Sim Vs Real

Pro Member Captain
Doyley Captain

I have no experience flying in real the real world apart from always wanting to take flying lessons. Ive used FS2004 for a few days and to me it seems realistic.
Is this much like flying in real life and is it useful to learn on FS before taking flying lessons in the real world?

Answers 9 Answers

Jump to latest
Pro Member Chief Captain
Greekman72 Chief Captain

Reality is awlays reality and it cant be replaced from any kind of simulators.
Simulators give as a first touch ,a good view about flying conditions ,thats why its good if we have sim experience before get in the reality.
Most pilots spend hundred of hour in simulators(Not FS but real simulators-dont through bricks on me about this real ,i just only want to show the difference between FS and these huge machines with real cockpits etc.) 😉

Pro Member Chief Captain
RadarMan Chief Captain

To back up what Greeman said I thought you'd like to read this.


Pro Member Captain
WarHawk42 Captain

A friend of mine runs a flying school, he has never been on a computer flight sim, but he tells me the ones who are prior to taking lessons require less time learning the real thing. Especially in the gauges, what they are for and what they look like.

It isn't real, and can't replace real, but neither is it bad.

Pro Member Trainee
Prozac919 Trainee

I've flown real airplanes (DC-10 and Learjet 35) and "real" training simulators. FS2004 does a pretty good job of re-creating the flying environment. As an instrument trainer, FS2004 is very good for practicing procedures. However, there are some aspects that flight sim cannot recreate. The feel to flying is not there-- I mean the spacial sensations are not there which in instrument conditions can be disorienting (which is one of the things that makes instrument flying challenging). The feel on the controls is also missing and makes the sim unrealistic with hand flying. FS does only a marginal job at creating the ATC environment. In the real world you have more options available than what the sim allows and ATC controllers do a much better job of seperating aircraft.

I have also been disappointed with the aircraft models. Neither the DC-10 nor the Learjet models behave like the real aircraft in terms of pitch attitude, roll rates or power settings.

FS does a really good job of recreating what the approaches to airports look like on landing. It also gives a good idea of the dyanamics of a flight is like. Radio calls for weather, clearance delivery, takeoff and landing clearances, etc.

Overall I am impressed with the program.

Don Wood Guest

I'm going to give a contrary opinion. I believe this kind of simualtor can be valuable once you have real world training but it has a number of drawbacks that make it less than desirable, and maybe even damaging, prior to real world training.

First, as someone else pointed out, this sim does a poor job of simualting the real world environment-a/c feel, ATC, visual experience, sound, etc. Second, many of the procedures necessary to competence are not easily available in this sim. For instance, the discussions here make it evident that most people do not have rudder pedals. Use of rudders is one of the basic levels of knowledge a pilot must develop. Third, in real world flying, a student pilot has an instructor sitting beside or behind him/her until they develop the necessary skills to keep from killing themselves. That instructor points out errors in technique and in this sim, there is no one there to make those observations. So, the sim pilot flys along blindly believing he/she is doing a good job when, in fact, they are not. Many of the questions on this forum make that evident. Fourth, there is no real ground school where the basic knowledge necessary to pilot competency is taught. Again, many of the questions on this forum are evidence of that. Fifth, one of the core competencies a pilot must develop is recovery from unusual attitudes and from emergencies. Again, an instructor is necessary for that to be realistic.

Please don't think that my comments about the questions on this forum are criticism of those asking them. They are not. They are simply a reflection of the inadequacy of this sim for initial training that makes such questions necessary.

When I was doing initial pilot training many, many years ago, the simulators I used were much more realistic than this one and, even then, no training time could be logged in them unless it was under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor. As I progressed through commercial and instrument training, the simulators necessary became much more complex and costly and every minute of use had to be under instructor supervision in order to be logged. Even airline pilots doing transition or in-service training fly simulators, much more complex than this one, under the supervision of instructor pilots.

If anyone uses this sim and expects it to be of more than minimal value in learning to fly in the real world, I beleive they need to adjust their thinking. Instead, I believe it could make real world training more difficult because, first, the instructor is going to have to break you of bad habits you have developed using this sim.

If you are going to use it as a game, fine. If you are going to use it to maintain instrument scan and approach procedure proficiency, fine. Just don't expect it to be a replacement or help for real training.

Pro Member Captain
WarHawk42 Captain

The sim does not replace real flight, there is no argument there, but as far as the very basic questions we get here I see that as more of a problem with people not bothering to study the lessons and learn the basics. That may be the biggest fault of the sim, maybe you should have to complete the lessons before you could advance to flying solo, getting an instrument rating and so on.

I know of at least one who keeps asking for help flying heavies and they refuse to go through the lessons to learn the basics.

Rudder pedals are a problem IMO. Twist handles do a poor job of duplicating rudder pedals. Yes they perform the action but they are not realistic.

