Enjoy Free Flying Lessons

by Bruce-Bowden

Reduce the number of flying lessons you need to reach that pilot's licence. Use Microsoft Flight Simulator as part of your aviation training.

You never need to feel guilty about playing this computer game for hours. In fact, you will wonder why you never did this before now.

Even if you are not a student pilot, this game will bring you total flying enjoyment. However, if you are serious about flying, it will bring you competence in most of the skills necessary to become a pilot.

Fewer lessons means less expense paying for time in a plane. You will still be taking those extra (free) lessons, although this time in the virtual flight school. These lessons include everything from physically flying a plane to navigating by using VOR, NDB, GPS, and of course ILS approaches.

Your flight instructor will wonder how you are picking up these skills so quickly. Believe it or not, you can even tie in real time world weather to any flying location you choose in the game.

A Pilot's Recommendation

To call this software a just a "Game" is a disservice.  Flight Simulator has been developed by Microsoft over decades to be as realistic as possible. It is your own private pilot flight school. Just look at what this pilot thinks about it.

To enjoy the realistic feel and behavior of the genuine controls of a Cessna aircraft, try these Saitek controls out.

"I am a commercial pilot and this feels like the real thing." - Allen - 40 reviewers made a similar statement.

"I got my private pilot license about 6 years ago and suffer from the fairly common complaint that I simply don't have enough time (or cash) to get up as often as I need to ... Now, half a decade or so later, I am starting to get ready for my instrument rating and I purchased this Saitek offering (and the rudder pedals) along with Flight Simulator X to both keep my habits fresh and to eventually practice procedures when in IMC. This yoke is much smoother than the CH was (can't speak to current CH offerings) and the three lever quadrant has a very realistic feel to it." - Marc Bourassa (Atlanta, GA USA)

A Pilot's Life


 This Pilot calls himself LeftFrontSeat. I call him Lefty. Join him on one of his flights.

How Real Does it Feel?

Microsoft Flight Simulator is a highly sophisticated program that mimics as closely as possible the physics involved in real world flying. This means that it provides realistic feel and feedback to those users who have the correct control column.

Picture yourself driving down a road when the traffic lights unexpectedly turn yellow. Seeing that you are a safe driver, you decide to slow down well ahead of the lights. You press down on the brake pedal with the amount of force that past experience has told you to use. This time, however, your brakes have been adjusted so that it takes no force to depress the brake pedal. It moves as soon as your foot touches it. If you lift your foot, the pedal rises, but there is no feeling of force pressing against your foot. In this situation, you would brake too harshly, and maybe even cause an accident. 

The controls of an aircraft are designed like those of a car. They produce tangible feedback to help the pilot feel the plane so that he can fly it in a smooth and stable manner. The forces that a real pilot feels while holding the yoke increase the more he moves it. 

I apologize for the next sentence, which is highly technical. 

Yoke force = (trim-speed - airspeed) + (flap setting) + (power setting) + (g-load) 

Trim-speed is the airspeed that the plane is trimmed for. There is a trim control that when adjusted perfectly, enables the pilot to take his hands off the yoke. It is comforting to know that pilots don't need to constantly wrestle with the controls during a flight.

There is a rich mixture of forces that a pilot feels on his controls. These won't come as a shock if the student pilot has been using the right yoke and pedal controls with his software.

The World is Your Oyster

Virtual Airports in Microsoft Flight Simulator

In Microsoft Flight Simulator you can choose to fly from basically any airport in the world. Amazingly, these virtual airports copy their real life namesakes in:

  • Terrain.
  • Runway length.
  • Number of runways.
  • Runway direction.
  • Marker locations.
  • Radio frequencies.
  • Height above sea level.
  • VOR frequency and location.
  • ILS frequencies and directions.
  • Airport buildings (particularly at major airports).

You may now start to understand what a huge undertaking it was by Microsoft to develop Flight Simulator. And you may also start to see why qualified and professional pilots use this software as much as student pilots. They can rehearse a real flight between real locations in any part of the world and in any weather condition.

"I am a general aviation pilot, flying single engine fixed wing Cessna type aircraft (4 seater). Flight Simulator X gives the feeling of actually piloting a plane. The plane responds to the controls much like 'the real thing'." - D. Mcgue (Mililani, Hawaii)

Microsoft Flight Simulator X Deluxe DVD - PC

Microsoft Flight Simulator X Deluxe Edition lets you immerse yourself in this dynamic, living world of fun. Challenge yourself by flying any of 50+ missions all over the world. ...

Only $29.99

View on Amazon

Microsoft Flight Simulator X For Pilots Real World Training

Get ready to take flight as two certified flight instructors guide you through the pilot ratings as it is done in the real world, starting with Sport Pilot training, then Privat...

$29.99  $4.8

View on Amazon

If you choose Microsoft Flight Simulator X over the 2004 version this book will help.

Instrument Flying

Becoming Instrument Rated

Where this software is priceless, though, is in the area of instrument flying. Any pilot who is not Instrument Rated and has found himself flying in cloud will verify the panic involved.

Spatial disorientation has killed many an experienced pilot. With no visual clues from the horizon or the ground, he can believe that he is flying upside-down or even in a tailspin. Suddenly, just glancing at the instruments changes to scanning them constantly to remain in control. Simulator training is a life saver.

In real life, pilots are trained in instrument flying by putting a special hood on their heads to prevent them looking outside the airplane. They see only the instruments. The examination involves the same procedure. 

You can see how unsatisfactory this is for representing reality, especially an emergency situation. . In addition, think of how many lessons and how much money it would take to become proficient using only this method. Pilots are ecstatic over how they can experience instrument flying in totally obscure weather conditions using this package from Microsoft. Because of safety issues there is no real life training that can equal simulator training when it comes to instrument flying.

I cannot express the joy I felt when I finally passed my Instrument Rating Ckeckride in the 2004 version. I still have the cerificate that I printed out. I am also glad that it didn't cost me anything, because all my flying lessons were free.

Create Your Own Flight Simulation Cockpit

One great place to get all your flight simulation equipment is flyingCity.net. How about this Cessna dash panel for that genuine flying experience?

When Things go Wrong with the Airplane

As we have just seen, flying for real is not always Hunky-Dory. There is also the the possibility of mechanical failure, power loss and instrument failure. So how does flight simulator measure up to these unhappy situations?

Any failure that happens in the real world can be set to happen in any plane you choose to fly. For example, you can set specific items to stop working after a particular time. Or you can set them to malfunction randomly. It could be that you want to perform an emergency landing with the airspeed indicator or the altimeter down; or no instruments whatsoever. What if an engine quits on you? Could you handle it? Setting the attitude indicator - the primary instrument - to fail in cloud, would be a real test of skill.

The Air Safety Institute not only recognizes this software's contribution to air safety, but also uses screen footage of the program as an instructional tool. Look at the following video.



Final Approach

In conclusion, Microsoft Flight Simulator has saved, and will save a lot of money for pilots. It has probably saved, and will save the lives of many pilots.

For me there is another dimension to it. It is the romance of flying under the Golden Gate bridge at sunset, or landing a Boeing 747 at Charles De Gaulle airport, Paris, in the Fall.

Updated: 01/12/2015, Bruce-Bowden
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login

You might also like

How To Use Basic Functions In GIMP For Beginners

GIMP is a free image manipulation program which can be intimidating at first,...

How To Cut Out Parts Of A Picture In GIMP For Beginners

Along with making something transparent, cutting an element out of an image a...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...