Student Pilots and Home Users
PC-based flight simulation is a proven way to accelerate your flight training and save money in the process. Using X-Plane or Microsoft® Flight Simulator you can run through cockpit procedures, get familiar with your local flying environment, and practice navigation. While you’ll definitely be a lot more confident in the cockpit as a result, you’ll also notice that flying a real airplane is decidedly different than using a sim.
Real flying takes place in a dynamic environment populated by other human beings. In a real airplane there’s no Pause key, and the pilots and air traffic controllers you interact with on the radio are real people. With that knowledge comes some pressure to perform, which is why the number one fear of student pilots is learning to speak on the radio.
Enter PilotEdge. Connecting your flight simulation software to PilotEdge instantly creates the same mental environment you find yourself in when you fly a real airplane. Instead of practicing your skills by yourself in front of your computer, you’ll have the sense that other people are watching your every move. Over time, you’ll become more and more comfortable with this. When it comes time for your checkride, you’ll have the confidence of a pro.
As a student pilot, you can use PilotEdge to:
- Overcome the “brain lock” that paralyzes some student pilots when they press the mic key.
- Achieve fluency in the language of aviation radio communication.
- Gain an intuitive mastery of which radio calls to make, and when.
- Practice flying the traffic pattern while interacting with Ground and Tower controllers, or while making position announcements at an uncontrolled airport.
- Fly out to a practice area for some air work, keep your eye out for traffic as you practice maneuvers, then return home with a call to the tower or an announcement on the CTAF.
- Fly to another airport, and pick up flight following along the way.
- Get comfortable interacting with controllers at a Class D airport (especially if you’re doing most of your training at an uncontrolled field).
- Practice transitioning Class C and Class B airspace.
- Master the art of building a three-dimensional picture of what’s going on around you, by listening to the interaction between ATC and other aircraft.
- Try new things, make mistakes, and learn from them—in a friendly environment that exists solely to help you become a better pilot!
Many instrument students find learning to aviate and navigate without visual reference to the ground a relatively simple process. Some use X-Plane and Flight Simulator to make learning to fly on instruments even easier.
But when these same students start trying to communicate in the IFR system, they quickly find their brains becoming overloaded. Everything’s fine until ATC rattles off an approach clearance:
“N132KT is 5 from the marker, fly heading 180, maintain 3400 until established on the localizer, cleared ILS RWY 19R approach, maintain present speed to the marker than contact tower 119.90.”
The silence that follows is deafening … broken only by the instructor taking over the radio, and then repeating the key items to the student.
So, how do you learn to handle clearances like a pro? Simple: fly a few hundred approaches in the system with ATC. The only problem is that a typical IFR lesson can easily cost $400. If you’re lucky, that lesson will yield one IFR clearance and a handful of approach clearances. As a result, most instrument students never really achieve confident mastery of IFR radio communications until after their check ride, if at all.
On PilotEdge you can pick up unlimited IFR route and approach clearances each month for the same cost as six minutes of dual flight time in a typical trainer. What sort of IFR flying can you do on PilotEdge? Anything you’d do in a real airplane (and more).
- Pick up IFR clearances on the ground or in the air.
- Practice executing missed approaches, flying to alternates, and receiving amended routes from ATC.
- Practice entering and flying ATC-initiated holds, published or otherwise.
- Fly vectors-to-final or request full approaches.
- Experience “one in, one out” operations at non-towered airports.
- Request cruise clearances, VFR-on-top, and block altitudes.
- Practice emergency procedures, including receiving non-gyro vectors.
Licensed and Rated Pilots
Whether it’s because of time, weather or money, if you’re like most Part 91 pilots, you don’t fly nearly enough to be truly proficient. Even if you use X-Plane or Microsoft Flight Simulator at home, without ATC and traffic the workload is simply not the same.
True proficiency only comes from regularly experiencing the cognitive load flying in the system forces. By realistically simulating the same mental environment you fly in when you fly for real, PilotEdge requires you to engage your “flying brain.” The result is a completely immersive simulation experience. You’ll walk away from each session drenched with experiences and lessons you didn’t know you could acquire from a sim.
We’ve seen many pilots on PilotEdge make the same errors low time or out-of-practice pilots make in the real world. Don’t be surprised if you occasionally hear pilots:
- Miss or misinterpret radio calls.
- Read back clearances incorrectly and get called on it.
- Freeze up and monopolize the frequency with confused transmissions full of “ummms” and “ahhhs” as they think out loud.
- Deviate from their cleared route when they’re issued a hold or a complex amended clearance.
It’s far better to find and fix those chinks in the armor on PilotEdge than it is to have them happen in the air.
As a licensed pilot, you can use your time on PilotEdge to:
- Practice both IFR and VFR flying (many IFR pilots actually find VFR flying on PilotEdge more challenging, especially in the complex airspace around southern California).
- Experience flying to unfamiliar airports, and in unfamiliar airspace.
- Plan and fly cross-country flights over terrain you’d never have the opportunity to fly over on your typical real flights (either alone or with a group of friends).
- Use your sim’s real-world weather feature to test your flight planning and decision-making skills.
- Practice your single pilot cockpit resource management—by using the same kneeboard, checklists, charts, and gizmos (timer, iPad, etc.) you use in an airplane.
- Practice emergency procedures by setting random instrument or system failures in the sim, and then working with ATC to bring the flight to a safe conclusion.
PilotEdge provides an environment in which you can keep your skills sharp each and every month … for less money than it would cost many pilots to get a real airplane off the ground.