"The Joy Of Flight Simulation"
The Joy Of Flight Simulation
Having had the distillation of experience flying in the real world and flying by simulation, I have to say that each has its own advantage. There really is nothing quite like reality; the smell of the leather, the synchronized sound of those engines, the smell of hot metal and oils as they work in symphony and the thrill of thrust as you are full throttle down the runway approaching pushback and rotation, and the pure satisfaction of sticking the perfect landing. Even the avian like gentle flexing movement of the wings feels good as you are climbing out of the pattern as the ground falls away growing ever smaller with the increasing altitude.
But, for ease of operation, safety and convenience simulation is the Victor. You can adjust all of the parameters, winds; including variety, direction and velocity, time of day or night, precipitation or lack of, visibility from unlimited to IFR and anywhere between. If you want complete cloud cover, broken, scattered, or none at all, the choices are virtually unlimited. The degree of cloud cover can even be varied by altitude so that you can have a blanket at 6,000 feet and then clear skies until you reach 10,000 feet, and so forth. Even the type of clouds can be established, cumulous, stratus, nimbus, cumulonimbus, etc. Even the degree and angle of sun glare can be adjusted to interfere or be a non factor.
Flight plans can be filed or not. The towers can hand you off as they vector you through the waypoints into the next quadrants. Instruments are deadly accurate. Glass cockpits reflect the ultimate in realism. GPS, Artificial Horizons, Glideslopes, Turn and Bank, Altimeters, Radar, EGT, Fuel Meters, Autopilots are all working harmoniously to guide you to your destination. Coupled with communication and directives from the air traffic controllers, the system is nearly foolproof. And yet, failures of all sorts can be set; engines, fuel pumps, instruments, gear, flaps, electronics, avionics, etc. Programming and engine out on takeoff, climb or in flight creates an enormous challenge which can be mastered or disastrous; but you will walk away in either case.
Stalls can be induced and recovery achieved. Engines can be leaned out for maximum performance or over leaned to the point of failure. Fuel can run out or be made so there is a never ending supply on tap. You can climb well past the service ceiling until the uppermost limit has been reached and you are nearly standing still at full throttle. You can overspeed, overshoot runways, crash and still fly again. A myriad of locations can be selected to fly from and destinations are without limits. And you can even change aircraft mid-flight if you decide you want to try your skill with a different plane. General aviation, Private aviation, Commercial aviation, charter flight, even military applications are on the docket. Single engine, twin engine, turbine, jet, gliders and even seaplanes are all on the menu. Want a different color combination, male or female voiced controller, different language, head up display, the field is wide open. Need to take a phone call, grab a cup of coffee, make a pit stop; hit the pause button and freeze the action which will be waiting for you when you return.
Oh yeah, no flight regulations either. You can fly through restricted airspace, buzz the tower, land on the taxiway, do an unauthorized touch and go, whatever makes you happy. There are rules of course but if you aren’t prepping for a ticket or rating, and aren’t with an instructor with a specific goal logging time, then you can bend or break them; cause in real life that’s never an option.
At some point in time, when financial opportunity allows, I will have a real (or as close to real as I can afford) simulator in the basement of our home. I have already forewarned my wife that when that time comes, I will probably never leave the house again but that she will always know where I am.
For now, I am relegated to my computer and Flight Simulator 2004. Flight Simulator-X and X-Pl