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A New Approach to Flight Simulation

Co-Authored by: Hal M. Hornburg, General USAF (Ret); Michael D. Malone, Vice
Admiral USN (Ret); and Major General (Dr.) George K. Anderson, USAF, MC (Ret)
The military services are expected to endure huge budget cuts and are looking for new efficiencies and innovative ways to save money. If objectively evaluated and tested, realistic tactical flight simulation using a high performance motion system that provides sustained G motion could prove to be a key new capability. As one element of an advanced flight training program, a flight simulator that flies just like a fighter aircraft including realistic motion offers better training at lower cost. In the paragraphs that follow three respected military officers, all retired and experienced in aviation, physiology and training, offer their insights in their own words.
General Hal M. Hornburg, USAF (Ret) served as Commander, Air Combat Command. He is a Command Pilot with over 4400 flight hours in: T-37, T-38, O-1, O-2, OV-10, F100, F-4D/E, F-15A/C/E, F-16C, KC-10, C-21 and T-6 Texan II.
I have flown flight simulators since 1968, and with more than four decades of hands-on experience, I have seen lots of changes, mostly for the good. Until recently, the highest fidelity simulation was only possible for larger airframes due to the inability to introduce realistic motion and G forces into fighter-type simulators. That limitation no longer exists. Follow me on a trip down Memory Lane.
My first “sim” experience was in a T-37 trainer. We called it a simulator but now know it as a procedural trainer. It remained stable, always at 1G, and allowed the trainee to watch instruments change based on power, pitch and bank. The “advanced” T-38 simulator was more of the same, but the airspeed indicator moved more quickly! Later, in the F-4 simulator, not much, if anything, had advanced. Finally, in the F-15 simulator, there was limited motion which provided transient motion cues to represent the appearance of movement, but it did not provide sustained G motion to accurately replicate the simulated aircraft movement. Most of the time, the motion was turned off due to a malfunction in one of the motion axes. The F-16 simulator? More of the same. The simulation community had introduced “part task trainers” into the family of simulation, but true replication of the flight environment didn’t exist.

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