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Gandalf

VFR training

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Hi All

Having used both FSX and P3d almost exclusively for flying ifr in big airliners I thought it time I learnt to fly vfr. Unfortunately I know very little (nothing) about it so was looking for advice on the best set up plane wise, equipment etc for training.

Thanks for any help

Regards

G

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VFR flying puts lots of demand on your scenery and how detailed it is. I found it rather hard to do proper VFR flights with p3d 4.4 (i did not own orbx vector) so many roads, grid lines, were absent.

Now in p3d v5 vector data is updated and flying VFR with the A2A c172/ PA28 Cherokee is a joy. I also recommend checking out Just flights PA28 warrior II.

You will also find that checking the weather in advance is even more crucial than IFR since VFR traffic need to stay clear of cloud ceilings  (ie: BKN and above... anything less is not considered a ceiling), have forward visibility requirements and not fly in icing conditions.  

So if you use active Sky, check the real world SWC charts, collect METARS/TAFs and low level winds and off you go.

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You will be best served by having something which replicates the flight characteristics of a real ab-initio training aeroplane correctly, so that you can concentrate on learning to fly it properly. This is especially important if you've been used to operating big airliners because there is a fundamental difference in the way they are (often) flown.

In classic ab-initio training, you are most often taught: 'pitch to speed, power to altitude', i.e. if you want to speed up, you put the nose down, if you want to slow down, you put the nose up, if you want to climb, you add power, if you want to descend, you decrease power. but in airliners (although not exclusively so) it is often the opposite, with pitch controlling altitude and power controlling speed. This is especially true with an automated ILS approach on an aircraft with no autothrottle, since the autopilot cannot control the throttle, so it will pitch the aircraft to maintain the glideslope and you therefore have to control the speed with power settings.. You can of course do this manually, but it is to a very large extent the fact that many airliners in the past which did not have autothrottles, and so required that method to be used on autolands, which has made this a common way to fly airliners even to this day when most of them do now have autothrottles which can be controlled by the autopilot.

Incidentally, if you want to start an argument in a crew room or the bar of a flying club, bring up this topic lol. Nevertheless, for ab initio training in your flight sim, what you therefore need is a good simulated aeroplane with a decent flight model that will allow you to learn pitch/power properly.

I'd suggest looking at the following, which all have their merits:

Ant's Airplanes: Eaglet LSA, Tecnam Sierra, Drifter Ultralight. All three of these are very good simulations of the real aeroplanes and all three of the real aeroplanes are often used for flight training because they have forgiving flight characteristics, offer good visibility (important in a busy airfield training circuit) and are all fairly cheap to operate, in having either a Rotax 582 or 912 engine. Since they are very light aeroplanes, they are affected by wind and turbulence more by virtue of having less inertia, so they are good choices for learning proper control.

A2A: Commanche, Cherokee, 182, 172, T6: You've got quite a few choices for GA aeroplanes from A2A, but what sets them apart from all the other stuff out there, is their very accurate performance and flight characteristics. This is worth considering, particularly because you're going to be doing a lot of circuits and bumps, and so having an aeroplane which handles properly for take offs and landing as well as planning for forced landings in the event of an engine failure is easier to do with an aeroplane which handles as much like the real thing as is possible in a flight sim. Unlike with your airliner, which you know is going to make it even if it loses an engine, single-engine aeroplanes can and do suffer engine failures, and especially A2A ones if you don't look after them properly since they simulate engine wear and tear (note that the Ant's Airplanes Eaglet LSA also simulates this).

There are some pretty decent Just Flight GA aeroplanes as well which are worth a look, notably their C-152 and their PA-38. If you want something a bit flashier which will also suit for training but can also be used for longer trips, their Trinidad/Tobago add-on is good as well.

So an important thing with VFR flying in GA aeroplanes is to always be aware of where you are, at what height and what the wind direction is, so that if the clockwork conks out, you are prepared for an emergency landing. Personally, in real life when I'm flying stuff, I from time to time as I fly along pick a field I can make it into for this very purpose (Golf Courses are good, I've landed on one of those for real once, which did not make me popular with the person who looks after the ground, especially when a big truck and trailer drove on there to recover the thing lol, but it did mean the aeroplane and myself were okay).

