How to use your flight simulator for effective practice at home
Practicing in the comfort of your own home is a great way to maintain basic proficiency for both VFR and IFR flying. Modern flight simulation software, a basic PC and some controls are all that is required to get started.
X-Plane 11 is an affordable, realistic flight simulator that can run on even a PC with modest performance. This not only includes a range of common general aviation aircraft such as the Cessna 172, but also includes good representations of the avionics found in these aircraft. There are standard configurations that include the Garmin GNS530 and GNS430 along with transponder, autopilot and standard six pack instruments. There is also a 172 that includes a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit.
These systems are very similar to what you will find when using the real thing. They allow you to load a flight plan, tune radio and navigation frequencies, load and fly an instrument approach and fully utilize the autopilot. They make a great training tool and allow you to explore the operation of these complex systems at your own pace.
Using the systems included with X-Plane 11, it is possible to add additional hardware and controls such as our GNS530 or G1000 Suite. These provide the real buttons and knobs matched exactly to those found in the real airplane. Having the physical buttons and knobs allows you to practice more effectively, develop muscle memory and not get distracted by trying to use your keyboard or mouse.