From the pictures I have seen of airline simulators, it looks like the range of motion is limited to somewhat level flight. Are there any flight simulators, possibly military trainers, that can do a complete barrel roll?

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    $\begingroup$ Everything I can find says no. The ones that make you feel upside down work on your inner ear and often don't rotate more than 90 either way, if that. (I'm in military flight training, and the ones we have for the trainers can't go inverted, even though the planes themselves can) $\endgroup$ – SSumner Feb 27 '14 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ Do note also that the simulator motion does not reflect the aircraft motion. What it does instead is simulate acceleration. Imagine that you are accelerating in a car, you feel pressure in your back. In a simulator, when you increase speed, the simulator tilts nose up so that you have more pressure on your back. $\endgroup$ – Masse Jun 18 '15 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ I've never really understood how simulators simulate G-force anyway-- if they do. G-force at the top of a barrel roll might be just 1-G in the normal upright direction in the pilot's reference frame. Well that's easy. Still it seems if you are trying to simulate G-load AND sensations related to rotational accelerations, soon or later you are going to run out of options for freedom of motion unless you are replicating the aircraft's ACTUAL motion through space. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Oct 16 '18 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ Re second comment above-- interesting-- yet it seems the rotation associated with tilting the nose up might be detectable and confusing-- $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Oct 17 '18 at 1:09

Pulseworks makes some full motion sims that are capable of inverted flight and infinite barrel rolls. These sims fall into the entertainment category more than the training category, but they are full motion, in cockpit sims. I have also been in a similar type of sim at a Harris/Boeing sponsored party in Seattle made by a company whose name I cannot remember that did the same thing. That one in fact was capable not only of rolls but also loops and could be pretty violent (I wanted to see if it would spin... it did).

Here's a video of one of the Pulseworks models. They have some at the Udvar-Hazy center at IAD (free admission, and a shuttle from the terminal). They cost a bit of money to get into. They are also often setup in pairs so you can go into a dogfighting scenario with the box next to you. Bring a friend.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow, duh! I've seen these. Totally forgot about them $\endgroup$ – SSumner Feb 27 '14 at 3:29
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    $\begingroup$ They also have them at the main building of the Air and Space Museum (downtown DC, also free admission, also costs $8 for the sim). Well worth it. $\endgroup$ – cpast Jun 17 '15 at 23:49

It is possible to design one which does but impractical.

The PulseWorks simulator, while entertaining, is not realistic and cannot accurately simulate inverted flight. The simulators motion is not made so the sim cabin matches the actual attitude of the real aircraft during maneuvers; rather to induce sensory illusions in the trainee crew which match what one would expect in flight.

Full Motion Simulators (FMS) are used, primarily for transition and currency training on large aircraft which operate in the air transport category and where the training is simply impractical for both cost and safety reasons to do it in the real thing. They are designed to create motion which can mimic sensory illusions during flight in the +1-1.3 G range, typical for all commercial air carrier or cargo operations. As such building a simulator with full inverted capability would simply be unwarranted for the requirements of a typical FMS. It also provides a pretty inaccurate simulation of the kinesthetics of inverted flight, as most inverted condition end up being in the positive G range. It's also not practical for aerobatic or military flight training as at most it could only simulate -1G and -1-2G for a brief moment, and the whole simulator module would have to be rolled inverted for the effect even when simulating negative G maneuvers while the aircraft is erect.

  • $\begingroup$ Shouldn't it be pretty easy to build a simulator that accurately simulates large positive and negative Gs by centrifuging the simulator pod about a horizontal axis? $\endgroup$ – Sean Feb 2 '19 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ @Sean: Possible, yes. Easy, no. $\endgroup$ – Therac Feb 2 '19 at 8:42

Like it has been said here it is very difficult to simulate g-forces outside of the common civil flight envelope.

But it is possible! I have built one, you can watch videos of it on YouTube here, and here.

Like Zeus said, even with this 2DOF 360° you will feel "wrong" g's very often, e.g., banking with 90° feels like a 1 g rudder slide. And a loop feels more like flying inverted (-1 g). But in real life you have +3 g's.

I think this simulator is very useful to practice aerobatics!

You feel the same emotions, fear, and excitement, like in real life, e.g., my first real life loop scared me in the same way the simulator did. Same thing with barrel rolls, lazy eights, cubans, hammer heads, inverted, etc.

Also it is very exhausting and your stomach will have some fun for sure :-D Flying with a VR headset teaches the right reactions very, very well. Actually I make, or do not make, the same mistakes both in the simulator and in real life.

A friend (a Lufthansa A320 pilot) was also surprised how good this thing is in teaching, but to reach this level the simulator requires many little (invisible) additions: sound shakers, g-effects (on set cueing), VR headset, g-belt tensioner, force feedback, and many things more.

In comparison to standard simulators, this concept is far advanced for aerobatics or military training, IMHO.


I believe there was one at RAFC Cranwell that could go inverted. Source: my sister's, at the time, fiancée who was training there. I may be remembering wrong - it was a while ago.

Also, while not a flight sim in itself, many years ago there was an arcade cabinet for Sega's G-LOC called the R360 that had full 360 degree motion about all axis. I would be gob-smacked if that same tech had not been used in more professional environments.

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    $\begingroup$ For professional simulation, fidelity is paramount. It's better to have no motion than to have wrong motion that produces negative learning. Motion is not for fun; it's an actual feedback channel that pilots use. And as it happens, it's nearly impossible to provide reasonable fidelity with full roll/pitch rotation (for an airplane), except for, perhaps, very special isolated cases. (By the way, full yaw rotation can actually be beneficial - and is easier to implement. Yet it doesn't look like Sega R360 can do yaw.) $\endgroup$ – Zeus Oct 13 '16 at 4:33

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