Computer flight simulators
I've just started taking flight lessons. To supplement flying time (which in my case comes once a week and generally is pretty expensive) I would like to use simulation software like MS Flight Simulator or Flight Unlimited (??). What's your opinion? Would this be a useful addition to my training? If so, how can I make it more realistic - where can I get the yoke and the pedals, for example?
You could open a whole can of worms with that question. I used MS FLT SIM during my training. It really helps with the instrument's and learning radio nav and even some procedures. The built in Lessons are nice preps before heading out to the airport. I even used to plan out my cross countries then fly them on the sim to prepare for the actual one. The scenery and most of the freq's are the real thing.
As far as the realistic controls go, they start at moderatly expensive to way too expensive. I would just use the joystick and save the money for flying the real stuff.
I use MS FS 98 for practicing navigation and keeping myself outa Bravo... As a result, I am really learning how to use VOR, DME and various instruments to the point where I can find most airports w/o visual aids. I think this will really help and my instructor has made comments that support this...I think for instrument practicing, a FS cannot be beat!
Thanks for your advice! Guess I'll go and get me this software.
Just remember.. You may be able to get some use and practice out of the sims, but you cannot log the time. :-)
Comments and opinions are my own and do not reflect those of my employer.
I have flight unlimited 2&3 combined, and i love it! it is better than fs 2000.You can interact with ATC, and it is more realistic.
Sounds like you may already have purchased the Flight Simulator. Microsoft makes a Professional version that's a little more expensive. I use it to practice instrument approaches. You won't learn to land with this. A buddy of mine learned how to fly using simulators and got his ticket in 40 hours! But there's no substitute for a good instructor.
Also, invest in a good yoke and rudder pedals. Finally, this is where the experience comes in...you have to really, really tune the sensitivity of the controls to get simulator to come close to the real thing.
[This message has been edited by scottd (edited 07-07-2000).]
It may be bleasphemy, but I think that computer-based simulations come with some pretty serious risks. Yes, they can be somewhat useful to learn some things, but I think they can also impart a very dangerous, subconscious feeling of invulneability, or at least a tendency to seriously overcontrol.
It's easy (and fun) to haul around an airplane on your computer, do crazy, daredevil, and suicidal things, and yet you still get to walk away and grab a beer afterwards. I guess it just further desensitizes you to reality (like most things you see on CRTs!).
Even if you don't succumb to insane manoeuvers, I think it's very easy to overcontrol a real airplane after "flying" one on your home computer. On a recent flight around the traffic pattern, my CFI gave me a sharp look and informed me that 45-degree banks were not really necessary to fly a proper pattern. Duh. But that was what I had been getting used to in a flight sim program I had been playing with!
I admit, they *can* be fun though. I like Fly! from Terminal Reality (not the product from that evil company in Redmond....).
When I learned to fly, my instructor would always offer to let me accrue hours on his simulator--a professional tabletop model. I may have worked on it maybe four times. Yes, I have a computer simulator which I infrequently use.
I think simulators are good for recognizing unusual attitudes, such as spins, dives, basically out of control situations. But for actually learning how to fly, there's no substitute for the real thing. I think the feel of G-forces, yaw, wind, and the control surfaces is critical in learning to fly.
I suppose a computer can be set up so simulate most situations, but face it--you're bedroom or den isn't moving through space. I don't know if a computer can simulate the 1000fpm downdraft I encountered on short final at an airport once--or landing into a 45kt headwind at another. And then there's the instrument approach in heavy, pelting rain down to minimums in IMC. Not to mention three hours of instrument flight in snow. And what about an instrument approach with turbulence so bad most of your time is spent trying to keep your eyes focused and hands on the controls? Combine any of these scenarios with Class B airspace and being sent from center to approach to tower to ground among thirty other planes--mostly commercial. Actually, once you've learned to fly, the most interesting and challenging things about it are radio communication and navigation.
I suppose computer simulators are fun, and I use mine occasionally, but there's just no substitute for the real McCoy.
I asked my instructor about sims day 1. After a very long pause, he said "You're a [computer]programmer right?" I replied yes. He then pointed at the airplane we were pre-flighting and explained, "That ain't a computer."
Later on, when I guess he was feeling a little more amenable, he said to hold off on the sims until I was ready to pursue my IFR.
I figure, Hey! I'm payin' him for what he knows... so I do what he says.
...and I wait for him to ask me about his computer
I have been using Flight simulators for longer than I care to remember. There is an on-line service called 'SATCO' which allows you to fly on-line in real time with real time ATC. You have the choice of being a pilot [your choice of aircraft] or working as a ATC controller. I agree that flight sims will not help you to fly but combined with a service like SATCO, will be a great help in communications, navigation and reading the gauges. The URL for SATCO is http://www.satusa.org I hope this will help.
The instructor I'm currently taking IFR ground school from told me that simulations such as Flight Simulator 2000 etc. build bad habits that carry over into the cockpit and are hard to break. I didn't tell him I've been flying desktop for a while
I wouldn't waste your time or money unless you're going to buy a good IFR sim. I have an Elite that is useful for keeping your scan and familiarizing yourself with a strange approach. I wouldn't count on getting much value out of it if you're a primary student. The private student is probably looking to improve stick and rudder skills, which a sim won't really do at that stage of the game. I also think they tend to make one focus only straight ahead and on the panel since it is cumbersome to switch veiws on the computer. I think its bad to practice this when most vfr pilots spend way too little time looking around outside anyway.
You're going to laugh, but a good big RC model airplane is a fairly good way to learn touch. The problem is that it will probably take you as much time to build and learn to fly a good big (6' wing) model as it does to get a pvt liscense. And about $500. Trainer cords link two transmitters together for "dual", extending the time before your first crash. But you WILL crash models. The nice part is you develop a mindset to always have an out. And most modelers are better versed at stall\spin\snap scenarios than an average full scale pilot, as most models are unforgiving hot rods compared to full scale.
I'm not saying a typical modeler would make an excellent pilot; but a pilot who is also a fair modeler usually has excellent stick and rudder skills. This comes from flying the plane, not the panel.
I have MS Flight 2000. I fly with a 2-axis joystick, so I have to use either keyboard rudder, or coordinated flight. Both are pretty bad (no side slips). Also, the controls are way too sensitive. However, nothing beats sims for navigation learning. I haven't tried out any other sims, but they do seem better than MS SIm.