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MS FS And Flight Training  
User currently offlineLPLAspotter From Portugal, joined Jan 2005, 682 posts, RR: 1
Posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3912 times:

I would like to hear from pilots that used MS Flight Simulator before doing their flight training for their PPL or IFR ticket. Did it help when you started doing the real thing? Did you get any "bad habits" from the simulator that caused you problems later on in training?

I hope I posted this in the right forum. Thanks in advance for any input.


Nuke the Gay Wales for Christ
5 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineMeister808 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 974 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 3881 times:

MS Flight Sim is a good rendition of the flying experience, and can be a very useful training tool.

That said, using it prior to touching a real airplane isn't worth a whole lot. Flight Sim, for all it does right, simply cannot replicate the VFR flying experience, and thus learning to fly on FS means learning to fly with an undue reliance on the instruments. This is simply poor form for actual flying, and generally needs to be stopped before any meaningful progress can be made in a real airplane. However, FS is great for fooling around with things to see how they work, especially in the area of navigation. You can use FS to get a very good idea of how VORs, ILSs, and NDBs work and how to use them, which is great.

Instrument skills developed on MSFS tend to be, in my experience, very heavy on Attitude Indicator, which is exactly how not to fly a piston trainer by instruments. The results can be frustrating for students who have experience with FS and then switch to doing Instrument work in the real airplane and cannot use the same skills.

FS is a very useful tool for IFR training if it is used as a reinforcement for training done in an airplane or Flight Training Device. If it has been a while since I have done instrument work, I will hop on FS and shoot some approaches to freshen up the process. It works quite well and I would recommend it for anyone who wants to stay on top of Instrument skills. FS can also be a good tool for teaching IFR procedures like holding and approaches, because, as the student/pilot, you can go into the Flight Analysis and see exactly what the track of your flight is/was and try to get it to be more of what you want.

So, in short, FS is worthwhile for procedural and operation kind of stuff, but not so much for the actual hand/eye coordination that is required to fly. Once those skills are developed, FS becomes a wonderful tool to experiment, explore, and refresh.


Twin Cessna 812 Victor, Minneapolis Center, we observe your operation in the immediate vicinity of extreme precipitation
User currently offlineModesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2894 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (10 years 9 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 3833 times:

I just got my PPL and am working on my multi-engine and instrument ratings. FS is a great way to become acquainted with cockpit instruments. However, it's difficult to train for VFR flying. Additionally, students with extensive FS experience tend to focus too much on instruments and don't spend enough time looking outside. For instrument flying, FS has been great for me. I breezed through the 3-hour instrument hood work for the PPL. I've started some instrument flying and flight sim has definitely prepared me. Keep flying FS but make sure that you also keep your head out of the cockpit when it comes time for the real thing.

User currently offlineWeb From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 437 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3738 times:

I have also found FS to be a great tool by which to familiarize myself with an airport, even though taxiways and ramp areas aren't portrayed correctly. You get a general feeling for the layout of the airport before you ever get there, and this has helped me when visiting an unfamiliar airport (I know Jepp charts are the way to go, but you really can't know what it looks like on the ground from Jepp, can you?).

User currently offlineGoBoeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2828 posts, RR: 14
Reply 4, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 3719 times:

I owned a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator since version 3.0 and every version later. 4, 5, 5.1, 95, 98, 00, 02, and 04. At the time that I started my real PPL training I probably had about 1,000 hours in MS Flight Sim. I started out, in elementary school, just trying to figure the thing out. Then I got a joystick, started to see relationships between instruments, started looking at charts and VORs, etc. It saved at least five hours of flying time from my PPL. In the grand scheme of things that is not much and shaving time off of the rating you're working towards isn't the goal that you should have. What FS did was make things very easy to get into, like VORs and other instrument uses.

The real benefit was with the instrument rating. There is not a large difference between MS Flight sim and a PCATD. Shooting approaches, navigating on airways, etc. is really good to do on it because you can see what not to do before you do it in the airplane.

Did you get any "bad habits" from the simulator that caused you problems later on in training?

I seemed to use the instruments more during my PPL training than my instructor's other students that were at the same experience level (that is what he said). That makes sense because the out-the-window view in FS is not like the real thing.

I'm working on my CFI rating right now and I've still got five times as many hours in flight simulator than I do in the real thing. Oh yeah, it does NOT help learning to fly the airplane from the right seat!


[Edited 2005-07-25 03:11:33]

User currently offlineFLY2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (10 years 9 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3655 times:

Ditto to what everybody else has said.

For VFR flying, still far from portraying the "feel" to it. But for IFR, FS does wonders. And for less than $50, you can practice approaches and stuff just as well as with those $200 dollar FAA certified sims with crappy graphics.

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