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Thread: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

  1. Default OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    OK, I was just looking for this!
    I can't agree entirely with the OpEd because I've never flown a real large aircraft or used a full motion simulator so that aspect of it is out of my ken. But, I can comment that my experience shows that using flight sim CAN (notice the word is CAN and not WILL) make it easier to pick up flying general aircraft.
    Like the author I too have been using FS from early on. 2.0 as a matter of fact. Just this year I met a guy at work who owns a plane. He's taken me up 4 times now on weekend cross country flying. Each time he's let me handle the plane a little more. 1st time was holding it straight and level on course for an hour, second time more of the same plus taxiing, 3rd time doing the landing approach plus the latter and yesterday he let me take off, :-jumpy do some stalls do the approach to final( I think he would have let me land if I didn't chicken out)plus do most of the flying. He only corrected me on a couple of points during the flight like making sure you clear before you start a turn and going through the full range of motion on the controls during preflight. He's had me doing the preflight checks since the second time.
    Now those who have taken flight training without the use of FS beforehand can tell me if they were able to make a smooth take off and climb to 2500ft level flight on their 4th time up or not. B/W I hit 2500 on the money. :-tongue
    Sorry I'm just giddy with it all.


  2. #2
    calvinhobbes Guest

    Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    I have to disagree with the editor's original statement regarding a flight-simmer having more prowess in the cockpit of a 777 (or take your pic of an airliner) than a traditional bugsmasher pilot because of their flight simming "experience." There are several points that I would like to make on this subject.

    1.) Flying is DANGEROUS. Even your typical Saturday afternoon 172 pilot or Piper-driver is placing him/herself in a very dangerous situation each time he/she takes to the air. There are a myriad of problems that must be thought about and trained for ahead of time. The way in which the editor scoffed at their airmanship ability has me a bit offended, being a private pilot myself (I'm not going to bother listing my credentials as a pilot. Every pilot has an ego, and there is no acceptable place to go around strutting one's feathers except the Officer's club in the scene from Top Gun). The hazards that a real pilot has to account for never even cross most flight-simmer's mind! The total saturation of a clear sky by VFR traffic is like flying through a literal death trap on a sunny day. Fires, control failures, system failures/malfunctions, etc. are things that a real pilot lives with each time he/she decides to take to the sky (not something you change under your "settings" menu for the DG to fail in 5 min.). Dealing with these things successfully is what makes real flying so rewarding. You can't just click on "reset" when you're inside the middle marker of the Aztec (another plane the editor scoffs at) and your left engine honest to god quits. Things that are hard are the most rewarding for many people. Ask any pilot about how they felt after their SEL checkride or Type rating.

    2.) The real flight environment is more dynamic than you can EVER simulate on a computer. Even a Cessna can get hauling over terra firma with a good tail wind. Things happen fast for everyone up there. Probably the biggest changing thing that a real pilot bets his/her life or death on is an ability to deal with the weather out there. WX CHANGES FAST. Knowing how to sift through the miles of WX info before a flight, and being able to deal with unexpected Wx in flight is a life/death skill for a real pilot. I have yet to see a flight sim program that can accurately simulate the rapid changes in weather that often occur. It's easy to take it for granted when ice isn't filling up your windscreen/covering your wings, or a lightning bolt temporarily blinds you on final approach at night.

    3.) TALKING AND FLYING AT THE SAME is a VERY hard thing to truly master. Honestly. Being "heads up" and being able to maneuver your aircraft while at the same time talking to controllers and following their instructions is harder than you realize if you've never been in a real airplane in a saturated traffic pattern (controlled or uncontrolled) on a sunny day. Mastering the phraseology, terminology, and being able to quickly get off the required information in the correct format is a huge hurdle for every new pilot. Sometimes you have to hold outside somebody's airspace simply because you honestly cannot get a word in to the controller before someone else is singing away over the radios. Oh yeah, and once you master it doesn't mean you're set for the rest of your flying career. Real pilots will tell you that after a few weeks/months out of the cockpit, your hands actually come back pretty quickly and you can fly the a/c as well as before. But you sound like an absolute GOON on the radio until a few flights later. It's very hard to master and no flight sim is as demanding as the real ATC environment (or punishes you for screwing up).

