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Simulators and Flight Training

The advantages of using simulators are pretty obvious—you get the experience of what it’s like to do in real life, but without the cost or danger associated with the real things. During the early days of aviation pilots would literally be given what could be considered little more than a pep talk and sent up in an airplane. If they survived (many pilots and aircraft did not), they were given their "wings." Of course there was a little more to it than that, but not much more.

Link Trainer "The Blue Box" (circa 1945)

Near the end of WWII the United States Army Air Force (U.S.A.A.F.—the predecessor of the today’s U.S. Air Force) used the Link motion platform flight simulator for flight training. One of the main lessons taught by the defeat of the Luftwaffe and Imperial Japanese Air Forces was that in the grand scheme of things pilots are more valuable than the aircraft they fly in. Methods that could be used to safely (reducing training accidents meant more pilots could be sent into the field), effectively (if you lose them on their first missions, you’ve wasted time and resources), and quickly (timing is everything) train pilots was sought. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the military was one of the first organizations to adopt simulators for flight training.

As technology marches forward, flight simulators have become much more sophisticated. While all modern flight simulators rely on the processing power of computers, desktop flight simulators (commonly referred to as PC-based flight simulators) have finally evolved to the point where their fidelity and flight training value is seriously accepted. (Please see Computer Games No Longer a Waste of Time for more on this.)

The United States Navy (USN) recently announced that it is now issuing Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000® (whose product lineage is considered to be the granddaddy of all PC-based flight simulations) to all naval aviation cadets. USN studies have shown that cadets with experience in Flight Simulator 2000 consistently receive higher exam scores than those without exposure to this highly realistic piece of software. Once again the military leads the way—at least in military aviation.

FlightAdventures is the first General Aviation company to fully embrace the real world flight training potential of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000. FlightAdventures’ Founder and President, Ben Chiu, a Certificated Flight Instructor and best-selling author of several books on Microsoft Flight Simulator says, "At FlightAdventures we’ve developed a state-of-the-art real world flight training/aviation experience that effectively harnesses the training strengths of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 in our Weekend-to-Solo™, and Explorer-Plus™ Adventures."

Chiu goes on to say, "Although Flight Simulator 2000’s realism and accuracy is extremely impressive, it isn’t at the point where it’s an exact representation of real world aviation. It’s easy to recognize the obvious disparities created by the current limitations of computer hardware, but it really takes expertise in both real world aviation AND flight simulation software to identify the subtleties between the two. Once you’ve done that you have to develop a program to eliminate flight training negative transfer—so you don’t create bad habits before stepping into a real airplane. At FlightAdventures we have this expertise and that’s precisely why we feel that FlightAdventures is the leader in this field."

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