I am currently in the process of getting my instrument rating. Flying in and out of Reno however, we rarely get good IMC weather that you can practice in. Reno generally has really clear skies, devoid of any clouds at all. If there are clouds that most likely means that icing will likely by an issue, or if it is hot out, thunderstorms. Because of this I have gotten very little actual IMC time. I am getting close to my checkride, but I am still missing some instrument time.
Since I am missing some hood time I decided to try out the full motion simulator. The simulator was called the Redbird FMX. It has the option to be set up for several different planes, even glass setups. I have been flying a 172 with the G1000 and it was great that the simulator had this option. The actual simulator has a footprint of about 10 feet by 10 feet. It sits surprising low on a welded metal frame that is painted red. This one was located on the second floor in a room with an average ceiling. Inside there are two chairs, I found mine quite uncomfortable. The machine is constantly humming from various fans keeping it cool. The whole simulator gets power from a single normal outlet.
The instruments were simulated very well and all the same buttons and knobs were there. The taxiing and taking-off feel very unnatural. The pedals are extremely sensitive and it is very hard to keep the yellow line under your right knee. Once in the air the simulator is at its best. It keeps constantly moving a slight bit, making it feel like you are truly in flight. When my CFI would turn on some turbulence it felt incredibly realistic also. There are 6 computer screens that wrap around the console and instruments. It was extremely nice to shoot approaches, without the foggles, and break out at minimums. This was the first time I tried this and really got to practice it. When trying to land it again felt odd and unnatural.
Overall the simulator was a very pleasant experience. It feels very realistic when flying. Taking off, landing, and taxing are difficult and feel unnatural. It was great to be able to pause the simulation and discuss the approach. If you are looking to get more instrument time, or to keep your IFR credentials current, try out a Redbird FMX near you.
Have you tried a simulator? Please share your experiences in the comments below.