Step number 1. Install Flight Simulator. You can use other flight simulators but instructions and procedures will be using Microsoft’s flight simulator. The version doesn’t matter. In my books, I used 2002, then 2004 and in these blog pages and pictures, you will see FSX with the expansion pack.
The lessons remain the same. Remember, we are learning to fly, not learning to use flight simulator. We will learn some menu items along the way, but that’s not the focus. Imagine if we were to sign up for a real pilot license and instead of learning to take off and land, we learned all about the airplane parts. Give me any airplane, then teach me the skills to safely leave the earth and return again. Flight Simulator is that vehicle. Even if you simply install the defaults and then “Fly Now” you will be ready to take off. So I don’t focus on a thousand menu options. We get it installed, pick our local airport and start learning to fly using real flight lessons I had when I learned for real.
Let’s get it installed: Flight Simulator of any version (they all have accurate runways and procedures), and then plug in a yoke. Yes, a flight yoke. So many people try to fly flight simulator with the cursor keys or the mouse. They crash, then they say its a stupid game. They don’t know how to fly and never will know using arrow keys and mice.
Step number 2: Buy a plastic yoke from anywhere you can find one. I bought most of mine online but sometimes bought more at pilot shops, like the ones in the Toronto area. Every major airport has a pilot shop. You will love just dropping in and seeing what they have. Now I say I bought a few… well to run a school I had to have one for every person and some classes had 12 or 14 people. I could have had more, but didn’t have enough yokes. Here is a simple setup using an HP Envy laptop:
That screen snap was a Cessna 172 on the tarmac at Toronto Island Airport with the Toronto skyline in the background. Sweet! Now I also installed the FSX Expansion pack. You don’t need anything else. There are plenty of add-ons and a huge market here. Just learn on the Cessna 172 like most training schools do. When you graduate, start qualifying on other aircraft.
You can even have more screens if your computer allows, but this will do for most of your flying. You can also add rudder pedals, but for beginners, we use the default “coordinated flight” so we don’t need rudders. Rudder pedals are used to steer on the ground and to make “coordinated turns”. Our beginner classes don’t worry about that. Here is a picture of the software I installed.
Next blog entry will have me running the software and setting you up on the tarmac, engine off at Toronto Island Airport. This is exciting and you will learn using real flight plans and checklists.