Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Power of MS Flight Simulator

If you’ve been in flight training for any significant amount of time, and haven’t ever been much of a user of Microsoft Flight Simulator, now is the time to make that change. Even if you don’t have a computer that can take advantage of all of the fancy graphics and visual effects, you can still use this as a valuable tool while learning to fly.

It is “unreal,” how realistic this “game” has become. The truth is, it’s not a game if you make it into something more. This program has advanced into an almost lifelike and very realistic simulation. I mean check out this YouTube video to get an idea how cool this program is.

Pretty awesome, huh? I have owned MSFS 5, 98, 2000, 2002, and 2004 versions. I haven’t branched out and bought FSX yet, mostly because 2004 is so realistic that it still serves all of my purposes. The power, really comes in when using it to work on instrument training. You can set weather conditions to anything you want. I would never take my students out and takeoff in zero zero conditions, but hey, why not try it on FS?? You can really put your skills to the test. I like to set it to low ceilings and visibilities, but also throw in some nasty crosswinds or turbulence as well.

You can then file IFR on the flight planner, and get some really good practice with ATC procedures. Pull out your approach plates, and request practice approaches. Get vectors, or why not do the full approach? Request a hold, fly the published missed, take a cross country, or anything else you can conjure up in your mind.

The point is this. While physically you’re not sitting in an airplane, you are still practicing nearly the same procedures that you will in real life. And for you VFR only guys, there’s no reason why you can’t practice your slow flight, stalls, steep turns, or even take VFR cross countries. Branch out to other areas and fly at basically any airport in the world to break up the monotony and get used to procedures other than your home airport.

You can pick up FSX on eBay for less than $20. If you have a computer, make the investment. It's worth it. So long.

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