I put pilots through both T-38 and C-141 flight routines, using sim time to rehearse basic procedures as well as to escalate events to points of no return. Even though pilots knew that they hadn't left the ground, they were sweating while racking up sim time.
As a creative multimedia lecturer, I have learned more background about why pilots got so deeply engrossed in simulation. Part of it was spatial--their eyes told them they were really in the virtual world of flight. Accompanied by the sound of engine noise and flying full motion six-axis of motion, it's really easy to get caught up and to totally engage in the whole process of flying the box.
We did a lot of things in that box through my 3500 hours of flying. I have to think that the sweaty moments I endured saved me the embarrasment of bent metal while behind the controls of a multi-million dollar airplane.
That's a shot of an Airbus simulator cockpit accompanying my blog post.
Previously -- "Beating Jet Lag", March 20, 2004.
See also "Reverting to Circadian SELCAL", January 16, 2009.