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Airplane progression - what to fly, how long, when?

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Hey guys,

 

I was having a conversation with my elderly father trying to explain my interest in flight and flight sims and was drawing a blank stare from him as the conversation went on. Obviously, I was not getting through and it's not that he has Alzheimer's or anything. I was simply using the wrong words or logic, I think.

 

So, assume that he knows nothing about flying, IRL or in simulation. Can you help me explain to him the reason for progressing from one plane to another from knowing absolutely nothing about flying planes to flying trans-ocean, long haul jetliners?

1. For instance, why a fly a SR-22 as your first plane instead of a C152/172? Why a steam gauge plane instead of a glass cockpit when in a trainer? And why a payware beast instead of the stock/default MS planes?

2. After that, why try to acquire IFR competency instead of just flying VFR (that is, why simulate real world rating skills and knowledge)?  What plane would be approrpriate for this transition in the sim as opposed to real life, and vice versa?

3.Moving on to a multi-engine aircraft and rating? There are so many out there, but what makes one a good plane to transition in and what would NOT be a great multi-engine prop plane to transition in and why not?

4.First civilian jet? Assume a desire to simulate a real world progression but where sim world finances are not an issue (assume that you could buy whatever sim aircraft you desired. What jet would be your preference for a jet "trainer" in your sim? I know what the military primary jet trainers are, but let's stick with the civilian side of things.

5. Finally, are there any real differences in flight characteristics and avionics simulations as you go up the ladder in aircraft size, power, complexity between the various payware and freeware offerings? (Stupid question on its face, I know. But this is one of the areas I could not clarify for Dad. He likes to set realism on Easy, Unlimited fuel and No crash detection and just drill holes in the sky at this point but wonders why that isn't enough for me/others.)

6. Do most of you actually do this sort of progression, just jump from one plane to another, or just pick one, learn it and stick with it?

 

As you can see, it was a wide ranging conversation (actually a series of on-going conversations leading me to return to simming after a few years away) and we've got into numerous levels of complexity.

 

I'd like to hear anyone's perspective and views if you have the time and inclination.

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1. You learn on single engine aircraft (SR-22, C172, 152, ect..) because it's easiest and twins require a multi-engine rating. You earn your PPL in the most basic plane because that license allows it. It can be glass, doesn't matter. You just have to learn on what you plan on flying to earn that PPL. After that, you can transition to twins and earn the multi engine rating. From there you can keep building your training. IFR is pretty tough, especially the check ride.

 

2. No one is obligated to fly IFR, however, in the sim it's often the only way. VFR flight in real life is restricted to avoiding clouds and all kinds of stuff, including using outside reference points to navigate. Buildings, mountains, roads, and more all contribute to this "visual" navigation. In the sim, we often lack real world reference points, so it's better to use GPS and navaids to guide the plane. Plus, IFR in the sim is fun, why limit yourself?

 

3. Hard to comment on the best twin to transition to. I happen to prefer the RealAir Duke V2.0 turbine. Normal non-glass gauges with integrated GPS. Fairly simply operation overall. The larger the twin the more complex they seem to be for some reason. I imagine there are others though that are just as good. All twins in FS are hard to manage the power is all.

 

4. A good first civilian jet would likely be a business jet IMO. I've just never found one I've liked. They're all kinda ugly inside. Maybe the Cessna Mustang from Flight One. I just think the flight deck is ugly. Haven't seen business jet flight deck I thought was good to look at, lol. Although if someone like PMDG made a Dassault Falcon, I'd buy it. Unfortunately that company won't play ball with FS developers. I just learned the Boeings from PMDG, Level-D and the original Dreamfleet 737.

 

5. Not sure what you're asking. Each developer has a "style" to their flight dynamics. Since MSFS is rather poor at modeling FD, some tend to go heavy and others light in terms of response. I have preferred RealAir, Dreamfleet, PMDG and Level-D. Dreamfleet and Level-D are dead companies and not compatible with FSX:SE. I don't have any A2A offerings but they are supposed to be good. Carenado is fine too. I only like to buy payware that simulate as much as the real world ops allow. PMDG is likely the most complex, as is the Majestic Dash-8. I have crash detection off because a lot of anomalies in the sim can crash your flight. Unlimited fuel? No.

