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Thread: MS Flight Simulator as a training tool?

  1. #1

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    MS Flight Simulator as a training tool?

    Hi Guys,

    After 4 years and 85 hours I finally have my (Canadian) Recreational pilot permit which is broadly similar to a Sport pilot. So here I am with a new permit struggling to find the cash to fly regularly as well as seeing the summer coming to an end accompanied by a long wet, west coast winter ( I live in Vancouver, BC). I fear I will lose my skills pretty quickly!

    So, here are some questions:

    Will MS flight sim X help me maintain my skill level or is it just for kids?

    I have NO idea how realistic, or not it might be?

    How good a computer I might need?

    Can I fly a real mission from my home airport to another locally, and if so, will I see an accurate depiction of real life?

    Would love to hear from anyone out there who is a pilot and uses a sim programme as well, i read all the hype on the MS website and on simming sites but I don't see too much from real pilots. . . .

    Thanks, Martin

  2. #2
    EAA Staff / Moderator Hal Bryan's Avatar
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    Hi Martin -

    I worked at Microsoft on the FS series for just over 10 years, so, while I'm a strong proponent of personal computer based flight simulation as a valuable tool to augment training when used properly, I'm also unquestionably biased.

    Speaking of bias, my friend and former colleague Bruce Williams has done a number of presentations and written 2 books on the topic. Here's a link to one of them:

    http://www.bruceair.com/SBT/sbt-wiley.htm

    And here's a link to a recording of an EAA Webinar he gave a whole ago:

    http://www.eaavideo.org/video.aspx?v=1526913944001

    If you decide to make some use of FS and have any questions about it, please let me know.

    Regards,

    Hal

    Hal Bryan
    EAA #638979
    Online Community Manager
    EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

  3. #3
    MickYoumans's Avatar
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    While it does not give you the 'seat of the pants' feel of a real airplane, I think it does have some value for maintaining proficiency. Considering the software plus yoke and rudder hardware is about what a couple of hours would cost in a real plane, it's not a bad investment. I would think it would be an entertaining way to spend some of those snowy winter days when you can't fly. While the scenery is not exact like looking at Google Earth, it depicts the terrain well enough to have a good feel for what the real flght would be like. It also works well for maintaining proficiency in using VOR's and Garmin GPS units for doing instrument approaches. I would not endorse using Flight Simulator in lieu of proper flight training but does have some value otherwise. Besides all of that, it's fun too. For what Ittle it costs it's worth it just for the fun factor.

  4. #4
    AcroGimp's Avatar
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    I have flown both X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator over the years and find both have pros and cons, but today wanted to share some of my current Microsoft Flight Simulator experience.

    As I have posted previously, I am taking aerobatic instruction in an Extra 300L and am really enjoying it but wanted to see if I could find a solid, realistic simulation approach to add to this experience without the expense.

    I have found that a well organized and realistic simulator setup can add immeasurably to training - I actually credit finally earning my Instrument Rating to Flight Simulator since I was having real issue wrapping my brain around NDB approaches in the real-world, but was able to set minimum weather and repeat the approaches over and over, with instant access to ground track and God's eye view to help me build the needed situational awareness.

    As anyone who has flown X-Plane or Flight Simulator knows, both applications have been fairly lacking in terms of transferable value for aerobatics and tailwheel dynamics.

    Happily, I can report I have recently found a combination of add-on aircraft and some hardware that have significantly raised the value and fun factor of my simulation experience with respect to aerobatics.

    I am running Microsoft Flight Simulator X (standard edition) on a plain jane HP desktop computer, using a 32" LCD TV as a display. Service Packs 1 and 2 have been downloaded from www.microsoft.com). Flight Controls are via an older Logitech 3D Extreme USB joystick with throttle (www.logitech.com), and recently added the Saitek Pro Rudder Pedal setup (http://www.saitek.com/uk/prod/pedals.html).

    After some fine tuning I am very happy with the overall integration of these systems.

    I also have been adding freeware photo realistic scenery (www.blueskyscenery.com) and was pleasantly surprised to see that the photo-scenery for Borrego Springs (KL08) which is about 40 miles northeast of San Diego (http://www.blueskyscenery.com/AZ_West6.html) actually captured the aerobatic practice box that my IAC chapter (Chapter 36) maintains.

