We get a lot of virtual pilots joining here at AOA. They come from all over the world. Just today I corresponded with people from South Africa, Brazil, Singapore, Romania, Czech Republic, United Kingdom and more. You would think that would make us all really different, right? Surprisingly, we are all cut from the same mold.
Regardless of our vastly different cultural backgrounds, and our differing languages, we all love one thing in common- aviation. Each has their own story about how they fell in love with airplanes and simulation. At some point, each and every one of us created a common bond with many others in the world. We all just love things that fly!
In addition to being similar in how much we love aviation and flight simulation, there is another common bond I see often in flight simulation, and it’s one in which we should take less pride.
This is the cold, hard truth: Most flight simmers don’t know the basics.
As a result, they get into jets far before they are ready to fly them. I’m going to teach you why you’re just about as useful as this baby chick on the flightdeck.
The career of a simulator pilot goes something like this (this may be familiar to you).
You may have gotten a copy of FSX from a family member, stumbled across it on your own, or saw a friend using one and had to try it out for yourself.
Then you got FSX or X-Plane yourself, if you didn’t already have it, and you started to go through all of the default aircraft. The Cessnas, float planes, really old school aircraft like the Wright Flyer, and of course all those amazing jets. Everything. you tried it all.
And hilariously crashed every single one of them. Some times more glorious than others.
Out of all of them, the biggest appeal came with this huge jet you knew nothing about. The panel was completely foreign to you. The instruments didn’t make much sense, but soon made a little sense when you slammed the throttles forward and careened down the runway. But to takeoff? Why won’t this thing pull up! And SLAM! One of your first takeoffs is a disaster.
But still, this type of airplane is enticing and seductive. You want to learn more. You want to complete a full flight; successfully.
Eventually you find that you not only want to fly the kind of jets you fly experience as a passenger going to business or vacation destinations, but you find that even the default stuff isn’t realistic enough.
So you go out and you buy a bird from PMDG. Soon you find that these simulations are far more realistic than the default aircraft. They operate more realistically, they don’t start up, they don’t have a built-in GPS, and nothing makes sense- at all.
You’re lost. But you don’t quit. You dig deeper!
After dabbling in manuals, forums and scrapping for other information, you find yourself after months or years able to land with Autoland, and more or less get from one place to the next, guessing along the way. but you know quite a bit! A far cry from where you were before.
Every now and again, you’ll be brave and try and fly the airplane on your own. When things get out of hand, you just revert to the autopilot and let it take things over.
Perhaps this doesn’t explain who you are now- but did it at one time? Were you a Premature Jet Pilot?
Here is what actual, real pilots go through to get their training, in contrast:
You start slowly with your instructor. You’ll have long ground school lessons, talking in depth about topics that just boggle your mind. You’re just talking about things like taxi, and what happens when you takeoff! Goodness, what will happen when you get into a complicated subject?
Soon you get in the aircraft with the instructor, and you fly a bit for real. He’s brave enough to let you take the controls, and for the first time, you’re flying this simple little airplane that isn’t much more than wings, fuselage, and an engine. The instrumentation, even, is simple as can be.
You get it. It makes sense. Things are simple enough for you to process, and learn.
After several hours, you’re ready to try landing on your own. You more or less get down okay with a lot of help from your instructor.
Later, you get into stalls. And wow, what an odd feeling that is, when the airplane doesn’t want to fly anymore! You soon learn that it’s controllable if you stick to the correct control inputs.
After about 12-15 hours, it’s time to solo! Nothing big, just 3 takeoffs, 3 landings. The weather should be clear, the winds quite minimal, and traffic kept to a minimum as well.
You do it! You nail 3 landings, all on your own, even if it was a simple flying day! And wow, what a feeling!
5 years and hundreds, even thousands of hours later, you’re finally ready to fly a jet. Wow, what a feeling! All this time, all this preparation, all this experience, and you’ve finally reached that dream.
Now compare this with flight simulation-
With a simulation, you jump right into the huge jets.
With real aviation, you wouldn’t even be allowed to touch the controls of a small aircraft with that amount of experience, yet in flight simulation you’re in full control of a realistically simulated jet.
So many flight simmers today go straight to jets, and have no training with the basics on how to fly. Many can’t takeoff, or land, and if you can do that, navigation is probably an issue.
At any rate, there are always going to be gaping holes in your training if you haven’t learned the basics. Bottom line. Period. Stop. The End.
What can you do to avoid this, and get the basics mastered? I have 3 Quick Tips:
1. Enroll in Aviator90
We have created a completely free training course called Aviator90 that takes you through all the basics of flying, with our award winning video training. Start off simple, and build your knowledge and skill. These short lessons will pay off huge for all your jet flying. You’ll be a better pilot within hours- and you’ll be addicted.
It’s free, easy, comes highly recommended by many, and will help you out tremendously. Enroll Here, Now. (You’ll love it)
2. Love, Low and Slow
Enjoy the slow rolling scenery below you, and enjoy exploring this amazing virtual world. Our simulations are getting to the point where it’s almost exactly like the real world. You can fly in your own backyard and see exactly what it’s like to fly in your area, to any airport, any city.
Flying is elemental and almost spiritual. Experiencing the zen of low and slow flight will ground you to the roots of flying once again. You’ll be among the pioneers, doing what Charles Lindberg and the Wright Brothers did.
All with zero autopilot, no GPS- just blue skies, your hands on the controls, and a heading.
3. Constantly Challenge
Aviator90 is a fantastic course that will challenge you quickly. But, it’s principles are quite basic. AviatorPro goes far beyond that, and teaches you complex instrument procedures, multi-engine, communication, weather, charts and so much more.
But even we can’t teach you all you need to learn. You, as a pilot, need to constantly be challenging yourself and learning. Learning can be accelerated by curiously exploring the surroundings around you.
You could try things like flying in a different country, flying on VATSIM, flying in really tough and dangerous weather, or flying into difficult airports.
The beauty of flight simulator is your ability to learn from every situation, and try things that you wouldn’t otherwise try in the real world.
The scenarios and situations you can try are endless, and the world is truly your oyster.
Recently we’ve seen a critical eye on so called ‘experienced’ airline pilots that wrecked a 777. Their experience with the basics of flying are being called into question, in addition to the amount of reliance on the automated flight capabilities of the aircraft.
You would do well to remember that while you’re enjoying flying the latest and greatest airliner in flight sim, if you don’t have experience flying the basics, or a base set of knowledge, you will eventually end some flights as a flaming pile of rubble.
Join the Conversation!
Were you a premature jet pilot? What did you do to learn new things, and the basics? Did you go through Aviator90 and feel it helped with jets?
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