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Question for real life pilots

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Question for real life pilots

Postby GoodBoy » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:18 pm

So I have been playing FlightGear now for a few months and have gotten pretty good at landing the Cessna on small runways (skinny ones). Still have a ways to go but I am getting there. I can take off well and try to maintain 74 knots while climbing to 1500 feet.

My question for real life pilots is... besides the fact that one is flying using a keyboard, is this simulator realistic for a Cessna 172P? Meaning... if someone stuck me in a Cessna 172P, assuming everything was okay with the plane, would I be able to take off and land a real life airplane if I am awesome at flying in FlightGear (assuming noon time on a still, sunny day of course... lol) but have zero real life experience?

I am not looking to go fly a Cessna without a trainer but I am just wondering if FlightGear is just a useless video game or if it is really building real life flying skills for myself.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby Octal450 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:55 pm

As someone who has flown a real C172, sort of. There are many aspects of our C172 that are realistic, but the flight model has it's flawes, the most noticeable one being the oversensitive elevator and inability to counter the left turning tendency with reasonable amounts of rudder.

Regardless, flying with the keyboard makes all this worse, I highly suggest a joystick or yoke, both of which will develop the motor coordination skills needed to fly an aircraft. If so, then you may very well be able to fly the real one at some level, but not very proficiently. You really need either a very advanced simulator, or the real plane to learn with accuracy.

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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby GoodBoy » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:12 pm

Thanks for your quick reply! Sounds like I am learning some useful skills but I would not be willing to bet my life on it. Since coming in for a landing, the plane is basically with little to no throttle, I would imagine that landings are fairly accurate (minus the real life g-forces and the keyboard). I found the controls to be overly sensitive using the keyboard and reduced their sensitivity by half so I have to hit the keys twice as much to get the same effect as before. Flies much better for me now (using the keyboard). I will consider getting a yoke in the future and possibly signing up for flight lessons. I am scared to fly in a real plane as I get sea sick on a peer just looking at the water... lol... But, you never know.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby legoboyvdlp » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:08 pm

If you use the mouse (tab key) you can have much finer control than the keyboard which might help :)
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby V12 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:27 am

it0uchpods wrote in Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:55 pm:...the flight model has it's flawes, the most noticeable one being the oversensitive elevator

This is problem of many aircrafts in FG, especialy based on YASIM. Yesterday I tested C182, elevator is oversensitive too. Similar Citation II, Citation X, DHC6 and many others.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby Thorsten » Wed Apr 10, 2019 6:06 am

is this simulator realistic for a Cessna 172P?


Fairly - my brother (aerospace engineer, trained on a C-172p) claimed that the FG version has a little too much power, but otherwise feels about right.

There's likely planes with even better flight dynamics (generally where we have more data) - the Saab Viggen for instance is based on a ton of real data, it behaves like the real thing even in pretty off-nominal attitudes.

Meaning... if someone stuck me in a Cessna 172P, assuming everything was okay with the plane, would I be able to take off and land a real life airplane if I am awesome at flying in FlightGear


Had to say - I was able to fly and land my brother's aircraft (a Diamond, don't ask which version precisely) based on some familiarity with it in FG, but I am also trained as a real-life glider pilot, so I know the basics of flight.

the flight model has it's flawes, the most noticeable one being the oversensitive elevator


I'd generally be careful to pin down oversensitive control X on FG. The feel of a real aircraft control is not really matched in any way by most hardware you can put on your desktop.

In the gliders I've been flying, you have a direct link to the control surfaces from the stick, so you have airspeed dependent stick forces and very little deadband, so flying straight is a constant series of minute near-subconscious adjustments. I get some of that feeling with the better JSBSim planes and the mouse (which has a similar degree of fine sensitivity), but you'd need a fairly sophisticated hardware to provide the full experience.

The Diamond on the other hand surprised me by having really hard stick forces - it wanted to be commanded, not carefully steered, so I tended to provide to little control input.

In most situations in a glider, I would never pull the stick full back (or even half) - there's LOTS of room for emergency maneuvering and aerobatics. The force feedback would of course make this a self- ending process, you don't easily pull too much. So dependent on how your computer hardware is set up and configured, if that outputs full deflection fairly regularly, you'll find controls overly sensitive while the FDM is perfectly okay.

In fact, flying with the mouse, I do get this behavior, because usually I hardly move my hand and make very minute adjustments ( a mm of mouse motion perhaps) - but of course if I steer with large movements (a few cm motion) the planes over-react quite drastically.

So I suspect in many cases overly sensitive controls are not baked into the FDM but rather have to do with control HW calibration and usage.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby xDraconian » Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:42 am

The mechnics of flying are well represented. For example, pitch the nose up and the aircraft slows down - pitch downward and the plane speeds up. While on the landing approach, real pilots control airspeed with the nose pitch, not the throttle. Doing the same in the simulator will improve your landings. You may be wondering what the throttle is used for then. Literally, engine power output, but for real pilots the throttle is you decent rate controller. With airspeed controlled by the pitch, the throttle then controls how fast or slow you approach the ground. If you decent too quickly you would be short of the runway. Descend too slowly and you will over fly your landing spot.

