by Jonathan M. Stern
Checking Out in the Lear Jet, Cessna 182RG, Sopwith Camel, and Sailplane
Different pilot certificates allow for different levels of pilot operations:
Recreational Pilot Certificate
For people who are interested in visual flying only. It requires less flying time than a private pilot's license but restricts the distance you may fly.
Private Pilot Certificate
Allows a pilot to fly for pleasure or for private business. The pilot can't carry cargo or passengers for hire. The vast majority lack an instrument rating.
Commercial Pilot Certificate
Allows the pilot to carry passengers and cargo for hire. It requires more flight time and additional testing areas than a private pilot's license. Required for flight instructors. A pilot holding this license is not necessarily an airline pilot.
Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP)
This license is required for a pilot in command of a commercial airliner, whether a large jet or a commuter.
Unlike automobiles, different makes and models of airplanes are sufficiently different in flight characteristics, operating procedures, limitations, and/or performance that it is necessary to receive training in each make and model of airplane before assuming command. Even where this is not required by regulation, it is usually a prerequisite to coverage by an insurance company for liability or hull damage.
Pilots are rated for specific categories and classes of aircraft. For example, a private pilot may be licensed to fly a single-engine land airplane. An additional rating is required to fly a multi-engine airplane or a seaplane. Likewise, an additional rating is required to fly another category of aircraft, such as a helicopter or a glider.
For airplanes that are turbojet-powered or have authorized maximum takeoff weights in excess of 12,500 pounds, a special rating for the specific make and model (called a type rating) is required. For example, an experienced Boeing 747 airline captain is not licensed to pilot-in-command a Lear 35 without first obtaining a Lear 35 type rating.
Transition training can be very involved, depending on the size and complexity of the airplane. For aircraft requiring type ratings, the transition training can take more than a week on a full-time basis. Such training typically begins with classroom instruction on the airplane's systems and proceeds to flight training in the airplane or a very high-fidelity simulator.
In this chapter, I discuss the basics of operating different airplanes available on Flight Simulator. It is well beyond the scope of this book to go into detail on the operation of any one airplane. To do so with respect to a complex turbojet airplane like the Lear 35 would, itself, fill volumes. What follows then is a brief discussion of flying the different airplanes available on the Flight Simulator program.