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Is real life flying that "forgiving" ?

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9 replies to this topic

#1 Karelpatch


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Posted 10 January 2017 - 05:04 PM

Hello pilots,
I have been (re)discovering FSX after years and I can say I am totally hooked by now. The A2A Piper Cherokee is awesome.

I'm not a RL pilot. I just passed the theory for ultralight flying this month because in France you need this license to become a professional UAV pilot (for cinematography for exemple.)
I took a 7 days class where I learned many interesting things about flight mechanics, VFR flight rules for ultralights, navigation, weather, etc. I loved it. Didn't believe I could be able to seat 8hrs/day in a classroom and like it at my age.
Our teacher brought us to an aerodrom to watch the gliders but the real excitement came when he let us enter a small plane. I am 31yrs old and my first computer game in 1997 was a flight sim.
Maybe I'll become a RL pilot one day, but for now I am enjoying the FSX experience with as much realism as possible.

Anyway, here is my question:
I know simulation can't get close to real flying. But at least the physics can be as accurate as possible. As I said, I have never piloted a plane in real life, so I trust the pilots here that say that, for example, the A2A Cherokee behaves exactly like the real one.
What I find interesting with flight simulation is that you can experiment things you would never do in real life because, well... you'd die probably. You can exceed the Vne, stall in low altitude turns, fly inside cumulonimbus... I had heard of that infamous skidding turn on base to final. Well... I experienced it and i think it was cool.
Making mistakes in a sim can be instructive. But I find myself doing many mistakes, some on purpose and some because I am not experienced. And I feel like those mistakes have usually no consequences. Is it the same in real life? Sometimes I put flaps and then take too much speed, and nothing bad happens. Sometimes I make 90 degres turns or I even tried rolling and looping and my plane doesn't seem to bother at all. What about the charge factor? I tried to exceed my Vne and I had to go really really high, really really, really fast and open the flaps to finally destroy my plane. Is it really that forgiving in real life (aside from the physical effects on the human body.) ?
I've been practicing landing plenty and not once have I crashed as long as I stayed on the runway. Some of my approaches seemed suicidal, yet I was able to - virtually - survive without scratching my plane. I've tried extremely brutal landings and the plane was totally cool with it. Is it the same in real life?
Sometimes I feel like I can do whatever I want with my joystick, as long as I don't lose too much altitude, it's extremely hard to lose control or break something.
The only really challenging situations have been motor failures and disorientation in fog or night flights.

This all seems too good to be true. Is a plane like the Cherokee that "easy" to manœuvre? Is it that forgiving when one makes mistakes?
Or is it a sim limitation?

Thanks a lot for your answers!
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#2 DaveCT2003



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Posted 10 January 2017 - 05:28 PM

Regarding how forgiving... completely depends on the type of aircraft. Some are more forgiving, some are just the opposite.


Best wishes!

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#3 ubersu


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Posted 10 January 2017 - 05:47 PM

Most modern GA aircraft are designed to be as forgiving as possible. That said, an idiot on the controls can always find a way to die.



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#4 DaveCT2003



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Posted 10 January 2017 - 05:56 PM

That said, an idiot on the controls can always find a way to die.


Or worse, whack someone else! 

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#5 RichieFly



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Posted 10 January 2017 - 05:59 PM

Like was said above, GA aircraft tend to be designed to be very forgiving. There are limits to all PC based flight sims in terms of modeling flight dynamics. Especially when you talk about edge of envelope flying. So Vne characteristics are probably not very accurate, for example.


My experience is that flying on the edge is the game all RL pilots play. Experience tells you (spidy sense) when you're taking things too far. Also, you don't want to break an aircraft, so you don't try to do so.


Finally, this is why you do flight training; to experience the safe limits of a particular aircraft and become familiar with its characteristics at various configurations and speeds.


Good luck to you!

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Richard Chafey

#6 Guevorkyan



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Posted 10 January 2017 - 06:54 PM

The main difference as my brother put it "you better land this thing, there's no game over!". Having said that, there's a ton of things I'd do in the simulator that would'nt dare to do in the real thing. 


Simming won't give you the feeling of three-dimensional forces. Turbulence doesn't seem random, cross-wind landing is fought out differently, speeding up the IAS in flight level will bring a lot of noice and the airplane feels like with a ton of energy. You can feel the sluggish behavior when behind the power curve. 


Tridimentionality (?) of the cabin can be simulated in home made cockpits, but you cannot get the motion feeling right, not even in class Ds.


