tom_potts

Overwhelmed but learning

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New X-Plane 11 user and I am trying to get the most out of the simulator as possible. My goal is to get my private pilot certificate and I want to learn all I can before starting actual flight school. I am currently reading all the ASA ground school material and I was told by a flight instructor that a flight simulator can be a valuable tool to use in addition to a ground school syllabus. My intent is to have as much knowledge as possible when I start flight school classes and keep my training hours not to a minimum but lower than the average 65-70 hours of flight hours. At about $135 and hour + fuel it can get pricey quick.

I will read and search the forums before posting the same question I am sure has been asked a hundred times before and thanks for letting me join. If anyone has any advice, direction, comments, please post away.

Thanks, Tom in Louisville, KY

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Welcome to the AVSIM forums, Tom :happy:  We have a great X-plane forum with plenty of folks to offer advice and answers to questions.

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Also post away.  We are always getting new members who are learning and the questions might have been answered some time ago but tech is always changing and what happened say, 5 years ago might not be the right answer today. 

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Try not to learn any bad habits in flight simulation that you will have to unlearn in flight school.

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Tom,

I have found that one of the major differences between the typical simulation flying and actual in-the-cockpit flying is the lack feel or the aircraft and of ones ability to turn ones head to judge the altitude and relationship to a touch down point on a runway while the the pattern, down wind, turning to the base leg and then to final.  Straight in approaches are relatively easy but approaches which require turning become difficult to execute precisely.  In any event, flying smoothly and precisely in a simulation will certainly help in the real world.  Bending a simulated airplane doesn't cost much, but bending a real aircraft came produce real problems.  As they say, "A good landing is when you can walk away from the plane.
A great landing is when you can reuse the plane."

 

Jim Driskell

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I'd be inclined to add that straight and level flight along with coordinated turns are more difficult in the sim than they are in reality. so mastering that in the sim (especially X-Plane I think) will certainly benefit you in real flight. For the reasons that Jim above stated I would be inclined to suggest that you look into VR. I have to say that IMO its as real as it gets at this point. One of the bad habits you might get into in a sim is focusing on whats going on inside the aircraft instead of what's going on outside the aircraft. VR certainly helps with that.

Edited by Avidean

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Get into the habit of looking 'out' at the horizon in your flight sim, rather than concentrating on the instruments (this is probably the thing sim pilots are most guilty of). But don't ignore the instruments completely; try to make it a habit to regularly scan the six main flight instruments every minute or so (Altimeter, Airspeed Indicator, Vertical Speed Indicator, Compass, Attitude Indicator, Turn and Slip Indicator). Keep a good lookout through the window: make it a habit to look left before you turn left and look right before you turn right, you don't actually have to change your flight sim view, just try to form some 'muscle memory' of glancing in the direction you are going to turn just before you do so, this will stand you in good stead for when you start your flying lessons, because you need to look where you are going when the circuit at an airfield - there are other aeroplanes about! This is something which is kind of tricky to do with a flight sim as you tend to rely somewhat more upon what the instruments are showing you in order to compensate for the lack of 'seat of the pants' feel you get when flying a desktop PC simulation, although ironically, it's something you actually do more of when f.lying IFR, so it's not necessarily a totally bad habit to get used to looking at that six pack of instruments, but just bear in mind that the horizon you see outside your window is the one you'll be looking at most when you do your flying lessons, so try to develop a good habit in regards to this and don't stay glued to the instruments.

