• Flight Simulator Pilot's Information Manual

    Flight Simulator Pilot's Information Manual

    By Nels Anderson (22 Jun 2001)

    One of the goals of many flight simulator pilots is to make their simulation experience as realistic as possible. Microsoft Flight Simulator and other sims certainly help this by providing realistic airplanes, scenery and navaids to fly with.

    There are lots of tools for making simulated flight more realistic. There are flight planners, approach plate generators, IFR adventures and so on. However, there is one thing missing for the beginner sim pilot: the knowledge of how to use all that's available.

    In the real world student pilots spend a high percentage of their training time learning regulations and procedures...perhaps even more time than is actually spent learning to control the plane. The same information that real pilots use can also be used by sim pilots. The standard references are the FAR (Federal Aviation Regulations) and the AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual). These are often combined into a single volume labeled "FAR/AIM". Just about everything a pilot, real or sim, would need to know about flying procedures is contained there.

    The only problem is that there is just so much...my 1997 Jeppesen FAR/AIM is well over 1000 pages and much of it is written in rather dense "governmentese". Flight Simulator Pilot's Information Manual by Bill Stack is designed to condense the FAR/AIM down to just the information relevent for sim pilots and explain it in an easier to read manner.

    Sim Pilot Information Simplified

    The Flight Simulator Pilot's Information Manual is made of up seven chapters that are actually quite similar to the sections in the AIM (see Figure 1 for a list).
    Chapter 1: Knowing Your Way Around Airports
    Chapter 2: Adhering to Airport Operations
    Chapter 3: Knowing the Airspaces
    Chapter 4: Using Air Traffic Control
    Chapter 5: Flying Visual Flight Rules
    Chapter 6: Flying Instrument Flight Rules
    Chapter 7: Using Emergency Procedures
    Appendix: Abbreviations
    Figure 1: List of Chapters
    Each chapter is short and to the point and covers its topic with special consideration of what's possible and what must simply be imagined when flying a simulator. For example, Chapter 1 details how runways are layed out, including such beginner mysteries as why they are numbered the way they are (because of their compass alignment).

    The chapters on aircraft operation cover topics like landing patterns, contacting the control tower and other ATC facilities. Airspace types and regulations are well detailed as are VFR and IFR flight procedures. The list of abbreviations in the appendix is rather brief and only includes terms used in the book so it's not a complete reference of aviation terminology.

    Details

    The revised version of the book has been updated with the latest information from the 1997 FAA references (the FAR and AIM). Thus most of the technical and legal details that the book covers are right up to date. Enough detail is given for the needs of a flight simulator pilot without going into the dense prose found in much of the actual FAA documentation.

    A few of the finer details of the book might be questionable but the majority of the information provided is correct and certainly adequate for flight simulator use. There are some areas that might be explained better, but the target audience for this book will still learn a lot about real world flying and how to apply that type of realism to simulator flying.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, I really like the concept of this book. I think there's a need for it, since it covers topics that I see sim pilots asking about all the time. This second edition of the book offers sufficient accuracy and currency of information that a sim pilot can learn and apply real world flying techniques in use today.

    Author Bill Stack can be contacted directly at fsbooks@topskills.com.

    Or you can visit his home page at http://www.topskills.com/flitsim.htm