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I am a simulator fan, especially warplane
simulators. I came across a site located at
F-86 Sabre simulator
These simulators are mostly modified from old airframes. The whole cockpit is cut out and mounted on a hydraulic platform capable of making tilts on both planes. The tilting action is generated from a control panel, which is linked with both rudder paddle and the cyclic-stick inside the simulator. The cockpit is facing a screen where the computer-regenerated image will be projected. I only have time to sit inside the F16 simulator which uses real film images for scenery instead of computer generated graphic. This has its good side and bad side. The images are very real (taken from previous flight). But you cannot over-ride the original flight route. You can't make 180-degree turn, which is not a problem at all in computer-generated simulation.
The tour starts with a briefing on the rules and some essential information about these simulators. That includes safety issues, rules of engagement and what to do if you have to "puke". Then you are sent to the dressing room to put on the flight suit. There is no G-bladder provided. You won't be pulling G anyway. I am not sure if this is a lost on an experience or is that a blessing. Anyway it is still quite an experience on how to put on a real parachute harness and how to detach it. Finally, you put on the flight helmet, gloves and climb into the ejection seat.
The canopy, ejection seat and the safety pins.
Inside the cockpit, you will be assisted by ground crews to hook up the inter-com system. Once wired, you can start talking with the simulation controller and more detail briefing will be provided. After good communication is checked, the canopy will be lowered, locked up and light in the whole room switched off. The only thing you see will be the slightly illuminated equipment panel. Once airport image is projected on the screen, you will start the tour in virtual reality. The stuffs around you are all real and within touch. The feeling is strongest when you test the paddle and when you experience air bumps in the flight.
When you are on a simulator, you want everything as real as possible! The ejection seat has safety pins. The seat won't fire unless they are all removed. In real life, ground crew will remove them after you are strapped up. The correct number of removed pins has to be counted before closing the canopy. I forgot this procedure in my run. It cost me one virtual life. A missile nailed me, I had fire in the engine and must bail out. It is really embarrassed when I was told - seat failed to eject!!
Overall speaking, the ride is not bad although it could be better if the dials reflects corresponding flight data like altitude, speed, angle of attack…etc. The actual simulation took about 30 minutes in the cockpit and cost $40. Compare to a roller-coaster ride, this is less violent, mostly under your control and fully taped on a video for you playback in future. I would compare the experience with a ride in an amusement park. We pay $5 for a 3-minute ride normally so it does not sounds too far off.
If you want an experience on a real high performance training planes, visit the web site below and make a reservation on a seat. I am seriously considering making a visit in my next vacation.