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Nev25

Learning tool or a game

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I'm sure this has been asked before but I am asking again

 

Had a play with a number of P.C.(windows) based flight simulators

 

Admitably where not full versions (or where pirated (not by me)) wasn't that impressed

 

But not being bitten by the flying bug again and seeing this

 

Wondering it is really a learning tool or a game??

 

 

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It can be either. It depends on the way you approach the exercise. Even the most complex are not real aeroplanes but the fidelity, (performance to figures, weights power etc) is very close in the best ones. Saves a lot of money and lives. Nev

 

 

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Great for procedural things, as is a real sim. As for flying skills, pretty much useless. I learned how to use the G1000 on Flight Simulator and the basics of IFR flight, was good for that.

 

 

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It will depend a lot on your computer, and what sort of controls you have. I'm no computer geek, but, if you have a computer that is too slow to run it at it's best, and a desk mounted stick with no pedals, it probably wont really be anything like reality.

 

I made a floor mounted stick/ pedal/ throttle assembly out of a $2 stick from the tip and a few metal offcuts, Ant's Airplanes has quite a realistic Drifter that comes with good Boonah scenery for FSX that responds much like a Drifter in the stall and spin amongst other things.

 

 

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I agree it depends on your attitude to it. Treat it like the real thing and you'll get more out of it. Do the procedures, circuits - even the radio calls (even if it means putting up with the sound of the wife laughing in the next room). I have saved a lot of $$'s practicing the drills on the sim rather than the air. When I was doing circuit training (for example), I found myself making similar mistakes on the sim as in the air - like keeping straight and level when doing the downwind checks, so I was able to correct my technique (which was all in my head).

 

And if you install the Orbx, OZx and Ant's scenery - chances are you'll have an airfield to practice with that is your own. :)

 

 

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I noticed if I missed downwind checks, particularly when changing aircraft types a few (dozen) circuits would re-enforce the procedures. Little changes like going from left hand yoke to right hand stick, swapping throttle hands, hand brakes vs foot brakes.

 

If muscle memory is something that works with repetition and is lost without it, a procedures trainer made out of cornflakes boxes and cello-tape will work too. So long as the procedures are the right ones in the right order.

 

The desktop trainer is more fun so you'll probably use it for longer

 

 

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I use X-Plane on a Mac and find it fantastic as a learning tool; even handy for practising approaches to unfamiliar strips without getting out of bed. Even the stock-standard scenery is astonishingly accurate as far as topography goes - quite recognisably so. Just about all the airstrips in the country (and the world) are there, in correct dimension, orientation, slope and surface. As are most navaids etc. Roads and railways and rivers are mostly where they should be (complete with trains and traffic) so you can even use the application to practice cross-country flights (human settlements, though, are pretty dodgy).

 

You can dial in any wind and weather you want, at several levels - or choose random WX - even real-time actual. I've even used the sim to brush up on wind triangle problems using a whiz-wheel. For exercises like that I set the virtual aircraft up on autopilot so I don't need to hand fly the computer for hours on end waiting for that calculated closing-angle to be made good.

 

But these days the most amazing plus is having your virtual flight display perfectly in OzRunways (or AVplan or AirNavPro). It's absolutely the best way to learn the ins and outs of these complicated programs. And it makes cross-country exercises even more fun and educational. (You can see those triangles at work!) Another reason to save avgas and stay in bed!

 

Flying circuits, though, I find one of the hardest things to do on the computer. I keep losing sight of the runway. I'm not set up with a fancy system where you can easily glance sideways. (And when I try, bizarrely, I see mainly the wall of the aircraft interior! ;-) For that reason I favour virtual straight-ins, leaving proper circuitry to lived reality. But it could teach you good discipline, I suppose, if you fly strictly by the heights and headings (wind-corrected) of all five legs. Ironically, I find it easier to play around with virtual instrument approaches to zero/zero than to fly CAVOK circuits.

 

I do have a yoke and pedals for the X-Plane but I rarely bother with them, finding it quite okay to fly using the trackpad and keyboard. Actually, given that the flight modelling, the instrumentation and the scenery (from any angle imaginable) is so accurate I doubt that lack of 'realism' regarding the sensation of flight is an issue at all.

