Going from flight sims to real training


Well-Known Member
I was wondering if you guys have any advice for someone that is going from being a virtual pilot to a real world student pilot. What kinds of mistakes are virtual pilots prone to making when "transitioning" (ha) into the real world?

I have heard that virtual pilots tend to focus too much inside the cockpit, not look for traffic enough, etc.

Any tips?
The number one thing I've seen, you already mentioned. It it's not just about looking out for traffic, but rather flying the plane based on the terrain out the window. Using a desktop flight sim it is VERY difficult to fly straight and level (or even turn or change altitude) using the horizon line. In the real plane it's much easier, but for what ever reason many former flight simmers feel much more comfortable keeping their heads down and staring at the AI.
I stare inside too much, and flying straight and level is tough for me. FS was helpful with the instrument scan, but that's about it. I'm getting better at flying by looking outside though. I've gotta get rid of the notion that the attitude indicator is more trustworthy than EARTH.
Just go into it with a clean slate. If you assume that your flight sim time won't help you at all, it probably will.
The only thing I got called on was looking inside too much from time to time. In the end, though, I'd say it helped. Got my private at 41 hours (Part 61).

As long as you go at it with the sim time as information gained/learned and not as if you have hot shot experience, you should be okay. That is to say, use it to boost your confidence and not your ego.
Cool, good to know.

Some plus side of it might be confidence on the radio and familiarity with systems.
Cool, good to know.

Some plus side of it might be confidence on the radio and familiarity with systems.


Robo-ATC from Microsoft does actually have correct phraseology, and will really help you on the radio.

instrument fixation is the biggest thing; It is a huge benefit during instrument training though.

Ask your instructor to cover the instruments for your first few flights, that solves that problem right quick.
Back when my medical was pulled, I flew with a virtual airline on a site that used virtual controllers who would issue clearances, commands, etc. As queer as it was (according to my wife) it really helped me with radio coms and procedures.
I have seen alot of students who came in with ZERO time on sims or any type of flight device, and they take a little bit longer with basic airspeed, pitch and altitude principles. I have had students that used flight sim prior to ever flying the real airplane and they had a solid understanding of basic flight. I say that as long as the instructor consiously makes the student look outside, then flight sim can help.

We revert to what we feel comfortable with, and alot of people after messing around with flightsim find comfort in the sixpack. So just a thought there.
Even better than the moto-voice on microsoft, I fly online with VATSIM (ZLA) and with some other friends in gamespy.

Covering the instruments might actually be a good idea...
I used to be a pretty avid sim pilot too before going after my PPL. I DEFINITELY found that I was looking inside the cockpit MUCH more than outside the cockpit when I first started. But after a while, that habit was broken, I'm sure in part because I made the conscious decision to NOT use the FS while I was going after my PPL. Now that I have it and I'm starting my Instrument, I'll be using it more.

I don't have the book myself, but I've heard from several people that the book Microsoft Flight Simulator X For Pilots Real World Training is VERY helpful in using FS to keep your skills sharp or to learn some new ones.

By being a virtual pilot, I learned the basics of instrument procedures, obtained a basic knowledge on how to use approach plates, and many other 'theory and knowledgebase' kind of things before ever sitting in the left seat of a Skyhawk. Don't discount the good things that being a virtual pilot has taught you, but don't forget how easy it is to pick up bad habits from it either that need to be broken in the real plane. Most certainly don't think that because you can put a Lear 45 down on the numbers in FSX means you can do it right away in the real thing. ;)
The biggest difference is that you cannot get up and grab a beer in the real airplane.

YOU CAN TOO! I saw it done on It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World! "Make me another Old Fashioned, but don't make it so sweet this time..." :laff:
I do have the FSX for real pilots book. Haven't read too much of it, though.

I'll just have to keep my head up. Thanks for the input, everyone :)