Mountain View Voice

News - August 27, 2010

Treasured flight simulator celebrates 30 years

The electro-mechanical wonder at NASA Ames known as the Vertical Motion Simulator had its 30th anniversary last Friday.

A video-gamer's dream, the flight simulator is able to move up, down and around inside a three-story building to replicate the feeling of moving in an aircraft. Various scenarios can be projected onto the windshield inside so a pilot can learn how to land with damaged landing gear for example, without having to actually crash a plane. NASA's astronauts visit Ames to use the VMS for regular training.

The simulator has also been extensively used to develop aircraft controls. Contractors told the Voice last year that it was being used to help develop an airship for the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Ames' Vertical Motion Simulator is the largest, high-fidelity motion-based simulator on the planet!" said NASA contractor Kathleen Starmer in an e-mail. "Its incredible range of motion and interchangeable cab system allows it to simulate anything that moves, including fixed-wing airplanes, rotary-wing helicopters, space vehicles, airships, and even cars."

The simulator's unsurpassed flexibility makes it a national treasure," Starmer said.

—Daniel DeBolt

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