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Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics?

  1. Feb 22, 2013 #1
    Before you took high school physics, you all probably used your everyday experience to guess how the universe around you worked. For example: you probably guessed that everything eventually came to a stop. But then you learned Newton's laws and you realized that everything maintains constant velocity and never stops unless acted by an unbalanced force such as friction.

    As soon as I learned some physics, I felt kind of arrogant. I saw the world in a different way and I felt like I had a solid understanding... until I played a semi-real flight simulator. I'm embarrassed to admit that my understanding on piloting an airplane was totally wrong. I feel embarrassed because if I had totally understood the basic physics, I should've been able to predict how it would work correctly before playing the flight simulator. I now understand the physics behind piloting an airplane and it matches what I learned in basic physics, but now I don't know if I'm just memorizing again or I truly understand it. ):<
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  3. Feb 22, 2013 #2

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    This post reminds me of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. Multiple times he espouces the opinion that he would obviously be excellent at a task despite never being trained because he understands the underlying physics :rolleyes:

    IMO this type of thinking is flat out wrong. There are few complex, practical and vocational tasks that having a grasp of the underlying physics will allow you to pick up easily.
     
  4. Feb 22, 2013 #3
    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    I did both in more or less same time of my childhood. I thought I would play the simulator well knowing the basic physics and mathematics and really did so.

    BTW: I played Novalogic's simulators.
     
  5. Feb 22, 2013 #4
    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    I'm a retired fighter pilot who once studied basic physics in an engineering course. How can I help you?
     
  6. Feb 22, 2013 #5
    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    So true, the only proof I need is to know how bad I am at billiards, even though the math behind the perfect shots is trivial.
     
  7. Feb 22, 2013 #6

    jhae2.718

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    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    Uh, I work with engineering flight simulators.
     
  8. Feb 22, 2013 #7
    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    For those answering the title of this thread, I didn't mean to ask the question as a request - more as a "share if you had a similar experience to me" kind of question.
     
  9. Feb 22, 2013 #8

    jhae2.718

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    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    If you've taken a flight dynamics course you shouldn't have that problem. A "basic physics" course, as you've put it, you really won't understand how aircraft behave (I am assuming something like a classical mechanics/"Physics I" course here). A simple example of something you most likely wouldn't take away from such a course is the coupling between pitch, roll, and yaw. If you've had flight dynamics, you could look at the yawing moment equation, for example, and see why that occurs:
    [tex]
    I_{yy}\dot{Q} + (I_{xx}-I_{yy})PR - I_{xy}(\dot{P} + QR) - I_{yz}(\dot{R} - PQ) + I_{xz}(P^2 - R^2) = M_A + M_T
    [/tex]
    To simplify things, if we assume a "conventional" aircraft, we can make the approximation that the aircraft is symmetric about the [itex]XZ[/itex] plane and thus [itex]I_{xy}=I_{yz}=0[/itex]. Rearranging,[tex]
    \dot{Q} = - \frac{(I_{xx}-I_{zz})PR}{I_{yy}} - \frac{I_{xz}}{I_{yy}}(P^2 - R^2) + \frac{M_A + M_T}{I_{yy}}
    [/tex]
    And we see that, depending on the principal inertias, the pitch rate changes with roll and yaw. The second term on the RHS is the "Ixz effect", and is another type of coupling.

    The take-away is that it's hard to be an expert in everything, and as you progress further into science/engineering/mathematics you get into a lot of domain-specific knowledge.
     
  10. Feb 22, 2013 #9

    rcgldr

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    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    You didn't mention the specific issues that surprised you with the flight simulator. I don't recall any unexepected reactions of an aircraft, just a lot of new to me stuff that had to be learned, mostly aircraft specific, such as approach speeds when preparing for landing. I also fly radio control gliders, and used a flight simulator with a view from the tower for practice (the main learning curve is orientation, learning to fly an aircraft from an outside view).

    In my case, the most unexpected reaction from a real radio control model was a snap roll that was induced with only elevator input (the model was an aerobatic model deliberately setup with excessive elevator throw to do this). I was aware of what a snap roll was, but still was surprised the first time it happened (since I wasn't warned the model was setup this way, I figured out what was going on and recovered, then had fun messing with snap rolls with that model). Some radio control flight simulators emulate snap roll, but I don't know if any full scale flight simulators model snap roll.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  11. Feb 22, 2013 #10
    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    Well, I'm used to flight physics now, but I can remember one good example. It was a shock to me that when flying, you could exchange altitude and speed with each other. I knew that flying with an angle more perpendicular to Earth would require more effort but I failed to realize that as you go up in altitude, you also are storing more potential energy.
     
  12. Feb 23, 2013 #11
    Re: Has anyone played a flight simulator that has also studied physics

    I did not use many complicated formulas. Just kept track of speed, acceleration and torque of the plane, And yes I understood positive and negative feedback loop. So that helped.
     
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