Back with sims, this brings up another thing you might need. Decent scenery. VFR means a lot of navigation by looking out of the window and on training cross country flights, it means finding and navigating to turn points, so if you have decent terrain in your sim, that will help. Similarly, since VFR flying means keeping you head up and off the instruments a lot of the time and looking out of the window, either plenty of preset views out the window  with something like Chase Plane, or Track IR, or VR, will help as well. Personally, I'd recommend setting up a few out the window views and a six pack panel view and then as you fly along repeatedly go through these views as you fly along. This is because that is what you do in real life, so it would engender a good habit.

Also, remember this point (hugely important). In VFR flying, have a good look in the direction you are about to turn BEFORE making the turn, because you do not have the additional safety net of ATC telling you to turn when having observed on their scope that there is nothing in your vicinity. If you ever make a turn for real in a GA aeroplane without looking whilst you are flying with an instructor, be prepared for the biggest bollocking you're ever likely to get!

You might also consider using a twin-engined GA aeroplane as well, in which case I'd recommend either the Alabeo Diamond DA-42, or the Just Flight Beechcraft Model 76 Duchess as both are very forgiving twins that are commonly used for training. The DA-42 in particular is suited to those who are used to airliners because it has diesel engines so there is no need to worry about mixture settings (this is why EasyJet use it to train their new recruits). Training on a twin adds even more fun to the mix because if you lose an engine, especially on take-off, you'll really have your hands full if you want to avoid a mishap. As they always say when training on twins; the second engine has just enough power to take you to the crash site!

If you want something with twin engines which is a bit fancier which has pretty much unrivalled cockpit visibility for VFR flight, take a look at Aerosoft's OV-10 Bronco.

One last add-on which is a big help for VRF flying is FS Dreamteam's XPOI, which overlays point of interest markers on your terrain. It's great for VFR navigation and very educational too.

 

Edited by Chock
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Alan Bradbury

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3 minutes ago, Chock said:

There are some pretty decent Just Flight GA aeroplanes as well which are worth a look, notably their C-152 and their PA-38.

 

Note to the OP, the current version of the JustFlight PA-38 (v1.05) flies a bit unrealistically, per real-world PA-38 pilots.  JF strayed from the recommendations of real world pilots of the PA-38 and ruined the flight model.

I much prefer the v1.02 flight model of the JustFlight PA-38, which was the version that the real-world pilots signed off on.  Sadly, if you buy the JF PA-38 today, you'll be getting the v1.05 with the wonky flight model.  You might be able to doctor the v1.05 model by adjusting the thrust scalars in the aircraft.cfg file, but that is less than ideal.  Let's hope JF sees the light and returns a realistic power level to the aircraft.  The PA-38 does NOT climb at 1200 fpm up to 5,000 feet MSL.  That's just not proper.  600-750 fpm is more like it.

It does accurately model the lift you can get with a T-tail on takeoff, as the elevator hits the slipstream, if you're not ready for it.

Luckily, some of us kept v1.02 around...

Now carry on with other recommendations...sorry for the diversion but I felt it important to mention this about the PA-38


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Posted (edited)
29 minutes ago, Mace said:

Note to the OP, the current version of the JustFlight PA-38 (v1.05) flies a bit unrealistically, per real-world PA-38 pilots.  JF strayed from the recommendations of real world pilots of the PA-38 and ruined the flight model.

I much prefer the v1.02 flight model of the JustFlight PA-38, which was the version that the real-world pilots signed off on.  Sadly, if you buy the JF PA-38 today, you'll be getting the v1.05 with the wonky flight model.  You might be able to doctor the v1.05 model by adjusting the thrust scalars in the aircraft.cfg file, but that is less than ideal.  Let's hope JF sees the light and returns a realistic power level to the aircraft.  The PA-38 does NOT climb at 1200 fpm up to 5,000 feet MSL.  That's just not proper.  600-750 fpm is more like it.

