Researchers in the field of virtual environments (VE), or virtual reality, surround a participant with synthetic stimuli, The flight simulator community, primarily in the U.S. military, has a great deal of experience with aircraft simulations, and VE researchers should be aware of the major results in this field. In this survey of the literature, we have especially focused on military literature that may be hard for traditional academics to locate via the standard journals. One of the authors of this paper is a military helicopter pilot himself, which was quite useful in obtaining access to many of our references. We concentrate on research that produces specific, measured results that apply to VE research. We assume no background other than basic knowledge of computer graphics, and explain simulator terms and concepts as necessary. This paper ends with an annotated bibliography of some harder to find research results in the field of flight simulators:
• The effects of display parameters, including field-of-view and scene complexity;
• The effect of lag in system response;
• The effect of refresh rate in graphics update;
• The existing theories on causes of simulator sickness; and
• The after-effects of simulator use
Many of the results we cite are contradictory. Our global observation is that with flight simulator research, like most human-computer interaction research, there are very few “correct” answers. Almost always, the answer to a specific question depends on the task the user was attempting to perform with the simulator.