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WestPatriot

Can anyone land the plane?

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So the flight attended comes to the cabin and asks if anyone is a pilot. You, the simmer, complete with a Logitech 3D Pro, takes up the responsibility of getting the bird on the ground. Do you think you could do it?

When I started my flight training I thought the obvious answer was yes, and it seems a lot of other simmers think so to. While undoubtedly many of you could, here are some of the things that might surprise you.

1. Force Feedback. Many simmers can't afford force feedback equipment, so many of you might be surprised at some of the forces you might feel while flying. Using a joystick gives you extreme amounts of authority with the controls. This could be disastrous in real life if you don't consider some of the forces required for rudder to maintain centerline, or judging the right flare. Because of these forces, trim is very important in real life. When I started my training, I didn't think about the trim wheel often, and I would work harder than I had to. This is something to consider.

2. Workload. In real life, in an emergency situation, focusing becomes much more difficult. Especially considering, both pilots are likely incompacitated when you take up the mantle, the configuration might not be something you are used to in the sim. In real life, skipping checklists and cutting corners, can cost everyone their lives, especially in an emergency. Taking the controls of an airplane for the first time is also a challenge if you have never done it before. Seemingly for me, it felt like so many things were happening at once. Working the radio, dealing with the emergency, trying to understand how the airplane flies, knowing where you are and where to go, will all present major challenges for some sim pilots. 

3. IFR. I know I am guilty of this, but when I started simming, I jumped right into IFR. IFR is much more difficult in real life as obstacles, illusions, and navigation are much more difficult. It is necessary to properly configure the airplane, while running checklists, navigating, and maintaining positive control of the airplane. In many cases, if a certain system fails, you might not have some of the luxuries autopilot affords. Over-speeding can have disastrous effects on parts of the airframe and guidance capture. This is something many simmers ignore, or do not pay attention to. If you want to experience a true workload, turn off the autopilot on pilotedge and try simulating various emergencies such as an engine failure. It might be eye-opening to you. 

I know there is more things I could talk about, but what do you guys think? Do you think you could land an airliner having never flown in real life before? As a pilot, I am not 100% sure I would be completely successful. Let me know your thoughts!

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I, too, arrogantly thought I'd be able to land a real-world flight (although more in ideal weather conditions - crosswinds? Probably not). Especially with the fact that in the real-world cockpit you have peripheral vision working for you so I thought, hey - it may be possible.But I would certainly jump at the chance to find out that it isn't as easy as it would seem.

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Even if you were able to manage all systems in a controlled fashion, the realization that "this time" there actually are 180 passengers behind you -- depending upon you -- would add a whole new level of stress to the task.

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I believe with proper coaching from ATC a civil pilot might possibly be able to pull off such a landing on an airliner if a flight attendant were available to help with some of the cockpit workload.  When we have civil GA jets nowadays that are one pilot certified, it may be possible.  The flight physics and basics are still there "lift/thrust/drag"...  The hard part would be getting a feel for the aircraft, since it might be perceived to have a control input lag or lumbering feeling as compared to a general aviation piston aircraft.  There is a good old book, Runway Zero-Eight, about a WWII fighter pilot taking over an aircraft some ten years after his flying experience when the pilots fell ill.

There was recently a documentary about a man in Britain with zero flying experience having to land a Cessna when his pilot friend passed out during the flight and died (he did not know his friend was dead until he landed).  He told ATC he knew enough to keep the aircraft in level and stable flight by taking the controls after his friend passed out and working the throttle.  He had to make many attempts at landing the aircraft, and was escorted by helicopters helping give him visual cues because on top of everything else, night had fallen.  But British ATC got him down and it was probably the closest example of someone with no flying experience landing a plane safely.  The man rolled off the runway into the grass but was otherwise OK.

John

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How would you feel? You're on a camping trip with say a dozen or so buddies. You become terribly ill with a stabbing pain in your gut. Appears to be appendicitis. Your guide call's out and asks if anybody here is a doctor . Ole Joe Blow the rag man steps forward with his Swiss Army Knife and says "I can handle this! I've been playing the Microsoft Surgeon 3D game every weekend for years!"

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23 minutes ago, PATCO LCH said:

How would you feel? You're on a camping trip with say a dozen or so buddies. You become terribly ill with a stabbing pain in your gut. Appears to be appendicitis. Your guide call's out and asks if anybody here is a doctor . Ole Joe Blow the rag man steps forward with his Swiss Army Knife and says "I can handle this! I've been playing the Microsoft Surgeon 3D game every weekend for years!"