 

(I was reading somewhere that even airline simulation gurus have doubts as to the usefulness of their elaborate motion mechanisms to actual learning.)

 

Of course, sims - especially consumer versions - are in no way a substitute for real world flying experience. Especially when, like me, for example, you dispense with the rudder altogether. This is not teaching oneself actual aircraft handling - and yet, the very fact that so much of the stress and sensation of the real world is absent in sim flight, other aspects - like the mental processes we could call aeronautical thinking - become isolated; the better to be practised and developed.

 

 

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I wont even bother when it doesn't have pedals. I was a bit concerned when I first fast taxied my 95.10 (short taildragger), so I went and set up FSX at it's most difficult settings, with maximum sensitivity and no null on the controller, then went about taking off and landing the cub, that really got my feet working, and my mind anticipating the aircraft. After I got the hang of that , and it took a while, I had no problems at all with my 95.10.

 

I still set it up if I'm getting rusty (been a week or so).

 

 

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Consider the fair weather flyer in thermals and turbulence of the mid day kind. Especially the bit where you power away from a perfectly reasonable descent and flare because a) all the wind socks are suddenly no longer in agreement or b) the uncommanded yaw rate can't completely be overcome while keeping the wing tip off the ground.

 

Noticing the seat belt over your lap for the first time since the circuit departure call because a bump just slammed you down enough to register as negative G ... Fighting for yaw and roll control at 4500 feet as a patchwork of green and brown fields slides by. Feeling the powerful up drafts every time a cloud obscures the sun overhead.

 

Getting exhausted trying to keep a decent heading and altitude with all the up, down and side drafts then dreading the descent because in reality it's quite fun half a mile up, the air flowing in to the cabin is reasonably cool and you are just going to sweat while standing still in the shade on the ground. Also, while this sounds unpleasant (it is) the pilot who voluntarily subjects him or herself to these conditions in a controlled way with good advice will come back safely with an increase in personal minima.

 

"Can't do this with an avatar. There is no pause button"

 

 

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Consider the fair weather flyer in thermals and turbulence of the mid day kind. Especially the bit where you power away from a perfectly reasonable descent and flare because a) all the wind socks are suddenly no longer in agreement or b) the uncommanded yaw rate can't completely be overcome while keeping the wing tip off the ground.

Noticing the seat belt over your lap for the first time since the circuit departure call because a bump just slammed you down enough to register as negative G ... Fighting for yaw and roll control at 4500 feet as a patchwork of green and brown fields slides by. Feeling the powerful up drafts every time a cloud obscures the sun overhead.

 

Getting exhausted trying to keep a decent heading and altitude with all the up, down and side drafts then dreading the descent because in reality it's quite fun half a mile up, the air flowing in to the cabin is reasonably cool and you are just going to sweat while standing still in the shade on the ground. Also, while this sounds unpleasant (it is) the pilot who voluntarily subjects him or herself to these conditions in a controlled way with good advice will come back safely with an increase in personal minima.

 

"Can't do this with an avatar. There is no pause button"

No,it will never feel the same, but it has it's purpose.

 

 

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Muscle memory, coordination and motor unit development wont improve and will likely be counter productive.

 

But for cognitive decision making, basic directional coordination and procedural practice it certainly can be very very beneficial.

 

So my advice with a degree and post graduate study in this exact area is use it for practicing procedures and decision making, but avoid practicing landing technique on it until you are very proficient at landing in a real aircraft. Sure fly the circuits but avoid the round out and hold off if you are currently training and have not yet mastered reasonable landings.

 

For a non pilot with no intentions of learning immediately it wont matter. But for a pilot with a few hours or just about to start practicing landing technique would definitely not be ideal. Particularly for an LSA with fast movements and reactions. In an airliner that has huge mass some scenarios eg without massive cross winds would be closer to reality.

 

I should also add that from a proprioception point of view, what you feel , the positions of your joints, vibrations etc etc its totally foreign. For normal flight that wont matter, but for landings its best not to confuse an already overloaded learner pilot with incorrect proprioceptive stimuli.

 

 

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In earlier days, I have thought about building a device with the same properties as the top one.

 

 

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Muscle memory, coordination and motor unit development wont improve and will likely be counter productive.But for cognitive decision making, basic directional coordination and procedural practice it certainly can be very very beneficial.

