[jhb_airlines] Re: Where Can I Go Next?

  • From: "Bones" <bones@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2006 10:48:44 +0100

That was good thinking from your flying instructor.

All light aircraft come as standard with a full blind flying panel and most
have a reasonably good radio stack. FS emulates this quite well but in doing
so it results in the panel taking up a huge amount of your screen. FS4 had
about 50% of the screen for the panel but later versions have seen it
encroaching more and more with 66%-75% being about average for FS2004 panel

The disadvantage of this is that FS users think the large panel is there to
be used, permanently leave it on and have rather pathetic outside visual
reference. I tend to turn it off as much as possible and usually hit W to
fly with the limited dial set and a sensibly big outside view.

For most PPL's the blind flying panel is hardly used. Flying is taught using
visual clues for pitch and roll, your bum for sideslip (or them funny canals
in your ears). The only essential dials are the ASI and Altimeter and, if
you've got the aircraft trimmed correctly (something drummed into you very
early on) even these need only a cursory glance. 95% of the time your head
is up and looking out of the cockpit.

A PPL is trained only for visual flight so the full panel is mostly
redundant. In the 1970's you were given just one hour on instruments but it
was more to show how difficult it was - and hopefully to stop pilots from
deliberately flying into cloud and coming out again in little pieces. Over
subsequent years the time allocated for instrument flight has increased but
only enough to show pilots how to stay upright if they wander into the
fluffy white stuff and then make very gentle turns to get out of it again.

In FS the aircraft are so stable that pilots don't think twice about flying
in cloud - and most pilots have the autopilot on anyway. Put them in a real
aircraft, in cloud and with no autopilot and they wouldn't last very long.
If you don't believe me then next time you fly an ILS in low cloud turn the
autopilot off and do it manually - the skill differential is about the same.
That is the rub with FS - it gives you all the automatics and most people
use them, never really learning true stick and rudder flying but thinking
they are becoming good pilots.

I was taught a little trick by my instructor which I have used on a few real
pilots to show them how limiting the human sense of balance is. In each case
I was greeted with some scepticism but, in each case, the pilot followed my
instructions and very nicely turned the aircraft upside down THINKING THEY
WERE STILL IN LEVEL FLIGHT (at least they would have inverted had I not
stopped them). Ancient Chinese proverb - Eyeballs good, senses bad - but
eyeballs bugger all use in cloud.

Truth is that most light aircraft aren't stable at all. A few are but most
have had a long career, suffer minor rigging distortion and are known to fly
left wing or right wing low. That doesn't mean they fly at an angle but that
there is a minor but constant tendency to roll in one direction. Only slight
stick pressure is needed to stop this but a pilot with his head indoors for
a few seconds won't notice the wing has started to drop. Whether fiddling
with the radio or checking a map it can be quite disconcerting to look up
and see the aircraft in a steep turn. Such aircraft need constant pilot
input - something else that FS doesn't mimic. Actually, having said that I
know one exception and that is my Tiger Moth which needs slight but constant
rudder pressure to fly a steady heading - as does the real aircraft.

If you are flying in FS (autopilot off) and close your eyes for a minute,
answer the phone or go look for a book next door chances are the aircraft
would still be bumbling along when you got back. Close your eyes in a real
aircraft for 60 seconds and I doubt you would like the view when you opened
them again - and 60 seconds would be way too long for some aircraft. Chances
are that you would most likely be in a high speed spiral dive by then. The
Mk.1 Eyeball rules in flying.


-----Original Message-----
From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gerry Winskill
Sent: 08 August 2006 07:57
To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: Where Can I Go Next?

I remember reading the review of this uprated version, some time ago,
but couldn't recall why its apparent attractions didn't persuade me to
try it. And it wasn't because I read somewhere of a simmer who answered
the door to a neighbour, forgetting first to remember to remove the
sensor from his forehead!

 When you got to the bit about VC I remembered that 'twas VC that, for
me, ruled it out. In turn that's because I use the panel, displaced to a
lower monitor. A move to that configuration was prompted by my wishing
to be able to devote a full screen to the outside, VFR GM, view.

 The tracker, otherwise, sounds a good way to go. Another is the device
that was reviewd a few weeks ago, that allows the forward and side views
to be displayed on three screens, without having to resort to Rory's
multi PC setup; haven't heard of Rory in yonks. Tom can probably come up
with more details of that one.

 Even the panel displaced to a lower monitor has benefits related to
real life. When I went up at Ronaldsway I discovered that SWMBO had told
the instructor of my FS interest. As we got in, he mentioned this.
Opening his flight bag he said "I always like to do this with people who
use FS" and promptly covered the AI with a sticker. I got the point,
that we can be expected to spend too much time looking in, at the panel.
In fact I don't have that problem, since the natural tendency is to look
at the view, looking at the lower panel only to check all is as it
should be, down there.

For those who like VC the sensor unit seems very attractive, in its
evolved state. How has your SWMBO reacted to you adopting the teenage
craze for wearing a baseball cap in the house?

