Frequently Asked Questions
Answer all of your questions
Your coach will act as the air traffic controller to simulate ATC communications.
For some lessons, we may connect to a a virtual ATC network such as VATSIM or PilotEdge.
- Internet upload speed of approximately 2 Mbps (check yours at Speedtest.net). This is to ensure that I’ll be able to see your simulator in real-time and at a high enough frame rate. There are alternative solutions available if you have less than 2 Mbps.
- Zoom or other VoIP program with screen share capability
- A simulator, such as: Microsoft Flight Simulator, FSX, X-Plane (preferred), Flight Gear (free!), or Prepar3D
- Yoke or joystick
- Computer microphone
Additional Preferred Equipment
- Rudder pedals
- Throttle quadrant
- A large screen or multi-monitor setup (or consider Track IR)
The value you get from simulator training, and the likelihood of not developing bad habits, is highly dependent on the quality of the instruction you receive. An FAA-certified instructor is trained in the fundamentals of teaching and learning. One of the most important aspects of this is the “law of primacy”, which the FAA describes as:
"Primacy, the state of being first, often creates a strong, almost unshakable impression and underlies the reason an instructor must teach correctly the first time and the student must learn correctly the first time."
A high-quality real-world instructor will be able to teach you properly, using real-world procedures and airmanship thinking, from day 1. This will help to avoid costly “reteaching” of material and fixing bad habits you would otherwise develop on your own, without the help of an instructor.
An experienced, real world CFI can help mitigate this, by explaining what things may feel or behave differently in the actual aircraft versus the simulator. In general, like we discuss here, we do not attempt to train skills that are highly dependent on seat of the pants feeling.
Even though the simulator may not react to your control inputs in the same way the real airplane would, this can be a good thing for developing your flexibility as a pilot. You will have to learn to adapt to multiple aircraft types as you fly new airplanes as a pilot; think of your simulator as being just one of those many aircraft types you will eventually want to learn.
We maintain a list of suggested aircraft models to use with superior aerodynamic modeling
While I firmly believe in the value of desktop simulator training, there are definite limitations. Here are some items that are impractical to teach properly in a desktop simulator environment:
- Takeoffs / landings: While there is definite training value in practicing traffic patterns and approaches, we cannot effectively teach landings in a simulator, as they are highly dependent on seat of the pants feel, proper height above runway/visual cues with peripheral vision, etc. However, the good thing is that when you don’t have to think as much about the other tasks which we can effectively train in the simulator (the relationships between pitch and power, approach procedures, monitoring ATC, etc.), you will be able to focus more on just landing the airplane, and learn landings more quickly.
- Preflight / fueling procedures / walkarounds / postflight
- Seat-of-the-pants cues, such as the feeling of uncoordinated flight and buffeting as you get close to stall
- Muscle memory (pushing buttons on the GPS, for example) – unless you have a more sophisticated setup with physical hardware or touchscreens