 

.

I found the setup I mentioned above worked very well, but the it wasn't the rounding out and holding off I was practicing, but the act of keeping it as straight as possible when power was increased/decreased, and when the tail raised/lowered. Without pedals though, it would have been useless.

 

 

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Sorry my first paragraph above needs correcting. For Basic directional control, especially learning to coordinate the feet with the hands (slip and coord) it would be excellent . But for precise coordination it becomes problematic.

 

For taxiing excellent.

 

For flying circuits excellent

 

For practicing procedures excellent

 

For practicing landings, ok to get the basics down pat, but beyond that would likely be very counter productive to someone trying to learn real landings.

 

For someone who knows how to land well, it would be fine.

 

For learning how the basics of control direction, pitch roll and yaw, excellent.

 

 

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I did a lot of circuits in the sim that I built, before I learned to fly for real. I think it helped me with the perspectives of the approach angles and timing of the flare. The turns from downwind to base were a bit awkward, having to flick the view all the time, but by doing that I was able to judge my position. I also used the ATC facilities in FSX quite extensively and they gave me some ideas about radio procedures.

 

The biggest flaw in simming IMO is that they don't seem to require downwind checklists.

 

 

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I did a 3 hour dual navex at the end of March 2015. Here is a list of my mistakes, in real life:

 

  • Dropped not one but two pencils on the floor, lost them both. Found three after the flight, instructor was chuffed at that
     
  • Dropped one clear plastic ruler. Lost it too
     
  • Didn't change tanks as often as I should have (poor log keeping, less familiar aircraft type)
     
  • Didn't trust the log I did write, gave up on my destination early only to discover I was where I should have been not where I thought I was
     
  • Maps and ERSA pages detached from kneeboard, kneeboard slid onto floor. Paper everywhere
     
  • Poor altitude and heading hold while doing head down work in the cockpit
     
  • E6B isn't as useful in the baggage hold where it can't be reached
     

 

Plus, at 6500 feet there was so much haze I couldn't tell the difference between train tracks and roads. Afternoon thermals made trimming almost a waste of time.

 

This was in a Warrior so the side pocket was not only small it already had stuff in it. Next time I'll stow the kneeboard and anything else I'm not using in the pocket behind the seat.

 

Back to the simulator to see what went wrong, how and what to do:

 

I've been doing three turn, two landing navigation exercises every night as time permits, with realistic wind and turbulence. Sometimes its boring but I think it is paying off. I have been practising what the instructor told me in the de-brief.

 

I've been told this before but holding onto a pencil when its not needed is just asking to drop it somewhere you can't reach or see. I need to remember to put it down - not just on top of the map but in a pocket on my person. Note to self: Have shirts with pockets. Stow EVERYTHING I am not immediately using somewhere it can be kept in order and retrieved one handed.

 

I don't use OzRunways for sim work because I need to practise using the E6B - both sides of it. Its gratifying to discover I got the right answer ... because the destination appears more or less where and when its supposed to. Updating the log with new time estimates as ground features are identified is a good sanity check for ground speed and track errors. This needs to be checked with mental math or preferably the E6B.

 

I'm learning to do a lot of stuff one handed like folding maps, drawing then measuring lines with a pencil and doing up the kneeboard. All the while, trying to fly straight and level from the comfort of my kitchen chair. Comforting for the next navex.

 

Don't forget IFR and partial panel in the simulator too. Its not always on the PPL practical exam but it can be.

 

The big one for me is log keeping. I don't normally wear a watch so I put a clock on the desk next to me.

 

A 20 knot wind is not unreasonable for the simulator just make it not all cross wind for the runway you intent to land on. It helps the eye get used to not seeing the track parallel to the longitudinal axis.

 

Sometimes I still mess it up totally like flying a course of 203 instead of 303 degrees then wondering where the really big hills came from, thinking I'm over the left branch of a lake when its actually the right and making an un-needed 1-in-60 track change or flying straight past my destination because I came round a hill and didn't look out the side window (more easy to ignore the side windows in the sim than the petrol burner). Getting lost then fixing it without (or with, your choice) radio navigation or anything other than a paper map, a compass and a clock appears to me to be a worthwhile challenge when eyeing off the PPL practical exam or the RA-Aus XC endorsement. I recently soloed my eighth aircraft type since starting flying training so this is the last thing left to do. After this many years I've given up being in a hurry. I'll settle for being prepared.

