Learning to fly, or thinking of learning? Post your questions, comments and experiences here

Moderator: AndyR

By SimFlyer
#1683359
I was wondering if there are ideal or recommended points during PPL training that I can "take a break"? Basically, what I'm thinking about is to do training in concentrated periods, using holiday hours or clever ways of structuring my work hours in order to do this, and then taking a break to resume work. I was thinking of 1 or 2 breaks, nothing more. For instance, if I don't finish training this year as winter comes round, then I will take that break and won't look at flying again until spring or late-spring next year.

I would rather do this than spread the break out across a longer period or take multiple breaks because in my mind, doing just one or two breaks and I'll probably only lose an hour or two of flight time to show my instructor how much I've retained from previous lessons after each break. If I spread out the breaks, then I'll probably spend more than that time on review/revision.

To head off one potential direction that the conversation may take, I am an avid sim flyer (hence the name) and while previous experience was with combat flight simulations, I'm modifying my setup to cater to civilian flight sims as well. That means that during the breaks, not only will I armchair-fly, I will sim-fly too! I also appreciate that sim flying is nowhere near a replacement for actual flying (I am amazed at how easy it is to trim a real aircraft compared to the sim!), all I'm saying is that my skills won't deteriorate as much during my breaks, hopefully!

Any thoughts appreciated! Cheers!
#1683363
I'm not going to sound very optimistic I'm afraid, but here you go:
1. There are no good places to break your training. Wherever it happens you will go backwards I'm afraid. Catching up again is less hard later on, but it's never good. The enforced breaks in the winter months are badenough for most people.
2. Using a home flight simulator in the breaks will do more harm than good. The hand eye coordination and the lookout scan will suffer more than if you simply armchair fly.
User avatar
By JAFO
#1683365
I honestly don't believe that PC type flight sims help with learning to fly and there are places where I think they could be detrimental to your progress.

I would suggest keeping the momentum up, even if you only get airborne once every couple of weeks or so.
#1683396
Thanks guys! I know it's not ideal, but I am fully expecting this to have to happen one way or another, even if at least the winter break, so might as well be prepared for it. What I'm asking is if I should aim to have certain things covered by certain time.... for example, breaking in the middle of nav would not be good, best to finish it first... something like that? I hope I'm explaining that properly.

While using flight simulators may not be ideal, surely that is more valuable than just sitting around doing nothing? Nobody questions the value of armchair flying but how come once flight simulators are mentioned, people seem to automatically think that's a bad thing? To clarify; I'm not using it to teach me how to fly, I'm taking proper lessons for that. I'm using it to practice what I've been taught.
User avatar
By JAFO
#1683400
Because you can't practice what you've been taught on PC type flight simulators, I would say that doing nothing was better than flying a flight simulator program. Why would you have a winter break? Often some very good flying weather in the winter.
User avatar
By FlightDek
#1683436
I think a home PC sim setup could be useful in a limited way.

When I started my PPL I struggled with using my left hand on the yoke. I guess I'm just very right hand dominant. I used a yoke with my sim setup to help improve my hand-eye coordination for my left hand. It actually got to the point where driving with my right hand on the steering wheel felt a bit unnatural

Dek
#1683446
@JAFO
A bit more busy at work during winter months plus family, etc. etc. so I'd rather not add on more stuff during that time. I don't understand what you mean about practicing what I've been taught on PC? How can doing nothing be better than practicing on a flight sim?

@FlightDek
Thanks! I'm right-handed as well so it feels weird having my right hand just on the throttle during takeoff and I find that I'm a bit overloaded when taking off, juggling the rudder plus the yoke but consciously having to keep my right hand on the throttle. I'm practicing that and the left hand plus both feet for coordination. I'm also practicing what's been covered during the past lessons so that the movement becomes more automatic rather than having to think about each step in the process for each exercise.
#1683456
I'd suggest that good winter weather is not a singular deciding factor. It also needs an available aeroplane and an instructor to be available. Manchester Barton was closed(waterlogged) last week for 3 days, to F.W . traffic...even the weekend was scotched.....beautiful opportunity today, but only 1 t/o and landing allowed per "detail" (sortie?) so that rules out the ones on circuit training,- now what about the backlog of students who suffered cancellations? how does a school resolve this?- somewhere, some students must draw a short-straw and their progression will inevitably suffer as recency fades into a memory.
#1683506
SimFlyer wrote:...What I'm asking is if I should aim to have certain things covered by certain time.... for example, breaking in the middle of nav would not be good, best to finish it first... something like that? I hope I'm explaining that properly.

While using flight simulators may not be ideal, surely that is more valuable than just sitting around doing nothing? ... ...I'm using it to practice what I've been taught.


Yes, understand the question - the answer is still the same. But to put a positive spin on it, it doesn't matter where you've got to if you take a break. Nothing to stop you giving yourself a goal though!

Flightsim playing is so different to flying a real aircraft that you are not able to practice what you have been taught at basic PPL level. It just doesn't replicate the responses of a real aircraft well enough.
#1683574
^^^^^^ How does that sit with the use of sims for airline-pilots to do 6-monthly check-rides?

