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Preparing for a Simulator Session – Novice

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Elliott

Elliott

Preparing for a Simulator Session – Novice

If you are new the to world of flight sim and are planning on a simulator visit, this is a must read to ensure you get the most out of your venue visit.

Introduction

Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Perhaps a little extreme for a gift experience or trying your hand at flying an airliner in a simulator, but never has a statement been so true. Airline pilots put many hours of work into preparing for their simulator sessions and at Simulator Review we believe a similar approach would benefit anyone attending a simulator experience.

In this article we’ll look at what can be done to prepare for your simulator session as if it were to be attended by a complete novice, whether that be new to flying, simulators or even aircraft type. These sessions are not cheap, so maximising the experience, enjoyment, learning and just as importantly bang for buck is something we feel strongly about.

Preparation at Home

As always, preparation starts in your free time at home. Soon, you’ll be seated in a flight deck that professional pilots take years of training to master and become qualified on. There are a number of things you can do at home that will ease the process and help you relax, which in turn will allow better processing of the information and absorption of the instruction given.

There are a few ways you can become familiar with your new environment well before you attend a session. Familiarity of what’s in front of you will really help and just being able to identify some of the elements of instrumentation can stem the flow from the firehose of information being pointed in your direction. By concentrating preparation on the Primary Flight Display and Navigation Display you’ll be able to identify the key flight parameters and use the controls to maintain them and follow the instructor’s commands. You can see these in numerous YouTube videos by searching the above terms, and find a multitude of images with labels displaying what each element represents. Also, some of these videos will provide a good overview of the operation in general, giving an insight in the order and pace of events and actions. Try searching Just Planes (https://www.youtube.com/user/JustPlanes).

Secondly, have some idea of what you would like to try or achieve in the session. Most instructors will have a standard plan for what they can do in a beginners session, but I can’t think of one that wouldn’t do their best to accommodate any special requests. The best simulator companies often contact their customers in advance to introduce themselves, see if you have any experience and ask if there’s anything in particular you would like to do, see or achieve. We encourage this process with owners/managers and like to see or hear about it when we visit to assess and review venues. It also helps to have a rough idea of what is available in the timeframe. We cover this a little further on in the article.

Lastly, have a look at the airports you’d like to visit on google maps or other satellite views or web images. Study the terrain, features, taxiways and runways. Have a look at where the buildings are and the various tarmac layouts. Also, have a look at the surrounding area for significant features such as lakes, coasts and buildings. Looking at websites/apps such as flightradar24 or Plane Finder to see what the real-world traffic usually does will help with understanding and realism. For example, the daily London Heathrow runway switch at 1500Z when on ‘westerlies’ and the specific use of runways for various phases such as runway 9L for landing and 9R for take-off again at London Heathrow.

What to Expect – Upon Arrival

Upon arrival, you can expect a briefing before flying the simulator.  This may be in the simulator itself or in a classroom/briefing room environment.  This is where a session plan will be shared along with an explanation of the essentials for the ‘flight’.  Most venues have a reception, an area to sit and wait, toilets and refreshments (most are complementary) and most importantly some space for anyone who has come along with you.

In the briefing, there is often a short video, demonstration with models, diagrams of the instrumentation and whiteboard style instruction.  It may feel like you are at school again, with a lot of information to absorb or retain, but have my word, it’ll all become clear as soon as you step into the simulator.  

It is good practise for any purchased simulator time to be wholly spent ‘hands-on’ in the simulator.  Most venues we have spoken with employ this procedure, but unfortunately not all do (as mentioned above, some go even further and contact you beforehand – outstanding service!).  We recommend checking this at the time of purchase and if briefing time isn’t included, our advice would be to move on and find another venue.

Below are some suggested ways the time will likely be spent for each session duration.

What to Expect – ½ Hour Session

A short familiarisation with what was covered in the briefing room, such as the relevant controls and instruments/displays.  A take-off followed by some general handling such as effect of the flight controls, turns/climbs etc.  At least three landings should be possible using the reposition function which saves wasted flight time in the circuit.  All of this will probably be completed at one airport location, saving loading and configuration time.

What to Expect – 1 Hour Session

We recommend a 1-hour flight for a first session.  This will give a good balance between gaining proficiency in using your new skills and not becoming too overloaded with all the new information and exhilaration of the flight.  Broadly the same as a half an hour session is achievable, perhaps with a little more in-depth explanation or time to practise.  There will be time for more take offs and landings and depending on progress, it could be possible for a short land away flight or visit to two airport locations.  It may also be possible to attempt using the thrust levers should the other parts come naturally.  If not, no problem, the instructor or auto-thrust systems will happily handle this.  Enjoyment is key and it’s best not to mentally overload!

