Throwback Thursday


The logo for this site from way back when.  Back in the WordPress days and when a different website name and domain were present.  The visual above was a flight simulation I flew from Detroit to Shanghai-Pudong (DTW-PVG).  I loved my days on this program and still do whenever I get the chance to sit down and do a short or medium range simulation for fun.  There is one thing though, that this program could never re-produce, no matter how realistic the payware is, and no matter how sweet your set-up is in your own den or living room on that huge flat screen painted on your wall. That re-production is:


This "feel" is achieved through the following four basic flight maneuvers:

  • Straight & Level Flight
  • Turns
  • Climbs
  • Descents

It's one thing to make a turn or program the automation on the simulator to turn the plane for you, however, another to feel the effect of a pilot's sense of feel and ability to use the controls correctly when making inputs in a real aircraft.  It's one thing to do a mechanical maneuver with an aircraft in real life for its own sake; but to feel the effects of it is what is just as important, especially operating at low airspeed.  One example of this is slow flight - low airspeed, high angle of attack, high power and constant altitude.

In the same simulation as the photo above, I was nearing final descent into Shanghai and there were five aircraft ahead to land and only one runway in use.  After flying for 13 hours, a go around wasn't on my list of wishes.  Yes, slow flight was the answer in a 777 on the simulator to maintain assigned speed and requested priority approach.

When I performed slow flight in a 172 for the first time - it was a totally different story.

So... exactly, why again, am I comparing simulator to real life flight?

Because I realized that once I started flying real planes, it wasn't as easy for me to adapt to the feel of the plane less alone using certain controls (simultaneously) having used the simulator before for so many years - since 1999 to be exact.  For me it was an inexplicable difference.  Every (student) pilot is different and has different levels and needs.  However, had I not used flight simulator before reality came, it would have been a totally different story.  I would venture to say it would have been much easier to get this feel.

PC Flight Simulators are a great way to get a young dream of flying to take off, however, I would personally venture to say that as soon as one is able to take an intro flight and a couple follow up lessons - do it.  PC flight simulators will never feel the same way to you again.

Jeremy D. Carlisle



  1. Jeremy, this is a great post and so important. The feel of the plane is essential, and something that many new pilots are in a rush to bypass to get that glass jet job. Flying is more than punching buttons. You will get that feel and it will stay with you.

    1. Exactly, flying is definitely more than punching buttons, Karlene,, A lot of ATPs have told me that they love getting behind a 172 every now and then because they feel like they are really flying a plane rather than punching buttons. Yes, that feeling will definitely stay with you.. thank you so much!!

  2. I did lots of simulator flying before starting my primary flight training. I found real airplanes with that seat-of-the-pants feedback easier to fly but I had a bad habit of keeping my attention inside the cockpit on the instruments. Difficult to overcome once ingrained that way.

    1. John, you are absolutely right. Keeping an eye out on the horizon during VFR flight was problematic being that I was used to flying IFR on the simulator. Eyes being trained on looking at the instruments will do just that, and yes very difficult once ingrained especially with many things going on at once. Thank you so much for stopping by and your comment!


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