It sounds like you've lived a really interesting life. I can't say I've ever been to your neck of the woods, but I'd love to visit some of the Baltic states sometime. I've only made it as far east as Salzburg, Austria.
No worries about the little grammatical errors, I can understand you just fine, and I guarantee you I couldn't talk to you in Latvian or Russian, and undoubtedly not as well as you speak English.
On to some of your questions:
VORs are a real pain in the ass, and I'm not sure I could be of much help. I'll use my private pilot book as much as I can, and try and explain it to you. This is where using the Cessna can be of real benefit, as it can really help you familiarize yourself with the instruments, and help you learn some airborne navigation (remember: you're never too old to take some real flying lessons!). Essentially, the way a Very high frequency Omnidirectional Range (VOR) works is it emits radio beams in all directions. When your aircraft has been tuned into the correct frequency (for example, DEN
's VOR frequency is 117.9), this instrument, the VOR indicator, will be the important one:
There are several components that are important, before I explain to you how to get it to work. You will see a white needle, that is the Course Deviation Indicator (CDI
). Essentially, that will tell you where to go. To the right, you will see a white arrow pointing down, and the letters FR
below it, and the letters TO
above it. This arrow will fluctuate depending on your location, and will tell you whether or not the selected radial (radio beams emitted in every direction) will take you toward (TO) or away (FR) from the VOR station. To determine your necessary heading, you turn the knob in the lower left corner, called the Omnibearing Selector (OBS), until the CDI
is centered with the TO
arrow being displayed. Whatever heading this displays will be the heading you need to fly (assuming no crosswinds) to reach the station. Some VORs will also have Distance Measuring Equipment (DME
), and will be seen most frequently as VORDMEs. To tune your VOR equipment in the Cessna 172, you will use see two instruments that look like VOR indicators. One of them will have a horizontal bar, as well as the vertical one. Use the other
one. It is connected with Nav 2 on your radio stack. Tune Nav 2 to the correct frequency (try taking off from your home airport, tuning the Nav 2 frequency to 117.9, the DEN
VORDME, and try to find KDEN), and don't forget to switch it to the active frequency by pressing the little two-arrow button between the two frequencies. Your VOR indicator should suddenly spring to life. Then, use the OBS knob to rotate the indicator until you get a centered arrow with the TO
indicator (arrow up). Turn to the heading shown at the top of the CDI
(whatever the arrow is pointing to, in the case of my diagram, it looks to be about 255), and that will take you straight to DEN
, assuming you can keep it centered. Remember, the CDI
tells you where the VOR is in relation to you, so if the arrow is deflected left of center, and you are getting the TO
indication (arrow up), you must turn left to intercept the correct radial. The DME
displays in the upper right of your panel, and has a distance (nm), speed, (kt), and time (m). All useful information!
That is VOR navigation in a nutshell, all I can say about that is practice, practice, practice!
Do not get VOR confused with VFR (Visual Flight Rules). VFR
is as opposed to IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). Essentially, with IFR you are being navigated by ATC, and must be in contact with them. If you have VFR clearance, you are essentially free to do whatever, and go wherever, provided you don't enter into certain airspaces (I won't go into that, it's way over MY
head, and I've taken ground school). I would practice at first flying VFR, even in the big rigs, simply because it gives you a lot more freedom to go where you want. Once you get comfortable with flying and landing, you can try IFR.
Yanis, you can spend as little or as much as you want on a yoke, from $100 to several hundred. Personally, I've been very happy with my CH Products Flight Sim Yoke USB
, and you can find it on amazon.com for $99. It is a wonderful step up from the keyboard that I came from, and has many customizable buttons that can do whatever you want them to (on mine, I have gears, pause, pushback, spoilers, autospoilers, rudder trim, engine start, engine shutdown, brake), basically all the things you use most during a flight. I also have their Throttle Quadrant, which allows you individual engine throttle control, and more buttons, but that is a bit pricier. Actually, I just checked, and it's only $126. I got it for $200. Just a note, the Yoke does come with 3 programmable axes, but default to throttle, mixture, and RPM. So you can control the throttles with the Yoke, but the Throttle Quadrant is far more real feeling. Another one I've heard people really like is the Saitek Pro Flight Yoke, which can also be found on amazon, for $132.
Airnav is a wonderful resource, and I use it when flying into unfamiliar territory. Sadly, I'm such an airplane nerd, I already know most of what I need to know about an airport before I get there. Just a heads up, though, Airnav uses the most current information, and sometimes frequencies will have changed, so it's best to use your in-game map to verify your frequencies. Just click on the airport icons and it will tell you everything you need to know about it. I've also collected a ridiculous amount of expired Jeppesen charts from pilots, while they're making their revisions, so the enroute charts and airport diagrams are invaluable. Just so you know, though, printing out charts from Airnav will give you all the same stuff except the enroute (foldout) maps.
For me, one of the most frustrating things about Flight Sim is the unrealistic weather. I use Active Sky, an addon weather generator, which uses real-time data. The problem is, that doesn't always correspond to the correct runways being used. I fly out of my home airport, AUS
, a lot, and the winds according to Active Sky might be 150 @ 13, but the game is unrealistically using the 35s. I can't really have a good idea of what runway I'm landing on until I get either close enough to check the ATIS (Automated Terminal Information Service, about 60 miles away, give or take), or contact the tower (usually about 30 miles away). This affects not only my advanced addons PMDG, Level-D Sim, Captain Sim, and their FMCs (Flight Management Computer), but also my planned descent.
In airliners, if I'm cruising at FL
330, and the airport is close enough to sea level, I usually start my descent about 120 miles out, using my GPS to tell me when that is (assuming I'm not using my snazzy addons that tell me when to descend and actually do it for me). Do you know to program a direct-to-waypoint using the GPS, and selecting it in the autopilot? It's a life-saver, if you don't. You'll be able to forget everything I told you about VOR navigation (though still good information to have), because the advent of the GPS means it can tell you all that information, distance to a waypoint, groundspeed, time enroute, desired heading, and all sorts of more valuable information, in a much easier fashion.
I found an interesting video for you, so check it out:
How to Land a Cessna 172
Good luck, Yanis, and if I haven't written enough of a novel for you already, I'll be glad to help with any more questions you may have.