What to Expect – 2 Hour Session

A 2-hour session is a long time, but would allow you to really see what the aircraft can do and really experience flying an airliner.  If at any point you feel a little over loaded, just let your instructor know and it’s easy to build in a few minutes break.  In 2 hours, it would be possible to fly a short route or sample some additional airports with associated increase in number of take-offs and landings.  You can expect some more in-depth examination of aircraft systems and operation such as using the autopilot, flight management computers and other often used systems.  Some advanced general handling can be introduced for the more competent new aviators and the instructor could even introduce a light crosswind or low visibility for landing.

Summary

In summary, enjoyment of your session is key.  Don’t worry about the technical aspects of the simulator and flying, especially for the first couple of visits – your instructor will look after you.  Any preparation in advance will help you to get the most out of your session and allow the instructor to move you on to more interesting activities.  Approach the session with an open mind, ready to absorb lots of information and don’t worry if you feel overloaded.  Again tell your instructor and they will help you manage the stress levels – there are absolutely no expectations on their part so don’t worry!  Make sure when booking the simulator session that purchased/voucher time equals flight time in the simulator and that a briefing is included in your package.  Most of all, welcome to the club!  These simulators are the closest thing to reality and actually flying an airliner.

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Elliott’s Favourite Aviation YouTube Videos – Part 2

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Elliott

Elliott

Elliott’s Favourite Aviation YouTube Videos – Part 2

This is the second instalment of where I share my favourite aviation related videos from YouTube.

In Part 2 of this series I cover video productions from three gentlemen from different aviation backgrounds, but find themselves in the same genre of flying. Their video content is similar, but shown from different generational aspects. Each flies their respective aircraft as a single pilot, under IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions in the USA and do a good job at explaining each phase of flight, their actions and why. Keep an eye out as amongst their videos they meet up and fly in each other’s aircraft. It shows a great aviation community spirit and one you feel part of watching their videos. Here’s one to start …

Steveo1kinevo

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/steveo1kinevo/videos

My favourite of the YouTube aviation channels, Steveo has been producing popular videos for YouTube for over 13 years. He primarily flies a TBM 850 around the SE USA and Florida, whilst also being an ambassador to and frequenting the Bahamas. He currently has additional flying jobs as a Cessna Caravan and a Quest Kodiak Captain and past videos include time in a Saab 340 and Beech King Air. All videos contain lots of explanation of airmanship, procedures and systems, overlaid charts, ATC communication and occasionally a give away from one of his various sponsors such as Bose. His film making skills are fantastic and he produces some excellent footage from inside and outside the cockpit, down route and from drones, along with some catchy accompanying tunes. Keep an eye for the electric skateboard, which often makes an appearance along with some other famous YouTube aviators.

All of the videos on the Steveo1kinevo channel are worth watching, even if just for the music and footage, but I have picked three videos I particularly enjoyed watching. In the first video, ‘Into The Night – Single Pilot IFR Flight’, Steveo waits until evening to fly a night flight, which is rare for the YouTube aviators – a real treat.

In the second video, ‘In-flight System Failure – What A Mess!’ , Steveo manages an electrical failure well and explains everything as he’s dealing with the issues – all while still flying the aeroplane as a single pilot. The electrical failure happens just after 19:45 incase you didn’t spot it – it was that well handled!

And in the third video, ‘Stressful Flight Into Bad Weather – Single Pilot IFR Flight From Atlanta To Miami’, Steveo explains how he uses the weather radar and his methodology for choosing his flight path through the Florida storms.

Premier 1 Driver

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/gregmink/videos

Greg is an ex-air force F-16 pilot, who flies his own Beechcraft Premier 1 around the United States for business and pleasure. He’s also been producing YouTube videos for over 13 years and in the last 5 years or so has produced some fantastic flying material. As with Steveo1kinevo, all of Premier 1 Driver’s videos on his channel are worth watching, but I have picked three videos I particularly enjoyed.

The first video, ‘Departing San Jose – What Is A Pre-Departure Clearance?’, includes ATC, split screen footage and some great scenery out of the window. Greg also explains the pre-departure clearance process – the US has an incredible user friendly and efficient system.

The second video, ‘Flying Solo In A Jet’ – Miami To Naples’ , contains some typical Florida views and weather, but highlights the busy nature and need for organised flight management on such a short flight. Having ATC included shows the multitasking that single pilot IFR operations require.

And in the final video from Greg, ‘Private Jet Ride Along – Blake’s Flight’, demonstrates a good technical knowledge regarding navigation, performance and aircraft systems. It’s nicely presented in the form of a ride along, with a young future aviator in the right hand seat, meaning explanations are pitched at a nice level and the concepts are simpler to grasp.

