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5 Tips to Stay Proficient on a Home Flight Simulator5 Tips to Stay Proficient on a Home Flight Simulator

As many students and pilots around the world shelter-in-place during the coronavirus outbreak, flight simulation is one of the best ways to practice and maintain flying skills. However, in the simulation world, it can be tempting to bend the realities of operating an aircraft. To help you build and maintain your proficiency during the pandemic, here are five tips to keep your training focused and your scenarios realistic with a flight simulator.

1. Have a goal for every flight simulator session

  • While you're restless at home, plan a route for your next big adventure. Become familiar with a new airport diagram, fly a few instrument approaches, practice your landings, and taxi to your FBO of choice.
  • Learn a new avionics configuration. Whether you have wanted to build proficiency with the GTN 650/750 or the KLN 89, now is an ideal time, and a flight simulator is an ideal tool to learn the features.
  • Practice getting into and out of maneuvers. Without the distractions of a real airplane, you can focus on the minutiae of maneuvers training. Configure the simulator for a maneuver and perform it with an appropriate flow and at the correct speed.

2. Consult your flight instructor or fellow pilots

In these unprecedented times of social distancing, even brief check-ins with your flight instructor or pilot friends can make a huge difference for your training. If you are pursuing a license or rating, find a way to communicate with your instructor so you can practice relevant tasks and continue progressing through your syllabus. If you are a licensed pilot, challenge your friends to fly the same scenario and see who performs the best.

3. Use your pilot supplies

You may be working from home in shorts and a sweatshirt, but you should be flying from home with the same gear that you’d use in the aircraft.

  • Wear your headset. The are several services for flight simulators that allow you to fly in the ATC system and receive guidance from controllers. ATC services add a lot of value, especially for instrument training.
  • Use your iPad. This is a great time to explore the features of your EFB and practice flying with them in a controlled environment.
  • Use your checklists. They will keep your mind in the cockpit and on the task at hand.

4. Choose realistic settings for weather and failures

The goal of flight simulator training should not be to challenge yourself in unrealistic situations. Focus on training for isolated emergencies such as VFR into inadvertent IMC or an alternator failure on a long flight. Adding several emergencies to one flight only makes the training event unrealistic, if not inescapable.

Similarly, since you wouldn’t take on a 50-knot crosswind in your airplane, don’t do it in your simulator either. There are ways to bring live weather into your home simulator, and—even if you don’t use them—you should choose weather settings that make sense for your training event.

As a general guideline, limit failures and major weather events to 20% of your simulator sessions and only train for emergencies that make you a more proficient pilot.

5. Know when to pause a flight

If you find yourself in a situation that you need to think about, pausing the simulator is useful. For example, as a new instrument pilot, pausing the simulator before you get to a final approach fix gives you valuable time to brief and execute it. The pause button is the most powerful feature of a flight simulator if you use it correctly.

Topics: Training and Safety, Technology

Redbird Flight Simulations

Established in 2006 to make aviation more accessible, Redbird has delivered more than 2,000 innovative, high-quality simulators to flight schools, universities, K-12 schools, and individual pilots around the world. Redbird designed Guided Independent Flight Training (GIFT), a simulator-based, AI-powered, maneuvers training supplement to help pilots achieve their aviation goals faster and for less money. For more information about GIFT, please visit gift.redbirdflight.com.