By Jim Rhoads on
11/3/2010 1:20 PM
There are those who will tell you (on flashy web sites and in glossy sales brochures) that a flight simulator without a realistic hardware-based cockpit is no flight simulator at all.
It’s not surprising, really. The first Link Trainer (the first patented true instrument flight simulator) had both a cockpit you could climb into and motion along three axis: pitch, roll, and yaw.
By the 1960s, jacks allowing six degrees of freedom appeared on simulators, providing pitch, roll, and yaw as well as linear movement: heave (up and down), sway (side to side), and surge (fore and aft). The military and airlines quickly embraced using these high-fidelity, aircraft-specific machines, and a “flight simulator” became—by definition—an expensive piece of hardware that looked like a real airplane, operated like a real airplane, and moved like a real airplane.
Flash forward to today, and you’ll find that this same attitude has trickled all the way down to GA training. Flight school and FBO owners are quick to jump on the Flight Training Device bandwagon and purchase expensive hardware-based sims guaranteed to make students drool with anticipation. It works, too. Instructors tell prospective students: “You’ve gotta see our sim.” The students take one look ... and pull out their credit cards.