 

6. I usually have maybe 4 aircraft I rotate around between. No more than two complex at once. Too hard to really learn them well or fly them well if you jump around a lot.

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Firstly, I have no idea why I love aircraft so much from the age of 10, no 9! Why do I look at cars and go 'meah' but catch a fleeting glimpse of an aircraft in a TV advert and sit bolt upright!

 

I used to collect all kinds of aircraft Id heard of, but after around a year slimmed right down. I used an A2A plane to fly alot, learning anout circuits and basic procedures, and it has become my favourite. I progressed to bush planes and twins where I try to master one or two types, like most RL pilots who only fly one thpe, I want to really get to know the aircraft, use the handbook, know the numbers etc. I must fly around 6 aircraft. Only one of them is an airliner, a Project Airbus, which I fly for fun on short haul with GSX so that I can experience all the thrill and bustle of a modern airport environment and get that wonderful feeling satisfaction when I pick up the ILS in bad weather and then fly the A321 down to the runway hearing the call outs, and then slamming on the reversers. Fantastic.

 

I would never take it further though, I have no interest in PMDG etc.

 

I'm happiest flying twins around the Caribbean, or bush planes in Washington state or Kenya, for example.

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Unfortunately that company won't play ball with FS developers

 

Chris, Dassault gave their agreement to Wilco to develop the Falcon 7.  At this moment it is still work in progress.

 

Jean-Jacques

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This is a subject that's close to my heart, and your attitude towards simming seems very close to my own.

 

First, I suggest a "prime directive". Have fun. Seriously, it's a hobby, not a job, and if you realise your simming isn't fun, then change the way you sim. This is a lesson I've learned the hard way. Of course, "difficult" is not necessarily the same as "not fun" (e.g. IFR). Of you want to fly a 737 VFR, then do it. It's your sim, you paid for it, use it as you will. There are as many approaches to simming as there are denizens of these forums and all approaches are equally valid.

 

I have flown airliners VFR, and I've also flown them IFR, in the sense that I was following an IFR flight plan and letting the default ATC (ugh!) or Radar Contact vector me for the approaches, but I've always been aware that this isn't the real-life way of doing it, which means that gets old quickly because it's only sorta-kinda fun. So I've been following the learning path below and am at the start of the IFR/complex/performance aircraft section.

 

If you're looking to follow a more realistic training/career path then I've recommend the approach taken here (http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0764588222.html)  using default aircraft: 

 

Piper J-3 Cub: (Sport Pilot/VFR) Basic flight manoeuvres and navigation. The Cub is very good for learning the basics because of the lack of distractions inside the cockpit.

 

Cessna 172P Skyhawk: (PPL/VFR) An introduction to more advanced aircraft and radio and GPS navigation.

 

Mooney Bravo: (IFR rating) This introduces a much faster aircraft, retractable gear, and a constant speed prop, and is where you do the heavy lifting in terms of learning IFR.

 

Beechcraft B58 Baron: (Multi-Engine IFR) This isn't a very long section, because the IFR work was done in the Mooney. This section focuses on multi-engine considerations, in particularly flying with just one...and making  instrument approaches with just one.

 

In short, and to answer your original question about why follow a progression path, well first you learn about how flight and basic navigation (i.e. dead reckoning, pilotage) works, then you learn how radio navigation works, then you do it in a faster, complex aircraft, then you do it on instruments, and then with two engines and then with one of the engines out.

 

After that, the authors touch on turboprops (King Air) and jets (737), but not in as much depth. I think you'd get as much if not more out of a suitable add-on that comes with a decent manual. Speaking of add-ons, some suggested add-on equivalents for the above aircraft would be:

 

A2A Cub (with Accusim)

A2A C172R (comes with Accusim anyway)

A2A Piper Comanche or Realair Lancair Legacy or Carenado Bonanza F33a or Carenado Mooney M20

Realair Beechcraft Duke B60 or Milviz 310 or Just Flight Beechcraft Duchess

Realair Turbine Duke or Digital Aviation Piper Cheyenne or Flight1 King Air

 

I don't actually own the A2A Comanche or the Flight1 King Air, but their reputations are good. Anyway, the default aircraft will also get you to where you want to go, in the learning sense.

