Real Simulation has perfected the wow factor as you step inside their venue, featuring two unique full motion simulators.
What is good
What's not so good
Real Simulation offers two full motion simulators, a Boeing 737-200 and a F4 Phantom fighter jet. Both machines were built using real aircraft parts and as such are very realistic in look and feel. In addition, both simulators are mounted on hydraulic, full motion platforms, which is fairly uncommon at their price point in the UK – you would normally only see this on more expensive professional flight training simulators. Their range of movement is considerable, and as a result, we really felt the aircraft motion, vibrations and simulated forces on the body as we flew around, and had an opportunity to feel how good (or bad) the landing was based on the bump when we touched down!
The Boeing 737-200 flight deck is extremely accurate, with authentic dials and gauges. This provides a great opportunity to experience airliner flying from a pre glass cockpit era. The visual system is collimated, which is usually something only found on professional flight simulators, and as a result, you get a very accurate view from the pilots’ seats (collimated means the visual picture is accurately aligned with the pilot’s natural eye position). Also, there are no visual overlaps, holes or black lines often seen on more typical projected display systems. We must mention, that whilst the simulator is incredibly accurate to fly (the flight controls are some of the most realistic we have experienced anywhere), the visual display system doesn’t feature the same high quality definition or variety of airports that the more modern fixed base simulators that we visited have. This fair comment should only be considered if visuals are the main factor you are seeking, and this limitation most certainly does not detract from the very realistic flying feel.
The simulator can be programmed for most typical aircraft system failures if you require even more of a challenge, along with different types of weather and wind conditions, and any time of day or night. As well as the two seats for the pilots, there are a further two jump seats behind, and other seats can be put in to help accommodate further additional spectators, so everyone can enjoy the fun.
The F4 Phantom simulator is not something we have ever seen or experienced anywhere else. It is made from the front half of a retired real F4 aircraft and mounted on a hydraulic platform for a true full motion experience. Once seated inside the cockpit, you are enveloped with real instruments and controls, and after the canopy is closed a cover is put over to ensure your immersion is total. There is only space for the pilot in the jet cockpit, so the instructor remains outside and communication is via headset. The visuals are a high density front display, set beyond the cockpit window, which we felt was sufficient for visual flying. For those who get the hang quickly enough, there is the extreme challenge of an aircraft carrier landing. Spectators can watch from the outside with displays showing a radar style view and lateral & vertical position on the approach path for Aberdeen airport. Having both tried flying the F4 simulator, we were impressed with the motion, feel of the controls and overall experience.
The simulators are located in a large aircraft style hangar, in an office park set in typical Yorkshire countryside. There is plenty of parking right outside the venue.
Once you step inside the wow factor kicks straight in. There is a reception desk, offices, and briefing rooms to the left, but you can’t fail to be impressed with the simulators arranged in the large space, as well as F1 racing car simulators, model car racing and a Caterham hill climb vehicle surrounding them. One of the business models Real Simulation focuses on offering is team building days and group bookings. Considering the number of activities under one roof it is clear why they are popular on that front.
In terms of customers with special needs or reduced mobility, the venue will do their utmost to try and accommodate everyone. The stairs required to access both full motion simulators could be a significant challenge for someone with reduced mobility, but a pre-visit to check and discuss any requirements was not considered a problem in the slightest.
Vouchers can be bought via their website and also by phone. The company prefers to keep bookings as phone calls only, as it is an opportunity to speak to the customer and see what they might like to do before the day itself. They periodically offer promotions as they like to keep customer costs low, and decent discounts are given for returning customers.
Each customer is given a 30 minute briefing in the themed briefing rooms next to reception, along with a chance to discuss what they would like to accomplish. The company is clear that these briefings are in addition to the time in the simulator, so if you paid for an hour, you will be in the simulator for an hour – not something always guaranteed by other venues.
The company also actively encourages group visits and charity events, having worked with local autism charities in the past. The local air cadets are also frequent visitors.
The Staff and Business
Another of Real Simulation’s strengths is its pool of instructors, who are all very experienced and have had long careers in aviation. They include ex-airline pilots, CAA instructors, and Red Arrows/RAF pilots. The friendly reception and knowledgeable insight we had during our visit and tour with Adrian was clearly a sign of a venue who knows its business, customers and how to provide a fantastic simulation experience.
When so many other venues are offering Boeing 737NG fixed based simulators, it is refreshing to see Real Simulation offering something we feel is unique – two full motion simulators featuring iconic, classic aircraft. If you really want to experience realistic flight controls and full motion, then there are few other places you can go, and you can be certain of a warm Yorkshire welcome.