Using aflight simulator while you work on your private pilot's license is a huge advantage. It allows you to practice procedures, learn frequently used airports and become familiar with your avionics. Owning a home flight simulator allows you to practice everything you are learning in your flight lessons at home. Whether you are planning to get your private pilot's license or pursuing further ratings like your instrument or commercial rating, you can use your simulator throughout your training and beyond to stay proficient.
The minimum amount of flight training hours the FAA requires before you can take your private pilot check ride is 40 hours. Whilst astudent pilot, you will be learning many new concepts like aircraft systems, avionics, airspace, navigation, and a ton of other complex subjects. Having a home simulator will help you grasp these concepts before your flight lesson. Although your average home simulator will not count to your flight hours in your logbook you can use your simulator as a training tool that can help use your flight lessons time more efficiently, which may result in taking your checkride at the minimum 40 hours versus the national average of 70 hours. The savings a home simulator can offer can be in the thousands of dollars if you factor in the hours you may not need to log because you have become proficient in all the concepts with your home simulator.
So if you assume that without a simulator you will be paying $12,600 (70 hours at $180 per hour) for your private pilot's license you could save almost $5,400 in-flight training. With a simple simulator that can cost $1,200, it becomes a no-brainer on how much a home simulator can save you.
One of the most complicated systems to learn in the aircraft is the avionics system. Garmin has made a bunch of general aviation avionics suites such as the GNS series, the GTN series, and theG1000. All of these avionics can be challenging to learn but with a home cockpit, you can become a master of these systems and even show your flight instructor a trick or two. Nothing is worse than paying for flight time plus the instructor hourly rate just to learn the avionics. With a simulator, you can learn these systems in the comfort of your home without the real-world stresses of actually flying an aircraft. Using a sim allows you to build muscle memory and learn these systems at your own pace.
One of the most useful features of a simulator is being able to put yourself into scenarios that you would not want to be in during a real-world flight. For example, you can create a scenario with near-zero visibility and really practice your scans and utilize the full power of your avionics equipment. You can also simulate system failures like vacuum pump failures, engine failures, and electrical failures. This will give you an opportunity to practice your emergency checklists. If performed correctly, the skills you learn in the simulator will translate into your real-world flying. We generally wouldn’t recommend flying in a summer storm or winter blizzard, however, while using a flight simulator you’ll be able to prepare and practice necessary techniques for those types of unpleasant conditions. Whether it’s wind, rain, ice, or snow, you'll be able to recreate any type of weather in a comfortable setting at your home.
Below is a breakdown of a simple simulator setup that will get you started, and is perfect for student pilots.
Simple Sim Setup -
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