It does accurately model the lift you can get with a T-tail on takeoff, as the elevator hits the slipstream, if you're not ready for it.

Luckily, some of us kept v1.02 around...

Now carry on with other recommendations...sorry for the diversion but I felt it important to mention this about the PA-38

It's probably true to say that all the PA-38s you can get for flight sims are a bit disappointing in some respects, specifically with regard to stall and spin characteristics in spite of the manufacturer's blurbs which always claim their flight model is spot on (try spinning the Alabeo PA-38 for example, but don't hold your breath waiting for it to do so in spite of any abuse you might throw at it). I do recommend the PA-38 for its VFR visibility though; although unlike the Tecnam Sierra LSA and the Scottish Aviation Bulldog (see Black Box Simulations if you want a flight sim version), it cannot be flown with the canopy open since it has no sliding canopy. The real PA-38 is far more prone to accidental spinning than a 150 or 152, with a fatal accident record to prove it, even after it had its wing modified somewhat on later versions, but that was a deliberate design choice.

The PA-38 as I'm sure you know was specifically designed as an alternative to the (then) most popular ab-initio training aeroplane (the Cessna 152), whereby Piper actually asked a bunch of instructors what they wanted in a training aeroplane; the response to which was the request for an aeroplane which was more 'spinnable' since the 152 tended to recover from a spin on its own, whereas the PA-38 requires you to do something about it. Funnily enough, these days ab-initio training tends to concentrate more on 'spin avoidance' than 'spin recovery' (this is something I actually went out of my way to argue against at the time this became a feature of the JAR training syllabus - i.e. in the early '90s - going to the extent of writing many letters to various authorities and aviation publications, since spin avoidance training is no use if you are in a spin). Personally, I always enjoy deliberately spinning aeroplanes; and I think every pilot should be taught how to get out of one.

Back with GA aeroplanes I'd recommend, personally, if I had to pick just one, it would be the A2A Commanche. It does a sideslip better and more realistically like the real thing than any other flight sim add-on aeroplane and can serve as a decent trainer even though it is a bit of a hot rod compared to most other GA singles which you'd more typically use for training.

Edited by Chock
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Alan Bradbury

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Thanks for the replies thus far guys, very helpful and informative! 👍

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No worries mate, hope that you own a pair of descent rudder pedals, because you will fly with feet connected to your ailerons and throttle lever(!) (left banks are not so bad, but steep right turns in climb require substantial amount of right rudder, for example). 

Also camera position is key, make sure you have parts of the hood visible so you have a reference point vs the horizon. 

Enjoy!

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4 hours ago, Chock said:

In VFR flying, have a good look in the direction you are about to turn BEFORE making the turn, because you do not have the additional safety net of ATC telling you to turn when having observed on their scope that there is nothing in your vicinity...

In addition to what Chock says, I was told this when I was flying gliders: Have a brief look in the opposite direction to the turn first as you don't want to pitch that wing up into something which might have sneaked up on you - i.e. before turning left, take a quick look out to the right and up prior to looking in the direction of turn. Granted I guess this is more relevant when gliding on a busy slope, but still has it's merits.

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14 minutes ago, HighBypass said:

In addition to what Chock says, I was told this when I was flying gliders: Have a brief look in the opposite direction to the turn first as you don't want to pitch that wing up into something which might have sneaked up on you - i.e. before turning left, take a quick look out to the right and up prior to looking in the direction of turn. Granted I guess this is more relevant when gliding on a busy slope, but still has it's merits.

Absolutely. Really important with gliding especially; on occasion I've been flying a glider when there were so many aircraft circling about in the thermals it was like being in a WW1 dogfight lol. Unfortunately, I knew three people who were killed in a mid-air collision between two gliders a few years ago, which was as a direct result of someone not looking where they were going. There was a bit more to this story than what I'm detailing here because I know it could still touch a few raw nerves at a particular flying club, but this aside, the lesson is clear enough.

