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Maintaining a constant heading (Cessna 172)

Pro Member Trainee
cumpaniciu Trainee

I'm flying the Cessna 172 in FS2004. Whenever I try to keep a constant heading, there will be frequent slight changes in the heading that require a 1-2 degree bank for correction every 10 seconds, sometimes even less than that. That's very annoying.

Is this a "life like" feature, or am I missing something? The autopilot is able to fly it straight, but it does some sort of constant 0.5 degree heading adjustment every 2 seconds (as shown by the moving heading bug)

When magnified, my straight flight looks like a slalom. What is the reason?

Thanks for your input,
Cumpaniciu

Pro Member Trainee
wscott52 Trainee

cumpaniciu wrote:

I'm flying the Cessna 172 in FS2004. Whenever I try to keep a constant heading, there will be frequent slight changes in the heading that require a 1-2 degree bank for correction every 10 seconds, sometimes even less than that. That's very annoying.

Is this a "life like" feature, or am I missing something? The autopilot is able to fly it straight, but it does some sort of constant 0.5 degree heading adjustment every 2 seconds (as shown by the moving heading bug)

When magnified, my straight flight looks like a slalom. What is the reason?

Thanks for your input,
Cumpaniciu

Hand flying a small GA aircraft requires almost constant attention. You can adjust the trim so it maintains close to a level attitude but the air is never still. Little gusts will change your direction. The prop wash does not impact the tail uniformly. In short what you are experiencing is normal. The autopilot does a better job because it reacts faster than you and it has nothing else to do. This is why when you are taught to fly you will learn to scan the instruments, then scan the sky for traffic, then check the attitude of the plane against the horizon, and then look back to the instruments to start over again.

Pro Member Trainee
cumpaniciu Trainee

wscott52 wrote:

cumpaniciu wrote:

I'm flying the Cessna 172 in FS2004. Whenever I try to keep a constant heading, there will be frequent slight changes in the heading that require a 1-2 degree bank for correction every 10 seconds, sometimes even less than that. That's very annoying.

Is this a "life like" feature, or am I missing something? The autopilot is able to fly it straight, but it does some sort of constant 0.5 degree heading adjustment every 2 seconds (as shown by the moving heading bug)

When magnified, my straight flight looks like a slalom. What is the reason?

Thanks for your input,
Cumpaniciu

Hand flying a small GA aircraft requires almost constant attention. You can adjust the trim so it maintains close to a level attitude but the air is never still. Little gusts will change your direction. The prop wash does not impact the tail uniformly. In short what you are experiencing is normal. The autopilot does a better job because it reacts faster than you and it has nothing else to do. This is why when you are taught to fly you will learn to scan the instruments, then scan the sky for traffic, then check the attitude of the plane against the horizon, and then look back to the instruments to start over again.

Oops, that's the answer I was afraid of Very Happy Then I guess it's back to "I'm sorry, you'll have to fly this checkride again" from the IFR checkride.

Thank you!

Pro Member Chief Captain
Jonathan (99jolegg) Chief Captain

I think a major part in this is predicting what the aircraft will do. If you see a one degree change in heading, and a slight bank, then due to the physics of the wings (more lift on the outter wing, less on the inner) the aircraft's turn will increase. If you know this is going to happen, you can make a small adjustment to get back on heading. In short, don't wait to be 5 degrees off before you make a large turn to get back. Constant small corrections are far easier and comfortable.

Hope that helps Wink

Pro Member Trainee
wscott52 Trainee

cumpaniciu wrote:

Oops, that's the answer I was afraid of Very Happy Then I guess it's back to "I'm sorry, you'll have to fly this checkride again" from the IFR checkride.

Thank you!

The short answer is practice. I was taught to maintain straight and level flight by using the position of the nose and wingtips relative to the horizon and use the attitude and bank indicator to verify. Obviously this only works if you can see the horizon. There are bugs in the IFR checkride that are identiified in Rod Machado's website. To get the IFR rating you have to be very good at actually FLYING the aircraft not just programming the GPS and autopilot. I only have a couple of hours solo in Cessna 152s but I had friends and family that were pilots. Make sure you understand the bugs in the checkride and practice. Good luck.

Guest

wscott52 wrote:

cumpaniciu wrote:

Oops, that's the answer I was afraid of Very Happy Then I guess it's back to "I'm sorry, you'll have to fly this checkride again" from the IFR checkride.

Thank you!

The short answer is practice. I was taught to maintain straight and level flight by using the position of the nose and wingtips relative to the horizon and use the attitude and bank indicator to verify. Obviously this only works if you can see the horizon. There are bugs in the IFR checkride that are identiified in Rod Machado's website. To get the IFR rating you have to be very good at actually FLYING the aircraft not just programming the GPS and autopilot. I only have a couple of hours solo in Cessna 152s but I had friends and family that were pilots. Make sure you understand the bugs in the checkride and practice. Good luck.

Luckily I'm a software guy myself, so I was able to spot the issues you talk about in the checkride code. BTW, that little FS script makes for a very interesting reading. I think you have to be very lucky or good to pass the checkride without looking at the script code . I'm getting better each day at flying within standard tolerances, but I've still haven't passed beyond the hold on 140 radial at SEA VOR.

Working on it!

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