    4.) Real flying demands HIGH LEVELS of SA. Situational Awareness is right up there with walking/chewing gum (talking/flying) in terms of difficulty. Knowing where you are (VOR's don't work as wonderfully and consistently as on your Pentium III), knowing who is around you, knowing who to talk to, knowing when to run a certain checklist, etc. is HARD. You get good at it though when you're actually in the saddle pretty often. Sure, you can take your 172 on a cross country excursion and not be terribly challenged (172's aren't meant to be challenging a/c). But, when you hop in the left seat of a lear, or strap on a freaking F-16, things change. I don't think anyone in here can even IMAGINE what it takes to think at 500+ knots. Then put your viper at 500 feet over the desert. Talking to range control telling them where you are when you're moving at 7 miles a minute. And then actually having to EMPLOY your a/c as a weapon! Task saturation just doesn't happen to you no matter how long of a VA flight you've just made or you're approaching mins on your way into Meigs for your default situation. Real flying demands more SA than just holding straight and level. I think we look at fighter pilots with awe simply b/c deep down we know that it is REALLY FRIGGIN hard to do, and then we realize that someone is trying to kill them at the same time.

    I don't mean to rant, but (gotta love Dennis Miller) you're not going to find any pilot who turns his nose at you for being a flight simmer. Chances are, he's one himself. You can actually accomplish a good chunk of you IFR rating in an FAA approved sim (more complex, but not a whole lot more so, than FS2000..). But, you don't have an instructor sitting next to you throwing at you approaches from hell or killing your whole electrical system at night in the soup when you're flight simming. If you run up and say to him though that you can land a 777 down to Cat III mins b/c you fly a flight sim, he's going to look at you the same way as if he told you he could fly an F-16 b/c he just passed his high performance checkout. Your typical real pilot does what he does b/c he loves doing it. Just like the guys who go through the trouble to actually make their virtual airline experience as real as possible (filing with the "FSS", etc.). Don't turn your nose up at someone who smashes bugs. Chances are, he might be able to answer a question or two on how to really grease that 182 on the runway for the fans at Meigs.


  3. Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    Hi all,
    When comparing real vs flight simming it always opens some
    Interesting ideas and conversation.

    As a member of the AVIATION MUSEUM of KENTUCKY I go
    to the hanger chats and listen to the veteran aces. They have
    some very interesting stories to tell.
    These are some that flew the P49's, 50's in WWII and F16's in Nam.

    I consider those people my heroes as well. We have a
    an elderly pilot who flew 66 missions in WWII. He was shot
    down once and lived to tell about it. I'll never forget the
    excitement when I took my PC with FS2000 down and let them
    all have a go of it. I ended up leaving it for a week. :-)
    Their favorite had to be the R4D though. They all loved the
    way it sounded. Especially when they started it up.
    Their comments were
    The pedals or too mushy
    The yoke was too much like pulling on a spring-loaded pogo stick.
    Other than that they were impressed with the way I handled the heavies.
    I felt a bit honored and respected as we parted their company.
    That to me was one of the highlights of flight simming.

    I'm also taking flying lessons again after 30 years. I have to
    say that I'm doing much better with the real flying than I did
    back then. I have to contribute some of that to the flight

    To come and sit down at the computer is much more relaxed than
    doing a preflight, getting the ATIS weather then instructions
    from ATC plus trying to concentrate on what your doing does
    make a big difference.

    For practice I like to listen to the scanner, fly with an ATC
    add on and go through the checklists.
    I have charts and use the E6-B9 Computer to try to figure
    the course, but the real weather in FS2K leaves a huge gap
    compared to real weather flying.
    If I could have it my way FS2002 would be more realistic.
    Things like icing up and stress popping off the wings would be great.
    The problem is the eye candy lovers would be appalled
    and they're the majority.

    All in all I stand somewhere in the middle of the
    argument. Yes, flying and flight simming are quite different,
    but they do go hand in hand with each other for making the
    experience as good as it is. What I love about the flight
    simulator is that I can fly the 737 inverted, do barrel rolls
    and inverted loops. That I can't do with the real 172.
    Could they at least make it so we could put the 172 into a spin?


  4. #4
    Catfish Guest

    Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    I hate to say it (normally I am a strong defender of flight sim skills) but my time flight simming has made me aware of a few short comings between the "real" world of aviation and simulation. I have taken 2 introductory lessons on a real Piper Arrow. In the first I was allowed to take off (with assistance on the rudders and staying lined up) and in the second I was allowed to line up from base leg to finals. Yes the plane flew much like a simulator (FU3 would be the closest to the real aircraft not MSFS)and I felt right in my element listening to the tower and lining up on finals, but I was also aware that I was not talking to the tower, nor was I controling the flaps, nor was I properly looking for traffic (Bankstown Airport in Sydney is a pretty busy airport for GA, and as we were landing there was traffic on a parallel runway). In conclusion the actual flying of the aircraft once airborn was quite simple (disregarding turns without coordination of the rudder).

