism (Boeing 787 sim is shown at left). Anything a crew might encounter or sense is faithfully portrayed: sound, movement, acceleration, scenery, radio traffic, turbulence, authentic weather, and precise reproductions of terrain and airport facilities worldwide. Simulating challenges like malfunctions, emergencies, and operations at marginal airports allows pilots to rehearse without the cost or risk of using a real aircraft. But such devices aren’t cheap; advanced sims can cost well over $10 million.
For many years, motion-capable simulators for general aviation use were unavailable or prohibitively expensive. That began to change with the advent of cutting-edge sims like the Redbird FMX that Flight1 uses through a partnership with Vincennes University’s Aviation Technology Center. The Redbird FMX allows our Courageous Fliers to experience the excitement of flight through features like wrap-around visuals, global scenery, a fully enclosed cockpit with realistic controls, and an electric motion platform.
– Russell Goutierez
Photos: Wikipedia; Boeing/Bernard Choi; aviationadvertiser.com