Reader Question – Help Me Please!

Hello to all my wonderful readers and followers of my blog site.  I hope you are doing well.  I received the following message from a new, young sim pilot who received Microsoft Flight Simulator for Christmas.  This is his first introduction virtual aviation and simulation and he’s desperate to get some help.  The reason I’m sharing his email and my responses with you is I believe the trap he’s fallen into is one that many others who are new to the hobby also fall into.

Hello Jerry!  Can you help me please?  For Christmas I received Microsoft Flight Simulator.  I’m 14 years old and hope to one day become a real world airline pilot. But my hopes and dreams are somewhat being smashed in my inability to fly in the sim.  I just can’t seem to control the airplane like I see others on YouTube and Twitch.  While I can takeoff semi OK, my landings are really all over the place.  Can you help me?  Peter

For added context, over the past few days I’ve been having an email exchange with young Peter to try to understand his dilemma better.  During this exchange of emails I’ve learned that he is mostly flying the default 747 as that is what he dreams of doing and this back and forth has allowed me to provide both Peter and anyone else in his situation some much needed, solid advice.  So here goes…

Walk before trying to run

While I do not remember my parents teaching me to walk and certainly don’t remember my first steps, as infants we must first master the slower art of walking before we can ever attempt to run.  The same concept is important to remember when attempting to fly an aircraft in the sim.  The Boeing 747, while she’s an awesome aircraft to fly…the Queen of the Skies requires isn’t very forgiving towards brand new pilots.  Just as in the real world, someone who decides they want to fly a Boeing 747 doesn’t just go out to their local airport’s flight school and say please teach me to fly the 747.

Learn the Basics First

Peter, or anyone like him should first learn the basics of flight in a much, much smaller aircraft.  What I advised Peter to do, and this is solid advice to anyone else who is new to the world of flight simulation is to start with the Cessna 172.  While there are other default aircraft such as the Cessna 152 or the CubCrafters XCub which would certainly be suitable to learn the basics in, I just really prefer the Cessna 172.  After all, most likely this type of aircraft will be what he begins with when he goes out to his local airport to sign up with a flight school.  Spend the necessary time to learn this aircraft inside and out.  While the Cessna 172 may not initially scratch the itch Peter has to learn the 747, it will make the process much, much easier and much, much less stressful.

A Recommended Tutorial

Way back in 2017, I wrote a tutorial article which titled Your First Flight.  While it’s a pretty basic tutorial in nature, I provide some information in that article which I’ve discussed with Peter.  The reason why I suggested this route with Peter and suggest the same to anyone new to sims is because the Cessna 172 is a very forgiving aircraft and it will allow the new sim pilot the opportunity to learn the basics.  These basics will carry forward to any other GA or even tubeliner aircraft one may want to fly.

Peter’s Progress

As is the case with a lot of the blog articles I write, it does often take me a few days or so to write, polish and publish.  This one has been no exception, and from the time I first received Peter’s email to the point in time I’m wrapping this article up and publishing, it’s been about 3 weeks.  I’m truly happy to report that Peter is taking my advice to heart and is spending time in the Cessna 172 and seems to be progressing well.

Additionally, on my advice Peter installed Volanta by Orbx.  Volanta (if you’re not familiar with it) is a free flight tracker which is super easy to use and Peter has shared a few of his circuit training flights with me and he’s really doing a fantastic job.  Over the next few weeks I’m going to provide Peter with some short cross country routes I’ve come up with and he’s excited to try these.  While I’m certainly not a flight instructor, I’m capable of serving as a mentor to help Peter and others in situations like this and certainly enjoy doing so.

Final Thoughts

Yes, I almost always have a few words to close out my posts and this one is certainly no exception. The discouragement Peter experienced with his struggles of trying to fly a complex aircraft like the Boeing 747 almost caused him to stop using his new sim.  The progress he’s making in the C172 has revigorated his new found love for virtual aviation and I know this basic knowledge he’s learning now will certainly corelate into other aircraft I’m sure he’ll also enjoy flying.  I think the same will apply to anyone else new coming into the hobby.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!



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