A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Brad Morris
Date: 2018 Nov 12, 16:39 -0800
For a period of a decade, I provided the servo motion control systems for flight simulators. These flight simulators were used to keep US Military jet fighter pilot skills up to snuff. Its cheaper to buy a multi million dollar flight simulator than it is to replace jet engines on a periodic basis.
The simulator consisted of the full cockpit, mounted such that the eyes of the pilot were situated at the very center of a large dome. Or should I say a sphere that was present everywhere the pilot could see.
Not only was the land, sea and sky painted in real time graphics with respect to pilot input, but multiple simulated hostile jets were flown by instructors from outside the dome. The entire surface was painted with very realistic graphics.
These domes were fairly large. Not only was the eye location at the center, the inside of the sphere was located such that the pilot's eyes were at what we called "infinity focus" wherein the angle between the pupils was as if the pilot was looking at a distant object. Extraordinary care was taken to insure there wasn't any parallax or other artifacts that would tip off the pilot training.
The computers used to generate the graphics was the largest installation of computers I have ever seen in real life. Absolutely massive computing power. All so that the graphics could keep up with the pilot's input to the cockpit joystick.
I was standing next to the cockpit one day at a US Airbase, with a full bird colonel flying, as he was trying to show us something he wanted changed. Off in the distant graphics, there were two towers, getting closer. I thought he would fly around them. This guy frolled the jet 90° so as to slip between the towers. I was so fooled by the graphics, I nearly fell off the platform the cockpit was mounted to. The full bird thought that was pretty funny, I did too
This simulator had offset projectors, because the pilot had to occupy the center. The image was pre-distorted such that when the projection hit the inside of the sphere from the offset location, it 'undistorted'.
I'm 100% sure that, without the cockpit in place, this simulator would permit sextant training. It could paint the horizon, the stars and the passing ISS.