How Flight Simulator Taught an Aspiring Pilot How To Fly
With the advancements in flight simulation technology, is it now possible to learn how to fly in through video games? Well, there are some stories about how people actually learned to fly through simulators.
The History of Flight Simulators
Flight simulators have been around for decades. They recreate aircraft flight in different conditions and environments. These software are used to supplement pilot training, expanding the knowledge and experience of trainee pilots without the risks and costs of an actual flight. They make training safer and more practical. Flight simulators can imitate various real-world variables pilots may face during flight like wind shear, clouds, turbulence, and precipitation and set them to varying amounts. Pilots may then practice complex maneuvers with the simulators without exposing them to danger. The sims also allow you to take off from and land on airports found all across the globe, making them more realistic.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
The particular software we’re going to talk about is the Microsoft Flight Simulator. Since 1982, the Microsoft Flight Simulator has been running, replicating the joy of flying, predating the Windows operating system by 3 years.
It always provided a good taste of how it is like to control a plane. Now, it made a significant upgrade that made both aviation fans and the whole gaming industry excited.
From the eyes of some pilots, the software is worth the hype. Aside from capturing the actual experience inside the cockpit, Microsoft Flight Simulator has stunning visuals that make you feel like you’re looking at the real world from above. You can see the sun shining over the mountains, the coral reefs from clear, blue waters, city lights glimmering during the night, and much more. The clouds look fantastic, and the rain almost feels freakishly accurate.
Microsoft achieved this level of accuracy in the simulator using satellite images and photogrammetry. They have made a true replica of the Earth. This means that you can find real-world places in the game. You can go sightseeing as you fly. Spot the wonders of the world like the Christ the Redeemer, Taj Mahal, Colosseum, and the Pyramids. Or you can go to your neighborhood and spot your house from above; it’s probably there.
But how much does the Microsoft Flight Simulator prepare you for the real thing? Let’s find out.
Back in 2019, Microsoft revealed its new flight simulator in a world premiere event held at a hangar near Seattle. It was flocked by plane enthusiasts, who invest in expensive equipment that lets them simulate what it is like to pilot an aircraft, and a bunch of curious people who just want to get in the know. Microsoft allowed people to try out their brand new flight simulator, and after that, pilot a real, flying aircraft.
Sam Machkovech Pilots a Cessna 172 Hours After Flight Simulator
This is the story of Sam Machkovech.
Sam Machkovech had almost no time using flight simulators before, and he definitely couldn’t fly a plane. But there he was, at the launch, in his MSFS kiosk, piloting a Cessna 172 over the surrounding areas of the Renton Municipal Airport. Only hours later, he took the same flight in real life. And yes, as the pilot.
But before you say it’s unbelievable, he did this with a flight instructor on his side. Well, it wouldn’t be wise if Microsoft just let him fly on his own, would it? In reality, he wasn’t able to take off and land on his own, despite practicing with the flight simulator hours before. His instructor was the one that took over these delicate tasks. However, he still did pilot a Cessna 172. While they were up there, Machkovech managed the plane’s altitude and bearing for 30 minutes, going from Renton to Snoqualmie Falls and from Microsoft’s Bellevue headquarters to the northern end of Seattle.
In Machkovech’s opinion, while the MSFS rendered amazing graphics that looked realistic, the real thing still looked better, of course. But the software delivered on its purpose, that is, to simulate the feeling of flight. He was far away from being qualified as a pilot, but MSFS did a great job in preparing him for the things he needed to know and execute to fly comfortably and reliably in the sky. When his co-pilot gave him the controls, he took a firm grasp of the yoke, and at that point, he felt an identical feeling of feedback and required movement to what he practiced more than a thousand feet below.
Although flight simulators still cannot capture the entire feeling of flight, they are now indispensable tools that aid pilots and aspiring ones prepare for what they may encounter and keep their skills polished. But maybe, just maybe, simulators will only take us thus far so that when we fly for real, we will still have the magical feeling that flight always gives.