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Geofa

Anyone use American Flyer's IFR Refresher "Missions"

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Indeed Doug it's expensive. But if it counts towards making some of your instrument hours (which I doubt)I guess it's a bargain. Are these meant for FSX? I only see them offering FS9.I guess this might be more fun (and cheaper)...http://www.flightsim.com/cgi/kds?$=main/review/fsxpilot.htm. It's a review for the book and flights called Microsoft Flight Simulator X for Pilots: Real World Training by Jeff Van West and Kevin Lane-Cummings Rob "Holland&Holland" de Vries http://kewlceo.com/forums/style_emoticons/...crazy_pilot.gif"To go up, pull the stick back. To go down, pull the stick back harder"

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As soon as I saw the missions of fsx I hoped for much the same-tough ifr scenerios and emergency scenerios based on possible even rw documented cases.Sadly this still has not manifested. I am keeping my fingers crossed-what a wonderful training tool if/when something like this comes out.Sounds like you use the "sim" the same way I do. It also sounds like this "course" is basically just ms simulator with possibly some text based scenerios and not true missions..GeofaMy blog:http://geofageofa.spaces.live.com/

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Yes, I do you the sim the same way you do. FSX is such a great tool for practicing IFR procedure and approaches. RealityXP's 430 & 530 EASILY saved me $1,000 in real world airplane flying.Mindstar Aviation's G1000 also has easily saved me over $1,000 in training costs. Both have been great tools.More importantly, FSX has made me a better real world pilot as the demands of raising 2 kids and working leaves less time to run out to the airport. With FSX, I can stay sharp and have a great time even if I only have 30 minutes or an hour of free time.How GREAT would it be to have a series of real "Missions" putting you through the paces of some real world situations. Frankly, I'm surprised one of the monthly magazines has not done this yet. They could talk about an issue in the magazine and then let you "relive" the situation on an FSX mission. Boy...how cool would that be. Each month a new challenging situation. Mess it up...no problem. Restart and do it again.Anyone seen anything like that?????

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I agree Geof and Doug. I too use the sim to practice IFR stuff, and yes, the RXP GNS430 is perfect for this. I too have had to cut my budget due to some changes in my situation (I'm lucky that I still have my job, however some health issues with my wife have been very costly).As far as missions are concerned, I have often thought of creating one, although I do not know how they are made (maybe there's a "101" somewhere on this?). I would love to put a mission together that had random holds, random hold entries required with both left and right turns, and even a random DME or non-standard timed holds, failed glidescopes and other nav aids, etc. I would really like to put together a fill IPC if I knew where to start.One of the best books I have ever read on IFR flight is "IFR, A Structuered Approach" by John C. Eckalbar. In it he goes through a series of sample flights. Using ASX I can recreate the weather at the airports as he flies from one to another in his Baron (with screenshots from Elite included). Another FSX flight I enjoy, if I fly somethibng that can make the MEA of 16,000' over the "Rocks" to the west of me, is fly from my home airport of KBJC to 20V (Kremmling, CO). It has an approach "VOR DME or GPS-A", with very high minimums and a lot of planning to get down from the minimums to be able to make a "normal landing". It also has 2 DME arcs into the VOR (RLG) which adds the fun of one of those to the approach also. :)Good thread! Bruce.Bruce.

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If you look closely at the offering, you discover a couple of reasons why the cost is so high:1) They are selling you a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator X (with their markup added, one presumes. Do you already own FSX?)2) They are selling you a flight yoke (I'd bet you already have one).3) There are 3 manuals (for example ... "Advanced Instrument Training Manual for Single Pilot Operations." I bet you already own IFR manuals).Then, you get 11 "lessons." I don't know if this means "missions" in the strict sense of the word.And, at $695.00, I'm not about to buy it just to review it. However, if American Flyers wants to send me a copy for evaluation purposes, I'd be only too happy to review the missions and give a report here (and likely boost sales.)Cheers,

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Yes, they do give you alot of stuff that all of us simmers already have. This link offers the package without the flight sim yoke for $545. Still not cheap. It does offer the "money back guarantee" which makes me more comfortable. My standards for a $500 plus package will rightfully be pretty high (but fair).I'm really interested in what folks have used to date for IFR missions? Stuff like Eckalbar's "IFR, A Structured Approach" and "FSX forPilots: Real World Training"? Have you found anything else useful?One thing I have used on the Elite system are their training "scenarios". Each scenario has about 20 flight where you pre-position yourself at some location 30 or 50 miles away from the airport and they have pre-recorded ATC instructions (with lots of background chatter) for your flight. What I really like is they include changes, not just the "expected" approach. In one case I was cleared for the ILS to 19R and at the FAF, they asked me to step over to 19L once visual. VERY COOL. Just like what happens in our real lifes. I believe Elite has 3 sets of scenarios and each one costs ~ $49. A real bargain if you happen to already have Elite.Does anything like this exists for FSX?

