Today’s Flight Plan
Today we have Matthew Roesener on the show. Matt has written several articles for Angle of Attack and is active in our community. He’s not only a private pilot, but a huge believer in using a simulator to help not only get a license, but to stay fresh and proficient.
Matt grew up loving aviation, and later in life, got the chance to become an aviator officially by getting his PPL. All while having a young family, this is easier said than done.
Through this discussion, Matt has some great advice and practical tips on how a simulator helped him prepare for his PPL, and also tips on how to get started with a PPL in general.
Shownotes and Questions
How did you fall in love with flying?
Flight Simulation Segment
How you got started with Simulation
3 Ways Flight Simulator Helped Your Real Training
1. Personal minimums
– Fuel Requirements
– Wind Planning
2. Emergency Procedure Practice
– Engine out (with RW example)
– General failure pre-test practice
Flight Training Segment
How you got started with your PPL?
3 Tips for The Prospective Pilot
1. Go take a discovery flight
– one good plane (C172 e.g.)
– Get in touch with other enthusiasts and learn
3. Learn good habits now
– Weight/Fuel Calcs
– FS Can be a great tool, but get good training.
How do you learn and grow from here?
Huge thanks goes to Matt for joining us on this show. It was an easy flowing discussion that covered a lot of great information. Since our chat, Matt got hired by Delta! Congrats, Matt! We know you’ll do fantastic there.
Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.
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If there’s time to spare, go buy air. This is AviatorCast episode 13!
Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff. Here’s your host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators. You’ve landed at AviatorCast. My name is Chris Palmer. I daydream about those magical few moments in the flair, riding the cloudtops at 200 knots and punching out at minimums on an ILS with all those glorious approach lights laid out beneath. There isn’t an hour that goes by that I don’t think or dream of that time when I get to be in the air again. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight simulation training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an artform, one that we have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility, and a commitment to excellence. Each episode of AviatorCast will have real flight training and flight simulation topics or an interview with an inspirational and influential aviator. Our desire and mission is not only to create awesome aviators but also bridge the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Show notes, transcript, community discussion and links for this episode can be found by simply going to AviatorCast.com.
So thank you so much for being here on this, the 13th episode of AviatorCast. I promise this is not an unlucky episode. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We have a great show lined up for you today. Before we get into that, we have a review all the way from the Netherlands. I really like this one. It’s short and sweet. This comes from Detlev. He says “Good stuff, 5 stars. Keep up doing the good work to share these passionate lessons, experiences for both virtual as well as real flying. Truly awesome.” So thank you Detlev. Really great to have the knowledge that AviatorCast is being listened to all over the world, so I really appreciate your review. If you would also like to review AviatorCast, you can do so by reviewing it on iTunes. That helps others learn about this podcast and so that they can they can put this in their toolbox as well to help them become better aviators as you are becoming a better aviator by being here. So again, much appreciated that you are here. I really, really appreciate your support.
We have a great show lined up for you today. We have Matthew Roesener who was with us. Matthew has written several articles for us here at Angle of Attack, and he’s a great mind. He aligns great with the type of stuff that we like to teach, and he’s not only a real world private pilot and working on his instrument ticket, but Matt is also a flight simulation pilot, so he’s used simulators quite a bit and he started quite young as well. He’s one of those guys that has been around the block a few times as far as simulators are concerned, but he’s also been blessed enough to have the opportunity to become a real pilot. So let’s get into hangar talk with Matthew Roesener.
Now, a special hangar talk segment…
Chris: Alright everybody, we are honored to have Matthew Roesener with us today. How are you Matt?
Matt: I’m doing great. I really appreciate you having me on the show Chris.
Chris: Yeah sure. So you and I have known each other for a little bit now because you’ve actually been doing a bit of blogging for Angle of Attack, but surprisingly enough, we’ve actually never even talked on Skype before, and so we finally thought we’d put kind of our thoughts together and do some things, talk about some great things, so let’s get right at it. First, I want to know a little bit more, just, I kind of ask everyone this question. I want to know how you fell in love with flying, how that process started and what it was like. We are going to get into kind of your background in simulators and with actual training, so we don’t need to necessarily go onto that for now, but how did you fall in love with flying?
Matt: I think it started when I was born. I was just thinking about this before we talked, and the one toy that I got from my parents that still exists that I was able to pass on to my kids was a Fisher Price Airplane, and it’s the first thing that I remember. It’s this jumbo jet that has like six spots and then it’s got the captain spot and I still remember playing with that in the airport. I remember the one thing that I was frustrated about when I was 3 or 4 was I couldn’t actually fly it. I had to pretend. And so that kind of moved from there. You know, those little Balsa Wood Airplanes, I had tons of those, crashed tons of those. And then paper airplanes, I think my summers were mostly spent in the backyard throwing paper airplanes and figuring out how high they could fly, so I think I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of leaving this earth and soaring above it to a certain extent. And then when I got to be 14, I actually took ground school as part of my high school, it was physics, and I was just being hooked ever since.
Chris: Wow. That’s pretty cool that they have a ground school program that early on, that’s really cool.
Matt: Yeah. I was actually home-schooled, and it was just a part of the local private pilot course. They were trying to entice people to come in, so I went up, I did a half an hour introductory flight like most people do and then I was able to con my parents and let me take the ground school course. So I went all the way through and was just training to take my private pilot’s license but was three years away from being able to solo.
Chris: Dang it man. That’s really cool. I love that. You know, when you were talking about Balsa Wood Airplanes, it reminded me of those big Styrofoam gliders that you used to be able to buy.
Matt: Oh yeah.
Chris: You get it for 5 bucks and you strap the wings on and it has the little thing that keeps the wings in place, those things. I got really good at those. I could throw them like a hundred yards.
Matt: There you go. It starts young and then it just gets more expensive.
Chris: Totally. And the more you throw money at the airplane, the more it flies and that’s just how it goes now.
Chris: Great. So, you know, kind of like a lot of the people we have on the show, you have a pretty extensive flight simulator background in addition to you having a private pilot rating as well, so we’re going to get into that. First of all, how did you get started with simulation? Was that around the same time that you were taking your ground school course or was that before?
Matt: So it’s actually before. I was thinking about this and I have to admit I do not remember which version of Microsoft Flight Sim it was, but I remember loading in at migs which unfortunately no longer exist in the real world, but I remember loading in at migs with a terrible, terrible 2D Cessna cockpit that you could barely see over… I remember having to drag the thing down so I could actually see the runway, and then taking off, hitting F4 to full throttle and then learning how to fly patterns and all of that. I actually had a friend who was a private pilot at that time, an older gentleman at the church, and he taught me about the traffic pattern and flaps and when to use them, and so I got pretty good at doing circuits right there around the lake and around the Sears tower and things like that. And then, I think like most probably younger kids, I got impatient with that and so then you load into the Learjet and you figure out all of a sudden that there’s this whole new world that you need to learn if you’re going to do this because F4 isn’t cutting it anymore.
Chris: Right. When did you first find out about add-on aircraft, because I remember that for me also opened up this whole new world.
Matt: Absolutely. So after all of these, after ground school even, I took a break for a very long time. Went to school, ended up going all over the United States for various jobs and the places that I ended up, the flight school was just so expensive. I couldn’t believe how much more expensive it was than when I was growing up, and so it just kind of, was out of reach for me. And then when I moved back home, I kind of get bit by the bug again because I’m right here, I’m right down the street from the old barn where I had learn how to fly, but I was having a family at that time and I just decided that it was too expensive, so that’s when I went down to Best Buy, I bought FSX and a $20 joystick and loaded in. But by then, I had enough background that the default planes weren’t doing it, and then the other thing I really wanted to do was to talk to ATC. It just wasn’t the same, and the experience wasn’t the same without being able to talk to ATC, because I had no idea that there was this world of add-ons out there.