I think it comes down to what you want to get out of the sim. If you are really interested in flying it does a fair job in some areas, but it is too easy to just jump into it and think you know what you need to know.

The planes themselves lack some realism in the way they react to certain situations, even the ones that come with the sim. The add on's may or may not fairly represent the real thing.

The sim is not a substitute for the real thing by any stretch of the imagination and as you point out it could teach some bad habits since there is no one there to say differently.

As one who is only interested in GA aircraft, especially the older ones it is my opinion that in some respects the real thing is easier to fly than the planes in the sim. The biggest thing is the lack of sensation in the sim, there is none. You can't feel what the plane is doing, and as you stated there isn't the feel of the controls and feedback sticks won't duplicate that well.

While there is things that can be learned with the sim the best you can do with it is not to take it too serious as related to real flight.

Pro Member First Officer
Tartanaviation First Officer

I have been working on my PPL for a while now and hope to gain it soon. For me I dont think the simulator is real to life. Nothing can compare with the real experience of flying. What i would say FS is good for, is building up a basic knowledge and understanding of flying. Through the FS you can learn about procedures, practice procedures and other general flight basics. The only way FS begins to come close to real life is if you put all the realism settings up to there maximum, ie. giro drift and p factors.

I may sound negative towards the FS but it is unintentional, FS gives you good background and a learning curve. As one member of this forum has on the signature, sorry for not remembering names, "Just because you know your way about the simulator, does not mean you can fly".

Pro Member Captain
Sean (SeanGa) Captain

Don, I understand and believe the important point of what you are saying, and I think your post is good by the way it enlightens people and reminds them that FS is far from the real world. Still though, I think you must be exaggerating when you say FS can be damaging prior to real world training.

You for example say that the feel, ATC, visual experience and sound etc. is poor in FS, and that the use of the rudder is unrealistic. Maybe so, but isn't the "poor" quality you're talking about better than nothing at all? Even if you develop some "bad habits" (could you give some examples of these by the way?), I think the knowledge you gain about dynamics, how instruments work and procedures, (not to mention all the other things you can learn by using the sim) makes using the sim benificial prior to real pilot training; especially if you do have in mind that the sim is only a sim and not the real world, and use it the correct way.

Maybe you are right that in some circumstances it CAN be damaging, but this must be very rare. FS might be far from the same as the real world, and it probably is, but even still, many things are realistic and I think it helps people who are planning to become pilots later in life (like me).

Don Wood Guest

Sean Ga: The reason I used the word "damaging" is because I believe sim has no means to instill in fledgling pilots the dozens if not hundreds of techniques and practices that go into making a proficient pilot. Use of the rudder is just one example. There was a long series of posts a few days ago about the morse code identifiers transmitted by VORs and it was evident many of the participants on this forum had no idea what they were or how they are used. Yet, in the real world, an instructor would beat you about the head and shoulders if you failed to use them to make sure your VOR's were set correctly.

Making clearing turns prior to turning manuevers is another critical manuever for safety yet I'd hazard a guess they are used rarely, if at all in sim. Resetting the gyro-driven heading indicator for precission error is another skill pilots learn early in their training that, in the sim, is unnecessary. These are just a few examples among many of the problems I think sim allows.

If you go back over the posts I have responded to over the past months, you'll see many others. I have received a lot of praise on this forum for the information in my responses. The fact is, almost all of my responses have simply provided basic information that every pilot learns as they are trained and many of them contain information a pilot would receive in his/her early training.

IMO, the lack of imposed flying discipline in the sim that a real world instructor would impose creates a damaging, maybe also dangerous, situation for student pilots who develop bad or inadequate technique in the sim. An example is use of autopilot. In the real world, an instructor would not let a student pilot touch an autopilot before they had complete mastery of flying and landing by hand. I am quite sure a student pilot using sim in this manner would take considerably more training to learn landings in the real world than if they had never seen the sim.

Again, none of these comments are meant as criticism to the posters on this forum. These problems are a product of the sim, not the people using it.

I think the sim is quite good as a game and is somewhat valuable for maintaining skills and techniques already learned, however, not all of them. The sim is lacking in significant ways and an already proficient pilot will take that into account and use it for what it does do. The untrained pilot, I'm afraid, will put more reliance on it as a learning tool than it deserves or can support.

Still does not answer your question? Ask a new question!

If the question and answers provided above do not answer your specific question - why not ask a new question of your own? Our community and flight simulator experts will provided a dedicated and unique answer to your flight sim question. And, you don't even need to register to post your question!

Ask New Question...


Search our questions and answers...

Be sure to search for your question from existing posted questions before asking a new question as your question may already exist from another user. If you're sure your question is unique and hasn't been asked before, consider asking a new question.

Related Questions

Flight Sim Questions that are closely related to this...