June 23, 2005

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM)

The Missus took the Llama-ettes out to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Annex today. The huge hit of the trip was the simulator room, the eldest flying one of the jets solo and the five year old taking a shuttle ride up to the ISS with her Mom. (I've already been warned that the gel intends to announce she flew in space today when I get home.)

If you haven't had a go in one of these rides, you really should the next time you find yourself at Air & Space. The effect of three-D all-around graphics and a hydrolic system that lets the pod climb, dive, bank and invert, is quite impressive.

A couple of Christmases ago now, I took the eldest on one of the simulators at the Air & Space museum down on the Mall. It was a simulation of a carrier-based fighter. I figured I'd impress the child with a little hot dogging, so as soon as we were ready, I firewalled the throttle and yanked back on the stick.

Big mistake.

Not because of the gel, you understand - she loved every minute of it. But rather, because the sensation was so realistic that my own horrendous flying phobia came right to the surface, with its attendant sweaty palms, white knuckles and dry mouth. I won't say that I panicked, necessarily. But I sure wasn't my usual calm, cool, collected self either.

After a minute or two, I calmed down sufficiently that I could fly the plane on a gentle, leasurely course. In this way, we went after a series of fixed ground targets, self at the controls and the Llama-ette manning the guns. If it had come to aerial combat, with its necessary violent manuevering, I've no doubt we would have been blown out of the sky almost before we knew we were under attack.

I don't how the Llama-ette did in her solo today, but if I know anything about her personality, I'll bet she was stunting that kite for all it was worth.

Posted by Robert at June 23, 2005 04:53 PM

I didn't like the sim at the Smithsonian on the Mall - the movement was cool, but the graphics aren't that great and you can't actually destroy the targets.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at June 23, 2005 06:07 PM

Graphics are definitely the weak point, but the total package was cool. I believe, although I'm not sure, that the space shuttle sim at the Annex has more advanced images. Unfortunately, I don't think it's armed with a photon cannon. Pity.

Posted by: Robert the LB at June 23, 2005 06:17 PM

When flight simulators were first introduced, lo these many years ago, my father a WWII pilot, was invited by American Airlines to come to JFK for the day and try it out (this was when being a frequent traveler actually meant something to someone...) He crashed the simulated 747 on his first try and was so upset he stood up too fast and cracked his head open!
I was allowed to try my luck on an oil tanker simulator at the Maine Maritime Academy a few years ago. You actually stand on an exact replica of the bridge and look out the windows. I made it past the Verrazano Bridge into New York harbor before I crashed it into Brooklyn!

Posted by: babs at June 24, 2005 11:47 AM
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