I can also recall a flying instructor once yelling at me, when he saw me going into a turn without looking; he most definitely did not hold back, yelling: 'Good God man! Look where you're going! There might be another pilot out there who is as bloody stupid as you!' If you imagine James Robertson Justice yelling that in a manner similar to what he would do in those Carry On films, you'll have a good mental picture of what the guy looked and sounded like. I can still hear that comment like it was yesterday even though it was in fact 23 years ago. Those kind of lessons stick with you.

Edited by Chock
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Alan Bradbury

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Gandalf said:

Thanks for the replies thus far guys, very helpful and informative! 👍

I agree with everything that's been said so far and as always @Chock has outdone himself with details for your consideration. I guess my question is really what do you mean by learning to fly VFR and what do you want to accomplish? In my real world flying, in a Beech Baron, the difference is about whether or not to file IFR and that's almost 100% based on the weather and very little to do with anything else. Factors like icing and departure or destination cloud cover dictate whether I need to file IFR or stay VFR.  There are other factors - for example, flying into KLAS VFR - forget it. They're notorious for rejecting entry into Class B airspace if they're at all busy; I learned that once holding outside Class B for over an hour waiting for them to let me in to land. So if I'm going to LAS, I'm picking up IFR from center before I get there or filing the whole route because then I get right in no hassle.  On the other hand if I'm flying into a 'busy' GA airport, I might cancel IFR and go VFR 20 miles out because then I don't get an IFR one-on/one-out hold - I can simply join the VFR pattern and, frankly, that's more considerate of other pilots than buggering up the VFR pattern with an IFR approach - add in that at many uncontrolled fields there's at least one guy not using the radio at all, so he'll never see or hear you on your IFR approach - that's led to more than one NTSB accident investigation. But I digress.

What I am wondering is if you really mean GA flying into smaller airports? For me in the sim, I do love flying into the big complex add-on airports, but I also really enjoy visiting the many small GA fields that have been developed, and there's a ton of them especially in the Orbx regions - and I'll fly to them IFR and VFR, again depending on the weather.  I still use the same navigational equipment either way, but if it is really VFR, then I'm joining the VFR pattern and flying the approach visually.

One of the things that happens to me in sim that doesn't in real world flying is that I get bored waiting to 'get there' - and so I tend to prefer faster GA planes in the sim - I like to take the FSW MU-2 for example - has good short field performance, but can get you from point A to point B speedily.  I'm sure the Milviz King Air will exhibit the same qualities, but with an FMS might feel too much like the IFR flying you're used to.  But you can always fly in the flight levels between airports, but just cancel your IFR (even if it is just in your head) and approach the airport like you would in the real world, overflying, joining the pattern on a 45, flying the right pattern altitudes, etc.  That's all good fun and can be a challenge in a faster plane.

As far as GA planes, there are lots of good ones out there. I fly the FSW MU-2, Milviz B55 Baron, Carenado C185 Bush and the RealAir Duke. Also the FSW Lear is great, but again, might feel more like airliner flying.  Also, in v5 the Commander is actually really nice and I've been flying that quite a bit.  Never really explored the default aircraft much, but it is a nice plane to just cruise around in VFR.

Many of those planes take the RXP GTN750, which I can highly recommend as an excellent tool for VFR and IFR flying.  Just because you want to fly around VFR and enjoy the scenery, doesn't mean you don't want the modern convenience of a GPS keeping you on track, warning you about terrain, briefing you on your destination airport configuration, etc - is your destination right traffic or left traffic?

Now, as far as procedures, the FAA publishes a few handbooks and they're a much quicker and easier read than the AIM. The Airplane Flying Handbook is where I'd start. The Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge is another good read, as is the Instrument Procedures Handbook if you want to learn more about IFR flying in the GA world.  Of course there's lots of data in the Airmen's Information Manual (AIM) which is also downloadable from the FAA, but that's a slog to get through - almost as bad as the actual FARs.

