Realistic Commercial Flying with Flight Simulator

by John Rafferty

Part I
The Bridgeport Check-Ride Program

Welcome to the Bridgeport Flight Center—the training and flight-testing facility located right here on the field at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The BFC Program

While you're here with us at BFC, you'll take a minimum of five “check rides” to establish your competence before taking on commercial assignments. Each of these will be a dual flight, as I'll be riding along with you in the right-hand seat.

A ground-school briefing is also available for each BFC flight. You can skip any of these briefings if you're already familiar with the material, but if you're a bit rusty on a procedure, be sure to brush up on it in advance.

Of course, you can repeat any of the check rides as many times as you want to be sure you have things down pat. In addition, the BFC airplanes are always available whenever you would like to take one up for some solo practice.

After successfully completing the five check flights, you'll be certified to begin taking on commercial (Flight Simulator) flying assignments at various aviation facilities around the country.

Overview of the Check Rides

The first flight deals with the basics. We'll cover procedures for establishing a standard rate of climb, controlling altitude, making precise turns, putting the airplane into proper configuration for landing, establishing a standard rate of descent, flying a standard traffic pattern, and normal landings. Being competent in these fundamentals will make flying a lot more enjoyable—for you and your passengers.

The second check ride is a basic cross-country flight on which we'll deal mainly with VOR navigation and dead reckoning, so you always know where you are and where you're going.

The next three flights are actually three segments of one long, three-airport round robin that uses routine instrument-flying procedures. We'll cover IFR flight plans, ATC clearances and communications, flying “blind,” and executing the various types of published instrument approaches (the “real stuff” of all-weather commercial aviation).

During any flight, always feel free to use the program's Save feature before starting a difficult maneuver to save the current flight parameters. This allows you to back up and start the procedure over again from that point, if you so wish.

Cockpit Communications

On these five check rides, it will be necessary for you to begin handling the radio communications with Air Traffic Control. I'll do some of the transmitting at first t first to help familiarize you with the jargon, and while I may add some explanatory comments now and then, you'll soon find the procedures pretty routine.

Also, the instructions I'll give you during these check rides will usually sound as if they come from an air traffic controller, so after a while you won't notice much difference between instructions from me and those from ATC.

At this point, I would wish you good luck—but I think you'll find that luck really doesn't have much to do with it.

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