Paul Bertorelli has recently written an interesting post (Johnny Can Read, But He Can’t Land) for AVWeb covering landings that brought up some interesting points about the use of flight simulators to practice landings and whether they do a good or bad job of simulating one. Paul began by writing that landing an aircraft may not be particularly difficult but doing it well consistently isn’t easy either and year after year, this inconsistency gets reflected in the NTSB accident database. He also noted the greater use of flight simulators as a primary teaching tool.
However and for landings, Paul is not so sure how useful flight simulators are because:
Of all the tasks in flying, landing requires the most refined motor skills and hand-eye coordination in reaction to a stream of subtle cues. Some LSAs require more of that rather than less.
Paul then went on to mention that when he was at Oshkosh last summer, Jerry Gregoire put him into Redbird’s J-3 simulator which got the flight dynamics mostly right but it did not bounce on the runway the way a real Cub aircraft would.
And without the bounce dynamic built in, Paul concluded that you don’t have a flight simulator but rather just a video game because not all bounces are the same as the “small ones you get on a three-pointer can be ignored, but the 10-footers with roll excursions have to be dealt with aggressively.”
He also added that:
What separates an acceptable landing from one that’s bound for the ditches are often subtle cues related to seat-of-the-pants sensing of acceleration, turning and slipping moments. You feel these in your butt or see them through the windshield and you respond with the appropriate control input. Sometimes that’s gentle and subtle, sometimes not. But the airplane moving in three dimensions helps you discern the difference.
Flight simulators may get close to that but Paul concluded that they don’t yet nail it just yet.
Hence, we want to see what you our readers think about flight simulators in general along with simulated landings: In other words, do flight simulators do a good job of simulating landings just yet? Moreover, did flight simulators help you become a better general aviation pilot while training?