Sitting left seat at the controls of a Cessna 152 II, my first flight lesson was about to commence. Sure, I’d flown really complex jets in flight simulator before, with a varying degree of success. And this couldn’t be anywhere near that complicated, right? I had this.
From how to introduce fuel into the engine, to how long to crank the starter, and what to do immediately after it ‘kicks’; even the startup was quite complicated! And that’s not to mention the preflight I had already completed, my instructor doing everything but holding my hand along the way.
You see, of course I could do some pretty impressive stuff in a simulator. But when it came to real world, and especially the basics, I was very far behind.
I had been too distracted by the eye candy of a Delta 737 or a 757 in my simulator, not to mention all the other awesome stuff available. The deep desire to fly those complex machines successfully from one location to the next, overpowered the necessity that all pilots have to learn the basics.
Now I was in one of the most simple, single engine aircraft available for training. I was taking such a large helping of humble pie that I was practically choking.
The truth is that in flight simulation, this story is very common. We get wrapped up in the excitement of a brand new addon- and oh, the wonderful places we could go in that new aircraft!
I would say the great majority of people in Flight Simulation never had a basic, structured course on the base set of skills and knowledge that all pilots must have.
They are Premature Jet Jockeys.
Often I get emails from people telling me that they’ve been flying with Flight Simulator since the days of the Commodore64 version of flight sim, and they hadn’t learned basics until they came to Angle of Attack. Of course, they are referring to Aviator90, which I’ll talk more about in a bit.
Isn’t that surprising? After nearly 30 years, how is possible that someone had not picked up the basics in that timeframe? Well, don’t feel like the black sheep in this flight family, my friend- you are not alone. There are many reading this that have been through this exact thing.
Below are 4 key areas I believe make up a basic, or introductory, approach to learning to fly. Without these, you will have only received a piece here and a piece there and will be left with mere scraps at an otherwise abundant smorgasbord of aviation knowledge.
You must start out with something that is well thought out, and to a certain extent, covers a base set of knowledge. Usually something with a course outline or curriculum is a set of training that has some thought put into it.
Without this, you are bound to miss something important along the way, and your chances of learning this flying knowledge the hard way later increases.
Whether you are dealing with a real world flight school or looking for training for flight simulator, there must be a ‘course’.
Think of it this way. A course, in it’s aviation meaning, is a general direction you take to get to your destination. Often, it’s a very specific heading. If you go into a flight not knowing your general course, and from there your specific heading, you will never get to your destination.
You will simply float around in the sky, aimlessly going where the winds and motor take you at their will. Eventually, you will run out of gas, glide a bit in an eerily silent few moments, most likely crash, and burn (hopefully not).
You MUST have a course.
Taking on something like a flight course takes a certain amount of dedication from one’s aviating spirit. Without the inner drive that says, “I am going to start this, and I will see it through”, you are unlikely to ever finish.
Not only does there need to be a dedication and commitment to start and finish, but you need to decide, for yourself, what kind of pilot you want to be.
Are you the aviator that flies perfect numbers every time? Are you a pilot that hits the books? Are you a flyer that simply flies by the seat of your pants? Are you a student that gets 70, 80 or 90 percent on your tests?
What are you dedicated to achieving? What level do you want to be at?
I’m not specifying where you need to be, by any means. I think all of us are an odd and unique mix of different skill-sets. No one pilot is the same. We are all unique.
What kind of unique will you be?
And when you’ve made up your mind, see it through to the end.
After you’ve dedicated yourself, decided what type of pilot you’ll be, and you’re working really hard at achieving your goals, now it’s time to refine your skills.
Say you come in too high for an approach, managed to get the aircraft down, but only to bounce like Captain Kangaroo down the runway.
What did you learn, and what will you do different next time?
You, and everyone else, will never do something perfect the first time. If you do, it’s a fluke. You’ll screw it up eventually, in one form or another.
All pilots need refinement. That’s why you always hear people talking about ‘hours’ in the aviation community. “How many hours do you have?” “How much time do you have in type?” “How much Multi-Engine time do you have?”. And the list goes on.
Time is a great refiner. Eventually, experiences come up during those hours of flying that teach invaluable lessons for a pilots career and arm him with another weapon in his arsenal in the skies.
You will always be learning, even after you’ve learned the basics. The knowledge to be gained in aviation cannot be gained by any one man.
But it doesn’t mean you can’t try.
I believe that even beyond the required knowledge an aviator must have, whether that’s a virtual aviator or a real one, is the all important attitude of curiosity.
Without curiosity, you will never drive yourself to learn anything other than the requirements. Without the desire to want to learn something to a greater depth, or discover a new subject previously unknown to you, you’ll stay right where you are.
It’s said that, “You will be the same person tomorrow except for the books you read and the people you meet”.
A constant flow of knowledge is always important. Aviation offers us such a great avenue for this curiosity as well. The stuff we can get excited about is actually quite interesting! Just think of all the new technologies coming out on the market, the vast range of different airports and challenges around the world, and the constant improvement and understanding of how pilots interact with their flying machines.
We have a lot to learn. Always. And it’s up to us to stay curious, learn new things, and progress.
By finding a course that’ll work for you, dedicating yourself to that course, refining your skills over time, and keeping a curiosity to continually learn, you will set a solid foundation for your flight skills today, tomorrow, and in the future.
May we suggest that if you were one of the people described above as being a Premature Jet Jockey, that you checkout Aviator90. Aviator90 we offer here at Angle of Attack that will give you a great amount of basic and advanced skills that you can use for your virtual flight career.
You don’t have to stop flying jets. Heck, I never did! But by watching some videos here and there, you’ll gain a greater understanding into how all this flying stuff works, and how you can become a solid aviator.
Join the Conversation!
Are you, or were you, a Premature Jet Jockey? What is your training plan?
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