Flying the Friendly Skies - Part II

by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson

Article Type: Training
Article Date: August 23, 2002

Product Info

Game Titles: Flight Simulator 2002 Professional & Standard
Category: Civilian Flight Simulation
Developer: Microsoft Corporation
Publisher: Microsoft Corporation
Release Date: Released
Files and Links: Click Here


Back to Flying the Friendly Skies, Part 1

Variety is the Spice of Life

You may have flown hundreds of hours in combat flight simulations, but flying in FS2002 will be an entirely new experience. First, you’ll find fixed landing gear aircraft here; second, you’ll find twin engine aircraft and twin turboprops; third, you can find seaplanes here, and they are a great treat for hopping between lakes or along the ocean front; finally, full engine management is an option, not to mention IFR flight with authentic instruments in a variety of weather conditions. All in all, FS2002 is an incredibly diverse and educational flight environment.

Training Options

All this challenge can mean a steep learning curve. If you have some time to invest, FS2002 allows for live(!) instructor-student flight using its own multiplayer code via the Flight Instructor program. When you install FS2002 Professional you get an additional icon on your desktop that takes you directly to the flight training interface.

In addition to the built-in features, you can find online features at the FS2002 website. Have a look at this list at the FS2002 Insider web page.

FS2002 also offers Rod Machado’s “Ground School”. This PDF document covers almost every aspect of flight you could think of. As you can see, the table of contents is extensive.

Ground School TOC

Basics of Flight

You can access the ground school from the opening menu of FS2002, under the Library/Help section.

Before you go there, however, you might want the basic introduction provided via Windows Media Player. To view the lessons provided by John and Martha King, you click on “Welcome” and then “Getting Started”. Next, click on the “Play” triangle below the black screen and VOILA!

Video One

This couple are too cute, but at least they are clear. They’ll take you through the basics, proclaim the true liberation of Microsoft hardware, and generally get you up to speed on flying with a keyboard or joystick. You didn’t buy this program to fly with the keyboard, I hope?

This is the most basic of the basics. You will watch as John shows how moving the joystick left lowers one wing while the other rises, causing the aircraft to turn. After explaining control input and effects, the couple explain that there are six main instruments, but two that give you most of the information you need.

Learning the instruments

First Flight

The next “Getting Started” video introduces Rod Machado, your able flight instructor. Rod tells you that you are going to make a flight, i.e., take off, circle around and land. Hit the “Fly Now” button and FS2002 loads your first flight.

You will find yourself sitting at the controls of a Cessna 172SP, watching the runway in front of you over the instrument panel. You’ll hear Rod talking to you, telling you what is happening and what you will need to do.

In the Cessna

It isn’t completely obvious what part Rod will play on this first flight, but if you watch from the virtual cockpit view you’ll see him adjusting the throttle for you as you turn. In fact, he also seems to be watching the trim setting, so in effect you don’t have much to worry about. This is just a “get your feet wet” type of experience. If you had never flown a simulation before, this would be a perfect first time flight.

Ground School

After this initial experience, you should head over to Ground School. Access the Ground School from the opening menu of FS2002, under the Library/Help section.

Getting there.

The whole enchilada

As you can see from the list, you have access to a huge amount of information in the form of handbooks.

ATC Handbook

The ATC manual alone is some seventy pages long! As mentioned above, the ATC in FS2002 is not quite as full featured as in FLY!2K, but doubtless it won’t be long before the first add-on appears. The Quick Reference Guide is mostly a list of key commands.

When you click on the Ground School another PDF file is loaded, and you have access to the whole enchilada thanks to Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Rod is an excellent instructor. While the voice over instruction he does in FS2002 sometimes moves along very quickly, if you read through the Ground School lessons in advance, you’ll find it much easier to follow Ron once you are in the air.

This is exactly what is intended. For each section you first read through the material, and then you proceed to the voice instructor interactive lessons. Wouldn’t it be great if someone would do the same level of training detail for your favorite pointy-nosed jet simulation?

Ground School proceeds in a methodical manner from the very basics of flight to advanced techniques. You don’t need to read the entire manual before you take your first flight lesson in FS2002. In fact, it’s better if you take Ground School a class at a time, connecting each class to the relevant flight lessons in the virtual sky. This way you won’t be overwhelmed by the details, and you can repeat any lesson you want before moving on to the next.

Basic flight

After reading through Class 1 on the ground, you will be ready to embark on your personal odyssey leading to your first flight. To get there, you simply click on “Learn To Fly” on the left menu of the opening screen. What you will see is a menu listing six categories. When you select the first category, Student Pilot, you’ll see that you have a choice of seven lessons. Clicking on “Fly Now” takes you to the first lesson taught by Rod—straight and level flight.

Student pilot category

Straight and Level

This time you’ll find yourself in the air, with Rod in control. He’ll prompt you for every response, and lead you through the basics of watching the VSI and attitude indicator, and using the trim control.

At the close of each lesson you will automatically be shown an analysis of your flight. The flight analysis displays a top down view of your flight path on the map, and a profile view of your altitude during the flight.

The primary use of this tool is to examine how well you have flown a pattern and whether or not your descent was on the glide path. You can adjust certain parameters for closer examination, and even move backward and forward in time during your flight.

Pulling up the in-flight map pauses the sim. I’d prefer it didn’t do this by default, and the maps sure don’t compare to what we had in FLY!2K.

Of the seven lessons included in the student pilot category, the landings are the most challenging for the novice. Remember to read through the ground school lesson before going up with Rod.

Once you have completed the student section, you can move to the private pilot rating. Complete all these lessons and you will receive your virtual PPL.

Instrument rating

Instrument Flight Rules

Why stop there? The IFR is next, and once you have completed these lessons you can complete the commercial pilot rating.

The IFR and commercial ratings are plenty challenging. I flew the VOR approach near Seattle and found it a handful. The instructor will reduce your anxiety on training flights like this—he knows his stuff!

Flying VOR to Everett, Washington

Class No. 12

The first step to VOR is to complete Lesson 12 in the ground school. When you understand the concepts and how to use the instruments presented, you are ready to fly Lesson 3 in the private pilot’s school.

The PPL lesson is in good weather, whereas when you fly the VOR training in the instrument section, you will fly a blind landing in Everett, Washington. I recommend you begin with the good weather first!

Before you select your flight, take a look in the \charts\lessons directory. Charts of Tacoma International, Everett, Bremerton and a few others are included here. You’ll want to check out the relevant chart and print it prior to flying IFR into the airport.

Jeppeson Chart

As you enter the lesson, you’ll hear the comforting voice of your instructor. Rod will summarize the situation and then take you through the VOR approach one step at a time. Oddly, the second time I ran through this lesson something went amiss and Rod’s step-by-step narration didn’t happen. If this happens to you try turning the Master Switch in the cockpit on then off again; it seemed to jog the lesson back to life for me.

After you complete this first lesson, proceed to the VOR lesson under “Instrument Rating”. This one will take you to your destination in bad weather, and when you see that runway loom up before you you’ll experience a wonderful feeling of accomplishment…and relief!

Flying IFR

Glad to see that runway.




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