 

Regarding the bigger iron, it becomes more a question of systems complexity. For example, the Quality Wings 757 is a much bigger aircraft than the Majestic Q400, but is much simpler in its systems implementation (Quality Wings that is, not the real 757) and would probably be easier to tackle first. Simpler, by the way, does not mean that it isn't light years ahead of the default FSX big iron in complexity terms.

 

My problem with following a training regime is that I have an unfortunate habit of picking up other aircraft that take my fancy or are on special offer, that end up sitting in my hangar or that I never fly a proper flight in instead I just load a flight, change aircraft, mess about in it, chage to another one fly a bit more, rinse and repeat until FSX gets fed up with it and crashes. I think the problem is when you're following a training path and you're in the Mooney, that Airbus/737/MD80 seems awfully far away. My solution is a new project for the new year: one properly planned flight from gate to gate in every aircraft in my hangar, and have fun doing it (even it it means pausing regularly to look stuff up in the manual), in between the more serious learning flights. This should satisfy the prime directive.

 

Regarding business jets, I only have the Extreme Prototypes Learjet 24 series. It's nice and easy on frames but the panel layout is a bit weird and early 70s, and there's no FMC or autothrottle. That said, it's not a bad starting point, and it is fast. The only other business jet I've ever enjoyed flying was the Dassault Falcon 50 , which is freeware. In terms of the VC, it's even more basic than the default FSX Learjet, but its a great performer, gives superb frame rates and is great fun to fly.

 

Hope some of this helps and apologies if I've rambled a bit...

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I appreciate the responses and perspectives so far. You guys are articulating what I was trying to tell Dad much better than I have.

 

Anyone else?

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I look on fr24 or flightaware for flights out of my favorite airports, and if I have the airplane I will simulate that flight in real time and follow it. Using fr24 to track it and liveatc.net to listen to the atc if available. I try to simulate as close to real life as possible, even down to using the same sqawk code that fr24 says the airplane is using.

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This is a subject that's close to my heart, and your attitude towards simming seems very close to my own.
 
First, I suggest a "prime directive". Have fun. Seriously, it's a hobby, not a job, and if you realise your simming isn't fun, then change the way you sim. This is a lesson I've learned the hard way. Of course, "difficult" is not necessarily the same as "not fun" (e.g. IFR). Of you want to fly a 737 VFR, then do it. It's your sim, you paid for it, use it as you will. There are as many approaches to simming as there are denizens of these forums and all approaches are equally valid.
 
I have flown airliners VFR, and I've also flown them IFR, in the sense that I was following an IFR flight plan and letting the default ATC (ugh!) or Radar Contact vector me for the approaches, but I've always been aware that this isn't the real-life way of doing it, which means that gets old quickly because it's only sorta-kinda fun. So I've been following the learning path below and am at the start of the IFR/complex/performance aircraft section.
 
If you're looking to follow a more realistic training/career path then I've recommend the approach taken here (http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0764588222.html)  using default aircraft: 
 
Piper J-3 Cub: (Sport Pilot/VFR) Basic flight manoeuvres and navigation. The Cub is very good for learning the basics because of the lack of distractions inside the cockpit.
 
Cessna 172P Skyhawk: (PPL/VFR) An introduction to more advanced aircraft and radio and GPS navigation.
 
Mooney Bravo: (IFR rating) This introduces a much faster aircraft, retractable gear, and a constant speed prop, and is where you do the heavy lifting in terms of learning IFR.
 
Beechcraft B58 Baron: (Multi-Engine IFR) This isn't a very long section, because the IFR work was done in the Mooney. This section focuses on multi-engine considerations, in particularly flying with just one...and making  instrument approaches with just one.
 
In short, and to answer your original question about why follow a progression path, well first you learn about how flight and basic navigation (i.e. dead reckoning, pilotage) works, then you learn how radio navigation works, then you do it in a faster, complex aircraft, then you do it on instruments, and then with two engines and then with one of the engines out.
 