    The reason that I know that I would be completely inadequate in a "real" flying situation is because I have been flying on-line, where talking to controllers, flying STARs, SIDs and assigned headings and altitudes is bloody hard work and increases the work load by several 100 per cent. If flying was just handling an aircraft it would be a hell of a lot easier to manage. But navigation, radio comms and traffic awareness is a hell of a job in the real world as well as in a simulated one on-line. I would suggest that anyone who fancies themselves an aviator go on-line with other users, with Roger Wilco and Squawkbox and see just how hard simulated aviation is. Once you have done that you will begin to appreciate just how hard flying the real plane is.
    Once I landed at KLAX on-line at SATCO, I was typing because I didn't have Roger Wilco working yet, and I was asked by the tower to report a cessna sighted landing on a parallel runway. I did this at about 500 feet from the ground(typing and flying at the same time - I have never had such a pressured landing).

    Another area which is totally inadequate in current simulators are crosswinds. FU3 does a good job of shifting wind directions on landing. One memorable landing I made in FU3 had me subjected to a moderate right crosswind on final, no-cross wind at the outer marker (ie the headwind had shifted in line with the runway, but I didn't realise this at that time because I didn't know that FU3 could do that! so at this stage I was starting to panic on finals), then when I got over the end of the runway I experienced a moderate left crosswind (ie from the opposite side than initial). I did manage to get the plane down with an appropriate amount of rudder to line me up with the runway, but it was a hell of a battle. This experience showed me the effect of variable winds on landings. A no-wind or constant cross wind landing is nowhere near as difficult as this, and this probably happens to real pilots quite regularly. It is for this reason now that if I am landing with a crosswind I never make stick-and-rudder corrections till the last minute, just above the runway. This helps you not only to guage the correct direction of a crosswind (ie by the angle of your nose with respect to the runway centreline) but also prevents any errors in case of a wind shear. For if the wind shears to the opposite side and you have made a rudder correction for the other side you will be in serious trouble on landing. FU3 is the only simulator that does this at present unfortunately.

    Anyhow in summary, if flight simms can recreate crosswinds in the future, then the combination of this plus on-line ATC and traffic will help us all better appreciate the real-world of flying.

  5. #5
    ajluptak Guest

    Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    Yes and no. I am a licensed pilot ( private pilot and instrument rating) plus I am working on my commercial license. My aspirations are to fly for a living, something I have wanted to do since I was young. I love airplanes and the whole idea of flight. Maybe the fact that my father has worked for Usairways for 35 years has something to do with it. I have grown up on airplanes basically. Last year I took a job at Usairways cleaning planes just to be around them and try to talk to some flight crews.

    But enough about me ( just wanted to give anyone reading this an idea of my background). I remember having Sublogic FS on the old Apple IIgs. I now have at least one copy of every flight sim made ( ATP, Flight Light, Fly!, X-plane, FS 3through FS2000 Pro). Out of all of them, FS2000 is the best GRAPHICALLY and X-plane is the best Simulator. So many more options on X-plane for realism compared to FS2000. My opinion, you're free to your own. I think FS 2002 will be excellent though.

    As to the question, a PC flight sim can be an excellent learning tool, but is not a substitute for the real thing. I have flown the 737-400 sim at Usairways. Thats as close as I can get to the real thing besides just sitting in the cockpit at work and staring. And even the sim is no sub for the real thing ( FS2000 has MUCH better graphics.) You can do anything until your hearts content in the sim and have no fear of crashing, bending the plane etc. But learning to fly in the real world is different. The guy who was all "giddy" about climbing straight out to 2500 ft. Good job. Now take that feeling and go get your private pilots license. You will have many days of "giddiness" and many days of "aw,s***". Flying is easy as pie when there is no wind, the air is totally smooth and you can see for a billion miles. Those days, especially all of those factors together, are rare. ( at least where I live in Western PA). And though FS2000 and X-plane are good, they cannot duplicate turbulence, winds and windshear or visibility as a real plane flies.

    It is however, excellent for IFR work. I've flown hundreds of approaches at airports I've never been to ( thousands to the ones I have been to just for proficiency) , tracked many VORs and NDBs etc and with only a little cheating from the GPS sometimes ;). Many days of REAL flying have been cancelled due to the winds were too ridiculous to attempt real flight, there was ice in the clouds or if I was just plain broke!! (A 172 to rent at my local FBO costs about $100 an hour. An instructor adds another $25 an hour. A private pilots license can set you back about $2000 to $3500 depending on how much you give yourself to the cause.) But it has helped in my IFR flying tremendously.