So the first thing I did was I loaded in to multiplayer right there in FSX and I don’t know if anybody has experienced it out there but it’s kind of like playing Halo 2. It’s a bunch of 12-year-olds who have found out that they’re allowed to curse in this world because no one’s telling them they can’t. So that was pretty miserable. I happen to have a buddy who was training to be ATC at that time, and he told me a little bit about VATSIM. So I got on the website, I got my ID, and one of things that they talked about is pilot training, and so I managed to get hooked up with a virtual airline because they were an authorized training organization with VATSIM, and I picked them because they had what was called a free-flying policy. I have kids, I have a job, I do not have the ability to log on and fight for a particular route and be the only one in an airline that’s flying it. And so this worked out really well, it was Canadian Express.
And the very first thing I did was I logged in, I asked for online training because I had no idea how to connect to the network, I had no idea how any of these was supposed to work. The trainers there are incredible. It’s one the things that I absolutely love about online flying and these virtual airlines, is these guys take it seriously. They know what they’re doing, the procedures are pretty real, and most of them just have this passion for aviation and for training, and some of the best stuff I learned, I actually learned training how to fly online from these guys, and they introduced me to add-ons. There were two that I bought right off the bat. I though the Twin Otter, the Aerosoft Twin Otter, and then I bought the Captain Sim 757 which was several years ago, this is three or four years ago now, and I actually distinctly remember when I first learned how to start a complex jet, my second son had just been born, we had just taken him home from the hospital, he’s having one of those nights, and of course my wife hadn’t slept in what felt like years, so I was trying to get him away, and I took him down the basement which is where my flight sim rig was at the time. I put him over my arm and I sat there and I read the manuals, the first time I’d read an aircraft operating manual front to back, and then went through the procedure. The thrill of being able to take a complex jet that is well-modeled from cold and dark all the way through a good startup, I was hooked. I can’t imagine doing it any other way.
Chris: Right. Yeah, and it just gets better from there.
Chris: So we have, you and I came up with three ways that flight simulator has helped your training, or rather you came up with these three ways that flight simulator has helped your real training, so let’s get into those. We’ve already kind of touched on a few of them but we’ll just go over them again if we need to, but most of them are just brand new. So, number one of the three ways flight simulator helped you in your training is personal minimum, so why don’t you talk about how flight simulator helped you out with that?
Matt: Sure. My flight training was actually I think a little bit different than most, and you and I have talked about this because we were pretty passionate about becoming aviators and learning about what we do and continually learning about what we do. And so, because I took ground school, 16, 17, gosh 18 years before I got back in, I did a lot of retraining in the cockpit while we were going around and my CFI was very particular about situational-based training and scenario-based training. So we rarely, it was not lesson-based, I didn’t study ahead of time what we were going to do. He expected me to kind of have a general knowledge of aviation ahead of the time, so we got in the cockpit and I distinctly remember because he looked the same everytime we did it. He kind of cock himself back to the side in the little 172 we were flying, he’d look at me and say “Where we going today?” and we’d figure it out. We’d do the briefings we need to do if we are going to go to a different airport, but it felt a lot more real because in the real world, I don’t sit in my house and say “Okay, I’m going to go practice an engine failure today.” What I do now that I got a private pilot’s license is I figure out where I want to go, what do I want to do, what do I want to see, and so to do that and then to have him as we’re going all of a sudden reach over and pull the throttle or pull a breaker or whatever it is, I think really helped me.
But one of the things we never really talked about was personal minimums. I had some pretty strict minimums for when I was soloing which was great and super helpful, but I had never developed my own personal minimums, and so a couple of things that I realized that I didn’t think about quite so carefully, I’ve gotten back on one of my first long cross-country trips after I got my private pilot’s license, I landed and I was looking at the fuel and I realized I was right at the edge of VFR minimums. I was thinking about that and 30 minutes is just not very long. There are maybe three airports that are within 30 minutes of where I was at that time, but if I had any kind of trouble at all, if one of the tanks wasn’t working, then that’s less than 30 minutes, and so that scared me a little bit. And so what I started doing was paying more attention to these sorts of things in the simulator. So fuel in particular, paying attention to fuel, getting to understand that. One of the things that my virtual airline does, what Canadian Express does is they’ve got challenges, and the challenges are based on your ability to land the aircraft well and to fuel plan very well. Fuel plays a big part in it, and so learning that and thinking about that and paying a lot of attention while I’m flying in the aircraft, depending on the aircraft obviously, if I can see gallons per hour, then paying a lot of attention to where that is the whole time, keeping track of that either in my head or on my knee pad, and if I don’t have that, then just understanding the aircraft well enough, knowing it well enough to understand in the various phases of flight how much fuel I’m probably burning.
It’s really, really important especially because I don’t know how much experience anybody else has had with this but the fuel gauges in these old Cessnas I’m flying, I may as well not have them quite frankly.
Chris: Right. I don’t know the legality of that is. I can’t remember. It’s one way or the other in opposite side of the spectrum, but those tanks or those gauges are only guaranteed to be accurate either at full or empty, I think it’s at empty.
Matt: So by the time they’re accurate, it’s too late.
Chris: Right exactly. Or it doesn’t matter anyway because they’re full. I can’t remember which side it is.
Matt: Yeah absolutely. I actually distinctly remember having a conversation with my CFI one time. I was really worried because I felt badly. We’d had a fuel truck come out, top as off, and I was getting a ladder out to go back and check fuel caps and look inside the tanks to make sure that I saw that it was full and that the fuel caps were nice and tight, and I kind of got a nasty glance from the fuel truck operator and I have to say this is the only one who’s ever done this, in general I think they get it. But I asked him, I said “Is that not good aviation etiquette?” and he said “No man, you’re the one flying. You’ve got to make sure that you’re safe.”
The other thing is wind planning. This is interesting. I’m going to put wind planning and weather kind of in the same bucket here. I had an experience one time where this was going to be the first time I took my family up on a long cross-country. We’re going to go overnight. We loaded up in a 172 XP. It was me, my wife was a couple of months pregnant at that time, and our two little ones, and with all the stuff in the back. Done all the planning ahead of time because I knew that we were going to be a little tight on weight, but I wanted the fuel tanks completely topped. We got in there. There was a system that was supposed to move through the next day, so I had bumped up our trip to leave a little early. We had been planning on leaving early in the morning on a Saturday, we left early evening on a Friday instead because the weather was just crystal-clear all the way, looked absolutely gorgeous. The front was supposed to pass through and behind the front was more good weather so I figured we’d kick out, we’d beat the front by 24 hours, we’d hang out at where we were headed for a little while.
So, loaded in the plane, we got up and where I was flying, I was actually flying over the central Idaho mountains, and there was actually a pretty famous case just this last year where a very, a very accomplished aviator with an instrument rating and a great airplane that was certified to a certain extent for ice, not flight into known icing conditions, but it had some de-icing capabilities, didn’t make it through these mountains. This was early spring so there was still some snow on the mountains but it wasn’t terrible, I figured that I’d be able to find a place to land. So we got up there about an hour and a half out and I saw this low hanging sheet of clouds that have developed beneath me and they’re completely obscuring all but the peaks of the mountains. I was still pretty new to flying at that time, I had a wife I didn’t want to disappoint, and so I pushed it. I remember I flew about 30 DME past the VOR that was at the peak of the mountain right where this cloud being started. It was gorgeous. I love flying over the top. VFR over the top is really, really gorgeous. The problem is, as I’m thinking about it, I’m looking at my wife and my kids and I’m looking down and I’m thinking, “If I have an engine problem right now, I have no idea where I’m going because I cannot outglide these clouds.” Behind me I could have but I knew what was behind me and there were no touchdown zones behind me. The central Idaho mountains are some of the most rugged in the world outside of Alaska.
