The Impossibility of
Flying Heavy Aircraft
NILA SAGADEVAN / Earth’s Common Sense Think Tank 13jun2006
Nila Sagadevan is an aeronautical engineer and a qualified pilot of heavy aircraft.
There are some who maintain that the mythical 9/11 hijackers, although proven to be too incompetent to fly a little Cessna 172, had acquired the impressive skills that enabled them to fly airliners by training in flight simulators.
What follows is an attempt to bury this myth once and for all, because I’ve heard this ludicrous explanation bandied about, at nauseam, on the Internet and the TV networks” “invariably by people who know nothing substantive about flight simulators, flying, or even airplanes.
A common misconception non-pilots have about simulators is how “easy” it is to operate them. They are indeed relatively easy to operate if the objective is to make a few lazy turns and frolic about in the “open sky”. But if the intent is to execute any kind of a maneuver with even the least bit of precision, the task immediately becomes quite daunting. And if the aim is to navigate to a specific geographic location hundreds of miles away while flying at over 500 MPH, 30,000 feet above the ground the challenges become virtually impossible for an untrained pilot.
And this, precisely, is what the four hijacker pilots who could not fly a Cessna around an airport are alleged to have accomplished in multi-ton, high-speed commercial jets on 9/11.
For a person not conversant with the practical complexities of pilotage, a modern flight simulator could present a terribly confusing and disorienting experience. These complex training devices are not even remotely similar to the video games one sees in amusement arcades, or even the software versions available for home computers.