The Flight simulator reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Flight simulator

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A flight simulator is a system that tries to replicate, or simulate, the experience of flying an airplane as closely and realistically as possible. The different types of flight simulator range from video games up to fullsize cockpit replicas mounted on hydraulic rams, controlled by state of the art computer technology.

Flight simulators are extensively used by the aviation industry and the military for pilot training and disaster simulation.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Flight simulators at home
3 See also
4 External link

History

Because powered flight is hazardous to attempt untrained, from the earliest days various schemes were used to enable new pilots to get the feel of the controls without actually being airborne. For instance, the Sanders Teacher was a complete aircraft mounted on a universal joint and facing into the wind, able to rotate and tilt freely. Another early flight simulator of about 1910 was built using a section of a barrel mounted on a frame.

A number of electro-mechanical devices were tried during World War I and thereafter. The best-known was the Link Trainer, which in 1930 just simulated mechanical motions, but was later enhanced to include instruments and was used by a number of countries during World War II and after.

The Celestial Navigation Trainer of 1941 was a massive structure 45 ft high and capable of accommodating an entire bomber crew learning how to fly night missions. In the 1940s, analog computers were used to solve the equations of flight, resulting in the first electronic simulators.

In 1948, Curtiss-Wright delivered a trainer for the Stratocruiser to Pan American, the first complete simulator owned by an airline. Although there was no motion modelling or visual display, the entire cockpit and instruments worked, and crews found it very effective. Full motion systems came in starting in the late 1950s. The early full motion systems often simulated ground terrain using an actual model of the terrain, and "flying" a camera over it to mimic the position of the aircraft. The resulting pictures were relayed to the pilots on TV monitors. Naturally rather limited areas of the ground were able to be simulated in this manner, usually just the area around an airport. A similar system was used by the military to simulate bombing raids, etc. The use of digital computers for flight simulation began in the 1960s.

Flight simulators at home

Crude flight simulators were among the first types of programs to be developed for early personal computers. Bruce Artwick's Sublogic simulators were well-known for the functionality they managed to get onto 8-bit machines.

In the early 2000s, even home entertainment flight simulators become so realistic that after the tragedies of September the 11th 2001, some journalists and experts speculated that the hijackers might have gained enough knowledge to steer a passenger airliner from packages such as Microsoft Flight Simulator.

It should be pointed out that the advent of flight simulators as home video game entertainment has prompted many users to become "airplane designers" for these systems. As such, they may create both military or commercial airline airplanes, and they may even use names of real life airlines, as long as they don't make profits out of their designs. Many other home flight simulator users create their personal, virtual version of their favorite real world airline, and so virtual airlines such as Virtual Delta, Mexicana Virtual, Virtual Aeroflot, Viasa Virtual and so on can be found online.

Popular simulators for home computers include:

See also

External link