Exhibit: Can I learn to fly in a flight sim?
I can tune in the Gardner VOR and the navigation instruments will behave correctly based on my position, which I can view in a pop-up window of the sectional chart, or on the real sectional chart on my desk. In fact the entire instrument panel in FLY!is mouse-active. You can even follow correct engine starting procedures if you like. The basic flight instruments are arranged in the standard format in the sim and in the real plane. The response to controls and the flight performance seem very similar, though they are in fact different planes (the two seat C152 is lighter and has less power than the four-place C172R in FLY!).
The sounds are very authentic -- you can judge engine power from the sound, and you can hear when the wheels leave the runway. The views are good too -- if you put the runway half-way up the left wing strut on left downwind to get the correct offset, do it in the sim, and you get the correct offset. The runway looks about the same from pattern altitude in the plane and in the sim (2000 feet at ORH, which has elevation 1009 feet).
Instruments in FLY!
The bottom line: this is not virtual reality, but the simulated and real worlds are close enough to allow similar actions with very similar results in performance, instrument feedback, visual feedback, and sounds.