 

My next navex is up the coast past Nowra to Wollongong then back over the escarpment to Canberra via Goulburn. In May, in a real airplane. Only then will I know how much time I wasted.

 

 

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Try putting a bit of fishing line onto ruler, pencil, e6b etc and feeding them through a button hole on your shirt. then when you drop them you can at least retrieve them again.

 

 

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I simulated the flight from Canberra to Nowra then Wollongong with varying cloud bases and varying winds plus moderate turbulence. I did this maybe four times mostly at night after a full day’s work. I paid very careful attention to threats and errors in the simulation. The errors I made in the simulator were:

 

1. Not noting the time the throttle was opened. Seems trivial but when ATC and the wind are favourable you don't get to say what time you were over the top of the airfield, you just Get out of Dodge. Noting the time the throttle was opened on the initial roll will give you a good idea when the flight started.

 

2. Still not changing tanks or keeping a fuel log. Turns out that is a big deal in a Piper Warrior and changing tanks during a practice forced landing is a big deal too.

 

3. Getting flustered when an 8 minute leg was more like a 6 minute leg in a GA lane. Getting bored and losing concentration, then not maintaining correct altitude while doing some "heads down" work. This lead to being lost for a few minutes at a time.

 

4. Not leaning mixture at the top of climb. Not pushing the mixture to rich on descent.

 

5. Not diverting due cloud. This isn't a problem that the simulator can help with as the cloud base can't be localised only stratified. I did do some diversion practices just to be sure I could, regardless of cloud.

 

What went well:

 

1. Initial issues with maintaining altitude and heading in moderate turbulence got better with practice. Still not great but getting good enough to pass the PPL (you want consistently better than ±150 feet in simulator turbulence before the PPL exam and preferably ±50 feet to keep something up your sleeve.

 

2. Whiz wheel, protractor and ruler work on the map and flight log got easier

 

3. Handling the stationery with one hand and not dropping it got easier

 

4. I knew the instructor would U/S the ADF the moment I relied on it for anything so I used it less and less. I initially used it as I got tired at the end of the simulation but I knew that was going to be just another crutch to kick out from under me.

 

5. Most importantly, I knew where all the land marks were. This was going to be critical on the dual navex. More on that in a minute.

 

I did the dual navex on the afternoon of 15th May. The weather was clear in Canberra but scattered tending overcast all the way up the coast, as forecast. We launched late (as often happens in aviation) but the afternoon rush hadn't started yet.

 

I filed for 7500 feet tracking east to Ulladulla (UDA). By Braidwood, still in controlled airspace I asked for 6500 due cloud, got that clearance then began to descend and turn south towards the King’s Highway as the cloud was lower closer to the coast and the lower flatter ground was south. I ended up steering for Bateman’s Bay for two reasons – I knew what it was and roughly how long it was going to take to get there plus I could see it already so I had some time to plan a two leg diversion. It cost me an extra 42 nm (25 minutes in a 3+ hour flight) but the stress was significantly less.

 

At Ulladulla it was overcast, grey and not particularly bumpy. I turned on my landing light so I could be seen but it was pretty quiet as the military had gone home for the day. At 2000 feet I could not quite see the left edge of St George’s basin until I was within 5Nm. Its further inland than that map suggests. An RA-Aus plane – a Sting or a Sling left Wollongong so I descended to 1500 feet but I never saw it going the other way. I suppose it passed us near Coolangatta Mountain.

 

I hadn’t changed the ADF since Canberra and I wasn’t particularly paying attention to it. I tuned the ADF for Wollongong at Kiama just after changed to Wollongong CTAF and made an inbound call. I turned onto the planned heading, only to see that familiar hand reach out and a voice say “That’s just gone u/s”. No problem. I had planned for this (specifically the ADF u/s at Kiama) and the terrain was familiar because I had practised the approach from Kiama to Wollongong in all sorts of strange weather. I turned left a bit further north of the rail line to avoid the hill and set up for a downwind join on to runway 16, just like in the simulator.