Man oh Man, I hope my cancer surgeon hasn't been trained this way (I will let you know in a month :huh:)

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1 hour ago, Bob Marton said:

Man oh Man, I hope my cancer surgeon hasn't been trained this way (I will let you know in a month :huh:)

Robert,

I'm sure you're in excellent hands! 

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3 hours ago, Cactus521 said:

I believe with proper coaching from ATC a civil pilot might possibly be able to pull off such a landing on an airliner if a flight attendant were available to help with some of the cockpit workload.  When we have civil GA jets nowadays that are one pilot certified, it may be possible.  The flight physics and basics are still there "lift/thrust/drag"...  The hard part would be getting a feel for the aircraft, since it might be perceived to have a control input lag or lumbering feeling as compared to a general aviation piston aircraft.  There is a good old book, Runway Zero-Eight, about a WWII fighter pilot taking over an aircraft some ten years after his flying experience when the pilots fell ill.

There was recently a documentary about a man in Britain with zero flying experience having to land a Cessna when his pilot friend passed out during the flight and died (he did not know his friend was dead until he landed).  He told ATC he knew enough to keep the aircraft in level and stable flight by taking the controls after his friend passed out and working the throttle.  He had to make many attempts at landing the aircraft, and was escorted by helicopters helping give him visual cues because on top of everything else, night had fallen.  But British ATC got him down and it was probably the closest example of someone with no flying experience landing a plane safely.  The man rolled off the runway into the grass but was otherwise OK.

John

With all due respect....how much of a help do you really think a flight attendant can be. They are in no way trained to do ANYTHING up front. They would be a huge hindrance instead of any help whatsoever.

I have to disagree with you on every point you have made. Respectfully of course.

Flying a transport category airplane is much much different than a Cessna. Lift/thrust/drag......yeah you're right, it's all there....however, it's all happening so much faster with an airplane that feels so much more heavier. They also react much differently too.

I dont thi k anyone could really land an airliner with their only experience being flightsim.

They definitely could get into a level d simulator and under near to perfect conditions land the sim....

Even a cessna...they would most likely seriously impress the instructor. 

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7 hours ago, WestPatriot said:

So the flight attended comes to the cabin and asks if anyone is a pilot. You, the simmer, complete with a Logitech 3D Pro, takes up the responsibility of getting the bird on the ground. Do you think you could do it?

Let me know your thoughts!

Do you know how many times this question has been posted on Avsim? About as often as some one asks “What’s the best AI package?”

The same conclusion is drawn every time. 

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35 minutes ago, ahsmatt7 said:

With all due respect....how much of a help do you really think a flight attendant can be. They are in no way trained to do ANYTHING up front. They would be a huge hindrance instead of any help whatsoever.

I have to disagree with you on every point you have made. Respectfully of course.

Flying a transport category airplane is much much different than a Cessna. Lift/thrust/drag......yeah you're right, it's all there....however, it's all happening so much faster with an airplane that feels so much more heavier. They also react much differently too.

I dont thi k anyone could really land an airliner with their only experience being flightsim.

They definitely could get into a level d simulator and under near to perfect conditions land the sim....

Even a cessna...they would most likely seriously impress the instructor. 

I did not think flightsim helped me get the feel of a plane when I first started my Light Sport flight lessons out of Falcon Field in Mesa in 2006.  My CFI did not expect it would. But my sim knowledge gave him the trust to let me handle the aircraft right away, from takeoff to touchdown.  As it so happened the CFI, a man named Jason Bullard, was an MSFS fan and user, and he had faith in the ability of the sim to get a new student comfortable with situational awareness in a cockpit.  His main complaint with those of us who came from simming was not in the way we handled the aircraft, but our focus on instruments and not surveying outside enough.  He would admonish me for that "LOOK OUTSIDE QUIT LOOKING AT THOSE INSTRUMENTS!".  He said he could teach anyone to fly a plane well very quickly, but it takes longer to become a pilot with the hindsight and experience and situational awareness that pilots embrace. 

I was surprised when I took my first flight lesson at how jumpy the air was.  Almost all the sim aircraft I had flown were closer to flying on rails than the way the air treats aircraft in real life.  I had to go back to MSFS and tweak the weather settings to simulate better the way one has to handle an aircraft in the normal chop that the atmosphere has.  Of course I also live in Phoenix, I need to qualify my remarks by saying I have flown my friend's aircraft back east in more stable air, and the feeling was more akin to the simulators I knew.

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35 minutes ago, cmpbellsjc said:

Do you know how many times this question has been posted on Avsim? About as often as some one asks “What’s the best AI package?”

