While nothing beats the act of actually manning the control wheel of an airplane, using a flight simulator can be a great way for aspiring pilots to get a sense for what flying is like. There are a number of flight simulator products and programs available today, and the technological advances in both software development and screen technology mean these aren’t your grandfather’s flight simulators.
For those who are pursuing flight school and their pilot’s license, using a flight simulator can provide a number of additional benefits to traditional training processes.
1) More Affordable Than Flying
With the fuel, maintenance, insurance and flight instructor fees, costs start to add up when you fly an actual airplane. Using a flight simulator, on the other hand, cuts out these overhead costs, easing some of the financial pressure of learning to fly. Plus, under certain programs, you can reduce the number of airborne lessons you may need to take by checking-off some flight plans through simulation. At the end of the process, you’re likely to see major savings compared to the cost of learning everything in the sky.
2) Safest Way to Learn
Of course, you’re plenty safe when flying with a certified flight instructor, but naturally the closer to the ground you are – the safer you are. Simulators give you the chance to learn and experiment with aircraft controls and flight methods from the safety of the ground. Without worrying about making a detrimental mistake, you’ll feel much more comfortable learning the flying tasks at hand. Even veteran pilots who are progressing on to more advanced certifications can benefit from using flight simulators, practicing emergency procedures or experiencing unique flying circumstances before they happen in the air.
3) Ace Navigational Procedures
Flight simulators can recreate almost any situation, helping student pilots improve their navigational abilities under both visual and instrument flight rules (VFR/IFR). Do you have a big flight coming up – perhaps your first cross-country solo? Well, create the scenario within the software, and use the simulator to practice the complete route ahead of time. You’re able to load a flight to your chosen airport with real-world runway layouts, as well as accurate roads, lakes, rivers, terrain and other airports below. This way, you know exactly what to do, from planning flight paths to identifying stopping points along the way to executing take-offs and landings.
4) Repetition Builds Knowledge and Muscle Memory
In simulated flight, if something goes wrong – a botched maneuver, miscommunication with air traffic control (ATC) or wrong coordinate input, for example – you can simply reset the route and start over without any ill consequences. With the ability to quickly repeat these procedures, you build up the necessary knowledge and muscle memory that makes you totally prepared when you hop in the cockpit.
5) Master (And Avoid) Any Type of Weather
As student pilots in Minnesota know, flight simulators are essential when a summer storm or winter blizzard keeps you from flying. If one of your airtime lessons is grounded, a flight simulator offers the next best solution to keeping the learning process on track. Plus, a simulator is able to recreate any type of weather over any type of terrain to help students practice the necessary techniques for mastering these conditions, whether it’s rain, wind, ice or snow.
6) Stay Proficient
As you progress through flight school, you’ll become aware of how important it is to constantly be practicing, even after you obtain a private pilot certification. Regardless of if you plan on pursuing your instrument rating or commercial license, it’s crucial that you maintain proficiency in the cockpit. Flight simulators provide an affordable way to keep your skills sharp so that you’re always safe in the sky.
7) Practice at Home
There are more options available to student pilots than just professional flight simulators at a flight school. In fact, there are many personal flight simulators that you can setup on a home PC; Microsoft Flight Simulator X and X-Plane are two of the more popular options on today’s market. Plus, there are many add-ons available such as instrument panels, control wheels and pedals, that can connect directly to your computer to help make the simulation feel more real. While the hours spent flying on these programs cannot be counted towards your official flight time requirements, you can certainly practice flying procedures at your leisure and advance your knowledge outside of the classroom.
8) Hone Your Radio Skills
Communicating with ATC and other pilots while in the air and on the ground is an essential skill that will be drilled into your lesson plan throughout flight school. While it can be confusing, even somewhat intimidating at first, flight simulators can help take some of the pressure off of newbies. Thankfully, flight simulators provide a stress-free environment to practice, with the many options available to work on proper radio communication, allowing aspiring pilots to hone their skills before they’re airborne.
9) Learn in Less Time
Depending on how it’s applied, using a flight simulator can cut your learning time down quite substantially. For example, an IFR lesson that would normally take three hours at the airport—from the time you arrive to when you leave, including preflight, filing flight plans, monitoring weather—can be completed using a simulator in half the time and for less than half the cost of actually flying.
10) Prepare for In-Air Emergencies
Many type of aircraft failures can be recreated in a simulator to prepare a student pilot for similar in-air failures. From ice build up and engine problems to electrical malfunctions and maneuver mistakes, you’re given a first-person viewpoint on what it’s like to go through an emergency scenario and how to properly respond.
Searching for a flight simulator in Minneapolis?
Take a look at Inflight Pilot Training’s flight simulator options here! Our flight simulator, the Elite P1-135, is one of the top training systems available to students of all levels. The abilities of the simulator are endless, providing a fun and affordable way to improve your skills as a pilot while saving you money.
To find out more, get in touch with our team today by calling (952) 698-3000 or filling out a contact form.