Luckily I was able to turn around and make it back. However on the back, I had a stiff, stiff headwind, and so I was looking at my fuel gauges and I’m looking at the wind, I’m looking at my ground speed on the GPS and it’s just not what I wanted it to be. And all of these things are things that potentially had I done a little bit better of the weather briefing, I probably could have avoided. And they are things that as you fly a lot in the sim with a really good weather generator, you experience ahead of time, and it’s certainly things that I have experienced more and more in my virtual career as well. It’s one of the reasons that if you’re using flight sim as a tool, I really highly recommend some kind of weather engine that’s going to do a good job of the physics and the experience of flying in weather because there’s nothing quite like that sinking feeling of knowing that you’re not going nearly as fast as you think you should.
Chris: Right. Yeah. It definitely helps quite a bit to just have that variety and to have it as a constant thing in your mind that weather is an issue, weather is something that you absolutely plan for. What I really like about what you just shared was your decision making and thought process because all of which you shared is very, very common for pilots. Having to get somewhere, not wanting to disappoint your family, having precious souls on board, weather below, a bunch of different things that stack up and unfortunately a lot of pilots that don’t have those minimums, or rather a lot of accidents that happen, happen because of these sort of issues and they’re very rarely mechanical issues. It’s almost always not planning ahead like they should have, and the great thing too is you actually build buffer for yourself too so you have, you left early, you have the 24 hours, awesome decision. And then you got over the clouds, you didn’t like it, you kind of came back, and extra fuel, that was another one you used. That whole process, that whole thought process is also super important, and that’s one thing that the weather were, I tell people that aren’t pilots that I’m commonly associated with because everyone seems to discuss the weather when you first start talking, I was like “Oh yeah, how’s the weather where you are?”
But one thing I tell people is that in aviation, you have to, your weather briefing is only legal within six hours, and regardless of all the technology that we have, it’s still so variable and it can change quickly, and so weather is just one of those things that it changes on us, we can’t help that. All we can do is help our personal minimums and make the correct decisions when those things arise.
Matt: And I think it’s really, really critical that you’ve thought those things through ahead of time so that the decision-making process is so much quicker. So you get into a the situation… actually, I had done a full briefing for a number of reasons, some of them are legal quite frankly, but I had done a full briefing just an hour before I went, a DUATS briefing that was linked to my pilot’s license so it was obvious that it had been done, and there was no mountain obscuration, there was no AIRMET for icing, the visible radar looked great, and then I got up there, and one of the things that I did as I was turning around was I called a couple of flight service stations. I was right in between the border between Seattle and Boise at that time, and I gave them a call just to see how far is the end of the cloud bank here, can I make it, have I gone over half of it and there are some optical illusions that’s keeping me from seeing the end of it, and indeed it wasn’t the case. And as I was going back, they actually called me back, they called my tail number back to see if I was still on comms and I happened to be, and they let me know that they had just issued an AIRMET for icing on the other side as well.
There was just no good way that I was going to find a hole to get down through to find an airport and stop for the night, so I was really glad to have had the experience in flight sim whre you can push it, and realize that it doesn’t always end well, and I got to give my wife props because she was super excited, we’re flying to see her family for the first time in a very long time, we were going to be there for a whole weekend, we had a bunch of stuff that we were going to do, and she was super supportive and understood, which is really, really helpful and it’s also something that I’ve learned as I being to take other people places around here. We have a ton of really great stuff to see in my area, mountains and lakes, and Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton and things like that. One of the first things that I’ve learned to tell them as part of my briefing that’s not a required part of the briefing is there is the possibility that we will have to turn around. I will not put your lives in danger, so you just have to understand that if I’m turning around, it’s in all of our best interests. It just kind of sets us up so we’re not in a situation where I have to make the decision, I have to disappoint somebody. They understand that if I’m doing that, it’s because I have personal minimums that are maybe a little bit less than some of the bush pilots around here that have a whole lot more experience and a lot better equipment.
Chris: Right, and never mind, I’m not going to go there. Anyway, definitely, you hit right on the head and that’s actually something that I think I’m going to start to adapt is telling my passengers that if we have to turn around, we will, if we have to stay overnight, we will.
Chris: Yeah, that’s really good. I like that. Okay, so we talked about wind and weather a little bit, that was number one, or rather, personal minimums was number one. Now we’re on to number two which is emergency procedures practice, and this is a big one for a flight simulator because you can’t necessarily practice all of the emergencies that you would… you can’t practice those realistically in the real world. You can’t always take, I think everyone should try this at some point with a confident instructor, but you can’t always take an aircraft from cruise level and drift all the way done to an emergency landing in a field for example, so let’s talk about emergency procedures.
Matt: That’s actually one of the things that I’m really lucky because of where I live. We’d have a ton of fields and a ton of dirt strips that are essentially fields and on pretty high altitude, so coming from cruise level all the way down doesn’t cause a lot engine troubles, and so you’re not having to manage the engine all the way down to keep from damaging it, so I was able to practice that, but there’s still a difference because there is such a difference between having the option to power up if you have to to get out of it, and not having that option. In the sim, being able to practice things like an electrical short which is very difficult to practice in the real world, and then practicing it on a sim is so different because in the sim, you can take that all the way to conclusion. There are some of those things that are either very dangerous, there’s the potential you can’t recover even if you’re practicing them right because you will actually have caused damage to the engine by causing it to seize up or any number of things I’m sure most people are aware of. And again like I said, just that understanding that I can recover if I need to. If I get in a hairy situation, if for some reason I undershoot or overshoot the field or the field I go to looks a little too soft, whatever the case may be, I can jump on that throttle and get the heck out to dodge.
And in the sim, you can practice that. I’ll tell it’s really interesting to throw a good heavy crosswind in and kill your engine up at altitude, and see if you can nail that, and see if you can nail it because even if all you have is base FSX, there are those great rectangles and if you can come right over the edge of one of those rectangles and stop before you get to the other end, that’s a really good feeling.
Chris: Right, yeah. What other type of emergencies other than engine out?
Matt: Yeah, sure. Here’s an actual example. This ties in with my personal minimums too. There was a little Twin Piper that took off from my local airport here on a short runway, unfortunately experienced a catastrophic engine failure, both of the engines went out, and he tried to… the particular runway he took off from there’s a lot of housing right below him, and what he tried to do, he had his son in the back as well as a buddy, he made the turn of death. He tried to zip it around back to the airport, a full 90 degrees and I think he was probably at 500 or 600 feet, and unfortunately, if anybody’s actually tried this in a sim, what happens is as you try to make that turn, it’s a very steep turn and the centrifugal force is actually, it increases the induced drag by a tremendous amount and so your stall speed increases as well. If you’ve ever heard the stall horn while you’re doing steep turns in the flight sim or in the real world, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And at that low, when you’re up in the air that’s not such a big deal right, you come out of the turn, you put your nose down, you throttle up, and you’ve lose a couple of hundred feet so you’re not anywhere near practical test standards anymore but you’re alive.
