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Promoting flight simulation

Flight Simulation Association engages pilots at events

The Flight Simulation Association, a group of simulation program and equipment producers and enthusiasts, is ramping up its presence at aviation trade shows as it seeks to promote simulator use among pilots.

A tent full of simulators at the Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Expo in April proved popular among pilots, as well as future pilots. Photo courtesy of the Flight Simulation Association.

While the organization represents users of the full range of simulators, from simple desktop models to full-size, full-motion cockpits, much of its focus is on convincing pilots at all levels to use whatever type of simulation equipment is available on a more consistent schedule. Often such systems are home-computer applications that many people have on their personal machines already. FSA co-founder Evan Reiter said people tend to believe they need the latest equipment to reap benefits from simulation technology, but anyone can get started with the most basic setups.

“We encourage people to start small, start easy,” said Reiter. “Any simulation can be useful to pilots who are not flying as much as they would like to.”

Reiter’s group made a splash last month at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, Florida, where the FSA operated from a 2,400-square-foot Flight Sim Experience Center packed with simulation gear. FSA members and participating organizations conducted more than 1,000 one-on-one demonstrations in which instructors led guests through a range of flight training scenarios including interaction with air traffic control; aircraft carrier operations; and “Miracle,” a recreation of US Airway’s Flight 1549’s landing in the Hudson River.

Reiter, a regional airline pilot flying Bombardier CRJs, said a Microsoft Flight Simulator game that his parents gave him as a teenager spurred his eventual career by convincing him to earn his private pilot certificate and continue to pursue advanced ratings.

“After a while, the simulator stopped being a game and became a training tool and a networking opportunity,” Reiter said, noting that practicing on simulators, even the simplest versions, has helped him sharpen his pilot skills including practicing ATC communications.

Rick Parker, founder of NextLevel XR, called the weeklong Sun ‘n Fun event a huge success. “Putting together an experience like this takes a multi-company collaboration. A huge thank you to Eagle Dynamics, MSI Computers, Pimax, Thrustmaster, Virpil, Virtual Fly, Vrgineers and the many others who supported us in-person in Lakeland.” 

“We were thrilled by the number of people who visited our tent,” Reiter added. “Flight Simulation Association exists to help share the power of home flight simulation to real-world aviators and to attract new people to the simulation community.”

Sun ‘n Fun also served as a test for the group, which is scheduled to hold its annual expo this June in Las Vegas. Organizers expect it to be their biggest since launching the FSA in 2021.

Jonathan Welsh
Jonathan Welsh
Digital Media Content Producer
Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot, career journalist and lifelong aviation enthusiast who previously worked as a writer and editor with Flying Magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

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