After that, the authors touch on turboprops (King Air) and jets (737), but not in as much depth. I think you'd get as much if not more out of a suitable add-on that comes with a decent manual. Speaking of add-ons, some suggested add-on equivalents for the above aircraft would be:
 
A2A Cub (with Accusim)
A2A C172R (comes with Accusim anyway)
A2A Piper Comanche or Realair Lancair Legacy or Carenado Bonanza F33a or Carenado Mooney M20
Realair Beechcraft Duke B60 or Milviz 310 or Just Flight Beechcraft Duchess
Realair Turbine Duke or Digital Aviation Piper Cheyenne or Flight1 King Air
 
I don't actually own the A2A Comanche or the Flight1 King Air, but their reputations are good. Anyway, the default aircraft will also get you to where you want to go, in the learning sense.
 
Regarding the bigger iron, it becomes more a question of systems complexity. For example, the Quality Wings 757 is a much bigger aircraft than the Majestic Q400, but is much simpler in its systems implementation (Quality Wings that is, not the real 757) and would probably be easier to tackle first. Simpler, by the way, does not mean that it isn't light years ahead of the default FSX big iron in complexity terms.
 
My problem with following a training regime is that I have an unfortunate habit of picking up other aircraft that take my fancy or are on special offer, that end up sitting in my hangar or that I never fly a proper flight in instead I just load a flight, change aircraft, mess about in it, chage to another one fly a bit more, rinse and repeat until FSX gets fed up with it and crashes. I think the problem is when you're following a training path and you're in the Mooney, that Airbus/737/MD80 seems awfully far away. My solution is a new project for the new year: one properly planned flight from gate to gate in every aircraft in my hangar, and have fun doing it (even it it means pausing regularly to look stuff up in the manual), in between the more serious learning flights. This should satisfy the prime directive.
 
Regarding business jets, I only have the Extreme Prototypes Learjet 24 series. It's nice and easy on frames but the panel layout is a bit weird and early 70s, and there's no FMC or autothrottle. That said, it's not a bad starting point, and it is fast. The only other business jet I've ever enjoyed flying was the Dassault Falcon 50 , which is freeware. In terms of the VC, it's even more basic than the default FSX Learjet, but its a great performer, gives superb frame rates and is great fun to fly.
 
Hope some of this helps and apologies if I've rambled a bit...

 

I didn't forget about this reply or ignore it. I just explored the response in some depth before responding (now). It took this long for me to really appreciate the depth and concepts in it.

 

This is all but exactly the type of response I was looking for from the perspective of me actually following such a skills acquisition/training program (as opposed to answering Dad's questions), especially your inclusive list of specific aircraft currently available for FSX/simming. IF only I had the money to buy and learn each and every one of them! As you state, time is also an issue as far as actually becoming competent with each of them but, being retired, it's not a huge issue except for the "I want to fly X right NOW" thought you also mention!).

 

So, I've reached the point where I have to decide whether or not I'm going to try to (re-)acquire lost skills and knowledge in such a systematic way. I'm leaning towards doing so though I'm going to try not to be anal about it. Before my head injury, I knew so much more than I am currently confident about and having to re-learn things has its own issues, but I feel I need to start over.

 

Right now, I'm trying to decide where I can or should use default/excellent freeware aircraft and where I should use payware aircraft to acquire/practice certain skills (money is always a consideration but I'm willing to pay for benefits that are worth the costs). I readily accept that the  payware packages you mention are excellent, but I don't know what, if any, freeware aircraft come near any of these in terms of the quality of their flight dynamics (which is more important to me than unbelievably detailed visuals like dirt smudges on aircraft panels and other interior surfaces).

 

For instance, how much real difference in skill acquisition or knowledge-to-be-gained is there between the default Baron and a payware version? Visuals aside... if I haven't flown a Baron in real life, will I be able to tell the difference between the default and any payware version of the aircraft? What would or should I be looking for here?

 

Any opinions on that?