In a turn that close to the ground with no power that you can juice, what that ends up doing is stalling the plane and putting into the ground and unfortunately this one resulted with tragic consequences. The two older gentleman did not walk away. Fortunately, the young man did. I was just at a point where I had gotten my private pilot’s license and it scared my family to death that this might happen. And so, I did something really interesting and it actually ended up panning out for me as well. I loaded up in the flight sim at my local airport. I loaded up a twin that I was familiar with which I love, the RealAir Duke. And so I loaded up the twin RealAir Duke piston, I fired it up, I got up to 400 feet and I killed the engines right there, and I showed them. I said “This is what’s gonna happen.” I said exactly what I had said to you. So I tried to zip it around, put it right back, darn it if it didn’t stall and go down exactly in the same spot where the real aircraft did. By the way, I don’t want to sound callous in all of this. It was a really tragic event but one of the things that I have learned is these tragic events typically have a pretty common underpinning, and as aviators, we can learn an absolute, there’s a treasure trove there in any of these terrible incidents where we can change our personal minimums, we can change our procedures, we can be more aware that when these things happen, that what we have learned is so critical to rely on.
So the next thing I showed them, I took off from the same airport, killed the engines and just went straight just like you’re supposed to. Pitch for best glide, put the gear down, and there are a lot of options out there, because when you’re at best glide and you’re not turning, the ratio is so much greater, and you can get so much further, and you’ve got time to think and time to maneuver and time to put yourself down in a better situation in most cases. There were a couple of things that were really interesting and I found very eye-opening about that. One was I now am, it is engrained into me forever what to do with an engine failure on takeoff. The next thing is, even all of that being said, it something like that had happened at night, it is dark enough down there that I couldn’t necessarily find that good little landing strip, space to land, to put a force landing down on, and so I won’t take off that particular runway at night anymore.
And what that actually means is a pretty significant taxi and anybody who’s ever rented a plane before knows that that Hobbs timer is really, really important. Every six minutes, it ticks off and that’s lots and lots of dollars out of your pocket. But it’s worth it to me to taxi the 2-1/2 miles down to the other end of the big runway because the runway is long enough that in my little Cessna, a forced landing can be done on the runway again.
Chris: Right, because you’ll gain enough altitude to make the turn back right?
Matt: Or the runway is actually long enough that if I’m at 400 feet or 600 feet or even 1000 feet if v-wire really nicely, then even if I pull it there, I can go straight back down to the runway because the runway 9000 feet and the Cessna is up there in 800 to 1000 feet.
Chris: You know, that argument about the impossible turn, I’ve seen a lot of examples recently on YouTube even people actually practicing this. There is a time and place when you can back to the runway now. Just because I just said that, I’m not giving you permission. Myself, I’ve always told myself I will land straight ahead. I’ve never actually practiced the “impossible turn” myself so it’s something I would never do myself.
Matt: I think practicing it is an interesting idea. It’s not something that I would choose to do but it certainly gives you the confidence to be able to do it because one of the things that happens in emergencies like that is your adrenaline starts pumping, and so you are actually reacting a little bit differently, and when split second decisions are needed and you’re doing something you’ve never practiced before, I think that’s when we’re more prone for mistake, and so those were things… by the way, I’m no safety expert. All I’m saying is in my personal experience, these are things that I learn, so…
Chris: Yeah, definitely. Great. Well, we covered a couple emergency procedures there. What about communication? That’s our third way that flight simulators helped you in your training.
Matt: So I actually think this is the thing that flight simulator does best, it does better than any other thing. I have heard as have anybody else on VATSIM or in the real world, the new pilot stammering his way through the phonetic alphabet and the procedures and anybody who’s got in front of a microphone knows how intimidating it can be. If you’re trying to work your way through communication and you’re unfamiliar with seat of the pants flying the way that the airplane taxies, the way it takes off, P-factor, all of these many, many things that you’re still trying to learn as a new pilot, it’s just one thing that is nice not to worry about. I got through all of that stammering on VATSIM. I was able to call up the controllers who were incredibly welcoming of this guy who obviously knew what he was talking about and didn’t, and take the correction from the online controllers and from my trainers online, to the point that when I actually got in for my first hour with the CFI who I eventually got my private pilot’s license with, he initially would tell me what to say and during that first flight just stopped, because that part of the procedure I understood because it can be 100% replicated online, and I think that’s one of the most critical things that I learned.
I was complimented on my communication skills by my CFI, by my DPE, by my designated pilot examiner, and when there are so many other things to think about and worry about in the test situation and real world. Am I hitting my best climb speed? Am I maintaining my altitude? Am I hitting my turns exactly right? Am I lined up with the runway correctly? If I don’t have to think about my communication with ATC, it provides me that much more brain space for the rest of the things that are keeping me flying. And then the other thing is I think everybody’s heard, “aviate, navigate, communicate?” You learn that online as well. And online, when communication is the only thing you have to simulate what’s happening, the visuals are getting good to know obviously, but you learn that I’m going to crash my plane if I don’t push back a little bit on the ATC controller, and somehow online it feels a little bit easier to push back on a controller because you don’t run the risk of getting the pilot deviation call. But I think building that confidence is also pretty critical because the controllers are amazing at what they do, but they’re only as good as the equipment that they have, and stuff gets busy sometimes and sometimes they’re going to ask you to do things that you just can’t do and it was good to have practiced saying no.
Chris: Right. Yeah, really, really great. I like that. One of the funny things about VATSIM too is that people that don’t necessarily ever become pilots, people that just use flight simulation as a hobby, they can do full IFR clearances on VATSIM and just these really complex communications all throughout their flights and all while flying a very complex jet, say a correctly modeled Boeing-737 in which they operate by themselves which is a two-crew airplane and they learn how to communicate and do all these things. In a sense, a lot of what we do in a simulator is actually pretty amazing when you think about it, and communication is just one of those things like you said, that can be fully modeled in a simulator if not to a greater extent because I was actually thinking about this today.
I was thinking about the last few episodes we’ve had of AviatorCast talking to Paul Craig and Bruce Williams about scenario-based training, and there are scenarios where the controllers tried to, or rather have tried to do things to the pilots or miss things with the pilots and so on and so forth that have contributed to accidents for example, and I’m not pointing to finger at air traffic controllers and saying “you caused accidents.” I definitely don’t think that’s the case. If it wasn’t for controllers, we’d all be running into each other all the time. I have huge respect to air traffic controllers but it’s one of these things where online in this space, we could actually create some of those scenarios where the controllers try to get us to do something that is coy and tricky and something we may not think about. And so I was thinking about, what are some of the scenarios that we could build where the controllers nonchalantly because everything just seems normal, tried to get us to do something that’s dangerous.
Matt: That would be a really interesting thing to practice. I actually experienced that in the real world. I had my private pilot’s license. I was just finishing off some hours in a complex aircraft so that I can get my complex rating, and so my instructor and I would be bopping around and I decided to dual purpose. We landed at a local airport, we went in, we get a full IFR briefing and I filed IFR down to Salt Lake which is a very heavy class Bravo airspace. It was actually really cool. It was a really fun trip. It’s an older aircraft with DME still in it, no GPS, so it was really, really good instrument flying. We went in, we did our touch-and-go and we actually cancelled IFR. On the way back, I don’t think that the tower was expecting the request we were giving them, and so he was confused about what we needed to do. He went ahead and cleared us for a touch-and-go. It was a situation where one of the big runways at Salt Lake… maybe I should back up a little bit. There are three runways that are active at Salt Lake. They run in almost exactly the same direction. You got two really big ones, and then you’ve got a somewhat smaller one that’s typically used for general aviation aircraft.
