Real-world pilots, whether military or civilian based, earn their wings. Wings are a symbol of the time, study, work and effort that an individual has gone through to receive their pilot rating.
In the military, receiving your wings represents more than just training. For many, it’s the inclusion of being part of group of similar-minded individuals and allegiance to a particular squadron or unit with its inherent history.
LEFT: Embroidered pilot wings - QANTAS
For example pilots joining 19 Squadron in the Royal Airforce become part of the history of the squadron which began operations during the First World War and included during the Second World War, pilots who flew in the Battle of Britain. QANTAS pilots become part of the history of the airline, which began in the Northern Territory and is one of the oldest airlines still flying today with its original name.
So where am I going with this? Most of us are NOT real-world pilots, although many “simmers” may have a flying rating of some type. To fly (correctly) a fully functional simulator still requires in-depth knowledge, time, study and effort on behalf of the person building and flying the simulator. All too often, the task of learning to fly the “right way” is lost with Flight Simulator.
Many people enjoy messing about with FS; jumping into “whatever aircraft” they choose and flying over terrain that otherwise they may not have the opportunity to view. There is nothing wrong with this. But, to truly engage flight simulator and see what it can offer one has to stop and step back from the actual “playing”, and enter a world similar to that of a real-world pilot: study, work, effort and expenditure of time – to learn the basics of airmanship and then grasp the technical aspects of flying whatever aircraft you have chosen to simulate. Learning the theory, at least initially, far outweighs the actual time spent flying in the simulator.
In some respects, simulation flying is more frustrating than real flying, as finding the appropriate study material is not easy. There is only a limit to what books can teach you, especially when you are learning a high end aircraft such as the Boeing 737. At some stage, you will need the guidance of a real-world pilot to instruct you in the “correct’ method to apply the techniques learned.
So, the next time someone suggests to you that you are “just playing an arcade game”, remind them of the time, study, work and effort that you’ve expended to be at whatever skill level you’re currently at.
Wings, no matter if they are real or virtual, are earned (if only in the time spent reading) and are not given away!