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Hi Doug,I also have the IFR approach scenarios for Elite. They are very good, albeit also very dated. They will work with any Elite a/c other than the Kingair and the MD80. I once did a little BASIC coding for this company, and while I am not a software writer (I'm a financial analyst, a very interesting time to be one I should add), I know something about the simplistic code structure that is from the old FS98 'adventure" script format, compiled for Elite. The reason for the issues with the faster a/c is that the programmer is making assumptions for how long it will take to receive an ATC instruction then arrive at the point where that instruction needs to be implimented. While I had some fun writing some stuff for this company, I was no programmer and then my real job opened up and that was the end of it. The "controller" voices are the people that I used to work with, btw.One aspect of these scenarios is that you can change the weather and the approach will change with it, and as well there are various randomized routines such as the "side step" that you mentioned.If only writing missions was as easy as the old FS98 adventure code, and I had some spare time, I woiuld love to get do some stuff for FSX. :)Bruce.

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Bruce - how cool that you were part of the team that put together Elite's scenarios. Do I understand correctly that I could run the scenario at one weather setting and get a certain approach and that with different weather, I would get a different approach. I never realized that.....Could you give me an idea of how difficult it is to write a quality mission. Would you say a 30 minute mission would take 40 man hours for a knowledgable programmer to create? Or is it more like one man month or more? I realize this is way to generalistic but I'd appreciate you thoughts on it. If its 40 man hours, it might make economic sense for a programmer to tackle the job. If its one man month, likely not.I'm enjoying this post immensely, thanks for everyone's input!

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Hi Doug,no no no- I was not a part of the writing of the Elite series scenarios, I was a contractor (for a short while) writing scripts for a series of adventures for FS98 for this company (which never saw the light of day in production, maybe because I was not a programmer :) ). But the Elite series is made with the same basic code script as the old FS98 stuff was.As far as missions are concerned, I have never made one, and so cannot answer your question, aorry. It uses a much more sophisticated langauge than the older .apl quasi-BASIC stuff that I wrote, but I don't know if it easier or harder, I have never tried as I don't know where to start :). (I had taken some "basic" BASIC classes at college, so that was how I could do the .apl stuff).Thanks, Bruce.

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I can give you a general idea. Making missions is easy!Most of the missions that I've designed take a minimum of 40 man hours for a basic mission. Anything complex (extensive branching, extensive error checking, multiple outcomes, etc.) can exponentially increase mission-building time. The process I follow is essentially:1) Writing a synopsis encompassing the basic mission plot, weather, locations, etc. As part of this process, I scout locations, consider whether I have appropriate scenery, decide what failures I might want to include and whether the mission will have multiple outcomes.2) I then fly the mission in my mind while I fly the aircraft in the simulator. Basically, I take my initial idea, and then fly in Free Flight imagining what the script might need to say, figuring out where major plot points might take place. If the plot will depend on the landscape, I try to scout appropriate locations. This process usually allowd me to move to step 3.3) Scripting. I write the entire mission script from start to finish, in one sitting. This process is important, as it allows me to flesh out the true purpose of the mission (is it a tutorial?, purely entertainment?, an attempt to show off in-game scenery? test pilot knowledge?) At this stage, I can begin preplanning the programming to get a basic idea how difficult the mission is going to be. This isn't the final script either, but approximates the completed mission. The script will change during the actual programming as you can never really remember everything that might come up.4) Make a movie! A lot of my mission work entails building sets, planning camera moves, designing the cutscenes, etc. It's a lot like what I imagine happens when a director is planning a movie storyboard. This part isn't required, but is the part of mission building where I get to be creative, so it's the part that I like.5) Doing the programming is next! See the SDK for how to build action-oriented software. It's a lot like building a database GUI, frankly. I don't particularly care for programming, so this part is drudgery for me. The script gets improved during this process to encompass things I didn't think of while writing, or taking advantage of what occurs in the simulation while I'm flying.6) Sound editing is next. 50% of the aura you create in the mission will be how convincing your dialogue files sound (not just what is said, but how it is said, and how the sound effects are done.) Foley work begins here also.7) I now begin bug-testing in earnest, looking for ways that the player can either a) make a mistake that leads to nothing happening, or :( cheat.8) Art is next. There are art assets that are required to make the mission look professionally designed. I enjoy this part also, but it does require some previous art experience to make it look seamless.9) Distribution is next. You have to decide how you want to distribute your mission (.zip file? installer? have you written documentation?)10) Will you provide tech support for the mission itself? The install?Did I say making missions was a snap? As you can see, it can be quite a complex undertaking ... which is why there are about 10 people in the world who do it (my guess).Cheers,