Edited by cwburnett
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Hi All

Firstly many thanks for taking the time to type such detailed and informative replies.

The reason for wanting to try GA is more to learn about procedures, especially the use of various navigational aids and so thank you for the recommendations for airplanes and thanks for the links to reading materials. 🙂

Please keep the suggestions coming

Regards

G

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5 hours ago, Chock said:

It's probably true to say that all the PA-38s you can get for flight sims are a bit disappointing in some respects, specifically with regard to stall and spin characteristics in spite of the manufacturer's blurbs which always claim their flight model is spot on (try spinning the Alabeo PA-38 for example, but don't hold your breath waiting for it to do so in spite of any abuse you might throw at it). I do recommend the PA-38 for its VFR visibility though;

Actually I am able to initate a decent spin in the JustFlight PA-38.  When it begins the stall, it will heel to port without any left rudder at all (as I'm told the real PA-38 does).

The issue I have with the v1.05 of the Tommie is that they messed with the power too much.  If that doesn't bother anyone then by all means go for it -- it has a wonderful view as you mention.   But in contrast to v1.05, the v1.02 of the JustFlight Tomahawk is a fun challenge -- you load it up to 1670 lbs all-up-weight, and guess what, on a hot day you will need every bit of that throttle.  This is how a real Tommie flies.   Whereas the v1.05 you can rocket up at 1,200 fpm even at max TO weight.  v1.05 will also climb to 15,000 feet, something no normal Tomahawk has ever done, whereas I've gotten v1.02 up to 11,500 feet with about 50% fuel, and that's pretty close to its max (13,000 service ceiling, which I could have reached with patience and less fuel on board).

Alan you ought to find that fellow on Youtube, lives at Eagle's Nest Airpark near Dallas TX, he owns a souped up PA-38, runs about 125 horse on it and has exxxxxpensive avionics on board.  There is a very nice vid of his airplane.


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24 minutes ago, Gandalf said:

The reason for wanting to try GA is more to learn about procedures, especially the use of various navigational aids and so thank you for the recommendations for airplanes and thanks for the links to reading materials. 🙂

 

You mean things like cross-checking your position using VORs?

While I think GPS is great, I grew up flying with VOR and NDB and enjoy that type of navigation.  Seems like many NDB stations are decommissioning now, unfortunately.   It was fun to track those with wind, correcting your course, etc.

Another thing is pilotage and dead reckoning.  It's really fun to fly long distance that way, not knowing exactly if you are going to get lost or not.    In the sim though, there are no bad consequences if you get lost or stray into airspace.  You can also read up on WW2 Pacific theater pilots navigation techniques, who were trained in box search patterns to find a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, an island that wasn't there when they dead reckoned to their destination spot.


Rhett

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7 hours ago, Gandalf said:

Hi All

Having used both FSX and P3d almost exclusively for flying ifr in big airliners I thought it time I learnt to fly vfr. Unfortunately I know very little (nothing) about it so was looking for advice on the best set up plane wise, equipment etc for training.

Thanks for any help

Regards

G

P3D v4.5 or v5 and VR are your friends. VR is great for avoiding the problem simmers have of staring at their panels rather than looking outside the aircraft. Track IR is an alternative, but VR is much more realistic.

Add a GA aircraft by A2A - the Bonanza and Comanche are great, but their 172 is likely to be closer to what you use during training.

 

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21 minutes ago, OzWhitey said:

P3D v4.5 or v5 and VR are your friends. VR is great for avoiding the problem simmers have of staring at their panels rather than looking outside the aircraft. Track IR is an alternative, but VR is much more realistic.

Add a GA aircraft by A2A - the Bonanza and Comanche are great, but their 172 is likely to be closer to what you use during training.

 

Thanks for the advice, I’m on 4.5, I do have track IR but unfortunately I don’t think my current rig is up to handling VR, it’s rather outdated by current standards but I’m holding out on upgrading until we see how things shake out with upcoming sims and hardware.

The A2A Comanche looks good so I may go for that...

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