Runway USA

A pilot's guide to destination cities in Flight Simulator
by Charles Gulick

Appendix A: Flight Instruction Summary

The following is a brief review, in ready reference form, of aircraft operation and navigational procedures. For more detailed information, Microsoft Press's Flight Simulator Co-Pilot is strongly recommended.

Preflight Check

Takeoff Preparation (before taxiing)

Takeoff and Climbout

Transition to Straight and Level at Cruise Altitude

Standard Climbs and Descents

500 FPM is the standard rate for climbs and descents. Use power in preference to elevator adjustments, as follows:

Standard Turns

20-, 25-, 30-, and 35-degree turns all register on your turn coordinator, or bank-and-turn indicator. A 20-degree, or two-minute, turn is the standard-rate turn and is useful any time but particularly when flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) or making an ILS (Instrument Landing System) approach. You are executing a two-minute turn when your wing lines up with the reference mark (dot) adjacent to the L or R on the turn coordinator.

The 25-, 30-, and 35-degree turns can usually be recognized as “snap” positions on the turn coordinator. As you steepen your bank beyond 20 degrees you will see the steeper turns register at their respective positions, the 35-degree turn being the steepest the instrument will indicate. Experiment a bit to see the “snap” effect. For additional clarification of turns see “Standard Turns” in Flight Simulator Co-Pilot, pages 19–22.

Climbing Turns

Descending Turns

Transition to Slowflight

Slowflight from cruise or descent configuration is achieved by a combination of power reduction and up elevator. You should transition to slowflight when approaching any airport where you intend to land, and be in slowflight configuration when you enter the airport pattern.

The speeds shown above will put you in slowflight with plenty of margin above stall speeds. (Both aircraft can be flown safely at considerably lower speeds.)

Expect oscillations on your VSI when the transition is made quickly. If you have plenty of time to slow down, experiment with alternate applications of power and elevator to effect a smoother transition. The target for slowflight is always straight-and-level flight at approximately the airspeeds given above.

Airport Runways & Patterns

Executing a Landing

Based on your altitude, and your position in relation to the runway where you want to land:

(More specific instruction, as well as a practice mode, can be found in Flight Simulator Co-Pilot.)

VOR Navigation

VOR stands for very high frequency omnidirectional range, also called simply OMNI. A network of OMNI or VOR stations spans the country. Any of these stations can be tuned, if in range, on one or both of your navigation radios by setting the OBS, or Omni-Bearing Selector, to the frequency of the station desired. Because the VOR radiates signals in a 360-degree pattern, in steps of two degrees, you can find which radial you are on or crossing by centering your OBI (Omni-Bearing Indicator) with a TO indication. If you then turn to the magnetic heading which corresponds to that radial and regularly adjust your heading to keep the OBI needle centered (always turn toward the needle to bring it to center position), you will fly directly to the VOR station to which you are tuned. Should you fly beyond the station, your OBI will switch to FROM, since you are now flying away from the station.

The signals radiating from a VOR station can be visualized as the spokes of a motionless wheel, numbered clockwise from 0 to 360. Thus, if you determine which radial you are on, the direction you must fly to intercept a higher- or lower-numbered radial becomes obvious. Making this determination is simplified if you position yourself so that you are inbound (your Omni-Bearing Indicator reads “TO”) on a given radial with the OBI needle centered. Then set the NAV1 OBS to the radial you wish to intercept, and turn to fly to it. Your NAV2 radio can be used dynamically to check the radials you are crossing en route, by regularly adjusting the NAV2 OBS to center its needle. Once you are within 10 degrees of the desired radial, as selected on the NAV1 OBS, the NAV1 OBI needle will come on scale.

Flying An ILS Approach

An Instrument Landing System approach can be made to any runway that is ILS-equipped. You must consult the relevant Sectional Chart and your manual to learn which airports have ILS capability. To pick up the ILS glide slope and glide path, position your aircraft so that you are inbound to the destination airport on its ILS runway heading, with your NAV1 radio tuned to the correct ILS frequency (as given in your charts and manual). To give yourself plenty of time to pick up the ILS and execute the approach precisely, you should be at least 15 nautical miles from the destination airport (as indicated by your DME, or Distance Measuring Equipment readout) at the outset. Your aircraft should be in slowflight configuration. When the ILS needles (one vertical and one horizontal) become active, fly them just as you fly the OBI needle to a VOR station, correcting your heading and your altitude (toward the needles in both cases) to keep the two needles centered. But you must be exact. Constantly make the required corrections, using small amounts of aileron and slight throttle adjustments to stay precisely on the indicated glide slope (vertical path indicated by horizontal needle) and glide path (horizontal path indicated by vertical needle). A descent rate of 500 FPM, with flaps extended 10 degrees, will coincide well with the descent angle of the glide slope.

Outer, Middle, and Inner marker signals—visible and audible—will indicate your relative distance from touchdown. As soon as you have the runway in sight (it should be virtually straight ahead), take over visually and complete your landing. If you miss the approach, transition to a climb, turn left or right to depart the airport pattern, and get in position to start all over again. (Exact “missed approach” procedures vary according to airport, call for specialized knowledge and skills, and are beyond the scope of this book.)

Table of Contents | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter