The Microsoft Flight Simulator has always been a great tool to use when learning how to fly for the first time or for keeping your flying skills up to speed. Hence, Aviatrix of Cockpit Conversation has posted a lengthy entry about the simulation program and how she uses it to help him in his current job as a commercial pilot in Canada. Given the program’s versatility and the fact that most airports he flies in and out of are included in the program or in subsequent patches, Aviatrix is able to use it to practice landing at airports she expects to visit soon (especially tricky ones) and to practice flying in winter or in unusual or adverse weather conditions. Nevertheless, Aviatrix also comments that:
Probably eighty percent of what I use MSFS for could be accomplished with pencil, paper and a FlightSafety poster of the aircraft layout, if I’d just sit down and spend the time concentrating. The simplest advantage of the game is that it’s a video game, so holds a person’s attention better, because there’s the payoff of ‘really’ intercepting the glideslope.
However, as Aviatix further points out, flying a plane in Microsoft Flight Simulator is NOT the same as flying a plane in real life and as she states, “you’re free to do stupid things” and “there’s the risk that practicing these things and having them work out will transfer psychologically to the real airplane.” Furthermore, as a certain “MEMpilot” has pointed out in an old entry on airlinepilotforums.com, he is increasingly seeing a certain pattern among his new students which he describes as ‘Microsoft Flight Simulator Syndrome’ and this pattern “manifests itself in over controlling, instrument fixation, and general intolerance for stick and rudder.”
Nevertheless, Microsoft Flight Simulator is and always will be a useful tool for student and veteran pilots alike. Its to bad that Microsoft has decided to end support for the product.