The above is just one example where the simulator is very realistic and good simulator flying habits do transfer to real flying. If you do pursue real flight training, I think you will find it surprising how much the simulator does benefit you.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby Alant » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:44 am

Would you want to drive a car or ride a bike by remote control on a busy street using a keyboard for control and a PC screen for physical awareness ?
No mater how perfect the simulation I think that you would give the same answer. ;)
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby ludomotico » Wed Apr 10, 2019 10:57 am

The feeling of a real yoke is completely different because, on a real aircraft, you can feel strong air resistance on the controls. If the aircraft is flying fast, you must push or pull the yoke really hard. Really, really hard, you'll need to use some psychical strength. I'm guess this feeling could be properly simulated with a force-feedback yoke like this one: https://www.brunner-innovation.swiss/pr ... ls-e-yoke/ (I don't know if this is a real product, the images seem a render). I know there are DIY projects modifying a Saitek Yoke to add force-feedback and, if I remember correctly, one of these projects was aimed to FlightGear.

If the air resistance on the controls cannot be properly simulated, route navigation definitely can. I trained all my real flights using Flight Gear looking for visual references (mountains, lakes), VOR, ADF, leg times... It was very satisfying when, flying over the Pyrenees, I could identify the specific valley I have to enter thanks to having flown the route in FlightGear.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby ronh » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:19 pm

That's always an interesting question. Can I fly if I use a simulator first? Well yes .... , You could most likely fly a 172 after "learning" in FG. BUT ..... You may be a little disoriented in a real aircraft, because you have not experienced the seat of the pants feel of being in the left seat controlling the aircraft in mild turbulence and slight crosswind.

With keyboard flying, do you know what a coordinated turn is? What is cross control? Attitude + Power = Performance, how to recognize a stall. Do you have a copy of the 172 POH? How do you use the Mixture control? Since FG has peaked your interest in flying, I suggest you take an introductory flight and see how different FG simulation is compared to the real thing.
I find the FG 172 to be pretty good, once I got my joystick and rudder pedals setup properly. I had to reduce the rudder from 1.0 down to 0.45 to get the rudder response correct. The yoke has that dead spot at neutral that is very difficult to get used to also.

So, FG and any other PC/game simulator is going to get you into bad habits if things are not setup correctly, those habits may be difficult to get rid of if you do want to get your license.
Last edited by ronh on Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby Octal450 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:21 pm

I measured that though, with a timer and a friend, to see how it response to pitch and roll with various amounts of control deflection, to find this, it is not just a "I think it's wrong because it feels wrong".

@v12 both c182 and c172 are jsb, not Yasim, which is already a good thing.

@goodboy, IRL power should be low, but not idle on approach, for landing we cut power at flare.

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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby GoodBoy » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:52 pm

Thank you to everyone who answered my questions... I think I am going to continue mastering flying with a keyboard for now and will take real life lessons afterward. In other words, it sounds like the Flight Gear Simulator is building real skills but I need real life training to truly get real life skills. It's like using a computer to learn a foreign language... it will help you get started great but there is no substitute for real life.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby Johan G » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:14 pm

Having read in a bit on pilot induced oscillation (PIO) some year ago (being sidetracked as usual) I noted that even on a research level fixed base simulator, in essence with a flight model built from extensive wind tunnel data, flight controls with calibrated forces, and probably 180 degree field of view, you will not be able to simulate real flight well enough for some purposes.

In some of the spectacular POI related crashes, in particular the YF-22, they used experienced test pilots and fixed base simulators to fine tune the gains of the flight control laws. Unfortunately, when sitting in a real aircraft the pilot would also feel all the motion and use larger control inputs than in the fixed base simulation.[1] There was other issues too of course.

GoodBoy wrote in Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:52 pm:It's like using a computer to learn a foreign language... it will help you get started great but there is no substitute for real life.

I think that is a rather good way to put it.

[1] I can not claim to understand even a fraction of the document, but in regard to the F-22 PIO issues an interesting read is NATO Research and Technology
Organization (RTO), Technical Report RTO-TR-029, Flight Control Design - Best Practices (December 2000), section 2.3 YF-22 Experience.
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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby Alant » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:41 pm

Johan G wrote in Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:14 pm:Having read in a bit on pilot induced oscillation (PIO) some year ago (being sidetracked as usual) I noted that even on a research level fixed base simulator, in essence with a flight model built from extensive wind tunnel data, flight controls with calibrated forces, and probably 180 degree field of view, you will not be able to simulate real flight well enough for some purposes.


From my experience running the BAC Weybridge flight simulator in the 1970´s and 80´s I must agree with you.

We had probably the most powerful motion system this side of the Atlantic. The full size cockpit used a stick feel system from a production aircraft, and was enclosed in a spherical dome upon which we projected a (very simple, but also very compelling) 360 degree visual display.

Most of our work was the the company aerodynamics department, so the data was as good as it gets.

Even with this equipment, PIO´s did happen from time to time, especially when doing tracking tasks, such as instrument approaches.

Turning of the motion sometimes provoked motion sickness, especially with aircraft having low Dutch roll stability. This was because the all-round visual system gave very strong "motion" cues thus confusing the senses. You get the same in a closed ships cabin. If you can see the outside horizon things are much more comfortable as your visual and balance systems are one again working together.

That was state of the art back then.

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Re: Question for real life pilots

Postby GinGin » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:47 pm

@Good Boy: FG is definitely more than a standard game.
You will be more familiar if you jump in a real 172 tomorrow for a traffic pattern than the guy who played ace combat for sure .

But like said above, motion can change a lot of things.
Air sickness, turbulences, real sound of engine, vibrations, odors also ( fuel, oil) can disturb you quite a lot the first times.

But all the basics you learned in a realistic simulation like FG will for sure be helpful if you start general,aviation a day.

A bit more than a game, oh yeah :)
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