 

Note: I do appreciate the "just jump in an aircraft, any aircraft, and fly/enjoy yourself" approach. I really do. It's what I used to do a lot! But I've become much more systematic about things since I found myself with "memory holes" and critical thinking problems I didn't have before I got whacked in the head a while back. Shrug. S*** happens and you move on, albeit in my case, slowly, sometimes very slowly.

 

Also, for what it's worth, one of "you've really returned to Flight Simming" goals is an around the world flight in a GA prop aircraft using quasi-VFR flight rules like I did a decade ago back in FS2004 (60+legs  flown over a period of 4 months real time). But things have definitely changed technology-wise - VOR/ADF/dead reckoning navigation skills have been supplanted by GPS navigation even during VFR operations, it seems. In a way, that may lessen some of the fun of "touring by air in a sim". Not having any GPS skills and having "lost" my old school air nav knowledge and skills, I'm not so sure if this is true or not.

 

Thanks for any response.

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For instance, how much real difference in skill acquisition or knowledge-to-be-gained is there between the default Baron and a payware version? Visuals aside... if I haven't flown a Baron in real life, will I be able to tell the difference between the default and any payware version of the aircraft?

 

I really wish you wouldn't ask questions like that. It makes me think about the far-too-many add-on aircraft I've bought... In truth, I think the answer to that question is "very little difference at all". Actually I quite like the default Baron, and the default C172, I just find them a bit "twitchy" to fly. And although I do like nicer interiors, the C172, Cub and Baron are certainly adequate in that regard. Ditto the Beaver, Goose and DC3. On the other hand the Mooney and King Air hurt my eyes with their general awfulness, but you might think differently. So if you feel like training yourself up with the default aircraft, I certainly wouldn't advise you not to.

 

I'm not an expert on freeware, so you'll need to do some research here. Some names to look out for, would be:

  • Premier Aircraft Design (I've only flown their Twin Otter, which isn't bad at all)
  • Milton Shupe (Dash-7 & others)
  • Tim Conrad aka Piglet (very nice Pilatus PC-6, and others)
  • http://www.antsairplanes.com/ (nice freeware Tiger Moth)
  • Manfred Jahn (C47, C117 and Basler BT-67 - get these, definitely)

Here's a very nice freeware King Air 300 http://simviation.com/1/search?submit=1&keywords=AFG_B300_v10.zip&categoryId=&filename=Y

 

There are some real gems out there in the freeware world, some could easily be payware (which kind of balances out the payware that should really be freeware, ha ha).

 

Hope this helps...all just my own opinion, worth what you paid for it. Hopefully others will chime in with some thoughts too.

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If you're looking to follow a more realistic training/career path then I've recommend the approach taken here (http://eu.wiley.com/...0764588222.html)  using default aircraft:
Just received my copy of this today (lucked out and got it for $3.50 + shipping!) and it definitely goes along with your above reply. Thanks for the reference.

 

Lots of good stuff and very detailed (as one might expect at over 700 pages.

 

Going to stick my head back in the book now...

 

Thanks

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For instance, how much real difference in skill acquisition or knowledge-to-be-gained is there between the default Baron and a payware version? Visuals aside... if I haven't flown a Baron in real life, will I be able to tell the difference between the default and any payware version of the aircraft? What would or should I be looking for here?

 

 

in my opinion one of the biggest difference between default and payware is the engines. in the default 172 if you are puttering around you can basically set the throttle to whatever power you want and not think about it. in the A2A you can actually hear and feel the effects of setting your extra engine controls ... can change from aircraft to aircraft but things such as mixture and prop pitch, condition levers, turbo levers etc, it varies somewhat widely by type.

 

it is noticeable especially with turboprops, if you are paying attention to running the engines 'by the book' you'll discover that default fsx has some issues with the way ITT, torgue, etc are modeled. some (not all) payware planes have code to bypass those limitations and simulate things more accurately. ...a2a stuff,the f1 king air, aerosoft twotter, i think the realair beech, there's many others.  here is a thread with some details.. http://www.avsim.com/topic/476624-fsx-turboprop-itt-comparison/

 

to answer your question above, i think if you would notice or not depends how much that technical aspect interests you. i think a lot of simmers view that stuff as a headache and a lot of them enjoy it. i flew a long time on some of those default planes before i really started wondering what some of those temperatures and rpms should really be set at, and just kind of fell deeper down the well as time went on.