Yes, I understand they're more sophisticated than the average PC but we have had forumites showing very elaborate cockpit mockups with multi-screen displays, functioning panel and controls......
By johnm
#1683579
I can fly procedures for IFR on a flight sim but I can't land an aircraft on Microsoft Sim at all:
If you have a relatively sophisticated sim set up it may be a way of keeping it fresh, but I'd be cautious and if you can make time for sim, you might better spend that time in a real aeroplane.
By Lerk
#1683607
Get your sim set up with photo realistic scenery and decent VFR reference objects and it will be beneficial for navigation practice and flight planning.

The control forces and handling are not really helpful, but with a reasonable cockpit simulation (hint: all the knobs and levers don't actually have to work as long as they're in the right place) you can run through checklist drills and get into habits - BUT you must make sure you don't encourage bad habits...
#1683614
cockney steve wrote:^^^^^^ How does that sit with the use of sims for airline-pilots to do 6-monthly check-rides?
.


Simulators are very good at learning and honing procedures but, especially at the bottom end of the range, not good at simulating and for learning the flying basics.

@SimFlyer

Blocks I can see are

1. Learning controls and flying circuits
2. 1 + getting to solo status
3. 1+2+ navigating exercises
4. 1+2+3 plus test preparation

Splitting is not great as any pause will lead to skill loss but if your reality is that you need to take some breaks then so is it. The licence is the dot on the i when learning but the journey there is something to be enjoyed too.

It is not like learning to drive a car which is just a necessary evil.
#1683662
@lobstaboy
I'm glad you understood the question but can you help me understand why your answer is what it is regarding the flight simulator use? I hear people say it is useful and I'm on that side of the fence; I would like to understand why you would say otherwise.

I do know flight sim flying is different from actual flying; see my thoughts on trimming on my previous post. However, being able to "do" should be better than just sitting and imagining things, right? Even when armchair flying, I still go through the motions of putting the pitot heat off, fuel full rich, throttle max, and go through the motions I think I would need to compensate for yaw, pull on the yoke, etc. So if nobody argues how this type of practice can be beneficial, how is adding actual hardware and software suddenly make it a bad thing?

I've read of people trying to buy MS Flight Sim and some third party add-on to learn as much of PPL as they can in preparation for their real-life PPL training and I can see how this can be a bad thing (learning bad procedures, not understanding why things are done, etc.) but this is different from what I'm doing.


@cockney steve
Aircraft and instructor may be available, but I bet for most of that opportunity, it will be myself who will not be! Like I said, winter is really a busy time for me both professionally and for my personal life as well. I really look forward to Feb/March when everything dies down and I can look forward to more daylight hours too!


@Lerk
I have XP11 and have purchased the ORBX scenery packs but have to work on my PC and flight sim setup a bit before I can resume flight simming. I have printed out pictures of the instrument panels of the aircrafts I fly and practice doing checklists and being able to locate the correct instrument/switch/buttons so that I don't feel "lost" once in the real aircraft.

I do agree that the control forces are non-existent on flight sim controls (oh! my kingdom for a cheap FFB yoke!) and that was one of the surprises I enjoyed the most when doing actual flights! Trimming in real aircraft is much easier!

People keep saying "don't develop bad habits" but I wonder if anyone can give me an example of this?


@Flyin'Dutch'
"not good at simulating and for learning the flying basics"
Thanks for your input! Can you clarify the above line a bit more please?

Thanks for your "blocks" as well! I think the first goal will be to be able to go solo and if I can achieve that and still go forward, I would start with navigation too which is something I'm really looking forward to! However, I'm not very clear on the whole navigation training or how long it takes so I'm not really sure if I should start it if I feel that the timing would be awkward, ie, approaching winter time and just starting out nav..... should I then just take a break prior to starting nav? Or start nav training then take a break and practice more on the simulator?

I am greatly enjoying what little of the journey I've taken so far but I like to be prepared and this issue is one thing I can see that I'll have to tackle especially as people are saying 12-18 months as the typical training length.
#1683666
SimFlyer wrote:@Flyin'Dutch'
"not good at simulating and for learning the flying basics"
Thanks for your input! Can you clarify the above line a bit more please?

Thanks for your "blocks" as well! I think the first goal will be to be able to go solo and if I can achieve that and still go forward, I would start with navigation too which is something I'm really looking forward to! However, I'm not very clear on the whole navigation training or how long it takes so I'm not really sure if I should start it if I feel that the timing would be awkward, ie, approaching winter time and just starting out nav..... should I then just take a break prior to starting nav? Or start nav training then take a break and practice more on the simulator?

I am greatly enjoying what little of the journey I've taken so far but I like to be prepared and this issue is one thing I can see that I'll have to tackle especially as people are saying 12-18 months as the typical training length.


Learning to fly means to develop eye-hand coordination - you see something in the window, you adjust what your hands are doing and observe the change you see looking outside the window.

The look 'out of the window' in a sim is very different to what you see on the sim screens, and the feel you have on the controls is very different to what you feel in the aeroplane.

Put a half decent student from one aeroplane into a different aeroplane and they will get the basics mainly right, now put that same student in a simulator and if they have no previous simulator experience they will make a hash of it.

The visual clues and the feedback both from the visuals and controls is just very different.

Is it better than doing nothing, no doubt. Does it make a big difference - no.