    The other plus is that I get to fly the "heavy iron". I love flying the real 172 or Beechcraft Sierra, but lets face it, who wants to do that when you can fly a 737 or whatever fancies you? I have no choice about airplanes I fly in real life (yet) but I want to get to my destination in the shortest time imaginable. I find no joy plodding along in the 182 behind the computer for any length of time. I can do that in real life when it's more fun. I want the speed, power and grace of a 757 whenever I can get it.

    So, if you really love flying the simulator, go out and take a flight in a real GA airplane. Some FBOs offer introductory flights for about $100. Look in the phonebook under AIR. (Good gift idea, hint it around this Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.) As fun as a sim is, it cannot replace the real thing. When it comes to putting your life and an airplane on the line, things are a little different in real life then on the sim. I know I have made decisions on the sim I would never make in real life, just to see what would happen.

    But for fun and recreation for us simpilots or, for us real pilots, staying proficient in our skills when money is low, the flight sim is good fun for a cheap price of admission.

    (Thanks to anyone who reads this and to all those people who create planes, panels, scenery etc., thank you. I don't have the time or skill with a computer to do the things some of you do. But I appreciate your work. All of us do.)

  6. #6

    Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    I'd like to add my 2 cents now.

    I would probably be the first one to admit any PC-based flight sim's weaknesses compared to real flight. The sensations of flight, of course, just plain aren't there. Try to land the default 182 with the pitot/static system malfunctioning. I think that would be a lot harder in the sim than in real life, where one can hear the soft 'wooshing' noises of the plane, and at least in C-172's, the sucking sound through the overhead vents that announces the airflow is separating, and you're not too far away from a stall.

    I fly out of McVille (p37), a grass strip also in western PA, and the most commonly used runway is 3/21. It seems like there is always a crosswind, and the northwest winds following winter and spring cold fronts can make things pretty interesting. Though even in the summer, at least when I started my regular lessons last summer, that gusting x-wind never stopped, and it took me 2 months to learn how to make a nice landing (just in time for my solo ;-) ). MSFS definately doesn't model the wind's eddies and other peculiarities, though now that MS seems to have nearly perfected the scenery, they should now focus on aircraft systems and weather.

    However, I must give flightsims, MSFS in particular, a lot of credit when it comes to how easy it was for me to get my Private Pilot License, especially when the bare basics are laid out for you by your dad, a PPL as well. From my introductory ride in 1997, I knew how to read and interpret the instruments from FS 5.1, and I understood what basically made them work. I loved VOR and NDB navigation on the sim, so all I had to learn in the real plane was about their operating quirks. In fact, barring ATC, I probably would have been able to fly IFR (because FS scenery wasn't all that great, the panel was the best thing to look at!). On only my 5th or 6th lesson, I did some hoodwork on an especially rough day (I think the wind was about 15-20 kts.; 15-20 kts. blowing over western PA's rolling hills makes for some fun turbulence), and didn't even feel sick looking at the instruments because I had already learned to trust them. Also, the basic .air file of MSFS was still able to teach me that if you fly at too high of an angle of attack, you stall.

    If one considers FU II/III, that's where I learned most of the phraseology, especially for controlled airports (though uncontrolled airports are well-modeled, too).

    Despite flightsims' shortcomings, they can really allow a student to get ahead of the ball.


    P.S. The FBO/Flight School at McVille rents C-152's for $49/hr, C-172's (a '74 and '75) for $55/hr, an Arrow for about $80, and a Seneca I (dual only - no solo) for $134. All rates are wet, include tax, but for 152's, 172's, and the Arrow, an instructor adds about $19/hr. One can get any certificate from private thru ATP, even CFII I think (I assume the recreational license is also available). 100LL avgas is between $1.80 and $1.89/gal.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Williamstown, Vermont, USA.

    Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    this is a pretty interesting thread. I have seen a great deal of comments about flight sim's being a help and I totaly agree. I am not a pilot in real life but one of these days........ I have spoken several times to the flight instructor at the flight school that I intend to fly at (as soon as I save up the $3,800 for the Private Pilot package they offer) and he has said that simulators help considerably in some basics such as instrument scan, VOR and NDB navigation and realizing that if you point the nose at the ground you won't hit same immediatly :-lol . I was also told by a good friend who is a commercial rated pilot and CFI that I wouldn't have much problem with lessons due to my knowledge from sim's and (my girlfriend calls it an obsession) with avation. I have had the controls of a real plane in my hands long ago when I was a Cadet in the Civil Air Patrol. I had the oppertunity to "fly" both a Cessna 172 and Cherokee 140. mof the two at the time I liked the Cherokee the best due to the visibility (I was 15 at the time and was too short to see over the panel well in the 172) Anyway to summerize my rant here I do feel sim's are a tool in learning to fly but not the end all to it... ya gotta get the wind flowing under the wngs and feel it but the sim can sure help with some of the basics

    Brian :-wave
    Take my love, take my land, Take me where I cannot stand.I don't care, I'm still free. You can't take the sky from me. Take me out to the black, Tell them I ain't comin' back.