Here's a great tip for getting stuff 'in your head' when learning things. I did this when I was learning to fly and I thoroughly recommend it: Buy yourself a little notebook and a nice pen, and use it to write your own 'how to fly' book based on what you have read. This helps to ensure you have fully understood what you have read, because if you get 'stuck' and cannot write about a certain technical aspect of things, you will know it's something you need to re-read up on. When I was learning to fly, about two weeks before I was due to start my lessons, I  bought two of the most popular 'learning to fly PPL' books which were available at the time, I read both of them cover to cover a couple of times, then I wrote my own version of the contents of these books in my little notebook. Any time I found I could not clearly write about a certain aspect of flying, I went back to those text books and re-read the relevant part, then, when I was completely clear on that part, I continued writing my own version of it. When I got to actually doing flying lessons, this effort proved incredibly valuable, because I was able to concentrate purely on mastering the physical part of controlling the aeroplane without struggling to take in any of the theory, since I had completely drilled it into myself. I know for sure that it paid off too, because I got sent for my first solo after just 7 hours and 15 minutes of dual instruction. One of the great things about doing this incidentally, is that you can do it whilst away from your computer, on your lunch break for example, or whatever. I actually wrote most of the little book I made for my PPL study whilst riding on the 192 bus to Manchester on my way into work, and yes, I do still have that little notebook, it's kind of a nice reminder!

Here's one to watch out for: Plenty of pilots (myself included) had a tendency to hold the controls in a 'death grip' when learning to fly. It's easy to do: you're so busy concentrating on learning and listening to your instructor, that you won't even realise you're doing it, until it gets to the end of a few flying hours, then your hand/wrist will ache like mad. So watch out for that one and ease up on the controls.

Another good tip: Don't be tempted to over-control the aeroplane (in either your flight sim or in the real thing). It's really easy to imagine you have to correct every single little movement of the thing, but you really don't. The aeroplane wants to fly pretty much the way it is pointing and the fact that it oscillates around its general heading and altitude a little bit can lead one to think you have to try and iron out every single little movement, but if you try to do that, you'll end up all over the sky; just let the thing fly and watch out for any big trends the aeroplane is making; those are the ones you have to correct, not all the tiny little movements.

When it comes to making a good landing, there's a trick to it. Once you know the trick, it is easy to make a good touchdown. Here's that trick: When you are on final approach and you've picked your 'aim point' for touchdown, keep an eye on it, but don't get 'fixated' on it or you will end up flaring too late and land heavy. So, the moment you can make out details of the ground surface of your aim point (for example, if it is a grass strip, this would be the moment you start to discern the details of the grass, rather than it just being a big expanse of green), that's when you look up the field to the horizon and gently start the flare. Keep looking at that horizon and use your peripheral vision to judge your height, then based on this, keep easing that stick back and judging it off the peripheral vision. If you do that, you can pretty much guarantee you'll make a good landing.

Aviate, navigate, communicate: This should always be your order of priority. Don't let anything distract you from flying that aeroplane safely. Some instructors (at least most of the good ones) will play tricks on you. I had one once who used to sneakily unlatch the spoilers and take evil pleasure in watching me wondering why I was losing altitude and losing airspeed. He'd leave me puzzled just long enough to drill into me that I should be checking all the possibilities, so it did teach me to look around the cockpit and check things properly from time to time! When you're sure you're flying the thing properly, then you can worry about where you're going, and after that, you can worry about the radio, and with that last point in mind...

Consider getting hold of one of the voice control add-ons where you can talk to ATC using a headset with a boom microphone on your PC (personally, I'd recommend giving Multi-Crew Experience a try, since it has a free demo, but be aware that it probably works a bit better in FSX and P3D than it does in XPlane, however, it won't cost you anything to try it, so give it a shot). Getting used to talking to ATC is something which will come in handy for when you start your flying lessons. Some people can be a bit 'mike shy' when they start flying lessons, but there really is no need to be, and if you've had a bit of practice at it on your PC, you'll probably find yourself being a bit less apprehensive about the prospect of having to do it whilst also learning how to fly an aeroplane.

So in short, anything you can do to make yourself more at ease with the situation will be a good thing for when you find yourself sat at the controls of the real thing. It's actually pretty easy to fly an aeroplane, but the prospect of it can make you nervous. Flying lessons can be expensive, and so anything which puts you at ease and gets you 'in the zone' quicker will actually end up saving you money.

Above all, enjoy it, and welcome to Avsim. 🙂

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22 minutes ago, AccusedChip said:

If you can get an oculus.

I agree but I would be inclined to say get a Samsung Odyssey+

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