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Is there anthing to be gained by using a flight simulator?

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Is there anthing to be gained by using a flight simulator?

Old 17th Jan 2010, 22:54
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Is there anthing to be gained by using a flight simulator?

Simple question. When learning to fly is there anything at all to be gained by using a flight simulator such as MS Flight Simulator, or similar? If so what in your opinion are the benefits of doing this? Can anyone share there experiences with me?

Cheers,
Danny
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Old 17th Jan 2010, 22:59
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Can't speak for ab initio PPL training but MS FlightSim definitely helped me prior to my IR course. Instrument scan and practice of tuning nav aids gave me a head start.
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Old 17th Jan 2010, 23:42
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In my experience I found FS to be a hindrance more than help when it came to practical flying. At this early stage of flying, VFR in a small two seater is nothing similar to flying the heavy iron on your computer screen. I found that I was too dependent on the instruments and wasn't looking outside nearly enough as I should have been i.e. I would check the AI or the VSI or tell me if I was straight and level or what angle of bank I was rolling. It took a while to stop this and to look at the actual horizon outside the aircraft. Don't get me wrong, there are some + points. It is no doubt handy to know your 6 primary instruments and what they do. FS should also give you an insight to what makes the aircraft fly and the effects of manipulating the yoke on the control surfaces.

If you do intend to use flight sim whilst learning to fly stick to GA aircraft, I believe Flight One has a very nice model of a C150/152, and there is some good payware software available for other small aircraft also. Running through the pre-start checklists here is a good idea, as is practicing various principles which you will be required to perfect i.e. the trim wheel etc.

Vatsim is a great resource for brushing up on RT. You will learn alot of new phrases this way and will help your real-world confidence also. I know alot of people getting flustered when using the PTT button, but I think FS solved this for me anyway.

Sorry for the ramble, but to summarise; be careful about getting carried away with big planes and auto-pilots - its not required at this stage and will only serve to draw your eyes inside while on real flights.
Stick to the things you will be doing in real life, fly small planes with significant weather. Learn to operate them as close to the book as possible.
Fly online to take advantage of some of the great virtual pilots and controllers out there; a free resource is very rare is this industry.

Best of Luck!!
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 00:26
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I was flight-simming for many years before finally getting round to getting my PPL. From the very first days of what became Microsoft Flight Simulator, when it was just white lines on a black background, and the scenery consisted mainly of Chicago Meigs field and a few miles around. Also have flown every combat sim going from WW1 to WW3, off line and on line.

Anyway I would say overall it helped me, I got my PPL in minimum hours. None of the sim time really helped with the physical side of flying, in fact I find real (VFR) flying much more natural than sim flying, you can see all around rather than looking through a small rectangle, and the seat-of-the-pants feedback is far better than just purely visual.

Where it helped was the procedural side, I did cross country flights on the sim before real life, and practiced making radio calls at the right time. If you have the photographic scenery it also gives you a good idea of what to expect as you approach an area you haven't visited before, though Google Earth is good for that now as well.
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 00:29
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Ryan's advice is good, and I second it.

I would like to reinforce the idea that using the free time of the computer to save paid time in a plane, is a good idea up to a point. It extends to an even more basic level, while taking helicopter training, my instructor told me that he uses Google Earth "flying" mode to familiarize his students with the local terrain, to save flying time in the helicopter. Another form of simulation...

In the old days, we'd learn takeoff and landing technique by watching endless circuits of the other students, in between our lessons. You can learn a lot that way, but very certainly you can only learn so much. You have to get in and do it yourself too! I think the same can be said for simulation in any form.

Simulation has its limits, and values, keep it all in context, and you'll do fine...

Pilot DAR
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 00:40
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When you consider aerobatic pilots carve out their routines using their hands while on the ground you realise that even the most basic flight simulation is useful.

I used to be heavely involved with some leading 3rd party addon companies for MSFS as well as testing for MS itself.

MSFS is an excellent tool for IMC/IFR training

It is an excellent tool when using Photo real scenery prior to a VFR flight.
It is a good tool for the basic principals of flight.

It lacks true feel and doesnt simulate the true dynamics of flight well!!!

Certain flight sim addon companies have worked around some of the gaping holes in the flight dynamics engine and made the xperience closer to real life.

I agree that it is lacking in pheriferal views and restricted by a flat screen.

Overall very useful, addictive and fun

Pace
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 01:51
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It is not lacking in pheriferal views if you are using the right equipment.TrackIR multi monitors etc.
Also very helpful the use of rc models and FPV Flight.
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 08:06
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For all the time I spent staring at a 10x15cm photo of an instrument imagining doing checklists and things, I would most definitely say yes!
Would have been a boon to even have a poster size picture so the thought of an interactive learning aid is luxury.

The quicker and more natural your scan and actions are the less time you will spend paying to do it. Develop a flow to all checks in all phases.

The actual flying of the sim is of little practical use but the value of the time saved by having routine is immeasurable. Well, perhaps not entirely immeasurable. Commercial pilots use cardboard cut-outs of entire cockpits to practice procedures and checklists so there must be significant savings.

The value is again felt when training instrument procedures.
Go for it and have fun.
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 08:16
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Instructors don't like "ex FS" students because they allegedly spend the whole time looking at the instruments.

However, I think flight sim experience, particularly with FSX or other stuff which has pretty good scenery, is very useful, up to a point.

It won't teach you how to land, how to do stall recovery, etc. But it is damn useful in teaching navigation and general situational awareness. I used to fly my X/C flights on FS2000 before flying them for real the next day and found that very useful.

