Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Keeping It Real

Now in the fixed-wing market, FLYIT simulators are impressively realistic and take flight training to another level

The complete trailer-classroom sells for $139,000 with production-aircraft models (each simulator includes four single-engine models and two twins). Custom aircraft add $10,000 and up to that price. Unlike companies that “feature-add” you to death, Simpkins shows me that one price includes everything. “This is a total plug-and-fly solution,” he says, “and the units have a life expectancy of 20 years.” Multiple FLYIT simulators can be networked together through a LAN or via the Internet for formation flying.

As proven at AOPA Expo, the simulators are unbeatable marketing tools. Simpkins tells me he has customers who take the rolling classroom to high schools and colleges. “This can even be taken to a mall,” he adds. “Imagine the power of that as a promotional tool and consider how easy that is; it just plugs into normal power.” Schools that prefer not to use the trailer can place the simulator system in a room (23x19 feet required).

The Fun Factor

Fun seems to figure prominently in aviation. FLYIT simulators offer fun and then some. We’re lucky to live in a time when realistic simulation is a part of our reality. With their emphasis on realism, FLYIT sims allow you to do and try things you never could in real life. Repeating an approach in rain or ice or at night is a matter of pushing a button. Relocating yourself to some exotic location is just as easy. How else besides one of these simulators could I ever practice landings in China or steep turns at night over India? The possibilities go on and on.

Back in the Jet Ranger, Bobby and I (Bobby Smith is actually one of FLYIT’s software engineers) decide to head elsewhere to practice hovering. As we leave Hong Kong, I buzz the helicopter just over the tails of the airliners sitting on the ramp. “In real life, they say it takes a pilot some 10 hours or more just to learn how to hover,” says Bobby as we just miss the tail of a KLM 747. “Imagine the cost. Here you can do it over and over without any risk.” Back in Seattle, I manage a decent landing. I never even left the building or spent a cent on avgas. Outside, the cold fog rolls in. Inside, its summer and we’re headed for Florida. I could get used to this.


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