The same conclusion is drawn every time. 

lol, whats the best AI packagegiphy.gif

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I honestly don't know. I do know that a few years back I was lucky enough to get a shot at a 737-700 Level-D at the Southwest training center and I was able to get off the ground at LAX, circle over the San Fernando valley, and land it back at LAX with no assistance.  But, (there is always one of those) I have no idea what would happen in RL when the pressure was on. Given some ATC input on an ILS approach... maybe. Left to my own devices...probably a slim chance.........Doug

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I've thought about this sort of thing a fair bit both in my day job and my hobbies.  As I progress in my career and get more confident in my abilities, I try to keep a fair but critical assessment of my actual skills in mind to keep from getting what I've heard referred to as "Engineer's Disease" -- I excel in this one very specialized area, so I must be good at other things, too!

I'm not licensed, but I've Actually Flown a 172 a few times with a CFI on board to keep us alive.   Even that small jump from FS is a very different experience when it's "real", but I didn't feel like I was too far out of my depth until it was time to manage the pattern and landing -- instructor took over for those.

(FWIW, the first time I did this, the CFI was surprised that I'd never actually been at the yoke of a real plane before, said I was one of the best first-timers he'd ever seen.)

With that experience in mind, and trying to look at my own skills critically, if the problem were simply a pliot INOP, rather than bits of the bird INOP, and the weather weren't hostile, I think I could take a small prop craft down to 100'.   If I had an unlimited number of go-arounds I could probably get it down safely, although possibly only in the "any landing you can walk away from is a good one" sense -- I would make no promises about the plane ever getting off the ground again.

For a full-size jet?  I've never flown one at all, and I would make many fewer promises.   *If* it were a model I were familiar with from a sim, and *if* I had functional ILS, and *if* I had an engineer on the ground to help me figure out the V speeds and talk me down... maybe I'd be able to get it on the ground with out hurting too many people, but I'd be scared poop-less the whole time.   I wouldn't put much money on it being an experience everyone could walk away from in good health.  I'd still try it if no one else were more qualified, but I'd want people to be ready for their own personal end.

That's my best attempt at an honest assessment of myself, anyway.

 

Edited by kaosfere
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On 25 March 2018 at 4:02 AM, cmpbellsjc said:

Do you know how many times this question has been posted on Avsim? About as often as some one asks “What’s the best AI package?”

The same conclusion is drawn every time. 

Well, with respect, it's a question that's going to be asked a lot - ON A FLIGHT SIMULATOR FORUM!

To the OP - why not give a Level D sim of your favourite airliner a go. Sim instructors are a clever bunch so tell him what you're trying to do and what hours you have in FSX/P3D and ask him to dial in a little weather, etc. Tell him not to give you any surprises (Eng out, fuel, fire, etc) as that's unfair. Pilots generally report the sim to be a little tougher to fly than the real thing.

 

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On 3/26/2018 at 12:05 PM, W2DR said:

I honestly don't know. I do know that a few years back I was lucky enough to get a shot at a 737-700 Level-D at the Southwest training center and I was able to get off the ground at LAX, circle over the San Fernando valley, and land it back at LAX with no assistance.  But, (there is always one of those) I have no idea what would happen in RL when the pressure was on. Given some ATC input on an ILS approach... maybe. Left to my own devices...probably a slim chance.........Doug

Some people, especially those with flight experience carrying a passenger like a CFI, which I have, can somewhat tune out the pressure.  One must remember that a pilot of a GA aircraft or an experienced sim pilot would have his or her life on the line in addition to the other passengers.  Plus the "hero" factor can kick in and add extra and needed adrenaline to get the job done.  The situation would also depend on where ATC directed you to land.  If there were crosswinds present things would be greatly complicated as I learned taking flight lessons, crosswinds cause challenges especially if their direction is variable, vs. a steady crosswind.  I was taught not to "dance on the rudder pedals" but to tread lightly due to stresses on the airframe and/or causing excessive drag on the airframe causing the descent rate to increase and causing a possible missing of the runway threshold.  I was taught to come in with as little throttle as possible in case of a last minute engine malfunction which would be a risk decreased in a multiengine jet aircraft.  Quite often coming into final on commercial I could hear the pilot jockeying the throttle sometimes causing us to land well down the runway.  But with modern brakes and reverse thrust on an airliner things still come to a stop.  My inbound 747-400 flight from London last summer, on a 110 degree day, had no problem landing despite the high density altitude in Phoenix that day.  However had it been full of fuel the story would have been different.

John

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8 hours ago, ganter said:

Well, with respect, it's a question that's going to be asked a lot - ON A FLIGHT SIMULATOR FORUM!

