Microsoft Flight Simulator Handbook

by Jonathan M. Stern


Aerobatic Flying

Pilot's Log

Despite the systems that are designed to prevent it, countless pilots have landed with the landing gear retracted. In the cases I know, the pilots always had an excuse: "I never touched the switch," or "The warning horn never sounded." There's no good excuse for this oversight. Clearly, some pilots get so caught up in flying that they forget this essential part of landing.

The Federal Aviation Regulations contain a section that prohibits aerobatic maneuvers in certain areas and conditions:

  1. Congested areas
  2. Below 1,500 feet AGL
  3. Visibilities of less than three miles

This rule also defines aerobatic flight as:

An intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight

The Regulations also state (with certain exceptions) that occupants of an aircraft in which an intentional maneuver involving a bank of more than 60 degrees or a nose-up or nose-down pitch of more than 30 degrees must wear a parachute. Were this not enough to throw fear into the hearts of some of the more mild-mannered pilots who give thought to learning aerobatic flight, the FAA's Airman's Information Manual warns of the physiological stresses of aerobatic flight, which can lead to "discomfort, headache, red-out, and even unconsciousness."

Fortunately for Flight Simulator pilots, a taste of the aerobatic flying experience can be had without serious risk of any of these physiological phenomena, without an investment in a parachute, and in the comfort of their homes or offices.

Flight Simulator includes a set of aerobatic flight lessons, all of which are accessed from the Options/Flight Instruction menu in the Aerobatic Lesson Category. These maneuvers are flown in the Cessna 182RG, although it must be stated that, in reality, this airplane is not certified for these maneuvers. Performing certain aerobatic maneuvers, including spins, in airplanes for which they are not certified is truly risky business.

Most aerobatic maneuvers require individual use of aileron and rudder. Accordingly, for such maneuvers, auto-coordination must be turned off in the Sim menu. As before, I recommend that these maneuvers (with the exception of the aileron roll) be performed with add-on rudder pedals because of the difficulty in using four different keyboard keys to control ailerons and rudder. The one maneuver with which auto-coordination may be used is the loop.

For each of the aerobatic maneuvers taught on Flight Simulator, I list the lesson, a description of the maneuver, and the entry and recovery procedures.

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