So last month I had a long-planned and much-anticipated lesson cancel on me. Weather was perfect and everything else seemed to be in alignment, but never mind…. Anyway, I have been much lamenting the fact that my lessons are always so broadly spaced – think I am averaging less than 1 per month, over the last year or so and it has been a real struggle even when I do get a lesson in to retain the info. I spend a good portion of the time recapping the last one.
This time, I decided to wipe an old laptop and I found a copy of Flight Sim X for $15 at JB Hi -Fi. That and a decent joy-stick (Logitech Attack 3?) with lots of buttons to assign, and I was in business.
I went through most of the “Flying Lessons” and “Missions” over the space of the last few weeks, and also did a fair amount of “Free Flying” where I can pick an airplane along with a departure and destination. I actually was able to use my VTC to get from Bankstown to Wollongong after just a couple of tries, and even got there within a couple minutes of my estimate.
I find that because you can’t get the view in your peripheral vision, it is very easy to overshoot the runway turning on final, which makes it not helpful for that part of it, but I find lining up fairly easy in real-life anyway.
So – the verdict? Well, no it isn’t 100% true-to-life, and there are some irritating limitations that keep it from being completely realistic. BUT. It really keeps you in the head-space, helps practice moving in 3-dimensional airspace using your controls (i disable auto-yaw and have assigned a couple of buttons for rudder), and most importantly gives great mental practice at having the right thoughts at the right times, coupled with the control inputs – like building muscle memory in the mind.
I have been able to use it to spot some deficiencies in my own process and smooth them out – for example when I had an engine go out, I completely froze on what to do!! This showed me that is exactly what would have happened in real life. So I practiced that a bit and now it is more or less automatic. As a bonus, I had my lesson this weekend where we did engine failures and practice forced landings, and guess what – it didn’t feel like the first time!! In fact, my instructor said i achieved certificate standard first time out!
All in all, probably the most powerful money I have spent in terms of bang for the buck. I also find that it is helpful after a lesson in going over things you just learned (in absence of being able to do several lessons in a week)
Thanks, Flight Sim X!