flight simulator

flight simulator, device providing a controlled environment in which a flight trainee can experience conditions approximating those of actual flight. A simulator generally consists of an enclosure housing a working replica of the interior of the cockpit of an aircraft. This replica has all the usual instruments and is mounted in such a way that it can be moved to simulate the rolling, pitching, and yawing motions of an aircraft. The instrument readings, the student's control inputs, the position of the simulator, information about the characteristics of the aircraft being simulated, and information about the terrain over which it is supposed to be flying are coordinated by a computer so that the student experiences everything but the accelerations of actual flight. In early simulators, all visual information was provided by the instruments. Thus the student received practice in flying blind. The recent use of sophisticated computers has made it possible to provide realistic video displays of conditions outside the cockpit.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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