    The next challenge was to find an aerobatic mount that was reasonably realistic. I struggled here for a while, trying several freeware planes such as Extra 300L and 300S models, various Pitts Specials, and finally found one payware and a couple freeware models that I can recommend for decent aerobatic performance.

    On the freeware side, there is an excellent S-1-11B package on www.Simviation.com that includes Jon Melby's signature black and yellow airshow Super Stinker. The performance is outstanding, it will spin, kinfe-edge and tumble fairly realistically, and the textures are nice.

    The second freeware model I have found to be both fun to fly and reasonably capable is a Pitts S-2C, also found on www.Simviation.com. This model has a great sound effects package, and feels reasonably good throughout the envelope. Although I have not flown a S-2C, I have seen them fly often and the apparent performance of this model matches what I have observed.

    The best model I have found for aerobatics though is the outstanding Pro Series Christen Eagle package from Iris Simulations (www.irissimulations.com/product-pro-christen.php). The visuals, flight dynamics, sounds, and animations are amazing. Hammerheads, lomchevaks, point rolls, vertical and torque rolls, tailslides, all are possible. The package includes both the single-seat Eagle I flown by the Eagles Aerobatic Team, as well as several Eagle II versions and a wide variety of attractive liveries.

    I purchased the model direct from Iris, I believe for $15.00 (reg $29.99), and it is simply the best payware add-on I have bought, hands-down, just beating out the indescribably complete and cool Malibu Jetprop DLX from Carenado which I also highly recommend (www.carenado.com).

    The recent addition of the Saitek rudder pedals has radically improved the tailwheel and aerobatic experience for the simulator by pushing for avoiding lazy feet on taxi, takeoff, during acro, and on landing and rollout.

    For those days when the triple paradox of time, weather and money conspire against you (all three are needed simultaneously to commit a wonton act of aviation), I can say that the above setup provides joy as well as, I believe, transferable experience.

    I have been flying the Iris Christen Eagle on FSX with the realism set for full and can report that it is a marvellous training tool. It performs true autorotational snap rolls and spins (upright spins are excellent, the inverted spins are ok), and matches up fairly well with my observations on my recent Eagle flight at Flabob (KRIR). I find it to be great for running through sequences and new figures and it really makes me work my lazy feet in the pattern, finally developing some better habits.

    I also really recommend the freeware bluesky scenery, at 1m or 2m resolution it captures marked aerobatic boxes if they were*up when the Google satellite went over. This really helps for developing your sense of the box.

    The other benefit is I can use the instant replay function to debrief on each sequence and score them in near real time while the memory is fresh. Clearly, a home sim is no replacement for actual training but it is value-added in my opinion.

    Here is a video of a recent training flight captured from FSX:

    http://www.youtube.com/embed/Rub2g5GE-5A
    Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right.

    EAA Chapter 14, IAC Chapter 36

    http://acrogimp.wordpress.com/

  5. #5

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    Thanks Guys

    Isn't EAA great, where else would you get a reply from a guy that help develop the software!! These are just the sort of answers I was looking for. . .

    Hal, I checked out the webinar, it pretty well gave me all the info I was looking for.

    Craigslist has a bunch of used Saitek yokes and pedals so I guess I just need to go bargain hunting now!

  6. #6
    Flyfalcons's Avatar
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    For aerobatics I still think Flight Unlimited had the best sim presentation and flight physics. Never cared for the Microsoft flight physics.
    Ryan Winslow
    EAA 525529
    Stinson 108-1 "Big Red", RV-7 under construction

  7. #7
    BruceAir's Avatar
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    Thanks, Hal. In addition to the links that Hal posted, you may want to explore my Flight Simulator in Aviation Training page. It includes many links to articles and studies that show the efficacy of using PC-based simulations to complement flight training.

  8. #8

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    Can you recommend some good references for using X-Plane 10 for flight training? I am reluctant to purchase Flight Sim X since it is abandon-ware, Microsoft hasn't updated since 2006 and their attempted web based replacement was a total flop.

    Thanks,

  9. #9

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