by Jonathan M. Stern
Setting Up Flight Simulator for the IFR Flight
When I trained for my multi-engine rating, I had an instructor named Don "Pops" Alonso. Pops was an old guy—probably mid-70s—and he had a very bald head, which he covered with a baseball cap. I quickly learned that the purpose of the baseball cap was to cover his bald head and to ensure that the Cessna 310 maintained altitude. Pops would take his fat index finger and pound it against the altimeter glass if I deviated 10 feet from my assigned altitude. If I got 25 feet off my assigned altitude, I'd get a swat across the head with that baseball cap. At the beginning, Pops' baseball cap was on my head as much as his.
You need to prepare the simulator for the trip so that its settings match the data used for your flight planning. As you learned, deviations in temperature and/or pressure affect the performance of the airplane. You also want the location and coverage of clouds to conform reasonably to what you expect from the weather briefings.
There are two choices for simulation setup with Flight Simulator. First, you can manually enter each of the setup criteria in the menu structure of the program. The second alternative, the use of add-on software entitled Real Weather Pilot, adds a dimension of realism to the process.
Whichever you use, you read in this chapter the setup for a flight from Boston to Windsor Locks, Connecticut. The procedures are the same for any other flight for which you wish to program weather conditions and choose an airplane and departure airport.