Post by terry
Not being a simmer myself, but dont you guys look at performance
charts and weather reports and make pretend flight plans and all that
sort of stuff that real pilots do? or do you just jump on the computer
and take off?
It depends on the simmer. Some go to extremes with details, others do not.
In simulation, you can simulate the part you enjoy, and skip the part you
don't, which is one of its key advantages.
At least in the case of online flight, flight plans are routinely filed (and
of course they are required for IFR). I look briefly at weather for the
departure and destination airports and sometimes at weather along the way; I
do a lot of flying in the American southwest, where the weather tends to be
perpetually VMC, so detailed analysis isn't usually required. If I'm flying
through Alaska or through the Midwest in winter, or any place where VMC is not
the rule, or any place unfamiliar, I look more closely.
I only look at performance charts in unusual situations (such as this one). I
fly the same aircraft regularly and in normal situations I have a good idea
what performance to expect. Yesterday I noted the temperature on the ramp to
be 42.9° C, and so I worried a bit about any potential problems that I might
have forgotten about that are associated with high ambient temperatures, which
is why I asked about it.
There are simmers who have simulated passenger and cargo manifests, virtual
airlines for which they fly, and other simulated details highly peripheral to
the flight itself, but I don't usually bother with those, although I try to
come up with weak pretexts for having different numbers of passengers aboard
in small aircraft. In large aircraft I generally assume that I'm flying a
private jet with a fairly fixed weight and a constant fuel load so that I
don't have to constantly recalculate things. I keep more than enough fuel
aboard in both cases to cover the time range that interests me (no more than
two hours or so for a flight, and often much less).
There are also simmers who are very close to gamers, in that they'll just jump
into the aircraft and take off, and buzz buildings and fly loops and all sorts
of tremendously unrealistic things. They are only a problem if they do this
online, as online flight (at least on VATSIM) is supposed to be just like real
life, and this means no Mach 2.5 passes over the runways at LAX or anything
In simulation there is also a type of pilot that one would never see in real
life, namely, a pilot who has flown only airliners and only with full
automation. These pilots have learned only how to load something into their
FMC, and depend on the computer to handle the flight; they maneuver by
adjusting controls on the autopilot, and every landing is an autoland. They
aren't much of a hindrance if all goes well, but since they are often
incapable of flying the aircraft without the FMC, any instruction from ATC
that requires manual intervention leaves them dangerously confused. I'm not
sure what sort of person would only be interested in loading the FMC and
going, without ever being curious about the other aspects of piloting, but
they seem to be common. Perhaps it's the ATC that attracts them, and they
just want to sound cool on the radio.