Stumped as to how to trim a plane

ProjectLifterPilotGuest Guest

Hi all, I recently got ms flight sim 2002 to toy around with before I begin real flying lessons when summer comes. I'm also using a plastic CHS yoke for added realism and banking ,pitching all works well but I am still trying to figure out how to trim the plane so it will stay at level attitude. I've read Rod's ground school instruction that came with the sim and I still don't get it. It states that to trim the plane I have to press the number 7 key for nose trim down when the VSI needle shows a climb(upwards). So i did just that after applying a foward pressure so that the needle will come down a bit. But the VSI needle keeps on dropping past zero and won't stay horizontal.

So as the plane is pitching up, do I have to bring it back down to level flight where it's on the horizon on the attitude indicator , then press 7 for nose down trim? Maybe I'll try it a few more times but I've been messing around this for a while.

Can anyone give a clearer explanation(for my understanding) as to how to trim the plane? I know i'm missing something here. Thanks!!!

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Pro Member First Officer
jelami First Officer

Ok, you are on the right track, fly the lesson plan several times until you get it.
The trim function (f7) is unnecessary if you set a control switch, knob or wheel to do it on your yoke.
The first thing you want to do is get the plane under control, level flight, at a specific altitude and speed. You should apply/reduce power to control pitch, (this attitude of flight). Once you have the plane in control, use the trim to remain in control. Never try to fly a plane with the trim control, its only purpose is to help maintain what you have. Rudder trim is a little different but not much. You need to get your plane in control of sideways drift from wind, and then trim the rudder to ease the stress you are under to maintain direction. To summarize, trim in any direction is designed to reduuce the pressure you need to apply to control the attitude of the plane.
Once you decide that you still have to fly the plane,you will be well on your way.
Good luck on your plans for the future, and for virtual flying also

Don Wood Guest

Jelami: May I disagree slightly with your statement that the only use of trim is to maintain what you have? Actually, IMO, trim is used either to maintain what you have or to achieve what flight attitude you want.

For example, in my C-172, when I am trimmed at pattern altitude at pattern speed and at the point where I want to begin my descent to the runway, I reduce power, lower a notch of flaps, and give my trim wheel 3 turns of nose-up trim. That will set me up for the correct descent angle and speed for the downwind. At base, I lower another notch, and on final, lower the last notch. Assuming I've set the power correctly and made my turns where I should have, I then do not have to adjust anything until crossing the fence where I reduce power to land.

Simarlarly, in cruise, when I am ready to begin a descent, I normally apply just the amount of trim I need to go from level flight to the speed of descent I want to achieve without touching the power. That allows a correct descent and lets me achieve groundspeeds higher than in cruise, making up some of the lower groundspeeds I had during my climbout. I only need to reduce power if my descent rate will result in engine overspeed or airspeed beyond redline or when I need to slow for the approach.


Hi Project 🙂

I bought FS2002 last year but am still a complete newbie. (See separate post on why) So it feels a little strange my offering advice like this. But the fact is that I have a couple of possible “lower tech” explanations than those offered above.

In the first instance I should tell you that I am a terrible virtual pilot! (I’ll repeat this later.) So the fact that I made it through good old “Rod’s” basic flight lessons, (the first six is as far as I got to date) without the problem you are having, speaks volumes as to your solution being something simple.

Always start with the easiest possibility my old dad always used to say, but as he also used to say “what’s your name again?” we’re probably best not dwelling on that for two long.

But with this in mind, my first suggestion is the obvious one. Trimming normally takes me a couple of minutes to successfully accomplish. For those couple of minutes my nose is all over the shop. This is not because the procedure is inherently difficult, but simply because “I am a terrible virtual pilot.” (Told you so.) So are you persevering sir?

I think that you are and so my second suggestion comes from a “Rod-ism” which you may have missed. When you’re learning trim the plane, you’re supposed to do it in little jumps and wait to see the effect. Your noble airborne steed has a tendency to bounce back the other way a bit before it settles down to its adjusted course.
So the “Rod-ism” I mentioned is, “Don’t chase the needle.”

My third and final suggestion is my token pass at technology. (I’m of your technically challenged variety you see.) The joystick I am using is a basic “Microsoft Sidewinder.” It has very little in the way of frills, in fact an on board throttle lever is probably the only thing separating it from the old stick I used to have for my Comodore Amiga. (Yep.. that old) Yet this humble device has (so far) presented me with no problems running the simulation.

But! (and it’s a big but! And no I don’t mean it’s a big butt!) When I tried plugging in with my all singing, all dancing “Logitech Wingman Pro” which has throttle slider, twist grip rudder and more buttons than you can shake a weasel at (and I’m sure by the way, is heavier than the actual Cessna I am supposed to be flying.) I had all kinds of problems holding a course. In the end I was left completely unable to abandon the stick to go make that all important cup of tea and I was about as happy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

So are you sure that;
A/ The stick is calibrated properly.
B/ The stick is completely happy with FS2002.

If you have a cheap basic thing like mine hanging about the house, why not plug it in as an experiment and see if it’s any easier.

Right then, that’s all the advice that this unqualified layman has the nerve to give. Hope you manage to sort it out and good luck on those real life lessons by the way! I don’t like to come across as the jealous type, so if you’ll excuse me I’m just off for a quiet weep in the corner where no-one can see me.

All the best

The Grounded Badger.


Thanks for all the input guys!

Guest, great post, you're very helpful but wayyy too humble. 😎

I've checked the compatibility and calibration with the old Ch yoke which has a throttle and six buttons that can be assigned for trim, side view,cockpit view, etc.

I've ran the lesson a great many times already but I still really can't trim properly even when making real tiny and sensitive adjustments. This is what I did: when establishing a climb pitching up to 10 degrees on the attitude indicator, i want to trim it at that attitude at 10 degrees to make the plane stay at the climb so i can fly "hands off". Once at 10 degrees and adding power I pressed the trim up button two times or so and the plane would pitch up, then i start letting go of the yoke back to neutral position and the plane just goes crazy by descending down rapidly past the 0 at the VSI. It is as if the trim did not work. I thought to myself maybe i didn't apply enough trim so i gave it more trim up at the climb and down the plane goes past the 0 at VSI after i let go of the yoke. Now am I not suppose to let go off the yoke? If so, then why do they call it flying hands off?

thanks for all the help!

siemerh Guest

Might try this. Say you are at 2000'. Set your autopilot at 5000' and your climb rate at 500'. Activate your autopilot and as it takes over you can then check your trim setting on the panel and that should give you some idea of where your trim should be when flying hands on. 😎

Don Wood Guest

There are another couple of factors you need to be aware of. First, my first rule of trim is: "Nothing lasts forever". As with a real airplane, trim needs to be adjusted very frequently because conditions change. The primary conditions changing in flight that effect trim are power settings and weight and balance. Anytime you change power, you will also need to fine tune the trim settings. As you burn fuel, the weight and balance of the airplane changes and that also requires trim setting changes. If anything, FS9 is more stable in this regard than the real airplane.

Second is that trim is not the most true-to-life-function that exists in FS9. I cannot comment on any plane in FS9 other than the C-172 since it is the only one I fly in real life but it is much more difficult and time consuming to get the FS9 C-172 correctly trimmed than it is the real airplane. Once trimmed, however, it seems to require less tweaking of trim in FS9 than in the real airplane.

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