Using Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Demonstration Tool

Here’s a link to a video from AOPA Live about crosswind landings. Ian Twombly of AOPA Flight Training magazine uses Microsoft Flight Simulator to demonstrate and discuss the crab and slip methods of correcting for a crosswind.

Whatever quibbles you may have with the video, and regardless of the method you prefer (I suspect most instructors advocate crabbing to some point on final; that point varies with airplane, pilot experience, and conditions), this brief video shows how you can use a PC-based flight simulation to explain and demonstrate a specific concept or skill.

Having the pilot in training “fly” the simulation isn’t always necessary (or even desirable). Think of the simulation as an interactive white board. It can be used one-on-one, in front of a small group, or as part of a presentation to a crowd. And, of course, as a video streamed over the Web.

The video also demonstrates how instructors and flight schools can use today’s technology offer high-quality, focused, and useful content to the flying community at very low cost.

As I emphasize in presentations and my book about using PC-based simulations as a training aid, the key to utilizing tools like Flight Simulator and online video is to focus on specific topics and skills.

Brief demos like the video above use both technologies to their best effect, because they:

  • Are easy to catalog, search for, and incorporate into larger topics
  • Are suited to today’s fast-paced world and short-attention spans
  • Are more easily updated when technology, techniques, or other factors change—you don’t have to redo long, complicated lessons
  • Allow both student and instructor to focus on specific tasks—real-world distractions (conflicting traffic, ATC communications, etc.) don’t interfere with learning the task at hand.

Kudos to Twombly and AOPA for showing that Flight Simulator is much more than just a game that helps pilots manqué live their flying fantasies.

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