Microsoft Flight Simulator.
A computer program that has been a major part of my life since 1998. Little did I know what the outcome would be after having installed the program into my PC some 14 years ago. Ask me then what an ILS, APU, CDU, PFD, FMC/FMS was I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I had no concept of how to program my flight management systems to intercept an intersection or VOR at a certain speed and altitude when approaching the airport. I had no concept of oceanic clearance, position reports, less alone what CAT I/II/III stood for. What would I do if I was incoming to land, had 5 aircraft in front of me and wanted to avoid a go-around? No knowledge of slow flight. No knowledge of what to do for an in-flight shutdown. Flying and even simulating is much more than taking off and pressing a button. Even on the simulator…
Despite the fact many people have told me and asked me why I “wasted” so much of my precious time on the program, this comes to show the good this program has done for my aeronautical education. To take it a step further, it fueled my passion for the real thing to such a degree, that the end result was my untimely “retirement” from FS this past June, with the exception of my play dates with the nephew. I have reached my fullest potential with the program. It has flown me to where I need to be: the real thing. As the motto goes, “As real as it gets.”
I could write a series of novels of my experiences with Microsoft Flight Simulator. But then, pictures are worth a thousand words. I was deciding which of the hundreds to showcase, however it was all too very hard to choose which ones to publish. The results are below the article..
A few memories to share were my first flights in the Cessna SkyHawk C172 tutorial… The multiple crash landings. They were fun at first, but then I thought what if this happened to me in real life? After that I became more serious in my practice “flights” taking them to a whole new level. Shortly after that I found myself sitting in front of a Boeing 737-200 virtual flight panel. More complex. More detailed. As my trial and error knowledge continued to started to self teach the instruments, their functions, and with the help of online aviation pen-pals, some of them real life pilots, I learned a lot. Support groups of fellow both pilots and simulator pilots, I was able to soar with knowledge not only with instruments on the base panel but also with flight simulation skills. With all of that, I had only touched the edge of the surface that I had to break through, especially with my destined training and usage of a professional panel of one of the most technologically advanced aircraft today: the Boeing Triple Seven.
As time went on, I learned many aircraft and their functions from a base panel, or generic flight deck. Nothing was realistic but it gave me a starting ground. Then other aircraft followed. Then came the real tests: flight simulations both short and long haul. It was time to go into the closet to test my skills. I was quite pleased with the results that followed and I then had a new obsession. Or was it an obsession? Perhaps, a passion.. or at least the fuel for it.
First set of flight simulations came with the FS tutorials: LAX-JFK in the Boeing 737-200. Having no knowledge with SIDs or STARs, I flew basic maneuvers and was acquainted with VORs and Intersections along with my flight planning or flight plans that were given to me. Soon after when Flight Simulator 2000 came out and introduced me to the 777, I trained on the tutorial for the O’Hare-Heathrow flight. Soon after, I had a professional add-on program for the Boeing Triple Seven to which I spent countless hours brainstorming, working, and teaching myself with the help of friends, (you know who you are) to really learn how to fly a 777 using a real virtual flight deck. (From cold and dark to engine start up to flight back to the way you found it.) That landed me so much success and the feeling of accomplishment was so great that I kept doing these 777 tutorials over and over. The 777 became love at first “flight.”
Once I was acquainted with the Boeing family years later, I moved on to train with Airbus. Even with both basic and specialized panels I had a grasp on many concepts. Training on the A319/320/321 along with the FMS was a difficult transition from the Boeing FMC but I wanted knowledge of both FMC/FMS concepts. I also took on to train on the A330/40 and ultimately the A380 to which was a whole new way of things to look up to. Literally. (Just because you are not sitting in the real flight deck doesn’t mean that the outside doesn’t appear to be much lower than it actually seems.)
Flight Simulator was full of adventure and even the real stuff happened such as engine number two shutting down on final into Orlando-MCO (757) or turbulence blowing us substantially off course. Yes there has to be that buffer zone between your craft and the guy cruising beside or near you. The VAT Sim controllers were always fun to communicate with especially the ones who were real life ATC controllers. Still remembering the night as I was coming into JFK during rush hour and was told sternly to execute the heading before issuing the readback. (I will save that for another post.) With all of my time spending flying these aircraft, I was able to create many simulations, and even schedules to where I would be “airborne” hours on end.
Then a couple of years ago came…:
Carliysle Aviation Services
Who says you can’t have a little fun and play while sim flying realistic carriers? Yes, I got to play make believe for the first time in many years and yes, I had my own company servicing the virtual airlines. Some of my biggest clients were Northwest-KLM, Delta (by default of the Northwest acquisition), American, Air Canada, Korean, Asiana, JAL, Southwest, Air France, Alitalia, EL AL, Hawaiian, United, Emirates, US Airways, QANTAS, Singapore, and many more..
My make believe “company” took my team of ATPs and I all around the world. Grand Rapids to Detroit, Boston to Charleston, New York to LA, Osaka to Amsterdam, London to Bangkok, Detroit to Shanghai, Tel Aviv to LA, Paris to St. Martin, and my longest: London non-stop Sydney in a 744. Yet those are only to name a few of many. It was an honor to fly with each and everyone of these liveries and took pride as for those who I served.
VTR (Virtual Type Rate)s, My Roles, and Our Fleet
- A319/20/21, Sr. Officer
- A330-200/-300, First Officer, Sr. Officer (Hawaiian Airlines)
- A340-300/-600, Senior Officer
- A380-800, Captain
- 737-200/-800/-900, Sr. Officer
- 747-400, First Officer, (Sr. Officer Detroit – Amsterdam)
- 757-200, First Officer
- 767-300/ER /-400, Captain
- 777-200/-300 -200ER -300ER -200LR -200LRF, Captain / Check Airman
Aerospatiale – British Aerospace
- SST Concorde, First Officer (British Airways/AirFrance)
- LearJet 45XR – Captain
Canadair Regional Jet
- CL -200 First Officer (Northwest: Saginaw/Bay City/Midland-MBS to Detroit-DTW)
- CL -700 First Officer (Honolulu-Kona)
I also un-officially have trained on the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (flown with Northwest Airlines) and MD-11 (KLM)
I have so many people to thank for making this program possible to me both on and offline. You know who you all are. Also, so many of the programs, especially Just Flight/PSS 777 Professional, FS DreamTeam JFK, AeroSoft AES/Paris-Charles DeGaulle, and so many others.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so please allow me to leave you with my showcase of my finest moments with Microsoft Flight Simulator:
Stay tuned as there is more of this post to come…..