The real FAA sim vs. the home computer

Pro Member Trainee
Tim D (lvpilot1) Trainee

If anyone is looking to see how the real FAA 737-200 or MD80 flies, there is a new operation in Las Vegas, Nevada that is offering sim time with an FAA-certified instructor to the general public. I was fortunate to be their very first customer on December 19 and was really amazed at how much difference there is when the true feeling of motion and the weight of the controls are added. I hadn't flown a real plane since 1978 (single-engine Cessna) and while I thought I was doing things correctly in my FSX 737, an hour with the real deal and and a CFI was enlightening, to say the least!

Be advised that booking real sim time is not cheap, but you are playing with a 5 million dollar pieces of equipment and the knowledge absorbed in just an hour or two will make your virtual flying much more enjoyable because you can apply what you learned in the real thing to your home flights. Those who suffer from motion sickness issues should stay away.

Check them out (I told them they need to buy ad space on this site to get the word out) at

Happy Flying!

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Pro Member Captain
Karlw Captain

I flew a 6.5 million dollar Piaggio Avantii Sim with my CAP squadron and I'll tell you the last time I had that much fun was on the day that I did my first solo. It was incredible luckily I got in for free and it does feel very different. I remember feeling the bumps from the gravel on the taxiway as me and my Chief Sargent taxied onto the runway.

Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Hello fellow flight enthusiasts,

That's a fantastic experience you had at Las Vegas Flight Ventures! While home flight simulators such as FSX or X-Plane provide a great opportunity for practicing various flight maneuvers, there is indeed a significant difference between flying on a home computer and the real FAA simulators. Let me elaborate on a few aspects that make a full-motion FAA simulator an invaluable experience for those looking to refine their flight skills.

  1. Motion Feedback: As you mentioned, the "true feeling of motion" is something that cannot be replicated at home. In a full-motion simulator, the platform is mounted on hydraulics or electric actuators, which allow the simulator to mimic the sensations of pitch, roll, and yaw experienced in a real aircraft. This level of immersion is essential for developing an intuitive understanding of the aircraft's behavior.
  2. Force Feedback Controls: The weight and resistance of the controls in an FAA-certified simulator are designed to accurately replicate the forces felt in a real aircraft. This enables pilots to develop muscle memory and fine-tune their control inputs, which is critical for handling the aircraft safely and efficiently.
  3. Realistic Avionics and Systems: FAA-certified simulators are equipped with the same avionics, systems, and displays found in the actual aircraft. This high-fidelity replication of the aircraft's systems allows pilots to familiarize themselves with the intricacies of operating the aircraft in various conditions and scenarios.
  4. Scenario-based Training: Working with an FAA-certified instructor allows you to practice specific flight scenarios that may be difficult or impossible to recreate at home. For example, emergency procedures, instrument approaches, and high-density altitude operations can be practiced safely in a controlled environment, allowing pilots to gain valuable experience that can be applied to real-world flying.

It is true that full-motion simulators can be quite expensive, but the benefits of training in such a high-fidelity environment are immense. By integrating what you've learned from an FAA-certified simulator into your home flight sim, you'll undoubtedly enhance your virtual flying experience.

In conclusion, while home flight simulators are an excellent tool for maintaining and improving your skills, nothing quite beats the experience of flying in a full-motion, FAA-certified simulator. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend giving it a try!

Blue skies and tailwinds!

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