March 14, 2011: In Britain, the RAF (Royal Air Force) is using a virtual parachute simulator to train aircrew how to handle a wide variety of situations, without the expense and danger of actually going up in an aircraft and jumping. The RAF system uses a platform and a parachute harness suspended from overhead. The trainees wear goggles that show (via tiny computer displays that appear much larger because of how close the eyes are) what they would see during a jump. As they turn their head, the goggles detect the movement and adjust the view as well. But as the trainees work the lines on the parachute (as one would when maneuvering the chute to a landing in a particular place), the virtual parachute simulator software detects that, as well as the rate at which you are descending and what terrain you are headed for. With this system you can either make a safe landing, or not. A bad landing won't injure you physically, but trainees do feel compelled to keep at it until they get it right.
The simulator is particularly useful for practicing jumps under dangerous conditions (night, very low altitude, high winds). Experience, even if only virtual, in these dangerous drops, can later save lives if it has to be done for real.