Friday, June 10, 2011

Dusting off my wings; train the way you fly, fly the way you train

Flying is my passion. As it is an expensive passion, I decided to ground myself so I could focus on more important matters: my wedding and buying a home.

My wife (who is also my best friend) knows my passion for flight and has been encouraging me to take to the skies once again for some time now. Yes, I'd like to go flying, but Chicago's weather and my free time are rarely in sync. My gut tells me they have formed an unholy alliance to keep me grounded. I've been distracting myself by playing guitar, drawing and painting. These hobbies help, but I'd rather be flying.

Microsoft Flight Simulator: My Flying Surrogate

I've played versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator since I was in the 4th grade. When I started my instrument flight training some 15 years later, I realized that it was more that just a game: it's a training tool. In fact, after every instrument flying lesson in an airplane, I would repeat the same lesson on my flight simulator.

I flew the simulator the way I was trained to fly the plane. I did everything the same, from using my checklists to tuning VORs and everything in-between. Plus, I always set the inflight visibility to a half mile just so I could force myself to fly by instruments.

Training to a high standard on the simulator made my flight training seem easy by comparison. Even the flight examiner was impressed that I passed the instrument checkride at the FAA minimum experience requirements!

To this day, I still use my desktop flight simulator to keep my instrument flying skills sharp; however, I am concerned that I'm not training in the plane I normally fly: a Diamond Star DA40 with a G1000 panel. The plane is technologically advanced, meaning it has a lot of fancy gizmos and gadgets that can make long distance flying easier, but it requires knowing how to interact with the flight computer. I'm computer savvy, but staring at a computer screen while flying through the air is a problem in my book.

Don't get me wrong, the Diamond Star still flies like any other airplane. I can navigate "old school" using VORs (I use them to back up GPS data), but my concern is that I can't practice the way I fly. I guess that's what the real plane is for, but I would feel better if I could fly like I train and train like I fly. Not only is it safer, it's considerably less expensive.

Dr. Dave

Posted via email from Dr. Dave Science

1 comment:

Ben said...

It amazing how many flight schools do not want to focus on the full integration of a flight simulator into all types of training, VFR and IFR, so that the pilot minimizes expenses and maximizes safety.