Windshield And Windows

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Pablo Edronkin

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In the design of any flight simulator or home cockpit, an aspect that seems to deserve little attention is that of visual openings, meaning the windshield and windows; however, they are important for cockpit occupants will spend most of the time looking thorough them.

And whenever you start staring at something or looking thorough it, you star noticing all defects and problems… a crack here, an untidy finishing there… and so on. Thus, windshields and windows are in fact, more important than initially considered because the feeling of realism that the simulator cockpit conveys depends largely on them. Maybe this aspect of the whole design and construction problem is not thought of very often because it is generally assumed that simulators are used for flying IFR. However, VFR operations also take place and nevertheless, even under instrumental rules pilots on simulators tend to look "outside" like on real airplanes. So, if any windows or the windshield are not quality items on your simulator, it will show and the overall quality of your installation will suffer.

We could solve the windshield part of the problem relatively easy for when we went with a truck to fetch the Cessna 310 fuselage that we used, we found out that despite a crack on its lower right side, the two facets of the windshield were still in place and they could be cleaned and polished for restoration. We promptly rejected the idea of replacing the damaged facet because of the high cost of replacement as well as the complications involved in taking out dozens of little screws that were tightly fastened at the factory, in the first place, and over time became sort of, well… "Integrated" into the structure of the fuselage by dust, corrosion, and so on. So, fearful of causing yet more cracks, we choose not to touch any of them and instead, covered the lower part of the windshield with an adhesive black, contact-type lamination, giving the nose of the simulator that look so usual among planes with their dark noses to avoid sun glare on the eyes of the pilots.

After leaning the windshield we polished it, sealed the crack with epoxy resin and covered it with the con-tact layer. Then we cut the window panels from a 2mm acrylic sheet - this was expensive and meant a lot, really a lot of work -, placed each window panel in its place, drilled zillions of little holes around and bolted them in their respective places. After that we gave those windows a sun-glare treatment and the whole sim ended up with five windows (tow on the front, two on the back and one on the rear door) and a cool limousine look, but the idea was - and it worked - to bring light inside it while not distracting its occupants with the outside view. Once you sit insIde, you focus on the front view.

An early picture of the sim undergoing software tests shows the visual field despite the treatment that the windshield received.
An early picture of the sim undergoing software tests shows the visual field despite the treatment that the windshield received.

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