Citation Max

YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnwxBsijr0eaDd18MJIAt4Q

Max started out flying the Cirrus SR22 before moving on to the Cirrus Vision Jet and currently flies a Citation Jet 3+ business jet. Some great in cockpit footage and commentary can be found in his videos from a youthful perspective as well as some good technical information about flying and the jet itself. Again, all the videos on Max’s channel are worth watching, but I have picked three videos I particularly enjoyed.

In the first video, ‘Cirrus Vision Jet – The Epic – Re-Arrival – Las Vegas McCarran Intl Airport’, Max flies a busy IFR arrival into a major international airport, with ATC communication recorded and explanation of chart work and checklist commentary.

Max’s second video, ‘Taking Delivery Of A Brand New Private Jet’, leads us through the process of taking delivery of a private jet. For most of us, the closest we’ll come to this is taking delivery of a new car, but it’s remarkable how similar the process is!

And in video three, ‘Birdstrike & OshKosh IFR Arrival with Premier 1 Driver & Backseat Brian’, Citation Max flies with Premier 1 Driver in the right-hand seat on their way to the OshKosh Airshow. It’s great seeing the two pilots operate together, again with some split screens and nice views. They have a bird strike during take-off – you can find this at 6:25. Very calmly dealt with by the pair.

I’ll continue this series covering other videos I have found interesting and include other channels I recommend following and indeed follow myself. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the content so far – there’s much more to come!

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Elliott’s Favourite Aviation YouTube Videos – Part 1

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Elliott

Elliott

Elliott’s Favourite Aviation YouTube Videos – Part 1

The journey from my first flying lesson to airline Captain has taken many years, but along the way I have always enjoyed watching aviation videos on Youtube; this is a selection of my favourite videos that I hope you will enjoy too.

I thought I’d take some time to share my favourite aviation related videos from YouTube. Since early 2000s, I’ve watched many, many flying videos on YouTube and over the next few weeks, I’ll cover some of these with the reasons why I find the videos credible and worthy of me recommending to you. The content has been inspiring when sitting examinations, motivational during training and incredibly enjoyable when watching as a current airline pilot. Their creators are talented film makers as well as respectable aviators. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I do.

This first group are all airline pilots. I’ll start with the earliest video.

Kent Wien

Kent is an American Airlines pilot, and his video was one of the first I watched on YouTube. The footage chronicles two long haul flights from Boston to Paris and back and also shows the layover time in between flights. It deserves a little leeway as video creation has improved dramatically since this was created in 2004, but the music is good and content is quite amusing and incredibly accurate compared with my experiences as a long haul pilot. I can relate to the feeling at time 3:25 very well – long haul flying is extremely tiring and the change in time zones never stops being a challenge!

Rodrigo David

This airline Captain flies the A320 series (mainly in Brazil it looks like from the videos) and has captured some stunning footage and overlaid some brilliant music to accompany what we’re seeing as he goes about his work. At 1:07, he is flying a visual manoeuvre for landing in the Airbus at Rio de Janeiro’s smaller airport, Aeroporto do Rio de Janeiro RJ Santos Dumont. This is a challenging piece of flying and produces some incredible views.

The next video contains more of the same, with some pleasant night time footage, and also the same approach as above, but slightly more inclement weather! Skip to 1:03 to find.

Another Rodrigo classic, but some nice footage of the crew operating the Airbus. Enjoy!

Swayne Martin

Swayne is a First Officer at Envoy Airlines, which operate Embraer aircraft for American Airlines under the American Eagle banner. In his series of videos, you can follow him from his first flights in light aircraft, his first paid flying job in Hawaii, right through to being online as an airline pilot in the USA. I’ve chosen three of my favourites to show you below, but this young chap can produce very professional looking, informative, balanced and enjoyable videos. I recommend subscribing to his channel and watching his other content.

The first video I have selected is called ‘First Day As An Airline Pilot, Hawaii Style’. His first airline job was flying the Cessna Caravan for Mokulele Airlines as a First Officer. All is explained in the video.

The second video I’ve chosen is called ‘A Day In The Life Of An Airline Pilot’. I can relate to this video very closely as I’m currently a short haul airline Captain, and Swayne accurately portrays some of the challenges and periods of time we face every day in our work. In particular, the long days, multiple aircraft swaps/setting up and the time in between flights. It also shows how difficult leading a healthy lifestyle is for an airline pilot!

