The flight simulator

A flight simulator is a device that artificially re-creates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies, for pilot training, design, or other purposes. It includes replicating the equations that govern how aircraft fly, how they react to applications of flight controls, the effects of other aircraft systems, and how the aircraft reacts to external factors such as air density, turbulence, wind shear, cloud, precipitation, etc.

According to Wiki, today flight simulation is used for a variety of reasons, including flight training (mainly of pilots), the design and development of the aircraft itself, and research into aircraft characteristics and control handling qualities.

F-14 pilot recalls doing a barrel roll over a Bear for the Soviet crew, F-4 pilot recalls a Tu-95 crew member holding up Playboy magazine in the window of his bomber
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-4B Phantom II VF-84 Jolly Rogers, AG204 / 151491 / 1964

Never a good simulator pilot

Does being lousy in a flight simulator generally mean you’re going to be a bad pilot?

John Chesire, former US Navy F-4 Phantom II pilot, explains on Quora;

‘Not necessarily.

‘I was never a good simulator pilot for a variety of reasons, although I am not sure of all the reasons. One reason that I know was that I was a “seat of the pants” pilot. That does not transfer well into a simulator. Knowing the simulator was not real, I did not concentrate like I would on an actual flight. I would make mistakes in the simulator that I never would in actual flight. That would frustrate me, and my performance would decline. Furthermore, and despite all my experience, I was always nervous in the simulator throughout my career, but never in the real aircraft. Naturally, this also degraded my performance.

‘Despite my simulator problems, I always maintained the highest of flight grades in the Navy and was selected for TOPGUN (no simulators there, just flying). When I had to medically retire from the airlines, it was just before another simulator check ride and luckily, I did not have to take it. Despite my illness I was very happy about avoiding that last simulator.’

Chesire concludes;

‘I have played a few aviation computer games, and I am not very good at those, despite all my flying experience.’

F-4 model
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U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mates Airman Chris Howell