• Quick Start Commercial Pilot's Video Tutorial

    Quick Start Commercial Pilot's Video Tutorial

    For the new or struggling sim pilot

    By Ron Blehm

    Introduction: Maybe it's a phase or maybe it's just the way things are but it seems that I have come across several flight simmers who are either older but new to simming or just young kids who are discovering the joy of simming for the first time. Regardless of your age, if you are struggling a bit to get flying with the proficiency you'd like, I might offer you this article from several years ago.

    I'm shocked that this was actually seven years ago!

    Seven years was before I had FSX; I had it but didn't have the hardware to operate it. Some of you young simmers weren't even in school yet in 2010.

    What's even more shocking is that this article has had over 31,100 views! Amazing and humbling. That article referenced back to a very helpful piece written ten years earlier by Geert Rolf; some of you weren't even born yet! Mr. Rolf's article also has over 25,000 hits so clearly this is a topic that has been important over the last two decades.

    What occurred to me was that maybe we needed to update or modernize the information from these two articles. Sure, reading this "old and outdated" stuff can be helpful but we're in the 20th century now (I know, I said that on purpose) and maybe some of you will do better with videos (visual learning rather than word learning)!

    A disclaimer: After reading Mr. Rolf's article in 1999, I was able to use his techniques to get flying the commercial jets I wanted to fly. When my own children were tiny, I perfected the ability to cradle a sleeping infant in my left hand while using the mouse and autopilot with my right hand. This is not how I normally fly! (But the hum of old radial engines or the purr of a 787 can comfort a crying infant at 2 AM.)

    First and foremost, this is a tutorial to GET NEW(ER) PILOTS INTO THE AIR.

    Secondly, what happens when your yoke or joystick give up the ghost and stop working? What happens when you travel and only have a laptop? For the more established virtual pilot, these techniques may be a skill worth having - "just in case" (I was stuck without flight controls from August until Christmas).

    Goals: Here is what this article and related videos hope to accomplish:

    • With one hand, you can use your mouse to click buttons on the autopilot allowing you to take-off and fly and navigate and land successfully. This will at least get new / inexperienced pilots into the air quickly. Over time you are encouraged to take over more and more of the manual flying.
    • This is not "As Real As It Gets" but it works! (Note: It's better in wind and weather than AUTOLAND but it's not as good / quick as hand-flying. But again, if-and-when hand-flying is not available this will at the very least allow you to sim.)
    • With the proper set-up or panel, you can fly "most" aircraft with your mouse / keyboard and autopilot. If you want, you can use the default Caravan panel in the Piper Cub and this technique will work. You can use the CRJ panel in your F-4 Phantom and this technique will work. You can use the Dash-8 panel in your DC-3 and this technique will work.
    • One valuable option that I use is that I have chosen / aliased a MiniPanel from (I think it's the) King Air that allows me to control heading and rate-of-descent for those aircraft that wouldn't have an HUD. (So, 737-200 and DC-4 have their "appropriate" panels and then this MiniPanel option. A 737-700 and my E-jets have their respective panels and then a HUD-view option)

    1. Pick an airport with ILS, something NOT by big mountains and something NOT near sea-level! (Yerevan, Armenia UDYZ in my case).
    2. Load an aircraft to that airport, on the runway (B735, runway 27 for me). Use your mouse to set the autopilot heading bug to match the runway heading and set the speed bug to >200 knots. Set the altitude to 4,000 feet higher than the airport. Click autopilot ON and the speed HOLD. Use differential braking (F11 and F12 for me) to stay lined up as you accelerate down the runway. After V2 use the down/back arrow key to rotate.
    3. Once airborne, click the up/forward arrow so that you aren't climbing at 3,500 fpm! Gear and flaps up. Select heading HOLD and altitude / vertical HOLD on autopilot.
    4. Now you're flying! Only took three steps! (Well, first step was picking the airport so really, the flying only took two steps!)

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Excellent tutorial Ron! Many thanks for sharing your expertise!

    1. kalizzi's Avatar
      kalizzi -
      Highly informative tutorial, well done Ron.
    1. Flanker251's Avatar
      Flanker251 -
      Thank you so very much.
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