For instrument work, FS is fantastic. Never ever go airborne to fly any procedure if you cannot fly it on a sim. Going airborne is an almost total waste of (your) time and money if you haven't learnt what has to be done first.
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 08:45
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I have personally seen MSFS be used to great effect when teaching students basic cycles during VFR flying phases, but the actual flying in the sim is of little benefit.

IFR.... I fully support everything everyone else has said.
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 08:57
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Hello!

Instructors don't like "ex FS" students because they allegedly spend the whole time looking at the instruments.
Depends, I would say. I do mostly instrument instruction, and from what I see, the girls and guys who practise at home on their PCs or Macintoshes (using X plane) perform better than those who spend their evenings in the pub.

It's important however not to fool around with the sim (like trying to land a Concorde on the aircraft carrier) but to spend the time actually working. Doing R/T, reading checklists, following procedures and practising the difficult stuff like NDB interceptions and holdings.

Greetings, Max
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 09:02
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Instructors don't like "ex FS" students because they allegedly spend the whole time looking at the instruments.
I can understand that in some ways for ab-initio training, perhaps also because the ex-FS student will be largely self-taught and possibly learned bad habits, whereas a completely fresh student is a "blank canvas".
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 09:21
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One additional tip: If you are at the point where you use FS to get familiar with the workings of radio navigation instruments, put the sim in "slew" mode. This allows you to "fly" (more like "hover") anywhere without worrying about those pesky laws of aerodynamics.

Turn the aircraft around the vertical axis and observe what happens to the ADF and VOR displays for instance. Or put it some miles out on an ILS approach and let the aircraft climb and descend in position. Repeat closer to the threshold.
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 09:24
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Agree with most comments so far.

The main thing I found it useful for was understanding aviation terminology and how the instruments and controls work, definately a big help.

Some people take it a bit too seriously however... once read a newspaper article about some bloke who converted his spare bedroom into a 747 flight deck and was charging people to come and "fly" it in MSFS...

Smithy
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 09:35
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a 747 flight deck and was charging people to come and "fly" it in MSFS...
I hope he had a current vCPL and vAOC
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 09:49
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It is not lacking in pheriferal views if you are using the right equipment.TrackIR multi monitors etc.
Also very helpful the use of rc models and FPV Flight.
Sorry to disagree but even with Track IR it is lacking in pheriferal )hope thats spelt right views.

If you look straight ahead and move your hand into view fom the side you should see movement from your hand at about 90 degrees right and left of straight ahead.

Tilting your head right or left changes that view range dramatically.

I have not been involved with or used MSFS for some years.
Track IR was in use then so unless there has been a huge improvement I cannot agree with your comment.
Multi monitors as are complete home cockpits are in the realms of the hard core simmers and not joe Bloggs with his one flat screen single monitor.

Pace
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 10:25
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pace

I Was talking for combination of all this good staff.
Most people i know include my self all have multi monitors,projectors etc
Also i d like to say most of understanding for if is any help or not from flight simulators,is coming after the first 2-3 real lessens !
Personal i found most FS`s more than helpful in all aspects.
Just my opinion of course!
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 11:29
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I use a full scale 'simulator' based on X-Plane and photo scenery to supplement my microlight student's air time. Of course it doesn't count towards their flying hours, but I only charge ground school rates so it's cheaper than flying (and not weather dependant). I've found it helps some of them learn some of the mechanics of flying and with modern photo scenery they can practice navigation techniques.

I've found some people don't slot into the fantasy and treat it as a computer game. These people don't benefit much at all. People who do slot in to the fantasy, however, can learn a lot. A big training benefit is the ability to pause the simulation and explain where they are going wrong. The biggest disadvantage is that they don't learn airmanship and lookout.

Would unsupervised time on a desktop simulation help? I can't answer for big stuff, but down at the lightweight end of flying that I inhabit, I would say that it does as much harm as good, so you'd end up paying an instructor to correct the bad habits you wouldn't have developed if you hadn't used the thing.

They're fun though.

MB
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 11:32
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Just curious and a bit off-topic, but what's the going rate for a genuine hull of a (retired) PA-28, for a flight sim enthousiast to built his/her stuff into? Right now it's in storage, paint in good nick, from the firewall all the way to the rudder attachments (rudder itself is gone, so are the wings). Help onsite would be available to chop the front portion off.
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Old 18th Jan 2010, 12:01
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I would agree that simply sitting in front of a PC, not having done any real flying at all, is not going to be terribly helpful.

One needs to slot oneself somewhat into the "protocol" of flying and flight training, and then a sim can be very useful.

But if someone is looking at making their PPL easier and done in fewer hours (in the min 45 if possible) there is no better way then to find a mentor, who takes you through the basics of planning a flight and then flying then plan for real. I've done a little bit of that and it seems to have worked well, with the chap having passed his ground exams before he even did much flying, and he will probably do his PPL in 45hrs which is itself a rarity. Just doing a PPL in 45 hours represents a saving of thousands over the average time/cost of a PPL. And a mentor can also get across some "airmanship" stuff e.g. looking inside the tanks before going flying

Actually flying a plane is really easy. Any monkey can fly a plane. It is all the other stuff (like landings) which takes the time. And some of the more subtle stuff which is IME poorly taught in the PPL e.g. trimming for the desired airspeed in all phases of flight is hard to learn from a sim because of its unrealistic pitch behaviour.

A sim with decent scenery can increase the enjoyment of flight training too. Early on, there is much emphasis on flying circuits, which most people find simply exhausting. At times, the training just seems to go on and on, with "tech" planes, missing instructors, cancelled lessons due to weather. But with a sim, one can do as much enroute flying as one wants, as early as one wants to do it. It could just help keep someone in the pipeline.
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