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Question for RW Pilots

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I am curious as to whether real world pilots feel that it is easier to fly real airplanes or flight simulator-that is, the acutal process of physically handling the plane. The reason I ask is because I have a hard time maintaining altitude, especially during turns. I took flying lessons some years ago (didn't get my license due to finances at the time) and though I had problems maintaining altitude at first, I overcame that and had no problems. I suspect it is because in FS there is no seat of the pants feel so I find myself using altitude hold on auto pilot more than I would like. I use a CH Flight Sim yoke and can trim ok but I find that have to constantly fight to maintain altitude. Getting back to my student pilot days, I seem to recall that it was easier to control a real plane than one in FS. Any thoughts on this?Jim

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Hi Jim,The actual airplane is much more stable in the pitch axis. I fly FS9 a lot, and also do some recurrent instrument training in an FTD (Fransca unit that is not a motion platform, but costs considerably more than FS9 does :) ). The FTD also has the same lack of stability in the pitch axis, so I'm not sure what that means for all simulators and why it is so.FWIW, however, if you are practicing on FS9, and are able to cope with the above pitch axis issues, then flying the real thing is much easier- especially as an instrument trainer (if you can maintain glideslope in the sim, it's easy in the real plane).In my instrument training, where 50' is a lot of altitude change, I found myself constantly in a climb in turns that would put me somewhere near that magic 50' figure off my assigned altitude, before I realized and corrected (in a standard rate turn). This is because the nose doesn't really drop as quick in a turn as it does in FS, but it's hard to stop correcting for it in the real plane.I think the "seat of the pants" issue is a seperate one. Also a very important one in differentiating between the sim and the real thing.Although it doesn't apply to the turns, you can activate the autopilot in FS (in the 172) and get the trim set correctly once your airspeed is stabilized, then deactivate the AP and it should be easier to manage in straight and level flight. A part of the issue is that it's hard to know where the actual point of trim lies in FS, as there's no forward or back pressure on the yoke as exerted by the elevator.Bruce.


ASEL, Instrument.

KBJC, Colorado.

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Guest beana51

The fundamentals of flight,be it Sim or real world,can best be explained in the ,well my bible, of flight,"STICK AND RUDDER by WOLFGANG LANGEWIESCHE. Chapter 12 in the book called "The Turn" will enlighten you.Since 1944 ,much of the explanation of the art of Flying is clearly explained by him. Good LUCK,HAVE FUN VIN!

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Guest aca_dia

I have not read through "Stick and Rudder" for quite some time, but as I recall there is quite a bit of erroneous aerodynamics in there. I used to have a sheet listing the incorrect info and I will see if I can find it. It certainly is a classic but it is far from a current bible on flight. If you want a readable and more current text on aerodynamics take a look at

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I'd say quite a bit easier in the real world. A real aircraft (talking GA here) is not half as twitchy as it is in flight sim. One point as well is the trim in flight sim is enormously over sensitive. I have no problem in trimming while in the real world but flight sim is another story ;)


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Guest Vilk

would love to hear what's wrong with stick and rudder. seriously, the book helped me form a mental model of flying, which never let me down, either in real life or in the sim (say, sim with a decent flight model file loaded :-)) could you try and find that sheet? much appreciated...as to the main question, honestly, i have never felt either activity was "harder" (neither being "easy"). different reactions to different stimuli--the similarity ends at the level of... exactly, the mental model :-)

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Guest allcott

Definitely RW is easier. For me it's the peripheral vision, the sound (FS will never replicate the natural harmonics of a airframe vibrating at a certain engine rpm), and dare I say it, the smell.The control sensitivity I can solve in the sim to the point where it's not intrusive, but there's still a comparative absence in the feedback loop that desktop devices will never replicate. Stomach meeting throat in sudden downdraft or knee vibrating against the pedestal, that kind of thing.Allcott

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The moderate G 360s mid downwind to increase spacing.. thats always fun :)Tonight is not my night for spelling.


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I haven't flown a RW 172 in years but my memory tells me that the RW aircraft is much easier to handle. Also, while I don't have any RW time in the 737 or Lear I do have some Level-D time in both and, again, find them significantly easier to handle than their FS9 counterparts.Doug


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Guest Adverse Yawn

Are real aircraft easier to fly that sim aircraft? Hmmm. Yes and no. In some ways real a/c are easier to control, especially in pitch. If a truely realistic flight model were developed for FS, then many people would say it has been dumbed down. However, in real life, it doesn't take much to loose control of the most humdrum of a/c as the number of pilot induced oscillations, loss orientation in IMC, runway overruns, stalls on final, bent undercarriage and prop strikes testify on a regular basis.The discipline needed to always dot every I and cross every T before every flight, the concetration required, the knowledge required, need for precise navigation the whole time and nobody to turn to when a doubt starts eat you means that it is hard. As the old saying goes "If everything is going well, you've forgotten something!"At the end of the day, I still get mild butterflies before many flights, not in FS.>>I recall there is quite a bit of erroneous aerodynamics in there.There is nothing wrong with Stick and Rudder. It is essential reading. He clearly states at the begining of the book that he intends to remove all the aerodynamists waffle that, he claims does nothing but confuse pilots. He is right, you ask any group of pilots what happens to a swept wing airfraft in the stall and you will get several replies. Fact is it doesn't matter. What Wolfgang says matters and that is knowing the AoA, if you know that you won't stall, if you don't stall then you stand a chance whatever dire situation you might be in, it is that simple. The section on the glide is pure gold.

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<>For the practical fundamentals of piloting, I don't think anyone has ever done a better job of explaining things than Wolfgang Langwiesche in "Stick and Rudder". Couple his book with a little experience (including sim experience), and the intuitive knowledge of what makes an airplane fly can be acquired fairly efficiently.It's been a long time since I read the book, but aca may be referring to the chapters near the end, where the author goes into the mathematical relationships between Vx and Vy, speeds for maximum endurance vs. maximum distance, etc. I found that information to be interesting, but the real meat of the book is the front end. The real world practical advice contained therein is sound. The "bug on the windscreen" technique for judging landings and the disastrous consequences of cross-controlling during a steep turn are just two examples.At any rate, I too would find aca's errata interesting!

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I have heard that the heavies are more realistic that the GA in FS2004. Has anyone else heard that? Do others think it is true?Thanks,RH

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Guest aca_dia

It has been years since I read it or had the aerodynamics issues pointed out to me (I will add that the errors were illustrated to me by a retired Air Force aerodynamics instructor who specialized in this subject). As I recall though the details in question centered on fundamental aerodynamics and how they apply to flight and not so much the basic piloting concepts. I know I am being very vague, but again it has been a long time since I have looked in the book so I don

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Guest beana51

Hi H.C., Interesting.I wonder if Mach speeds and jets,have different aerodynamic properties. We recall Chuck Yeager,in cracking the sound barrier used a different horizontal stabilizer /elevator,to offset the inability to control at near the speed of sound..I will seek out your book.Hey,ya can always learn! THANX VIN

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