Is there a flight simulator you can use on your home computer and log as sim time? I know MS2002 does not qualify, but if I am going to buy a program, I would like to be able to log the time. Thanks for any info.
If you want to log the time, you will have to get your simulator approved by the FAA, given a designation, and have a qualified instructor with you during the training. If you just want a nice sim to practice with, when used with a yoke FS2002 is one of the most realistic sims out there and helps A LOT with instrument training!!
Keep in mind that if you do get a program that is approved by the FAA for your computer, it is not a "simulator." It is a PCATD (PC aircraft training device), and must be logged as such. I think a certain amount of hours may be used for the instrument rating.
In order to log time on a PCATD, you must have FAA approved hardware, sofware, and a CFII at your side. Even then you can only log 10 hrs. of instrumnet simulator time. A PCATD is an excellent training device and is a good idea if you will use it as such. But don't spend the money just to give yourself those 10 hrs. 10 simulator hours isn't going to do much for you. Besides an FAA approved PCATD costs about $3,000 when you add in the hardware and software you need. You can get quite a bit more than 10 hours actual time for that. I'm not saying don't get one, they save most people money in the long run because you can practice on the ground as opposed to in the aircraft for xhundred dollars an hour. But don't get one just so that you can log time.
You'll need to get a copy of the April 2002 issue of AOPA Flight Training magazine. There is an indepth article on pc simulators, and lists the all the appropriate products with details of cost, required hardware, available options, and links to the manufacturers' web sites.
The best yokes are those that are approved by the FAA. There are some made by Cirrus and some by Elite. They are expensive, about $500. CH Products makes a good yoke for flight simming (gaming) and works well for FS2002 stuff, even to be used for instrument traing, although not approved by the FAA. I believe its simply called Flight Sim Yoke. Its what I use and is quite popular. It is about $100 and is avilable in USB or standard game port. CH Products also makes rudder pedals, also for about $100 that also work well with FS2002. Microsoft makes a joystick with force feedback, the Sidewinder. That is probably what the coupons that came with FS2002 are advertising. Personally I prefer the feel of a yoke as opposed to a stick, and I'm not sure how realistic the force feedback feels but it is probably worth checking out if you are interrested.
Actually...I beg to differ. FS2002 doesn't even compare to Airline Simulator 2 (www.nomissoft.com), unless of course you are into the scenery. AS2 offers an incomparable flight model, but the scenery is definitely lacking.