• A Story: A Little Learning

    A Story: A Little Learning

    By Ian Radcliffe

    I just dug this out of the archive. It's a little tale I wrote about twenty years ago that was published in a local computer magazine. You might think it's an amusing read.

    It was the aircraft's color scheme that caught his eye. Davis slowed the car and peered at the plane. It looked just like his trusty Skycruiser from VirtuFlite 3.5!

    He pulled onto the grass beside the quiet country road and got out, walking to the low fence that bordered the airfield. Yep, same colors, same stripes. Virtually the same aircraft in which he had flown hundreds - thousands! - of hours at his desk at home.

    He looked up at the bright blue sky and wondered how it would feel to really fly such a plane. Wonderful, he was sure, and probably very like the simulation. He glanced around the apparently deserted field, wondering if anyone would mind if he took a closer look. Probably not, he decided, hopped the fence, and strolled to the plane.

    He walked around it once, then approached the cockpit door, eager to see how closely the instrument panel matched the one he had stared at for so many hours on the computer screen. It was almost identical! Though some of the keyboard and mouse functions were replaced by the more appropriate levers and switches, the flight instruments stared back at him like friendly, familiar faces.

    His fingers brushed the door latch. It would be locked, of course. But as he pulled experimentally it lifted, and the door opened. Davis glanced guiltily around, saw no one, and slipped into the pilot's seat. His hands and feet fell naturally to the controls. I could fly this plane, he thought, and glanced at the magneto switch, saw the keys dangling there.

    Let's see. It would be Master Switch "On." His fingers found the switch and pressed it. The gyros whined softly as they began to spin. Davis glanced across the panel. Ignition switch to "Start"? He turned the key.

    The propeller clattered through a few revolutions and the engine caught. Some quick work with the throttle and the plane was purring happily at idle, already alive under his hands. He could fly this plane.

    It took him a few moments to find and release the parking brake. And the toe brakes on the rudder pedals were a function that had yet to be enabled on the pair under his desk. But then the little plane was rolling and he steered it deftly toward the runway, meticulously checking the instruments and flight controls. Before turning onto the runway he stopped, scanning the sky for other traffic. Clear.

    Davis carefully aligned the aircraft with the runway center line and advanced the throttle. The engine roared and the plane began to roll, drifting a little to the left - just like in the sim! - which he corrected precisely with a touch of right rudder. He alternated his view between the windshield and the airspeed indicator, feeling the plane grow lighter on its wheels. At seventy knots he eased back on the stick and the Skycruiser lifted into the air. Expertly, Davis trimmed it for a climb. He was flying! It was exhilarating. Strange, yet familiar. So like the sim. He glanced at the ground dropping away beneath him and laughed loudly. Great graphics!

    Davis leveled the plane at a thousand feet and made a gentle left-hand turn, setting up a rectangular pattern around the airfield. Just one circuit, he decided, then he would park the plane and slip away. He throttled back, lowered the flaps, and prepared to land.

    His approach was too fast, and the runway suddenly seemed all too short. Even as the wheels touched he knew there was not enough room left to stop, so he prudently opened the throttle and climbed away again. Not as easy as you thought, he thought. But he'd get the next one right.

    Slower this time, he rolled the aircraft onto final approach. As the runway came into view he saw he was a little too low, his turn a little too tight. Davis eased back on the stick, moved it to the right to level the wings.

    Suddenly the Skycruiser was upside down, the nose dropping, the ground beginning to revolve. A spin! But not his first, after all. Relax the back pressure, opposite rudder. Ground coming up fast.

    As the earth spun wildly and rose to meet him, Davis was concerned but still confident. After all, he had hundreds - thousands! - of hours on the simulation. Always got out of trouble. Never crashed a plane! Just needed a little time to work this out. Just have to hit the Pause key...

    1. asos's Avatar
      asos -
      I do not see the point of this story as it seems unfinished... Perhaps it needs additional text to make it finished...
    1. napamule2's Avatar
      napamule2 -
      HaHa...'Great Graphics'! Great story (lesson?). (Asos: Hello! There is NO 'Pause key' - he crashed and burned!).
      Chuck B
    1. cgsimpson's Avatar
      cgsimpson -
      Well done…….have those dreams often..!!..

    1. rockinrobin's Avatar
      rockinrobin -
      Obviously couldn't finish the story, since he was killed in the crash...low altitude stall/spin was fatal.
    1. SunnySaratoga's Avatar
      SunnySaratoga -
      Well I did not "steal" the PA28-161 with which I tested the realism of Flightsim like the fellow in the original story, but rather paid for the rental and the CFI to go fly with me.
      Of course that meant we also did talk about past experience and did a proper preflight on 24F before setting off.
      But my CFI Nick agreed to not comment on anything and not touch anything as long as safety of flight was not in question. On the other side I agreed to go through each procedure first verbally before doing anything in the actual aircraft.
      The only real catch in the sequence from cold&dark to lineup on the active after runup that the sim did not realistically portray was the fact that on this Warrier at least you had to push the ignition key inward some more while in the "both" position to actually engage the starter motor.
      Since it was a relatively quiet day on L67 we were able to do one "high speed" taxi roll before going back to do the actual get in the air thing just to get a feeling for control inputs and reaction.
      Take-Off, Circuit and Landing were all mine...the landing actually not too bad. I had worse later on in training to get my PPL

      So in my experience at least with a simple single such as the PA28 with fixed gear and prop, mechanical flaps and straight forward flying qualities you can probably get in the air and back on the ground with only FS experience.
      On a nice calm wind day at least. But throw in just a few of the variables you do encounter in real life conditions and that sim experience very quickly will not be enough to save the day.

      BTW...I also used FS extensively to cut training time needed for my IFR ticket. And there is where it really can shine if the airplane is tweaked to match the real one as I did with an FS Archer to fly within 1kt of the real 8DC in all situations.

      Cheers and to all a happy 2018
    1. alanmowle's Avatar
      alanmowle -
      I love a good story, I enjoyed it, thank you.
    1. MaxLegroom990's Avatar
      MaxLegroom990 -
      Good little bit of flash fiction, really.
    1. GeorgeSaber's Avatar
      GeorgeSaber -
      Nice little story. I'm new to these forums.
    1. stretch's Avatar
      stretch -
      Just hit Y for slew! Ha.....good read!
    1. stretch's Avatar
      stretch -
      I went back to school after the U.S.M.C. tour. Airport was close by. One day I just headed towards it after class. Walked in and said hello to the guy behind the desk. I knew he was from south Texas before he even opened his mouth, how? I spent 13 years around the Corpus Christi area as I grew up. Fifteen minutes later we did preflight on a Cessna 172 and up we went. I soloed at that airport with 12 big hours under my belt. I flew until 2002, fuel got too expensive. I miss it very much. Flight is one of those magical things you cannot explain to people that don't fly; once you've been up you are just never the same! Blue Skies To All That Fall In Love With The Magic Of Flight.
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