I've been thinking a lot about simulators lately, both positive and negative thoughts.
It is clear that simulator training is the future of flight training. FlightSafety and Simuflite and others make convincing arguments that simulator training - this means full motion simulators - are both more effective and safer than airplane training.
My first simulator training was at Simuflite, a big facility in Texas that has more students at any given time than my high school (only Simulflite's lunch room is way better). One day my classmates and instructor and I were walking down a hallway that was decorated with pictures of "difficult" airports. I don't remember all of them, but I had been to most. Nobody else, the instructor included, had ever been to any of them. This did not strike me as a good sign.
But the training I got there was pretty good. At the end of two weeks I knew the airplane systems inside-out, and had been through a lot of "emergencies." They also had a large collection of broken airplane parts for us to examine. I found this very educational, and when I shattered a windshield at FL 280 I was less shocked than you might imagine, having played with a shattered windshield in the classroom. (To put your mind at ease, the windshield had two layers, and only one shattered.) I also got some good training at FlightSafety.
But lately I have been working with a new student who has spent a lot of time flying one of the better desktop simulators at his friend's house. His friend is not a flight instructor, and has been showing him the fun stuff. He is pretty good at reading the instruments, and knows how to bank and climb and descend. But when we put him into the air he got sick. Not just the first time, either. Not just the second time, come to think of it.
I told the friend that he had dug me a big hole: he takes the student out for joyrides, while I am the mean old instructor repeating the three key questions over and over.
He is starting to give good answers to these.
Despite this, I have been thinking of buying a desktop flight training device (the kind that the FAA certifies for training) and installing it in an RV (that is, a motor home, not a product of Van's Aircraft) and taking it around to local airports, or even to people's houses, to offer instrument training. Does this make me a hypocrite? I don't think so; I imagine mostly working with private pilots, who know that the airplane actually moves. Most of the training would be instrument training, including the required hood time for private pilots. So I'm not digging anyone a hole. The idea is to prevent a smoking hole. (Also, since I have a history of medical problems, I would still be able to help people master instrument flying even if my medical certificate takes a leave of absence.)
So what I would be doing would combine the best of the simulator schools - instrument procedures, regulations, systems - and the best of actual flying experience from flying into places like Thermopolis, Telluride, Fallbrook, Lander, and Cabin Creek. Combining that with actual experience flying into San Francisco, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and the like might make for a very effective simulator experience.