Well in this case, one of the big ones was down for service and so you’ve got commercial aircraft at one of the busiest airports of the world using the same runway as I am to do my little touch-and-go in this Liberty Arrow. So the controller approves our request for a touch-and-go, asked us to do it very quickly so we come in on a fast approach, we touched really quickly, we got out of there, and he doesn’t tell us what to do. So we’re heading out. Luckily we’re not heading into traffic except that there’s an air force base with runways that are essentially lined up almost directly with this particular runway that we took off from. And he finally figured out we were there, he clears us out of his airspace because we were in one of the lower layers of the cake if you will at that time, and so we were about to actually go out into the class Echo and scoot between two class Delta, and as you look at the sectional for this particular airport, where we were was maybe 14 square miles of actual class Echo and nowhere to go inside of that. And as he clears us out of it and ask us to talk to approach, we see jets, fighter jets, flying right at us. They’re taking off from the air force space, and I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one from the air but they’re fast.
Chris: Yeah. It’s amazing.
Matt: These jets are taking off, they’re coming at us. I’m sure that they are miles and miles away but from what we can see, they’re heading straight at us. They do their 2 or 3G turn and shoot out over the military operations area, but they’re shooting out over to class Echo. They’re very, very low when they’re going there and so we’re trying to figure out in somewhat unfamiliar air space for us, where to go. This all felt like a very long time but we actually listened to it on the live ATC archives later. It was pretty quick. We get back on with the controller who, I probably skipped this part, the next controller, the approach controller had asked us to just remain clear of Bravo. Maybe 10 seconds later we get back on the comm saying “Unable, basically. I’m sorry. We’re going to request the VFR transition through class Bravo.” He took a while to get back to us and unfortunately during that time, we actually busted Bravo because we were trying to stay out of the way of every other airplane and I’m sure that had they decided to take any action on this, they would actually… we could’ve talked our way through the whole thing because everything that we did was decisions to avoid collisions with another aircraft.
That being said, the takeaway we had was to understand the airspace a little bit better so that I guess we could have taken some steep turns and stayed out of the airspace, but also, be ready to say no. Be ready to say unable, if you get cleared into something that you’re not able to do and to your point, it would be cool to have been able to replicate something like that online where the controllers are actually there to help you be on your toes, be thinking about what you’re doing, make sure that as you’re calling back with affirmatives, you’re thinking about those affirms, and what ramifications they have on your safety, the safety of your plane, and your potential to run into other people. I will say that right after that, and this is not the controller’s fault, there’s some automation rules that the FFA has now and whenever an aircraft that has not been tagged is being cleared into Bravo, it appears to be in Bravo, they have to file a report, but there’s nothing like the sinking feeling of having a controller come on, call your tail number, and then ask you to take down a phone number, it is terrible, just terrible.
Chris: That’s when you file a NASA report as soon as you get home.
Matt: Yup. We did. As soon as we got home, that got filed and the FSDO called us not too much later and explained that everything was actually copacetic and also explained to us that they had no choice but to file even if they thought that everything was actually fine.
Chris: Right. Gotcha. Just following procedure I guess.
Chris: Okay, so, we’ve talked a lot about flight simulation. Man, everything just blurs together. It’s hard to separate flight simulation from the real world and from real flight training, but we are going to get into our flight training segment now, and we’re going to talk first about how you got started with your private pilot. I know that before the show it was this particular kind of chain of events that happened that made you decided that you we’re going to go for it, so tell us about that. Tell us how you got into your PPL and briefly what the process was like even through the checkride. You actually wrote a really awesome article on Angle of Attack about your checkride which others can check out, so I don’t think we don’t need to go into too much up there, but tell us in brief about your private pilot experience.
Matt: Sure man, thanks for the plug. So, I mentioned earlier I think in the podcast how I had taken ground school already and then kind of stepped away from it because it just looked too expensive. I have a friend here who had just gotten his private pilot’s license, I think he had about 100 hours, and he was looking for anybody who would be willing to go to him because I don’t know if you’ve experienced this Chris but as soon as anybody finds out that you’re a pilot, everybody says “Oh yeah, that would be fun. You should take me up some time.” And then as soon as you offer, everybody backs out.
Chris: Yeah, totally.
Matt: So he was stoked to find somebody who wanted to go up with him, and I was excited. Tomorrow was too late for me once I learned that he was willing to take me up. We did a couple of early morning flights where we’d go out before the sun was up and we’d watch the sun come up over the mountains, fly around the Tetons or up over Palisades, and then I remember one in particular, he just asked me tag along with him while he was doing some procedures, just ground maneuvers, things like that, so we were out maybe 10 miles away from the airport at about 4000 above ground, and he just said “Hey, you want to take it?” And I looked at him, I was like “Yeah? Please? Is that okay?” and he said “Sure, I’m not going to let you do anything.” I pulled my right seat all the way up to the yoke and the rudder pedals and was just trying to figure things out again, he gave me a couple of pointers. He said he’d manage to throttle, don’t worry about any of that. I remembered he dialed in the ILS for the big runway and basically just said “Just follow the ILS.”
So my flight sim training and my old ground school training kicked in and I followed the ILS. He had to remind a couple of times to step on the ball because I hadn’t flown with rudder pedals ever at that point so I wasn’t used to the turn and slip indicator, but beyond that, I guided it right down and he said he was so comfortable with it that he didn’t take the controls until we were 100 feet above the numbers basically, and then he took it and he put it down, and that was it for me. That was the most expensive ride I’ve ever taken in my life. I called a buddy of mine who I knew was a CFI at that time and asked him how we could do this in the cheap and we figured out some ways to make it work legally by the way, and so I did another discovery flight with him because the original company that I had gone through was no more.
We went up in a 172. It’s 04 Kilo, I remember that because that particular plane, halfway through my training, I took my parents up. My instructor of course was with us. My parents were in the back. We did a flight. I did a couple of maneuvers. I parked the plane and the next people that took it up had a catastrophic engine failure and put it down in a field and flipped it. Everybody was okay but the plane was a goner. At any rate, he took us up. He took me up. I remember I flew over the city for about half an hour, put it back down, and then from there, I think I talked about this a little bit, it was not formal at all. He was comfortable with my aviation knowledge so we didn’t talk about that very much. We didn’t do it a ton of ground school. He signed me off pretty quickly to take my test, and then we just… whenever I had time and funds, we’d go up, and he was cool enough to look for ways for me to fly when it didn’t cost as much, so things like he had some time on this little itty bitty Mooney, it was a little two-seat Mooney. You could actually remove the top and fly without the top if you wanted to which was funny. It was a great a little plane. It took autogas, so I remember he said “Say what, if you bring me the 15 gallons of autogas, go to this particular gas station that doesn’t put the ethanol in it, and we’ll go fly for a couple of hours,” and we were trying to get a night cross country and that little Mooney just did not have the [inaudible 00:49:42] in the amount of time we could because of the headwind.
That was probably one of the most fun airplanes I’d ever flown because it’s kind of like flying a two-seater sports car. You feel everything. The wings are right next to you and they’re not very long. You can see everything, but every little bump in the road you feel, every little piece of wind that comes at you, you feel. That was a pretty cool experience. But I remember he had a Ferry 182 at one point and I was able to sit right seat with him and get a couple of training hours in as well, and those were the things, so that was really helpful for me because I was on a pretty tight budget. But the thing that sticks with me the most is just his ability to make it interesting and make it real, so that everytime we were flying, I was making the decisions that I would have to be making as a private pilot. I remember one time in particular. We were flying out towards some of the mountains that are around here, and there was a cloud base that was, I’m going to guess, 500 feet above the mountain tops, and there was no turbulence associated with it. You could see that it was good smooth air, but we’re flying toward it and I had originally asked if we could, before we’d seen the clouds, I had asked if we could poke our nose over into one of my favorite airports that’s just one valley over.
