Since as early as the 1930s, flight simulators have been an exciting and popular way to get a taste of the pilot experience without ever actually leaving the ground. From humble beginnings as not much more than a tin chassis that tilted side to side a bit, simulation technology has taken full advantage of the computer revolution, and there are now simulation experiences that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Flight simulators are roughly split into two categories. The type most accessible to many people is purely screen-based – the simulator video game. These can be fantastic fun, but for a real taste of flight, you need to get into the cockpit. The other class of flight simulator (which includes all the simulator experiences we feature) involves a fully recreated flight deck, allowing you to really get a feel for the aircraft. Many flight simulators also include an element of motion, giving you the most authentic flying experience short of actually being in a plane.
The great benefit of flight simulators is that they allow ordinary folk like us to have a go at flying some extraordinary aircraft, from military jets to jumbo passenger airliners. These machines are used by professional pilots as part of their ongoing training, so the experience you’ll have in a flight simulator is truly a taste of the real thing.
Depending on the individual simulator used, you may be able to experience take-off and landing at a range of real-world airports, many of which are incredibly accurately recreated in virtual reality. With experienced instructors on hand, you’ll have the opportunity to fly many different scenarios, making flight simulator experiences perfect gifts for anyone who’s ever dreamed of life in the pilot’s seat!
Check out these Top Flight Simulator Experiences