Flight sims, military style

The boys from SimHQ visit the US Navy to take a look at their own flight sim setups...

The first flight simulators were designed not for gamers, but for pilots. Used by both military and civilian trainers, these things make even the most authentic of PC flight sims look like an arcade game. Recently some of the SimHQ team got a chance to visit the US Navy in southern California to see their Miramar F/A-18 simulators, which feature an imitation cockpit inside a dome on the surface of which the sim's graphics are projected, all powered by a room full of mainframe computers. And it doesn't come cheap either - "just to run these two simulators and the massive number of mainframes to go with them, it costs one million dollars per month", and "that's not including personnel, maintenance or anything else .. just the electric bill"! So now all our American readers know where their tax dollars are going...

"The walkway to the cockpits had been hidden by heavy black drapes that gave you visions of the Wizard of Oz being on the other side. Finally, the drapes were pulled back and it was our time. Walking in the 40' diameter dome was surreal. A narrow catwalk leading out to the static cockpits sits about 20 feet above the ground. There is an odd echo in the room and all of the walls of this spherical room are pure white, with only a couple of projector holes for contrast. The white walls around us, dimmed by the lack of light, give you the immediate feeling of a night mission."

For the full story, read SimHQ's account of the visit.

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