Flight Simulation To An Instrument Student
By Kai Xing
From that day on, that interest in flight simulation has grown into an intense interest in real world flight, and the passion to dedicate my life to the art of aviation. It seemed that from then on, my free time activities often changed from watching TV or reading, to learning the theories behind, and processes involved with navigation, flight planning and dead reckoning. Today (10/25/01) marks the halfway-point lesson in my instrument flight course... but I'm jumping ahead of myself.
Many people (most of them flight instructors) have denounced PC based flight simulators as poor training devices for learning concepts involved with the visual flight rules (VFR) that are introduced in the private pilot course, on the grounds that it causes students to stare more at their instruments than out the window. However, I look at it as a valuable "training" instrument for the future professional pilot. While I cannot stress the importance of LOOKING out the window, especially when visual meteorological conditions (VMC) exist, I have found that my early understanding of flight by reference to instruments (through flight simulation) has been an invaluable asset during both my private and instrument pilot courses. I foresee flight simulations to continue to be beneficial in my learning process.
I have found that with the introduction of the newer generation of flight simulators (FS2000, FS2002, Flight Unlimited III) there has been a greater emphasis placed on "visual candy," which seems to indicate Microsoft's (and the now defunct Looking Glass Studios') answer to the skeptics who say you can't learn anything about visual navigation from todays PC based flight simulations. With the release of FS2002, (though I haven't yet had the opportunity to use it) you can apparently be advised about, then look out the window, and see the 757 on a 5 mile final for runway 22R - an absolutely welcome and wonderful change from Microsoft's former M&M colored 727's that meandered aimlessly about Chicago's airspace without a word.
Anyhow, again, I digress. Eight years later, I am attending the now notorious Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and finishing up my instrument rating, soon to be moving on to my commercial, multi-engine and CFI/I. Throughout my instrument rating, I have found the ability to go home, switch on my computer, and practice the teardrop entry that I couldn't quite get right in the air, to be a wonderful asset to my flight training. I have mastered holding at, and intercepting and tracking NDB's, VOR's, Localizer front and backcourses and DME fixes in a ridiculously short time. Without the assistance with flight simulation, certain concepts might not be as clear to me, and I might not posses certain abilities that I now do.
It is my personal belief that flight simulation is something that all student pilots (both current and to-be) should use flight simulation as an introduction to flight as well as use it to supplement what they learn in the air. To the skeptics who say: "it's not realistic enough," I respond that it is as realistic as it needs to be to provide people with a familiarization with flight controls, instrumentation, navigation and more. As the world of flight simulation quickly advances, we are developing unprecidented levels of realism, and the positive potential for supplemental flight training must be recognized!
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