And as we’re getting closer, he’s not saying anything, just not a word, and we get right up against the mountains and then he takes the control and he turns it around, and he says “Here’s why this was bad,” and he takes the controls and he flies us around the mountains a little bit, and of course, we’re in an IFR certified aircraft, he could pop up IFR if he needed to and he felt like he was in complete control, but he was showing me how this could easily have become VFR into IFR, and that experience, this visceral visual experience just kind of stuck with me, and those sort of things all the time, and I know most instructors are pretty good about asking you where you’re going to land right now if your engine fails and you start looking at those sort of things, but to have the real decisions that I’m actually going to be making thrown at me, “Hey, you want to get here. Can you actually do that? Does it make sense?” just helped me tremendously. So that was kind of my experience. Like you said, my flight sim experience helped me tremendously with my actual private pilot exam, and you guys can read about that online, but that was a pretty cool experience and I remember getting my ticket punched as one of the best days of my life.
Chris: I think everyone does. They remember the words that were said. It’s like it was yesterday. It’s one of those days you keep in your memory. You remember the date probably better than you remember your own birthday, and it’s just amazing.
Matt: Yeah. The only date I have to know more than that is my anniversary and that’s required.
Chris: Right, otherwise you’ll be sleeping in the airplane like it’s a doghouse.
Matt: That doesn’t sound so bad right now.
Chris: Yeah. Okay, so along with how you got started with your PPL and kind of what that process is like, we have three tips here for prospective pilots. Number one, I think you already kind of covered, that was go and take a discovery flight. I did so as well. I did so when I was in my private pilot ground school in high school. I wasn’t in an actual flying program yet in the sense that I didn’t have funds to go up and actually take the flying lessons, I was just doing the knowledge work, but the discovery flight, if you feel like you want to get become a pilot or you feel like it might be a possibility, go up and do it. Usually, they only do about a half hour, so it’s not a very long flight. They just go up and kind of give you a taster and let you take the controls, but it will definitely get you hooked. Like a lot of people say, that’s the most expensive flight of your life, or that’s the flight where you never truly come back down from.
Matt: Yeah, and for those of you who don’t know, just look up your local school. It’s usually 50 or 60 or maybe 75 bucks, and for me at least, it was a half hour flying but there’s a half hour ground work too where I got to learn how to preflight the plane, learn about the controls a little bit ahead of time, and then I controlled most of it. I think he did the takeoff and the landing but the rest of it, I was at the yoke. It’s a scary, scary feeling. I still remember how scary it was, but exhilarating at the same time.
Chris: Yeah, for sure. Great. So number two, we have a sim, meaning a flight simulator, so why don’t you tell us about the points that we have there?
Matt: Yeah. So if you’re really serious about flying, I think getting a sim is one of the best things you can do. Until you start… I think I probably dumped as much money into my sim as I have into flying at this point, but you certainly don’t have to do that. There are a few key things you can grab that will make your sim incredibly realistic. And I do want to mention here that Chris actually goes over this really well in a lot of the trainings that are on Angle of Attack, as you do your pre-work and your groundwork for the 737 or the 777 training and I’m sure most of the others as well, he’ll take you through a lot of these, and they are a lot the same as what I’m about to tell you. The first thing I think is pretty critical, get the sim. There’s a lot out there right now. I’ve actually tinkered with most of them. I’m hoping to put up some articles on this a little bit later on. Prepared is looking a little bit better although I would say that it has some of the same problems as FSX still. FSX has the advantage of having all the developers working for it right now, and having a lot of really well-established add-ons.
And then X-Plane, I’m new to it. I’m just learning and I’m working through this with one of the guys at my VA and he’s had a lot of success with it, and one of the things that he has said is that the physics are outstanding.
Chris: Right. They’re way better.
Matt: I know it’s a completely different model. Instead of using lookup tables, it’s actually modeled in real time which is pretty impressive and I haven’t tinkered with it but my point is just go get a good sim, those are the ones I know of that you can make realistic in some way. The next thing that I would say is really, really important is the yoke and rudder pedals, because if you want to fly a GA aircraft, you’re most likely not going to be using a joystick, and I have never been able to fly a GA aircraft, or even some of the bigger airliners with a joystick. Just the feel of the yoke is great and there’s a bunch of them out there. I happen to use Saitek but CH I know make some good ones and then there are some really expensive ones too. The cool thing is they don’t have to be expensive. I think you can get a yoke and rudder combo on eBay even slightly used for a hundred bucks or less, and that’s just not much money when you compare it to an hour of flight time.
Chris: I think with pedals, I would emphasize the pedals part, because for a long time, I just had the flight yoke and the yoke the throttle on it too. But as seen as I added pedals, it completely changed my experience. I wasn’t turning the yoke anymore to turn the airplane on the ground. I was actually using my feet and to keep the airplane coordinated, I turned off autocoordination on the simulator. It really does make a big difference to have the pedals as well. I’d say that in a scale from one to ten, a yoke will give you, it seems like it gives you three realism points, and once you add pedals, having them all together now, that adds another seven points. You get a lot more realism just by adding pedals, so that’s just something that I wanted to emphasize.
Matt: Yeah. And I actually fully agree with you Chris. The other thing is it actually allows you to do things that you couldn’t do otherwise. There’s just no way to slip without having control over your rudder, and there’s no good way to make a crosswind landing if you don’t have control over your rudder. Those sorts of things add an incredible amount of realism to it and I’ve been able to translate a lot of that into my real world flying as well. The next thing that I would say if you’ve got a yoke and rudder pedals and most of them will come with a throttle quad as well, I’d say go get one really good plane. And it depends on what you want to do. If you’re doing this to train, go get what you’re going to train in. I train in a 172, in a 172-XP, so I pick up a couple of different models, all of them are better than the default model. The default model just won’t get you the realism you need. It looks good and it looks, the cockpit looks a lot like the cockpits I fly in, but it’s the physics just aren’t there and you’re not going to get the kind of realism that you want. Carenado makes several really good ones that I flown. The new Accu-Sim is really, really good. Like any digitally modeled aircraft, there are some things that you just can’t do as well as you can under real aircraft but in terms of full procedure from startup to shut down and the ability to have to take care of your aircraft, I think that’s a pretty good one.
Chris: Yeah. I definitely agree.
Matt: So then the other thing I think I’ve talked about. Get in with other enthusiasts and learn. There is such… I’ve never… one of the cool things about flying is it’s kind of collaborative. Even though you’re in your own airplane doing your own thing, there are so many online virtual simulated worlds where you’re pitted against one another, and in this situation, you’re just not, and so there’s an incredible number of people out there who just want to teach and train, and who are really passionate about making sure that you know what you want to know, so that you can actually sit in the cockpit and power up a Boeing-777 all the way from cold and dark to engines running with your FMC program. Most of them are pretty knowledgeable about what that means and what the systems are doing, and so do some research, find a good virtual airline or a good group of enthusiasts through one of the various forums, either through your online air traffic control, IVIO or VATSIM or some of the more popular boards out there. You can certainly find a group of enthusiasts who are willing to get on Skype or TeamSpeak and talk you through it.