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I'm saving this, thanks- you make it sould so easy :) Step 5. is the one challenge for me, but I guess I should read the SDK first !Thanks, Bruce.

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Hi Doug,I've got the American Flyers IFR Refresher course and have flown the flights a number of times now.Let me preface with I am a real world pilot licensed since 1986 and have time in fifteen different aircraft types. I am not instrument rated but have been through mock IFR written tests numerous times with passing scores. When I was younger I flew a day VFR aircraft which I built and didn't feel I needed the IFR rating. Now I don't have the time to commit to getting the rating but if I purchase another aircraft which my wife and I are negotiating now I will get the rating.I personally like the AF Refresher course, while I understand to simmers it seems expensive, compared to real world training it is an incredible value. There are a total of 13 flight scenarios taking about 20 hours to complete starting with straight and level, climbs and descents in IFR weather and working their way up to a final three stage IFR cross country with precision, non-precision and GPS approaches. Your virtual instructor is talking you through each progressive stage and as you work through the courses you will find he expects you to know things from the previous lessons. Put yourself behind a big moniter in the VC with Track IR or behind a 2d moniter and either way you have a valuable learning experience. I do suggest upgrading the steam gauges in the Cessna with Reality XP's FLN and FLT since their movement is far more realistic. You already have Mindstar's G1000 which I also recommend for G1000 simulation... you just have to change the aircraft listed in the .flt file to use the G1000 equipped aircraft and don't bother flying the NDB lessons. In the AVSIM review I wrote for Jeppesen's SimCharts I mentioned this software and show screenshots of the approaches with the Jeppesen overlays. Link to review: http://www.avsim.com/pages/1207/Jeppesen/Jeppesen.htm

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I'm bumping this to make sure Doug (the OP) doesn't miss my response.

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Thanks everyone for the great responses. What a great discussion this has developed into.I did see your positive comments on the American Flyer Course in your SimCharts review (bought the Simcharts....LOVE 'EM!). Would you classify the American Flyer's Course as "missions"? Sounds like you where pretty impressed with them.I'm a RW instrument pilot and a CFII. In fact, I use to teach instrument students and was fortunate enough to have students dedicated enough that, over the years, all 10 of my instrument students passed on their first checkride. I'm just looking for something to help keep my skills sharp and to, perhaps, pick up a new trick or two.Thanks for making me feel so welcome here. This forum is wonderful!

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Hi Doug,I agree, a good thread.I see that we ahare the Dakota as a favorite. Is far as IFR is concerned, what numbers do you use for S&L at the FAF and descending on approach? I've been trying to slow her down to 90 knots and it's hard, I can do it but MP is almost at the minimum, 2 notches of flaps, not quite in the linear operating range :)I would love to have an IPC in FSX with enough variables in wx and routines that each time you did it, it was a unique challenge, and maybe some different airports to mix it up too. I'm gonna have to figure those missions out :)Thanks, Bruce.

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The AF IFR Refresher is written in adventure language although I know the CFII that created them has been working on making them in mission language for FSX. The present files will work in FSX or FS9. The advantage being when you are doing partial panel work mission language will allow the computer to fail your vacuum pump, in the adventure you have to do the key strokes. One of the reasons I like the RXP FLT and FLN gauges along with this is you have the option of covering the failed gauge. I have tried substituting the FS9 Dreamfleet Archer for the Cessna 172 in the flights and it works quite well for that since the speeds are so similar. As I stated they feel more like taking a flight with an instructor next to you. I've looked into the files and all the sound recordings and they were a hefty bit of work to put together. When you consider they are basically equivalent to recording the flights you would take in IR training and then simulating them with MSFS it makes them as real as you can find.I have a full CatII sim at my home with the FAA certified X-Plane so can log time if a CFII is present. These courses for MSFS are actually much more realistic and enjoyable than using the FAA certified setup. I would love to see a day when a course like this, with the right hardware and with a real time internet linked CFII would be allowed for logging sim time towards a rating.

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