 

cheers

-andy crosby

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Thanks Andy. That particular thread is a bit over my head technically right now. (I don't know what ITT stands for, for instance). But I think I get your point.

 

I "flew" combat flight sims like most "real amateurs" before, just yanking and banking in a "seat of the pants" manner years ago. I kinda see that as "game mode" flying now. Nothing against that, it's fun. But I'm looking to move away from or past that now, but not so much that "the thrill" is gone. I don't want to have my head so far in the gauges that I miss the world as it passes by outside. I like the FSX visuals.

 

So I'm looking for a balance between understanding/book knowledge, acquiring "proper" flight skills and following quasi-real world procedures. 

 

The problem might be stated as, "it's easy until you really know why what you're doing causes the results you get" . Hopefully that makes some sense despite sounding a but pompous to me as I type it.

 

But without real world sensory feedback, does having book knowledge, watching gauges and following "proper" procedures actually translate into noticeable, consistent simulated real-world differences between aircraft models or even individual same model aircraft? I guess the latter part is noticeable via simulated failures

 

Maybe I'm over-thinking this. I tend to do that a bit.

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I think you are overthinking this and trying to get a "recipe" for what should be something natural...

The answer is really simple and should come from what it is you like and want to do, as a personal feeling, like etc!

like someon else said, do you love and dream of flying airliners? Ok, work towards that... in real life, that will mean if you start from scratch you will have to go through all the steps/plane types, licenses,experience,etc until you're able/allowed to get to the airliner level. 

If you just like to fly/get in the air period, maybe just a small single engine and just vfr will be enough for you. 

Again, to me it all depends on what you like and desire. Not to follow steps "just because". 

In the sim it's a bit different because while of course it would be good to learn the while progression like IRL, nobody is stoppping you from jumping directly into an airliner if you wanted to, and in fact lots of people do from what I have read..

Now regarding quality of add-ons, yeah, that is a valid question and you will have lots of differences and also lots of opinions from people that like add-on "x" and people that don't, with some general "agreed on" ones where nobody questions their quality like PMDG, A2A, etc  

 

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You wouldn't try to build a cathedral before you'd learned how to build a simple house. Same with learning to fly aeroplanes.

An ab initio trainer should ideally be simple, the simpler it is the better, since it is only really intended to teach basic stick and rudder skills. But those fundamental stick and rudder skills are the foundation upon which you learn to 'build your cathedral'. We have seen how critical this is in recent years, especially with pilots who fly mostly with automation; when things go wrong and they have to take control manually, if those basic skills are lacking, then there is trouble ahead.

The most notable recent example of that was with Air France Flight 447, where I still find it hard to believe that the pilot in the right seat had the stick pulled back to the stop the entire time whilst the aircraft plummeted from 38,000 feet down to the deck, to eventually crash into the ocean. During that fall, the stall audio warning sounded a total of 75 times, but that guy kept the stick all the way back, whilst repeatedly saying 'what is happening?'. Whoever taught that guy to fly should be shot, and whoever designed the Airbus sidestick controllers to not be linked together mechanically should also be shot, because if they had been, the pilot in the left seat would have known what that guy in the right seat was doing, because he'd have seen and felt his own sidestick back at the rear stop. If you listen to the CVR of that aircraft, you can hear the guy at more or less the last second say 'I don't understand what is happening, I've had the stick back the whole time'. It's only at that point that the other pilots on the flight deck realise he has done that, and they try to take over, but by then it is too late, and that's when the guy in the left seat says 'we're going to crash, I can't believe this is happening'. And I can't believe it either that a guy up at the front of an A330 was so lacking in fundamental stick and rudder skills.