One of the cool things that happened to me when I was joining is I put in for some training on the Twin Otter because I just bought it, I wanted to know how to really fly it, and the guy that trained me flew Twin Otters for a living for a really long time. Now he flies Dash-8 Q300s, but he trained me in the real procedures and he was able to talk me through. He was really passionate about the model, how well it was modeled, how good it was. We went through procedures as though I were an ATP flying a commercial flight, and that was just one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, plus it’s always fun to jaw with other aviators.
Chris: Right. Yeah, you know, it’s all definitely a community here and a lot of people want to help each other out. I remembered that that’s in a way how I got started, is just sharing one-on-one with others how to do certain procedures like with original PMDG-737 and some others. Especially in the flight simulation space, there is a very small percentage of actual active flying right now for a fulltime living pilots that also uses simulator now. They are out there. There are definitely those that do both, but these are the super passionate aviation nerds that as soon as they get home from flying, they go and fly their simulator. And so in the simulator space, we don’t often have too many of those people, but when they are around, they’re very valuable and they end… almost always they end up reaching out and sharing their knowledge with those that know less or those that aren’t well-versed in aviation, so I’ve always found that just as with real aviation that you mentioned this before too, but just as with real aviation that flight simulation is one of those communities where everyone just kind of shares and we’re mutually yoked in making sure we do things better, because if there is a guy on VATSIM for example that just isn’t doing things right, he’s plugging up the radios and just making things terrible, that’s not necessarily all on his shoulders. That’s largely a part of the community too, and for us to have a good experience, he needs to be doing things correctly. We’re all kind of equally bound in that way.
Matt: And I feel like everybody respects that a great deal. Just the same way that almost all pilots that I’ve run into in the real world are respectful of other pilots. There’s never that kind of road rage incident that you run into on the ground, because my job is more important than yours. Even as I’m flying around Idaho Falls Airport and a regional was coming in at night in a non-towered airport, they are so respectful of just general aviation pilots, and I think that’s kind of a unique facet of aviation that I absolutely love.
Chris: Right, and that’s definitely how the vast majority of the community is. And then you get those that kind of break that mold but they’re certainly the exception and not the rule.
Chris: Okay, so your third point here is to learn good habits now and this is my favorite point that you have, so why don’t you start to go through that and we’ll discuss that.
Matt: So, I talked a while ago about loading in the Lear, just hitting F4 right? And FSX and any of these sims would allow you to do that. There is the ability… this actually goes back to how I first found Angle of Attack to begin with. I had bought this really expensive, as far as I’m concerned, really expensive plane from PMDG, about a 737NG and I was trying to figure out how to fly it. And I thought I had it down because I knew how to program that FMC, and I figured that was what it meant. So, I’ve been loading in with the engines running at the gate. I apologize to any ground crew I caused problems for, and I programmed the FMC, I throw my fuel in just before I programmed the FMC to make sure I didn’t burn through too much. I’d pushed it back and I’d fly. The funny thing is I was missing out on most of the simulation because as fun as it is to program the FMC to take off and then to let the FMC take you in route for another hour and a half and then to land it, I realized pretty quickly that I was missing a piece of the richness, and so I tried to figure out on my own how to start the plane the right way.
I remember digging through YouTube and trying to find it, and everybody thinks they know how to do it which is great. Again, I love this community, but there’s a lot of people that know how to read the checklist. I get that part, I get it. What I didn’t understand was why? Why do I need to wait until a spool got into a certain fan speed before I can then introduce fuel into the system? What am I actually doing when I do that? What does that look like? What is the turbine look like, what does it do? It kind of sparked this curiosity in me and then I remember that this was around the time that the 777 was coming out, and Nick Collett had done just an amazing intro video. I remember he got on the very beginning and said “I don’t have very much time so I’m going to do a really quick intro,” and then an hour and a half later, I think the video was done right?
Chris: Typical Nick fashion.
Matt: It was awesome. It was a great video. He was flying all around the cockpit, explaining the procedures and I thought “Okay, this guy knows what he’s talking about. This is a real pilot who really knows what he’s talking about,” and then that’s what led me to Angle of Attack. But my thirst to do that is born of the fact that if you really want to simulate and you’re using this as, particularly if you’re using this as a launch pad either because you want to get into an airplane, or because there is a reason that you can’t, either monetary or the third class medical or whatever that may be that keeps you from the airplane, the best thing you can do for yourself is to really simulate what you would really do and that includes developing good habits. That includes doing your weight and balance calcs in the small airplanes. That includes figuring out how many passengers you have and what that does to you, that includes figuring out if you can take off on this particular runway or not. That includes fueling up appropriately for your flight, and all the way to getting established on final the way you really should and really touching it down the right away.
If you’re making these habits good, for one thing if you really want to do this eventually, those habits will be engrained. You won’t have learned a bad habit like taxiing too fast, that’s actually a pet peeve of mine. And if you demonstrate things… these are silly things that don’t seem like they matter, but it’s funny because I remember my instructor hollered at me about not putting it down on centerline. I’m like “Well, I’m between the edges of the runway dude.” And I found myself getting sloppy on lying too, but that’s one of those things. Develop those good habits. The ones that resonate for me are user checklists because some of the airplanes won’t scream at you if you miss a couple of steps, and so you could miss those steps and then develop a habit where you’re missing those steps, so user checklist. Centerline pride. Hug that centerline on taxi, and there’s no reason to race to the runway when you’re taxiing. If you’d ever taxied on an actual Cessna, you’ll know that it tells you when you’re taxiing too fast because those shock absorbers are not built to be drag race shock absorbers. You’ll feel every bit and bumped to the point where you’re worried that you’re going to get a prop strike on your way in right.
Those are ones, and then centerline pride on your way in too, and getting set up. I think I’m repeating myself now but developing those good habits in the simulator will do a couple of things. They absolutely enrichen your sim experience. They make it so that what you’re doing online is so much more real, and if you think about it, the sim can be pretty dull if all you’re doing is taking off and landing, but if you’re truly getting into the details in between, there’s so much more to experience while you’re doing it. And then what you want to do is eventually fly. You’ve developed good habits ahead of time. You’ve developed the good aviation skills ahead of time.
Chris: Right. Yeah. It goes both ways. You can either develop really great skills with the simulator, or you can develop bad habits, so it goes both ways. There are things that are inherently different obviously between a simulator and the real world. A simulator, you can reset. There’s not this adrenaline behind it and this finality to the safety of the flight, whereas in the real world, you screw up and you’re toast in a lot of senses. There are those differences too and that can really work on your psyche to push you into some of these bad habits and these bad skills, but the more we just try to refine what we’re doing constantly, just keep trying to better and better like you said about centerline, about checklist usage, whatever it is, anything under the sun in aviation really, anything that goes into doing a successful flight, essentially these days can be done in a simulator.
One of the things that a simulator lacked in until just recently is doing a preflight check, but A2A came out with their 172 and now you can actually go around the whole airplane. You can do an entire preflight of the airplane. You can wiggle the flaps a little bit, you can check all the pins on the flight controls, you can check the oil, you can check the tires, and these stuff isn’t rigid. These stuff does change, and so if you don’t actually go around the airplane and check this stuff, you may have a flat tire or you may have low oil, whereas in other cases with some of these simulator aircraft, these changes aren’t tracked within the airplane and so you can just fly time and time again and you can wear the engine, technically do things that would wear the engine down without actually wearing the engine down, so those sort of things are becoming more prevalent in simulation. Essentially, the bottomline of this learning good habits is whatever you would do for a real flight, you can do now for a simulator flight, and we should be doing it the same exact way. The only instance where I don’t feel we should be doing it the same way is when we’re practicing emergencies and when we’re doing things that actually can’t be done in the real world or wouldn’t be smart to do in the real world, and doing some of these scenarios that will increase your mind power and your decision-making as an aviator, so all of that is super helpful.