 

Having a dirty great red and white 747 sticking out of the airfield helped a lot.

 

After 70 minutes I’d forgotten to change tanks twice. D’Oh!

 

Wollongong was pretty quiet. The weather was looking dreary with a solid overcast hanging above the escarpment like a guillotine … tempting people to enter the valley at their peril. We chatted a lot about how or if getting back to Canberra was feasible and when all of the facts would be known. Beers instead of flying back home that afternoon … hmm. The only real way to decide on the escarpment was to do an overhead departure and see if there was blue sky out the other (western) side, or not. By 3700 feet it was obviously blue sky to the west, no rain in the overcast and little or no wind. So off we went into the area north of Kangaroo Valley and R420A (inactive but we pretended anyway because we were late to the party).

 

I hate flying in valleys. Fortunately, even with the overcast keeping us well below 4000 feet there were plenty more clearings than I expected so I zigged and zagged a bit so I could glide clear of the vertical cliff faces at the very least. The instructor thought this was being un-necessarily cautious so he gave me foggles to take my mind off the scummy weather and terrain outside. It worked and I relaxed into a scan while he worked hard on getting us lost. By the time the foggles came off, the sun was shining again and we were over flat dry land.

 

I did my lost procedure, did my PFL which I still suck at because I’m used to the glide of a Drifter or a C150 not a C172 or a Warrior. But the procedures and check lists were OK. I got the Goulburn CTAF and the Canberra ATIS mixed up because I was tired by then so I pointed us away from controlled air space and got it sorted out before performing the “Hi honey I’m home” ritual with Canberra Approach at Lake Bathurst. I wasn’t the best at maintaining heading or altitude by downwind so I can see how people can fly safely for hundreds of miles only to trash an OK airplane just outside the home airport fence. I got the penalty box (two orbits please) at Lake George South for turning up at rush hour.

 

For giggles and some other reasons not worth mentioning we landed in Canberra with a tail wind and the sun in our eyes. Bad combination. ATC took pity and turned up the VASI which made a huge difference because until then I couldn’t see anything that looked like a place I wanted to land. All I could see were scratches until the four white lights came on. As we descended the sun disappeared behind Mount Anslie and everything got more normal.

 

The landing was uneventful.

 

Emptying the pocket in the back of the right seat, shoving it somewhere it should have already been and replacing it with the stuff I actually needed – maps, ERSA, ruler etc worked well. I still managed to drop one pencil but this time I brought two. Also putting stuff I didn’t immediately need back in to the pocket saved me more than a few times. Why don’t people mention this stuff before the navex training?

 

What the simulator could help with from this flight:

 

  1. Instrument flight (IF) obviously but if you fly a simulator the IF is easy and everything else is hard
     
  2. More spot landing practice for PFLs. For the simulator the PFL will be all the way to the ground and stopped, every time
     
  3. Yet more log keeping and remembering to change tanks with specific emphasis on fuel logs.
     
  4. I still managed to bust my selected altitude twice because I was distracted, just like in the simulator.
     

 

 

Next flight is very soon:

 

Canberra, Camden, Bankstown (land) then up to Hornsby and back to Canberra via Victor 1.

 

I’m not sure the simulator is going to be much help with this one at all.

 

 

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I know its an old thread, but could someone tell me more about sims.

 

I'd like to know if there are any for jabiru's.

 

What do you need to set it up?

 

Can you get any airfields for it, was thinking Benalla, Wangaratta type,etc

 

I don't even know what questions to ask yet, but I guess as I find out more I will have more questions.

 

Appreciate any info. Never used them or even seen any other than "game" types.

 

 

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I know its an old thread, but could someone tell me more about sims.I'd like to know if there are any for jabiru's.

Nothing dedicated to the Jab, but certainly they're available as an add-on to FSX.

Iris simulation has done the J160, that you can buy here for $28. They've even got a Dynon D10 in its panel!

 

There are also dozens of add-on airports, both freeware and payware available, if you google FSX Australian Airport or similar. Like here.

 

To run it, get the best computer you can afford. A good video card (1GB+) and at least 8GB of RAM should see you right, but bigger there is better. Keep an eye out on Occulus Rift, a set of 3D video glasses that will revolutionise flight sims in the months to come.

 

 

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