top of page

Hobby Highlight: Flight Simulators

It is not a video game, I swear. Legit. No one wins or loses; there are no kill streaks, and definitely, no birds crashing through frangible structures (where are the building inspectors?). For fellow flight simmers, this has been a battle we have fought for some time. Although even the biggest flight sim “hardos” will admit the significant differences between simulation and real life, calling flight simulators a video game is not taken lightly.

For most, flight simulators are the closest we can come to real-world flight (isn't this such a silly paradox? We have a staffing crisis predicted to last for years, yet the cost of flight training in the United States only continues to rise). Just speaking for myself, the financial investment required to fly is insurmountable when factoring in my existing student loans (especially after I decided to lump a private-school M.B.A. tuition bill on top of them!). But, for me, flight simulation provides an excellent emotional outlet that gives a little taste of what flying in the real world would be like.

Now and then, I come across a colleague who shares the same pleasure. I said early on that I wanted to share some contributions on this platform, and I feel like the first Hobby Highlight would be a good start. So, that being said, I will let a good friend of mine, Mr. Jaime Peraza, take it over from here.

Jaime Peraza

What’s up! I’m Jaime - born in 1998 to a Salvadorian family. Although officially born in Houston, TX, I have lived in four different countries; Argentina, Panama, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. At 19, I moved to Long Beach, NY, to begin studies at Nassau Community College. Two years later, I decided to continue my studies at Farmingdale State College, where I obtained a Bachelor's in Aviation Business Administration with a minor as a Private Pilot. Currently, I am waiting to begin my postgraduate studies at the University of Madrid in Artificial Business Intelligence, which I will then apply to my career in aviation.

I have been on the move for as long as I can remember, so I have always been interested in aircraft. This interest turned into a passion, and by the end of 2019, I took my first job in aviation as a Ramp Operations Agent with Virgin Atlantic Airways. Dave always asks, so I will tell you now my favorite aircraft are the Cirrus SR-22 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I am also a window seat person (aka the best kind of person), and my favorite place to travel is Medellin, Colombia.

To advance my piloting skills, I have grown a hobby of flight simulation in my spare time. In the present day, flight simulation has been improving so that it has become very technologically advanced, allowing the user to live an experience quite close to reality. There are a few available simulator options, but for aviation lovers, the clear frontrunner is Microsoft Flight Simulator, which over the past three decades, it has evolved so that it is possible to complete real-world procedures virtually.

I remember my journey in flight simulation began when I wanted to learn how to fly an airplane and better practice fundamentals. If you could not guess, my simulator of choice is Microsoft Flight Simulator, which notably opened up a floodgate of interest to the simming community upon release, both for the casual simmer or the sim-streamers (like myself). It also developed many supporting platforms to help grow an immersive, realistic experience, such as Vatsim, PilotEdge, Volanta, etc. Developing these technologies has piqued my interest in the hobby since I firmly believe that flight simulation can significantly contribute to training new pilots, controllers, or even flight dispatchers. According to Alfred T. Lee, in his book on the topic Flight Simulation: Virtual Environments in Aviation,

“the visual scene of a cockpit through simulation, contributes greatly to the training that pilots or engineers obtain when learning aircraft systems.”

In my experience alone, being active in simulation has helped me save money on flight hours (after the initial investment, it is a lot cheaper than renting a sim!) and practice my flight communications with virtual air controllers. All this has generated a learning experience because I could see aviation from another point of view.

As time passes, technology continues to grow exponentially, and future generations will have an extensive array of options to choose from when deciding what simulation experience best fits them. The simulation has helped me understand how pilots and air traffic controllers integrate functionally into air transportation. Flights of various natures can move world economies through commercial, humanitarian, cargo, and search-and-rescue flights.

Through streaming platforms or social networks, more and more people are catching on to how realistic flight simulation has become. With a desire to spread my own positive experiences, I decided to share both my simulation and real-world content through Tik Tok and Facebook. With these platforms, I hope to reach young prospective aviation professionals who may not have the necessary means or resources to see flight simulation, let alone real-world flight training, to decide their interest in aviation and return on investment. In addition, social networks allow you to expand your objective past just aviation. I want to contribute to building a community of Spanish-speaking aviators within the United States to share our experience in aviation from our point of view.

In his book Flight Simulation Software: Design, Development and Testing, David Allerton explains in great detail how the latest technology in flight simulation has helped transform the customer experience in an immersive way. It is essential to understand that flight simulation will generate interest in jobs and introduce new professional training methods for those who desire to take aviation to the next level - digitally, realistically, or both!

At an exponential rate, flight simulation is evolving how individuals approach flight training more cost-effectively. It would not be strange to see in the next 5-10 years more companies develop software that flight simmers have only dreamed about with a benchmark margin of error of less than 5%. The virtual air navigation community has surpassed unprecedented levels, and resourceful relationships, such as Navigraph, have given tools to simmers that they have not had before. Finally, for those who want to be future aviation professionals, today is the time to begin basic training through simulation that, down the road, will help make aviation more dynamic, safer, and efficient.

I'm Back

I think Jaime summed it up perfectly; now more than ever, flight simulation provides pilots with an effective training tool at an affordable cost. Regardless of the type of aircraft you would like to learn, there are almost always study-level “add-ons” available to help simulate real-world procedures. I enjoy the available commercial aircraft, but I know several people who have invested in study-level Skyhawks using simulators to practice instrument flying or basic flight maneuvers.

According to my friends who are currently commercial pilots, during their initial training, there is a noticeable difference in the systems portion of training between those who have practiced with simulators of their own and those who did not. My point is that while real-world flight cannot be duplicated 1:1 outside of a Level D simulator, plenty of reliable resources are available to assist pilots outside of work hours to assist in the most challenging part of training. For example, PMDG is a developer aiming to bring study-level Boeing aircraft to the community. Their aircraft are so in-depth that they received an official license from Boeing. Quite impressive!

I hope you enjoyed my first Hobby Highlight. I’m open to suggestions for future posts! Stay tuned for more content I am excited about.

bottom of page