Monday, October 5, 2009

(Virtual) Basic Flight School from the Comfort of your Desk

I have been flying in PC flight simulators for around ten years ...

How much I love the line "I have been doing this since ...". It gives you an automatic aura of expertise. I couldn't help but to start with a line like that, my apologies. Let me be completely sincere and correct the opening sentence: I have been using PC flight simulators on and off for around ten years. I got my small share of time with civilian aircraft PC flight simulators like Microsoft Flight Simulator, Fly! and X-Plane, but my flight siming was always heavily oriented towards combat flight simulation. After all these years of talking tall about energy and angle fighters I realized that I didn't even know how to efficiently trim a Cessna 172, or even how to fly it straight and level for that matter.

So, it's back to basics and to catch up with all the missed opportunities that civilian flight simulators offered me in the past.

The web is full of articles and tutorials on virtual flying and I am using those resources extensively. But being a messy guy with a messy way of learning, with very little free time (and brains) to sort out a syllabus by myself, I felt that a more structured approach would help me the most. So I picked up a copy of "Microsoft Flight Simulator X for Pilots: Real World Training" from my local bookstore (see image at the left). This book's premise is that Microsoft Flight Simulator X is a great aid for teaching and learning for a civilian pilot license. The book is written at a level that a newbie virtual pilot like me can understand and learn from. Because it's oriented towards real pilots to be, is serious enough to teach you good piloting practices.

I have been using this book extensively during the last few days and it has been a blast. The book is very detailed and explains why things are done in this or that way. Only counseling I'm not following from the book is that I'm using X-Plane 9 instead of Flight Simulator X (FSX). Eventually I will have to move into FSX, I guess.

Nonetheless, I have learnt how to properly trim an aircraft and to properly fly it straight and level ... After all these years!


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