If you’re wondering if Flight Simulator can teach you to fly, the answer is yes.
Flight simulators are routinely used across the world as part of flight training to help pilots hone their skills.
One of the main benefits of flight simulators is that they safely and accurately replicate flying conditions under all kinds of conditions.
Flight simulators can also easily replicate the flying experience in different aircraft.
However, flight simulators can’t properly teach pilots how to take off, land, or taxi their planes. Nor can flight simulators fully replicate the entire flying experience.
Despite these shortcomings, flight simulators remain used by flight schools around the world.
It’s also worth noting that there are several different kind of flight simulators, not just the popular Microsoft Flight Simulator series.
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How Flight Simulator Can Help You to Learn to Fly
Flight simulators are used to train pilots because it’s not always safe or practical to fly under real conditions.
Pilots have to be trained to fly under different conditions, including various air densities, wind shears, and weather.
As it’s not possible to practically replicate these conditions in the real world, this is where flight simulators come in.
Since flight simulators are programmable, they can easily provide training experience to pilots under diverse weather conditions.
For example, flight simulators can easily replicate high turbulence conditions to train pilots how to handle these tough conditions.
Flight simulators also provide pilots with experience and training with conducting difficult and dangerous maneuvers if necessary.
The biggest benefit of flight simulators is that they give pilots the opportunity to easily gain experience and knowledge with aircraft controls, specifically navigation and instruments.
So, the benefits of flight simulators are that they provide a safe and practical training experience that helps pilots fly under diverse conditions.
How Flight Simulator Won’t Help You Learn to Fly
Flight simulators are not useful for ground operation, like parking or taxiing an airplane, since these activities are hard to simulate.
These ground operations also involve other technical activities like pre-flight inspection and interpreting weather data, which are best learned through real, hands-on experience.
Flight simulators are also ineffective in teaching radio communication, as they don’t teach pilots how to talk on radios or how to receive radio transmissions.
Pilots learn proper radio communication most effectively through practical experience via real conversations in the cockpit.
Flight simulators also have limited effectiveness in teaching pilots how to properly take off.
Pilots can’t observe or experience the dynamic forces and conditions involved in real-world take-offs in a flight simulator.
Additionally, flight simulators can’t realistically replicate the experience and feeling of actual flight, though they are still useful in this regard.
Flight Simulators Are Used in Training
Yes, flight simulators are a common part of modern flight training.
Many of the world’s largest airlines and flight schools extensively employ flight simulators, with some flight schools and airlines depending on flight simulators more than others.
Flight simulators are mostly used as part of pilot training, since they provide a safe and practical alternative to real-world flying conditions.
In fact, many flight schools, like the Epic Flight Academy, heavily rely on flight simulators to teach pilots to fly under different conditions.
Pilots experience the most realistic flight training through full-motion simulators.
Some flight schools even encourage pilots to further improve their skills through flight simulators like the popular Microsoft Flight Simulator.
So, even experienced and qualified pilots use flight simulators in some capacity.
Flight Simulators Can Count Towards Flight Time
Flight simulators can count towards flight time, depending on the simulator used and the aircraft flown.
For example, if there is an instructor or inspector present, a pilot’s flight hours in an FAA certified simulator can be counted towards flight time.
But, there are limits to the number of hours that can be logged, and virtually every FAA rating requires real flight hours in the aircraft.
Best Flight Simulator Setup For Learning How to Fly
Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane are the most common flight simulator setups for home use.
Both flight simulators are known for their high-quality design and plentiful features.
Many aviation experts and authorities also rate Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane as providing pilots with the most accurate flying experience.
That being said, there are also many other flight simulators available, but Microsoft Flight Simulator and X-Plane remain the best and most widely used.
Even Qualified Pilots Use Flight Simulators
Yes, many qualified pilots use flight simulators to further improve their skills, even through the use of Microsoft Flight Simulator in the comfort of their homes.
Flight simulators are also widely used for both recurrent training and proficiency checks to ensure pilots’ abilities are maintained.
Qualified pilots can even use flight simulators to start training on new aircraft.
For example, Cockpit Procedures Trainers (CPT) let pilots improve their ability to perform basic cockpit procedures.
Qualified pilots also widely use flight simulators, since they can replicate flying conditions for any aircraft.
In conclusion, flight simulators can help you learn how to fly, as they safely replicate different conditions for pilots to practice flying under.
But, flight simulators cannot replicate the take-off, taxiing, or landing experiences for pilots.
Despite these few limitations, flight simulators are an extremely useful component of flight training, and even experienced and qualified pilots use flight simulators to hone their skills or to help obtain new certifications.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.