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.
- Heading: Check agreement with parameter set in Editor.
- Carburetor heat: Be sure it's off, reading “CH.”
Takeoff Preparation (before taxiing)
- Flaps: 10 degrees.
- Elevators: Trim two quick notches up (from the elevator center position, on the Editor default parameter 32767).
Takeoff and Climbout
- Power: Advance gradually to full power.
- Rotate at 80 KIAS (Knots Indicated Airspeed), using one notch of up elevator.
- When VSI (Vertical Speed Indicator) indicates climb, apply one notch of down elevator (releases rotation back pressure).
- Flaps: Retract when climbing 500 FPM (feet per minute).
- Trim out when climbing 1000 FPM, Cessna with two quick notches of down elevator, Piper with one notch.
- Reduce power for 500-FPM climb as indicated on VSI. (Nominal RPMs from sea level to approximately 2000 feet: Cessna 2105 RPMs, Piper 2250 RPMs. Higher altitudes will call for higher power settings.)
- Climb to 400 feet AGL (Above Ground Level) before executing any turns.
Transition to Straight and Level at Cruise Altitude
- Twenty feet below desired altitude, Cessna reduce power two notches, Piper three notches. (Nominal RPMs at approximately 2500 feet: Cessna 1905 RPMs, Piper 1950 RPMs.)
- Adjust power as necessary to hold cruise altitude. Adjust elevator trim only if power adjustments prove unsatisfactory, in which case preferred trim is one notch down for best efficiency. At very high altitudes, try to avoid operating at full engine power; instead, use up elevator trim and/or lower rate of climb to reach desired altitude, then try a power reduction to maintain straight and level.
Standard Climbs and Descents
500 FPM is the standard rate for climbs and descents. Use power in preference to elevator adjustments, as follows:
- To climb at 500 FPM from straight and level, increase throttle setting two notches in Cessna, and three notches in Piper.
- Twenty feet below desired altitude, decrease throttle setting by the same number of notches. If resulting power setting will not maintain the higher altitude, adjust it upward as required. (Give the aircraft time to settle down.)
- To descend at 500 FPM from straight and level, decrease throttle setting two notches in Cessna, and four notches in Piper.
- At desired lower altitude, increase throttle setting by the same number of notches. If resulting power setting is too high at the lower altitude, adjust it downward as required (give the aircraft time to settle down).
- To adjust your altitude by climbing or descending only a few hundred feet, use smaller throttle adjustments.
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.
- Precede the turn with a notch of up elevator to hold altitude while you are turning.
- Use your left or right aileron control key to put your wing on the reference mark, then neutralize the control using the Center Aileron key. (See Appendix B if you don't know which key it is.)
- If the bank shallows, apply additional aileron in the direction of turn, and again neutralize.
- If the bank steepens, apply aileron opposite to the direction of turn, and again neutralize.
- Hold the 20-degree bank-and-turn until you are 10 degrees from your desired heading.
- Roll out of the turn by applying opposite aileron and then neutralizing the control, just as you did when entering the turn.
- Take off the notch of elevator you applied to enter the turn.
- Make minor directional adjustments by slight application of aileron.
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.
- Enter the steeper turns in the same manner as you entered the 20-degree turn, but use additional aileron. Neutralize in the same way. Maintain the degree of bank by application of more aileron or opposite aileron, as in the 20-degree turn.
- Roll out of the steeper turns by application of opposite aileron, but start the rollout earlier to suit the steepness of your bank.
- Take off the notch of elevator used to enter the turn.
- Add a notch of power before entering the turn.
- Maintain your original rate of climb (typically 500 FPM) as you turn, using a notch of up elevator in Cessna, or an additional notch of power in Piper, as needed (power is preferred to elevator in Piper).
- Roll out as usual, removing the power and the elevator back pressure you applied to enter the turn.
- A turn while descending will increase your rate of descent.
- Maintain your rate of descent using a notch of up elevator (in Piper a reduction of power setting may be preferred).
- Roll out of the turn normally and return elevator (and/or power) to original settings.
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.
- Slowly reduce power, in Cessna by four notches and in Piper by seven notches. Typical resultant RPMs (from straight-and-level configuration) will be 1505 in Cessna, 1200 in Piper.
- In Cessna, trim your elevator up six notches (three sets of two quick ups, separated by about a second, i.e., 2,2,2).
- In Piper, apply four elevator ups (separated by about a second, i.e., 1,1,1,1).
- Cessna will settle down at about 70 KIAS, Piper at 84 KIAS. (Cessna typically indicates 10 knots under its actual airspeed.)
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
- Takeoffs and landings are made into the wind (upwind) wherever possible.
- Airport runways are on headings which take advantage of prevailing winds in their area. Landings at an angle to the wind direction are called “crosswind” landings.
- Runways are numbered to indicate their approximate magnetic bearing, with the zero dropped. For example, Runway 9 bears approximately 90 degrees, and landings on it are to the east.
- Any landing strip actually comprises two runways, since landings can be made from the opposite direction should the wind shift around. Thus the reciprocal of Runway 9 is Runway 27 (landings on 27 are, of course, to the west), and the runway may be referred to generically as Runway 9/27.
- An airport pattern is an imaginary rectangle, consisting of the takeoff or upwind leg, the crosswind leg, the downwind leg, the base leg, and the landing leg—the latter is referred to as “final” or “final approach.”
- Flying an airport pattern thus involves a takeoff, four 90-degree turns, and a landing in the same direction as the takeoff.
- Airport patterns are flown at a specific altitude, usually 800 to 1000 feet AGL. Simultaneously with reaching pattern altitude, you will be preparing to descend again for your landing.
- The primary purpose of airport patterns is traffic control, particularly of student pilots (who fly repeated patterns for practice).
- On approaching an airport from a cross-country flight, pilots typically are required to enter the airport pattern at a 45-degree angle to the downwind leg. This permits them to see and be seen by pilots of other aircraft.
- In the “real world,” the tower will regularly approve entries to other legs, or straight-in approaches to the active runway, traffic permitting.
- Airport patterns are typically left-hand patterns, meaning all turns are to the left. But right-hand patterns are also common, to suit multiple-runway lies, neighborhood considerations, terrain, obstructions, or other local factors. In the simulator, either pattern may be used.
- At busy airports with multiple runways, light-plane pilots are frequently instructed to land on the smaller strips.
Executing a Landing
- The aircraft should be at or close to slowflight on the downwind leg.
- From downwind leg to touchdown, keep the runway in sight, using whatever left or right sideviews are required.
- Opposite the active end of the runway, apply carburetor heat, followed by 10 degrees of flaps.
Based on your altitude, and your position in relation to the runway where you want to land:
- Extend your flaps as and when needed. Flaps provide a lower stall speed and slow the aircraft in steep descents. They usually should be extended fully on final approach.
- Use alternate power reductions (or, as needed, increases) and varying elevator pressures to effect a slow, relatively steep final approach to the runway threshold.
- If airspeed and your position permit, flatten your descent angle a bit when you're 50 to 100 feet off the ground.
- A few feet above the runway, apply up elevator to flare (transition to level or slightly nose-high flight).
- Finally, “feel back” the elevator (gradually apply up elevator) to keep the aircraft airborne, just above stalling, until the moment of touchdown.
(More specific instruction, as well as a practice mode, can be found in Flight Simulator Co-Pilot.)
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.)