That’s kind of the point I was trying to make. Why keep asking and discussing the same topic over and over, when there is no hard fact resolution. It’s a situation that most likely will never arise (hopefully) and there is no way to give a concrete answer. Some say yes its possible and some say no, but given the variables involved there isn’t really any way to come to a factual conclusion. 

I might be able to pull it off because I have real world PIC time/experience and tons of sim time in multiple airliner types, but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be put in the position to try with passengers on board. 

Having said that, if the situation were to arise, I’d at least want a simmer or PPL up front who might at least have a chance to be talked down rather than some average Joe who hasn’t flown anything be it real or in a sim.

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6 hours ago, cmpbellsjc said:

That’s kind of the point I was trying to make. Why keep asking and discussing the same topic over and over, when there is no hard fact resolution. It’s a situation that most likely will never arise (hopefully) and there is no way to give a concrete answer. Some say yes its possible and some say no, but given the variables involved there isn’t really any way to come to a factual conclusion. 

I might be able to pull it off because I have real world PIC time/experience and tons of sim time in multiple airliner types, but I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be put in the position to try with passengers on board. 

Having said that, if the situation were to arise, I’d at least want a simmer or PPL up front who might at least have a chance to be talked down rather than some average Joe who hasn’t flown anything be it real or in a sim.

Agreed. But it is a different set of people discussing each time it comes up.

The first time I flew RW (Piper Warrior II) I was immediately side swiped by the fact that I was the one moving and the world was stationary. This is the polar opposite of the sim - where the screen image is racing towards you and you're stationary! It felt very strange but it soon passed. 

With big metal - I don't know. I have, like a you a few hundred hours (simulated) on  the 737 NGX, A320x and T7.

If I had a choice I'd opt for the scenario to occur on the 737. I have the most hours of my airliner hours on that and I want that yoke in my hands instead of that silly side stick nonsense.

I think if this DID happen to any of us - we wouldn't have time to think about whether we could do it or not.  By the time the pilots are out the picture, the FA has screamed "Can anyone fly an aeroplane?", etc, etc.  the option to have a think about things has long expired and the hand would have go up.

I think most of us here would have a bl**dy good go at getting the crate back on the ground in one piece. I'd be telling myself constantly..."slow down...just fly it like it's in the sim..."

This is why I try and encourage the children of the magenta line here to learn to hand fly the big iron...because you never know ;-)

 

Edited by ganter
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9 hours ago, ganter said:

Agreed. But it is a different set of people discussing each time it comes up.

The first time I flew RW (Piper Warrior II) I was immediately side swiped by the fact that I was the one moving and the world was stationary. This is the polar opposite of the sim - where the screen image is racing towards you and you're stationary! It felt very strange but it soon passed. 

With big metal - I don't know. I have, like a you a few hundred hours (simulated) on  the 737 NGX, A320x and T7.

If I had a choice I'd opt for the scenario to occur on the 737. I have the most hours of my airliner hours on that and I want that yoke in my hands instead of that silly side stick nonsense.

I think if this DID happen to any of us - we wouldn't have time to think about whether we could do it or not.  By the time the pilots are out the picture, the FA has screamed "Can anyone fly an aeroplane?", etc, etc.  the option to have a think about things has long expired and the hand would have go up.

I think most of us here would have a bl**dy good go at getting the crate back on the ground in one piece. I'd be telling myself constantly..."slow down...just fly it like it's in the sim..."

This is why I try and encourage the children of the magenta line here to learn to hand fly the big iron...because you never know ;-)

 

The one thing about simming vs real life flying is that from a control stand point, hand flying an aircraft is easier in real life than in the sim. I haven’t hand flown a real airliner but would image it’s easier to hand fly in real life than it is in the sim as well. It would just be a big difference in control feel and actually sitting in a cockpit rather than mouse clicking switches.

When I was about 30 hours into my PPL training my flight instructor was rooming with an F-4 pilot in the Wild Weasel Squadron based out of George AFB. She called me one day and said she could get us 2 hours of sim time in the F-4 and wanted to know if I wanted to go fly it. Long story short, it was so much different from the desk top sim that it took a little time to get used to, namely the feel of the real controls. Funny enough, I was able to successfully fly the pattern and land 8 times successfully while my flight instructor crashed 3 of her 8 attempts, lol.

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14 minutes ago, cmpbellsjc said:

The one thing about simming vs real life flying is that from a control stand point, hand flying an aircraft is easier in real life than in the sim. I haven’t hand flown a real airliner but would image it’s easier to hand fly in real life than it is in the sim as well. It would just be a big difference in control feel and actually sitting in a cockpit rather than mouse clicking switches.

When I was about 30 hours into my PPL training my flight instructor was rooming with an F-4 pilot in the Wild Weasel Squadron based out of George AFB. She called me one day and said she could get us 2 hours of sim time in the F-4 and wanted to know if I wanted to go fly it. Long story short, it was so much different from the desk top sim that it took a little time to get used to, namely the feel of the real controls. Funny enough, I was able to successfully fly the pattern and land 8 times successfully while my flight instructor crashed 3 of her 8 attempts, lol.

Certainly, I agree. I use the Justflight Warrior to run pattern work and checklist reminders a day or so before my rw lesson. I find the real thing easier (and nicer!) to fly, trimming correctly is, as you will know immensely satisfying when the aircraft plops into correct trim.

Your F-4 story reminds me of when I got the SSW Harrier AV-8B and the following rw lesson whilst on final I quietly remarked to my instructor (who is used to me); "Flaps VTOL, Nozzles to 70 degrees"

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A very interesting topic indeed! Quite a few videos on the interwebz of folks attempting just what we're discussing. If I may I'd love to share my little story for those so curious. Not sure if it help answer the question or if it even contributes, but what else are forums good for if not for the flow of information.

I started flying virtually when I was 15. A google expert and a great question asker. Thought I knew everything. I was far from it as I later learned in my training. That said, however, the funny thing was that at the very start of my flight training, because of my flight sim experience, I was able to solo successfully in 1.5 hours of instruction with no previous real world flight experience. I spent 3 days straight prior on the sim with the Just Flight 152 to get as familiar as possible with the real bird. It paid out. I was terrified on the takeoff roll, but once airborne, things (especially those previously simulated) started dialing in. Nothing can prepare you for the real sensation of the physical motion and the control finesse required to manage aerodynamic forces. But I will for ever preach that if you take flight simming with a degree of realism and treat it genuinely like the real thing, you're going to be a lot better off. To end my story, I continued with my flight training and ended up completing my SEL PPL within 40.5 hours. Legal minimum is 40 hours with national average north of 50. Can't say it was all due to my flight sim passion...but a massive chunk of it certainly was.

Later in life I was also able to fly a Level D CRJ and Phenom 100 sim. Granted by this time I had completed my flight training, but I still leveraged flightsim in a way that allowed me to learn and be comfortable with the hardware. So to answer the general question of the topic, I absolutely think that someone who is serious about how they treat flight simulation can manage to wrestle a plane down to the runway for a landing.

Here's a picture of happy me when I first got in to the 152 and was about to taste the first flavors of real flight.

P1010574.jpg~original

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2 hours ago, N2382R said:

I was able to solo successfully in 1.5 hours of instruction with no previous real world flight experience.

I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, but I find it hard to believe that a CFI let you solo after 1.5 hours. That’s virtually unheard of. I don’t know any CFI that would let anyone, regardless of age or knowledge  solo after only 1.5 hours of instruction. The lowest amount of hours I’ve heard anyone solo (in modern days) was around 8 hours minimum.

Frankly I’m not sure how you could demonstrate everything needed for solo flight in only 1.5 hours (stall recovery/recognition, engine out procedures, ATC capacity, basic airmanship, and many other things). Just those things alone require some hours of practice and mastery before taking it up alone.

If this is true, which I’m am very skeptical of, I’m glad your alive to talk about it.

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22 minutes ago, cmpbellsjc said:

I don’t want this to come across the wrong way, but I find it hard to believe that a CFI let you solo after 1.5 hours. That’s virtually unheard of. I don’t know any CFI that would let anyone, regardless of age or knowledge  solo after only 1.5 hours of instruction. The lowest amount of hours I’ve heard anyone solo (in modern days) was around 8 hours minimum.

Frankly I’m not sure how you could demonstrate everything needed for solo flight in only 1.5 hours (stall recovery/recognition, engine out procedures, ATC capacity, basic airmanship, and many other things). Just those things alone require some hours of practice and mastery before taking it up alone.

If this is true, which I’m am very skeptical of, I’m glad your alive to talk about it.

Trust me, you’re as surprised as I was back then. Was still proud as a mofo when I taxied back. Still have the shirt tail to prove it. After what felt like a short flight we did a full stop, he jumped out, and basically told me “okay now do a pattern while I watch”. It was an uncontrolled field so he stayed on CTAF and listened in just in case. 

 

My my only point I was trying to bring out is that my flight sim experience was a key tool in giving me the confidence and apparent wherewithal to do what I did. 

Edited by N2382R

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