Back with ab intio training however, the less gizmos there are on the panel, the more time you will spend looking out of the windows, which is critical when flying in a busy training environment, but beyond simply the number of instruments, it is worth noting that traditional dials do help with that learning process, as opposed to more modern digital numeric readouts. A good example of that would be the traditional clock-type airspeed indicator, not least because everyone can understand how the needle being around a dial further, is going to mean you are going faster: If the needle is at say, 5 O'Clock when you are at a decent speed at which to make a turn, you can still see it reading 5 O'Clock in your peripheral vision whilst looking elsewhere, i.e. at the rate of turn indicator slip ball, or even when looking out of the window. This isn't true of a digital number readout, where you actually have to focus directly on that instrument, then look at the numbers displayed, and read the number off. That is a way slower method than simply memorising three or four clock positions of the needle for various phases of flight, such as climb speed, approach speed, safe turning speed etc. So it's probably better to learn to fly on a simple Cessna 150 with steam dials, than it is to learn on something with a combined digital PFD. Of course a HUD solves the issue of keeping a lookout when also having to read digital instruments, but good luck finding a ton of flying schools which have ab intio trainers equipped with a HUD lol.

Another thing which is useful in a primary flight trainer, is some aerobatic ability in terms of airframe stress loads it can take, i.e. something which you can spin safely, and something which can take a hard landing, for obvious reasons. Learning to do stall and spin recoveries is a vital part of being a decent pilot, since to actually get into those spins and stalls, you learn what will make that happen, what you feel when approaching the stall, such as elevator buffetting, and you learn how to get the thing out of trouble without panicking. All of that builds confidence in understanding how and why an aeroplane flies, and what will make it stop flying. I still find it unbelievable that many countries do not teach this as part of their PPL syllabus, instead teaching 'spin avoidance', where you never actually get to do a spin recovery, but instead get taught that a spin is some kind of 'bogey man' which you should never approach. That level of knowledge is gonna be about as much use as a chocolate teapot if you ever actually do get your aeroplane into a spin and don't know how to get it out of one. Besides which, spinning aeroplanes is great fun. This has a bearing on choices in a flight sim too, since a good many FS aeroplanes will not do a convincing spin and you are far more likely to find a payware add-on aeroplane getting that right.

A good IFR training aircraft could be something as simple as that Cessna you learned the basics on, providing it has a pair of nav radios and the attendant instruments with which to make use of radio navigation. But if you are flying with either a hood on/foggles or whatever, then it helps if the aircraft is one which is stable, since you don't want to be having to concentrate on just keeping the thing level when your mind should be on what the instruments are telling you. The default FSX Mooney is great for that incidentally. Try taking off and then flying a circuit and lining up for an approach with no window view displaying in the sim.

Similarly, a twin suitable for training should be one which is not terribly hard to control when an engine is out, since you do need to learn about asymmetric thrust, turning toward or away from the live engine etc, but without that being too hard to practice. Thus something with a decent power to weight ratio, so that it can actually fly on one engine without having to firewall the throttle on the good engine in order to keep it in the air, and preferably with as short a wingspan as possible too, so that you are not having to deal with a lot of adverse yaw from the ailerons when you need to be concentrating on coutering yaw from the engine.

After that, with all the fundamental skills in your pocket, it's not really that important what more complex aircraft you learn to fly on to build on the good foundation you have, so long as you study its pilot operating manual, however, one thing which does surprise people with fancier stuff when they've been used to little Cessnas with normally apsirated engines, is when you get into aircraft with a gas turbine engine (either prop or pure jet). One has to be aware that such engines don't react as quickly to throttle changes as internal combustion engines of the kind found on your Cessna 150. You don't want to be finding that out when you're dropping below the glideslope on finals and learn to your dismay that ramming the throttle forward doesn't instantly make that gas turbine hit the redline and pull you out of trouble!

 

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Maybe it's my age, but whilst digital displays certainly have their place and rightly so, given the amount of info usually displayed on them, the analogue or "steam" gauge has the advantage in that you can pick up from your peripheral vision if something's not quite right, as Chock said: You get used to where the needle should be pointing, which IMHO is quicker than you having to decipher a numerical readout.

I like cars with analogue dashboards too for this very reason.

Now, electronic, digital displays of analogue needles and dials - SWEET! 

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