As stated above, small single engined pistons are designed for low-time pilots, therefore they tend to be forgiving for a good reason, Larger GA airplanes (which there are a lot btw, a BBJ is a GA airplane!), have more systems and the careful management of those devices is strongly advisable or else you would put them out of service.


One thing that we simmers tend to look at while flying in our PCs is weather. But we usually look at the weather for visual reasons (the immersive feeling). IRL weather is, with the ground, the main risk when flying. Get into icing conditions and ou might fall of the sky if you don't act quickly. Fly your airplane into a developed cumulus nimbus and you're done. Did you plan your fuel taking account of the winds aloft? How is the weather at the destination? enroute?, is it too hot for the engines? Too cold and might skid off the runway? If you forgot to turn the intakes on, be careful when you are already iced up - you might destroy the engine!


So, there's a lot of things that go on when flying for real. But don't be worried! That's why there're training programs, that's why there's some sort of career path by gaining experience in hours. I myself think that maybe I could land a 777, just by flying the PMDG. Well, the reality is that I can't. We could maaaybe barely land it in perfect conditions and hopefully in one or two pieces. Things happen SOOO fast over there we can't even notice. Pilots always fly their airplanes 5 minutes ahead of the airplane, flying is all about anticipation. If you find yourself behind the aiplane then beware! "Never let the airplane take you somewhere your brain didn't get five minutes ago".

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Santiago de Larminat

#7 scottb613


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Posted 10 January 2017 - 07:06 PM

I always liked the quote on the Piper Cub - "It can just barely kill you"...




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#8 DaveCT2003



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Posted 10 January 2017 - 07:12 PM

I always liked the quote on the Piper Cub - "It can just barely kill you"...


Man... LMAO!  I'd forgotten that one!


In related news...  last night televised expose on flying cars had several existing startups making progress towards public release.


"Prius N99191 (inaudible), Interstate 95, cleared for takeoff.  God be with you, and God help us all."



Yeah, I know, they drive to airports, then depart. But hey, it was too good to pass up.  Plus, I bet there's like zero yaw in a Prius.

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#9 michal


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Posted 10 January 2017 - 07:54 PM

Or is it a sim limitation?

Bear in mind the simulation is not a 100% representation of reality, not even close. It is entirely possible you made some mistakes that would be deadly in real life but the simulation is not going to show it.  Try for example a typical pilot's error that is deadly - you are in a pattern to land, then you make a base turn followed by the final but you made the last turn too late and you overshot, you try to realign with the runway, you use too much banking and rudder and you stall/spin. That would be one of the typical scenarios that sent pilots to their deaths. Your simulation clearly can't simulate damage to an aircraft due to deploying flaps at high speed - it is even useless to try those things, such things are also exceeding rare in real life anyway. Also I doubt your simulation would properly handle aircraft icing - another deadly killer in aviation. Anytime you make a very poor landing - say you hit runway with 1000 ft/min - that should destroy/damage the aircraft, again I doubt your simulation would care. Instead of testing how good the simulator is (and we already know the answer) - test your own skills as a pilot - try for example an entry from VFR to IMC - such a thing is almost 70% deadly (yes, it isn't a typo) in real life for VFR-only pilots. 

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Michael J.

#10 HighBypass


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Posted 11 January 2017 - 03:50 PM

I've recently joined a gliding club and begun to fly full size gliders (I've flown RC ones for many years). I've got less than 10 hours flying time made up of 30 flights (yes glider flights can be as short as 3 minutes at my club, without a launch failure!).


With my very limited experience I would say that most GA planes want to fly and are quite benign and forgiving under normal handlingOne of the gliders I've flown in (a K21) will not spin... unless special ballast weights are added to the rear fuselage for such a purpose.


If you get rough on the controls and deliberately manhandle the glider, you will physically feel it and see the visual result. If you let go of the stick, the glider will forgive you and calm down.... UP TO A POINT. Spins, unusual attitudes and proximity to the ground excepted! :)


The simulation can only represent the general visual and aural aspects .......and Real life can really kill you - it's travelling in the third dimension which makes things far more tricky!


Despite wanting to fly, different aircraft types will try to kill you in real life if you've not had the appropriate conversion training. If I ever become a qualified glider pilot, I could not go out and fire up a P-51 Mustang and fly around, or if I did, it would not end well for me or the plane!


Unlike learning to drive a car. For example a person would probably not die or injure themselves by taking a Ferrari for a drive despite learning in a Nissan Micra..

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