Matt: I really agree. I fully agree. So, A2A is a little unique like you said in the ability to do a real and the necessity of doing a real walk-around in a real preflight, but if you check out my blogs on Angle of Attack, I actually wrote another article about how to make it real, and one of the pieces is about how to do a checklist, what the checklist entails, and it may not be as real as a real world checklist or an A2A checklist where what you’re for is the ability of the plane to fly but it gets you into that habit of getting things right, getting your cockpit management right, getting your preflight right, getting your seat and your yoke and everything ready to go and I think that’s kind of the sim version of getting into that habit certainly.
Chris: You know, one thing I would love to do is if flightplan.com for example had this option where you could just kind of send your flight plan into nowhere and you could actually go through your entire preflight on aviationweather.gov, you could get a DUATS, you could do all these different things that were real world based information sources for your flight and preflight as you would for the real world, even send in your flight plan on flightplan.com like you would or whatever app you’re using, and then just approach it just like every step, just do it super realistic. I just find that sort of thing to be very immersive. This is one of the arguments I have a lot with a lot of the stuff we do here at Angle of Attack because it’s actually one of our main marketing points, and that is that you can go out and you can spend thousands of dollars and you can get a brand new desktop computer, any range. We’re talking 2000 to 8000 dollars, you can get a top of the line machine. You can have 60 frames per second running, basically any add-in and any area with any slider setting if you will, any graphic setting, but if you don’t have the realism and the training to go behind that or the attitude to go behind that, what’s the point of having those extra frames per second anyway. You’re just flying around eyecandy and it’s totally pointless.
But the more we approach simulators with this mindset that they in a sense are real and we’re going to treat them as if they are real, and we’re going to treat them as if there are consequences for what we do, then our experience will be so much more enriched. I think for people that are using a simulator for their real world training, for also staying proficient, that makes sense. They get that simulator is supposed to be something that you treat with realism right? Whereas maybe just an enthusiast, this is really, maybe for them in that the best thing you can do for your simulator experience is just to treat it realistically every single step along the way. Don’t skip. Don’t cut corners, and that’s how to truly immerse yourself. You may not need those five add-ons that you’ve been coveting. Maybe all you need is five hours more of studying or five hours more of video training, let me put a little plug in there, but it’s really simple at the end of the day. We’ve just got to approach the two the same way.
Matt: For what’s it worth and you guys should know what I don’t work for Angle of Attack, I blog for them and I don’t get paid, so this is a genuine plug. The simulation is so much richer when you understand what’s happening. And so to have gone through the full training on the 737 and on the 777 because those are the planes that I’ve gone through so far, and to understand when I’m flipping the switch not only what it does but what electrical busses I’m dealing with when it happens and why I need to care where about the potential firepoints are and those sorts of things, even if it’s not simulated, just makes that experience so much better. I can’t tell you how much it deepens it.
Chris: Yeah, definitely. Alright, so we’ve talked about all of these flight simulation stuff and all of these flight training stuff. We seem to mixed to them regardless of how we try to separate them. You have your private pilot now, I know what you’re actively trying to stay up with your currency and everything, where do you go from here, what are you planning to do with your license?
Matt: Sure. Things have slowed down a little bit just because work is a little bit busy and I’ve got three boys that are 3 and under, but I definitely keep my currency up. I go out and I get my night and my day currency on a regular basis and everytime I get the chance to, I’m getting my cross-country hours and building toward my weather ticket, trying to get cloud certified. So that will be the next step, and then what I would really like to do just for the proficiency… I need to back up a little bit by the way. The IFR thing for me is really, really critical because of some of the experiences I’ve had where the weather has changed so quickly. I happen to feel because of the experience that I’ve had on the simulator and on the real world, in real clouds as I’m getting trained, that I could probably get myself out of any situation that I accidentally got into. That said, I would much rather have that ticket punched and be legal in that situation so that I could file a pop-up IFR, and get back home safely. Especially out here where we have such rugged train, and so little options for some of the places that I would like to be able to go in planes, that level of proficiency is pretty incredible, and as you go through any kind of IFR training, you’ll realize that the precision with which you must fly is so much higher than what is demanded of VFR pilots, and I think that even as VFR pilots and sim pilots, demanding that precision of ourselves is pretty important. So that’s what I’m working on right now. I do hope to get my commercial license. I don’t have any particular dreams of becoming an ATP or anything like that. It’s just not my career of choice, but I would love to have the ability to fly commercially if the opportunity arose.
Chris: There’s a saying out there. I can’t help probably hack it up but it says something like “You get a commercial certificate because you live to fly, not because you fly to live.”
Matt: Absolutely, and I think part of that for me is getting my CFI too. I love teaching. I love training. I love spreading the love of aviation, and so it would be great for me if I could sit next to the next crop of aviators and help them learn really good habits.
Chris: Yeah, definitely. Well, Matt. It’s been great having you on the show. We covered a lot of ground I think as always as we do with every great individual that comes on board, but I really like your unique perspective. We’ve had some authors on this show and some developers and things like that, but what I really like about you is that you are, and don’t take offense this, but you’re the average Joe, you’re a lot like me. We’re out there trying to fly with the little bit of money that we have left over after all of our other expenses, we’re trying to stay current, we’re trying to stay engaged in all these, and so there are many more people that can relate to you and relate to me than there are some of these other people. So your contribution on this show has been very valuable and so I thank you for taking the time. We’re definitely going to have you back on the show just because you’re already writing with Angle of Attack and doing some things there, we really love your perspective, but from everyone, all the listeners, thanks for coming on.
Matt: Yeah, no problem. I really appreciate it Chris and I appreciate you do with Angle of Attack.
Chris: Thanks man. We’ll get back together soon.
Matt: That sounds good. I appreciate it Chris.
Chris: Alright, see you.
I’m really glad that we had Matt on today. We talked about a lot of great things not only from the perspective of using a flight simulator to get ready for training and for keeping up on training, but also using a simulator realistically as if you were actually flying a real airplane. So I really appreciate Matt being on, and you guys can give him a shout out on AviatorCast.com. He will certainly be monitoring there, and just a big, big thanks to him for coming on the show. It was quite late his time when we recorded this, so I really appreciate his ability to set some other things aside and take some time to give you some value and teach you a thing or two about where he’s been and perhaps he’s like you and you can relate to him as I certainly do.
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If you’d like to check out some of our training products which Matt talked about a little bit in this episode, I usually don’t like to talk about this stuff as I feel this episodes stand on their own, but if you’d like to get training product from Angle of Attack or just check us out, head to flyaoamedia.com. You can start with the basics for free with Aviator90, learn instrument flying and more with Aviator Pro, or even fly many of the world’s most popular jets virtually with our training products for the 737, 747, 777 and MD11. Again at flyaoamedia.com. Many thanks also goes out to the Angle of Attack crew for all their hard work to make each and every episode possible. I actually consider Matt one of these crew members as he is part of our community, creating some of the articles that go on the website, he just does a fantastic job. So you can see just how quality of individuals we have here at Angle of Attack, and there are many more individuals behind the scenes that you don’t see and all the hard work that they put into this to make sure that you and I each week can have a fantastic time talking about all these really, really fun stuff.
And of course, you. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here, part of our community, and so engaged in this wonderful passing for flying things.
Until next time, throttle on!