Whether you fly FSX, Prepar3D, or X-Plane, you will need a computer that can handle the graphics and still give a good frame rate.
Frame-rate is the number of times the picture refreshes per second. A framerate of 20 to 30 is a good minimum to shoot for. If you can get a computer that will get up to 60 frames per second that is even better. Some people try to get higher frames up to 120 or more. Continue reading “What kind of computer do you need for a home simulator?”
The giveaway for March is over. I emailed the winner directly and I will announce the name on Facebook if I get permission.
For those of you that did not win, take heart! The next giveaway is coming soon.
On April 30th 2018 I will be giving away another 172 Reality Expansion Pack along with a scenery pack that offers one of the most difficult landings in the world.
April 30th Giveaway – Simulated Dream Vacation in X-Plane 11
- Simcoders Cessna 172 Reality Expansion Pack
- Saint Barthélemy Airport by Nimbus
To enter the drawing: Use the form below to join my mailing list and a subscriber will be chosen at random on April 30th. This will also automatically enter you in all future drawings!
Thanks again for being a part of my mailing list. As always, I am here to answer any aviation questions you may have. If you have any suggested topics, a question, or just want to chat – send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
This question is as old as flight simulation itself. From the earliest computer simulations of flying it has been considered a fun pastime for some and a serious training tool for others.
People on both sides of the discussion have strong feelings about this and I suspect that not everyone will like my answer. Continue reading “Is it a Simulator or a Game?”
Turns are more complex than they look. There are a few things to do in a turn and they are all very important.
An airplane turns by banking to the side. This bank allows some of the lift from the wing to pull the airplane in the direction of the turn.
But there is more to it. In fact, turning an airplane requires simultaneous use of the ailerons, rudder, and elevator controls. Continue reading “Turns”
One of the most basic operations in flight is making a change in altitude. Learning how to manage your energy in a climb or descent is an important basic skill for every pilot to master.
How to Climb
Just pull back to climb, right? WRONG! Continue reading “Climbing and Descending”
The trim wheel is a very helpful tool that makes flying a lot more relaxing. Without it you would be forced to hold the yoke pressure almost all the time while flying around.
On most small airplanes the trim works by moving a trim tab, which is a small control surface usually mounted on the elevator surface itself. This trim tab “flies” the elevator. Continue reading “Understanding Trim”
Location: Westminster, MD Identifier: 2W2 Runway: 14 Weather: Calm Aircraft: Cessna 172 Difficulty: Easy X-Plane 11 Save:Challenge01_2w2_dwnd FSX:SE Saves:challenge01_2w2_downwind challenge01_2w2_downwind challenge01_2w2_downwind
Use the provided save file for your sim to start on left downwind for runway 14. If you aren’t familiar with how to fly a standard traffic pattern, read here.
After landing, make sure to go to the pilot’s shop and buy the coffee mug.
Landing at Clearview airpark is challenging. It is a short narrow field with trees at one end, and a road at the other. You will be landing on runway 14 where tall trees block the approach.
Make sure to focus on landing at the runway numbers beyond the displaced threshold. You should clear the trees with some room to spare. Make sure your airspeed is low enough on final and make a timely decision to go around if things aren’t working out.
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Yes, there are some downsides to using a simulator to learn how to land a plane. However, there are significant benefits to landing in a simulator over real-life.
This is the big obvious advantage. Learning to land in the sim costs basically nothing compared to landing in real life which usually costs around $10 per attempt when renting a plane.
Practicing landings in real life allows for one trip around the pattern every 5 minutes or so. This means that in a 1 hour lesson you usually can’t do more than 12 landing attempts.
The simulator however, let’s you save and load quickly. A good approach leads to a good landing so make sure to spend plenty of time practicing both. It is nice to save on midfield downwind at pattern altitude and the correct speed and then reload this save over and over again to quickly practice approaches to landing.
Once you get the approaches down try saving about 100 feet before the end of the runway so you can practice the touchdown over and over again. Some simulators will even allow you to load your save with a joystick button so you can land again and again!
When landing a real plane you can only access one view: the 3D cockpit view. This is nice but the simulator allows you to land from chase view and really get an idea of how the airplane is behaving during landing.
Practice landings in the chase view sometimes and you will get better at touching down softly.
Debriefing after a flight is one of the best ways to solidify your learning. Use replays of your landings to help recall what worked and what went wrong.
I am a big supporter of flight simulators as a training tool. But, like every tool, there are several drawbacks to using it. In this post we will go through a few of the shortcomings that simulators have when learning to land.
You can’t feel the plane
A big part of the getting the muscle memory and physical skill involved in landing is based on your almost subconscious feeling of the way the airplane is moving. When you are floating just above the pavement your main goal is to keep the aircraft on a steady track despite shifts in the wind and ever-changing airspeed.
When your body senses a pull to one side you can react without thinking with corrective rudder. In the simulator you can only see this motion, so there is a bit of a delay.
The same effect occurs with sinking. As the aircraft loses airspeed it will want to sink and for the early part of the landing you generally want to resist sinking to lose more airspeed. Again, your body can feel this happening a bit faster than your eyes will see it.
The effect of this disadvantage is small, but important.
You can’t see properly
This one has to do with peripheral vision. In a simulator, you generally can’t see out the side of your eyes like you can in real life.
In real-life your eyes can see just about 90 degrees on each side, which is a huge amount of extra information coming in. When landing this means that you can see the pavement racing by out the side and front windows. This little bit of extra information helps your brain to put together an estimate of how high you are in real-time.
I believe modern virtual reality headsets will mitigate this factor somewhat and eventually peripheral vision in a sim may be just as good as real-life.
Your controls feel wrong
When you land a real plane your controls begin to feel “mushy” as the plane slows down. This is simply because there is less air flowing over the wings and you need lots of aileron to get any sort of roll control at all. The same is true for your other control surfaces as well.
In the simulator, the yoke or stick is often very sensitive because there is no feedback to push against. There are some force feedback joysticks out there that may help with this one somewhat.
Despite these drawbacks there are some serious positives to using a simulator to learn how to land.