This weekend I spent a couple of hours in a flight simulator. My sister is the chief pilot for a major executive jet manufacturer.  

Together we practiced take-offs, landings, ground taxi, instrument landings, avoiding thunder storms, low ceiling conditions, cross-winds, and engine fires.

I’m talking one of those $20M machines that is cheaper than the $80 million dollar aircraft it imitates. It sits in one of those large bays with a 60 foot ceiling.

Every aspect of the aircraft’s cockpit has been replicated. The outdoor view of the windscreen was incredibly realistic. The avionics, the seats, the power systems, the air vents, the communications systems, the landing gear. Everything was made to feel and sound like the real aircraft. When you lower the landing gear, the sound of the wind rushing past the the open wheel bay is clearly audible in the cockpit, just like on the real aircraft. The entire simulator is on 3 axis hydraulics and is capable of replicating most of the physical aircraft attitudes. 

When you taxi on the ground and the turn is too radical, you feel the forces and the skidding of the nose wheel. 

If there is a rut on the runway, you feel it in the shaking of the entire simulator. When you make mistakes, the systems on the aircraft. When my son simulated a landing with an engine failure, the hard landing was physically jarring, just like a hard landing on a real aircraft. 

Pilots use simulation to replicate test conditions that are not easily found in the real world. If you are training and practicing how to land with a nose gear failure, the simulator is the perfect tool. Using the real aircraft would be difficult, unsafe, and incredibly expensive.  

The learning process requires us to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. 

I was on a final approach and my sister advised me to pull up. Her direction put me above the glide slope. It was her mistake, but it could have been mine. We reset the simulation about 4 miles back and re-ran the landing sequence. When I had control of the aircraft, I was routinely making small mistakes in controlling the aircraft. But I was able to correct them easily and the consequence of these mistakes was that I made fewer and fewer of them as I improved. 

Flying a plane is full of metaphors for real life. 

On the investor summit at sea, we had a group of about 40 people playing the game Cash Flow together, under the direction of Robert Kiyosaki, the inventor of the game. Cash Flow is a simulation. 

It gives you the chance to make offers on properties, to borrow funds, to sell assets, to spend money on luxuries, all the things that are present in real life. In the game, errors in accounting cause delays in the game, just like in real life. In the simulation, the increase in interest rates can cause financial hardship, just like in real life. 

In the game, some people thought the idea was to compete against the others, more like in the game monopoly. They were going to do it all by themselves. Others had the idea to collaborate and help each other. Just like in real life, whatever beliefs you have at home show up in the game as behaviours, and they show up in business.

How often do we run simulations in our own business to train ourselves?

I see rookie investors go out and randomly buy a property. There is little in the way of guidance. It reminds me a lot of jumping into the cockpit of a live aircraft with little to no instruction, and hoping for the best.