My final video from Swayne Martin is ‘Airline Pilot: Top Ten Things I Should’ve Known’ and is a must watch for any aspiring airline pilot. From bidding for work, commuting and pay he details many particulars that are often unknown by those outside the industry and I’d consider the video very balanced and accurate. However, this is USA airline specific and not all is applicable to the way airlines operate elsewhere.

I’ll continue this series covering other videos I have found interesting and include other channels I recommend following and indeed follow myself. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the content so far – there’s much more to come!

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Reviewed by simulatorreview.com

Deeside Flight Simulators

Deeside Flight Simulators

deeside

A well established and professional venue, with the unique ability to offer a choice of three high quality and very realistic simulators to fly.

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Deeside have a unique position in the flight simulator market – that is they’re able to offer both a fixed and rotary wing experience. During our visit we were able to look at all three simulators, but with it being such a busy venue we were unable to have an opportunity to put the machines through their paces – perhaps during another visit!

What is good

What's not so good

The Simulators

The Boeing 737-800 simulator started life as a real B737-300 flying for airlines including British Airways. With some ingenious modification and some clever know how, this now operates as a fully functional next generation B737 fixed base simulator. There are some minor differences between the simulator and the actual aircraft, but it would be a tough challenge for the untrained eye to spot these. The Airbus A320 simulator had a previous life flying the skies for Alitalia as an Airbus A321. What this means is both simulators are incredibly realistic and accurate in terms of their functionality and layout, with a considerable amount of real aircraft parts – although we did spot some Airbus A300 seats! Both simulators have a cabin section, which we really like to see attached to a fixed base simulator, further adding to the experience and realism of flying a jet airliner. We’d like to have tried the simulators and feel how they fly, but as we’ve indicated, time was short and the venue busy – the sign of a good product!

Both simulator visual displays were a wrap around style and produced high quality scenery and weather effects. We would like to have seen both simulators with collimated* visual displays (*filtered display system to align the view out of the window with the eyeline of each pilot/seat.), but this is usually found in multi-million dollar professional flight training simulators and extremely rare in this market. It’s an expensive option, but something we feel would further truly mark the simulators apart from the competition. We didn’t get to test the sounds and visuals as much as we’d have liked, but we shall return and update the review in the future.

System functionality was very good for both aircraft, in particular the fully functioning circuit breaker panels. When asked about this, the business owners indicated that they’re looking to certify the simulators with the CAA (an expensive and time consuming undertaking) in order to provide official flight training on their hardware. This alone is testament enough as to the realism the simulators and venue are keen to provide.

The helicopter simulator features an actual fuselage section of an Agusta 109. The flight deck has been reworked to provide a ‘glass-style’ cockpit environment, plus spectators can enjoy the experience sitting behind the pilots in the relative luxury of a private helicopter cabin. The wrap around visuals were also excellent and we feel this is an excellent and hopefully very popular addition to the Deeside fleet. Again, we weren’t able to try the simulator, but it’s on our to do list and we shall update further.

The Venue

The venue has good accessibility by being located close to major roads. It was a little tricky to find due to it being sited on an industrial estate and signage was limited. We found parking to be plentiful, despite it being busy, and there were even some disabled spaces available. On the subject of facilities, it was refreshing to see a venue that has dedicated some proper thought into catering for everyone. There is an accessible toilet at the venue, wide doors and ramps to all simulators. Obviously, a degree of mobility is required due to the nature of the activity, but the staff were very willing to discuss anyone’s needs and do their best to adapt and cater – very commendable.

The business has a front reception, briefing rooms, a learning station on the way to the main simulators, toilets, a refreshment area, sofas, wifi, as well as excellent cabin sections which can seat and allow a moderately sized group to participate in the simulation. Visit the homepage of their website for a virtual walk around of their facilities.

Booking functionality is fantastic and can be through the website or over the phone/via email with reception. Purchased ‘flight-time’ is assured to be spent hands-on in the simulator and offers can often be found both on their website or with popular voucher/experience sites. Specialised courses are offered as well as simple hire of the simulators, and extras such as video recording can be purchased.

The Staff and Business

The overall impression Deeside Flight Simulators gave us, was one of experience and professionalism – from the greeting at reception to the tour and information we received when visiting. The staff were uniformed and very knowledgeable, and there were even some current and ex-airline pilots amongst their group. The minimum age for the experience is 12 due to the complex nature of the activity and it was good to hear they support local charities – a sign we like to see that indicates the character of the business and its owners.

Summary

A well established and professional venue, with the unique ability to offer a choice of three high quality and very realistic simulators to fly. You can be sure of a top level simulation experience and even qualified commercial pilots would find the simulators at Deeside very credible.

Review by Elliott and Alexis, November 2019.

Get in touch with Deeside Flight Simulators

Location
Unit 18, North Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 1AE, UK