Even if the FAA’s current proposal to allow the use of personal computer flight simulators to maintain currency doesn’t make it into the FAR/AIM, you can still use Microsoft Flight Simulator to develop your pilot skills.
Bruce Williams, a Seattle-based flight instructor, tells you how in “Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid.” The book and companion CD are available from Aviation Supplies & Academics, Inc.
Williams, who has a background in computers, has worked on six different versions of Microsoft Flight Simulator. In this 241-page book, he offers tips and techniques for all levels of pilots to get the most out of the time spent in front of their PCs.
The book has a wealth of technical information on what hardware and software are required to get the most out of Microsoft Flight Simulator. There is a multitude of black and white illustrations, as well as instructions on how to capture a screen shot to use during a presentation, such as in a ground school.
Williams cautions that the use of a personal computer will not build stick and rudder skills because most yoke, stick and rudder pedal set-ups currently on the market do not feel realistic enough. However, if you have a sophisticated graphics card, Microsoft Flight Simulator can help you develop your situational awareness when you go into unfamiliar airports because the scenery is very accurate.
Williams also cautions readers that the PC should not be used in lieu of flight instruction from a certificated instructor.
For instructors who want to make use of PCs, Williams offers tips and suggestions on how to incorporate Microsoft Flight Simulator into a training program. It is especially useful, he notes, for VFR pilots who can practice their cross-country skills on days when the weather will not permit flight. It also can help instrument students perfect their scans and holding pattern entries.
Learning and practicing these things with a PC usually saves students money, since PCs do not have a Hobbs meter. It also is safer to fly a PC when you are learning and developing your ability to multitask because when you crash a computer due to inattention it is usually less physically damaging than crashing an airplane.
Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid, by Bruce Williams; Aviation Supplies & Academics Inc., 241 pages, illustrations; $29.95. For more information: 800-ASA-2-FLY or ASA.2Fly.com.