  8. #8

    Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    One thing you won't pick up in the sim (not that it matters) is some slang. Like your girlfriend saying you are obsessed, we actually say you've been bitten by the bug, which gives you an incurable disease: a passion for flight-NOT obsession! :-lol ;-)

  9. #9
    ftronics Guest

    Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    For what itís worth I have had a recent opportunity to test how what I learned with FS2000 transferred to a real aircraft and hoped this thread appropriate to share it with.

    I have been interested in PC flight simulation since the first of release of MSFS and ChuckYeagerís AFT. I have experience in over 20 types of light aircraft including Multiengine, Seaplanes, Warbirds and a little right seat time in corporate jets. For years I have yearned to fly helicopters but until this year have never had any real stick time in them.

    I have tried but have been initially frustrated with every PC helicopter simulation package I tried including FS2000. Even a couple of friends who are helicopter instructors had difficulty flying helicopters in FS2000 using my 21í monitor and cheap joystick but thought it might have some value for learning basic helicopter concepts.

    So in an attempt to learn some basics I hacked up some crude cyclic, collective and pedal controls and purchased a decent LCD projector. The controls are a big improvement but not completely necessary to learn from. The projector however is a diffrent matter and is set up to produce a 10ft image which completely changes the experience. With the larger image I was immediately able to detect the minute movements and attitude changes that allowed me to hover and perform basic takeoffs and landings wit comparative ease.

    About three months ago a friend purchased a new Enstrom helicopter and was kind enough to allow me to use it to receive a couple of hours of initial instruction with. It usually takes an experienced fixed wing pilot a 5 to 10 hours just to learn to hover a helicopter but this instructor was astonished that on my first attempt I was able to not only hover in 15knot gusts but take-off and even manage a crude approach and landing with little or no assistance form him. He instructor insisted I must have had a few hours of helicopter time as my hover was a ď10 on a 10Ē and my approach and landing were that of someone close to solo. Also to my surprise after this basic training in a real helicopter my ability on the simulated helicopters was greatly improved. I now have about 25 hours in simulated Helicopters and only about four hours in the stick in the real thing, and while at this point Iím not likely safe I feel very comfortable with basic takeoffs, landings and hovering.

    I canít attribute my results in the real helicopter to any exceptional or natural ability but to the time I spent practicing with the simulated helicopter. I am also convinced that the simulated helicopters in FS200 while in ways fly differently then the real thing I have dsicoveres discover that flying the real thing seems much less challenging.However, The real helicopter does seem less forgiving and some mistakes hardly noticeable in the virtual helicopter would likely prove disastrous or fatal in the real machine.

    I am therefore forced to retract my initial impressions about helicopter flying in FS2000. With good quality controls and a large display it is surprisingly realistic and a superb learning tool. There are some good Freeware helicopters available that are much more realistic then MS Jet ranger that make the experience more realistic and useful.

    As for fixed wing aircraft, I have used my PC flight simulator for years to practice, experiment with and learn how to be a better pilot and I am solidly convinced that I am a better pilot for it and that anyone interested in becoming a pilot can learn and benefit from PC flight simulators. However, I also believe that some basic training from an experienced pilot and familiarity with real aircraft are crucial to maximize the learning experience.

  10. Default RE: OpED Do Flightsim Skills Transfer To Real Aircraft?

    Man PA is a bit cheaper than Florida. I've been looking around and it's mostly $100 for the plane and $35 for the instructor. I'll keep looking though.
    I think you understand my point about simming CAN help with early learning. I've done hundreds of take offs and landings in sim but the other day was my first REAL take off. My friend didn't help, he just said go. He's been letting me do a little more each time I've flown with him. I think, if I hadn't been simming for such a long time I would not have a clue as to the correct proceedure much less what thingy on the dashboard is the altimeter. The other thing is I realised my sim knoweledge was not going to help me land the plane. Sim is too visually restrictive. After flying the real thing I can't stand simming for a few days because I can't look left and right without loosing the periferal view ahead.
    I am starting to use Combat flight sim and Sierra Propilot in addition to FS98 just for the things they have that FS98 doesn't like ATC in pro pilot and better tail draggers and scenery in Combat FS.
    Well this is getting long so to conclude I think everyone here who started w/ a good flight sim program then went to real took some skills with them but not enough to think they were expert already.


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