Gerry Winskill

Bones wrote:

>Not sure if this would help you but I've just had a lot of fun with
>FS2004 - more than I've had for a long time.
>I ordered a TrackIR 4 Pro the other day and it arrived yesterday. The
>box I unpacked was tiny - all it contains is a small sensor which sits
>on top of your monitor, a USB lead, a CD and an odd shaped bit of wire.
>The sensor is only about 2" square and it plugs into a powered USB hub.
>The funny bit of wire has three small reflectors on it and clips to a
>headset or baseball hat (the latter being the better option). Software
>installation was a doddle.
>On running the setup you get two headshots on screen. One shows actual
>head movement and the other the accelerated head movement. This can be
>tweaked to your own taste although five presets are there to start you
>The sensor picks up six movements. Yaw, pitch and roll are obvious but
>up/down, left/right and in/out are also available. Each can be adjusted
>individually. On my setup I've adjusted yaw so that turning the head
>slightly pans the view at a slowish pace but further head turning gives
>an accelerated pan. In effect I only have to turn about 30 degrees (I
>can still look at the LCD screen without feeling I am peering out the
>corner of my eye at it) and the accelerated movement is almost a full
>180 degrees..
>So how does this operate in FS2004? The first thing is that you don't
>need to adjust anything in the sim as it autodetects the IR sensor.
>Just start FS as normal and put your headset or hat on. I tried both
>options and found the baseball hat is better. It works clipped to a
>headset band too but pitch is limited upwards as your head blocks the
>view between the reflectors and the sensor. In fact I can't wear a
>baseball hat (head gets too hot) so I've got one of those visor only
>things and this is fine.
>After you start FS you find TrackIR 4 Pro only works in VC mode. For
>those of you who know your cfg file values quite well it appears to
>take over the Eyesight setting in the cfg file and dynamically read new
>values into the sim - I guess similar to the way ActiveCamera works.
>My first test was very disappointing. It worked as advertised but with
>a lot of lag and jerky action. The cure was found by turning off my Av
>software (firewall seems OK though) after which movement was silky
>smooth. At this point I realised one of the greatest faults of FS was
>instantly cured as I could look instantly in any direction I wanted. No
>need to pan or use the views keys any more - just one glance was needed
>to look down at the dials or out of the left or right cockpit windows.
>Firing up the C172 for a quick circuit showed just how useful this
>gadget was. Instead of keeping my head locked in space and moving the
>information on the screen to come into my view I was back doing what
>comes naturally and
>- for the first time ever in FS - moving my head! Taxying was the first
>revelation. No need to fiddle with panning to see a turn coming up - all I
>needed was  a momentary look left and I had a perfect visual picture as to
>what was happening. In a turn I naturally looked into the direction of turn
>and this allowed far more appreciation of my rate of turn and whether it
>needed tightening up or easing off. Turn right round on a taxiway without
>going off the edge? A real doddle.
>Once I was lined up I glanced around the cockpit at all the dials and
>then looked forward again for take off. A second later it struck me
>that I had literally done just that - just as you would in a real
>aircraft. I'd actually turned and leant forward to look at some dials
>totally automatically, cockpit panning completely forgotten. Take off
>was normal - I guess - but I can no longer be sure. You see, the
>problem is that ingrained habits from real flying are coming back and
>are so natural that I don't know I am doing them. Did I lean slightly
>left on take off to get a better view down the runway? I really can't
>be sure but I suspect I did.
>Once airborne the differences really started to show. Pilots never keep
>their heads still and are constantly looking out for other traffic. I
>know you can do this in FS by panning but it's too slow and it becomes
>a rarer happening than in real life. Released from the tunnel vision of
>FS my head was moving as it should - dials, look left, sweep across to
>right, back to dials, look forward. At 500ft raise wing slightly,
>glance left and turn. Crosswind and just one glance was needed to look
>back at the airport to confirm positional accuracy. 1000ft and turn
>downwind, look at airport again
>- it's so easy. No hunting around in pan view. Checks completed. Continue
>downwind until 45 degrees from the threshold and turn base, power back and
>hold height to bleed off the speed. Flaps down 20, let the nose fall and
>trim for 75. Now look left and watch as you approach the extended runway
>centreline and then KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE RUNWAY, turn final. Perfect.
>This is something that has never been possible in FS before (unless you are
>REALLY slick with the pan button) and I found that I was not only looking
>the runway the whole time I was turning final but I was also checking the
>PAPI's and windsock.
>I confess that the landing wasn't a good one. FS habits crept back in
>and so I was mixing techniques and suffered a bounce because of this.
>Next time round I did what I should have done and it just rolled onto
>the runway.
>I guess the unit shows up the differences between flying for real and
>flying in FS. Techniques have evolved for both to suit their strengths
>and weaknesses and real pilots have had to adjust to the limitations in
>FS. TrackIR 4 puts those limits behind and allows you to use real world
>skills much better.
>A second flight in the Tiger Moth revealed far more differences. In
>taxying I was able to lean left and right outside the cockpit to see
>where I was going (you physically move a LOT when taxying a Tiger).
>Landing was made with my head out of the cockpit and sideslipping right
>down to roundout. In the flare my eyes were on the ground just in front
>of the port mainplane - not the "look ahead and pray" position that FS
>has been limited to before (although I'd got very good at that). A
>further flight in the prototype Spitfire showed that aerobatics and
>flying a curved approach also brought back real world habits because
>these were now possible. In a loop it was completely natural to glance
>at the port wing when vertical (yaw check) then look up to see the
>inverted horizon come into view (the sooner you see this the sooner you
>can correct any deviation in bank or yaw).
>A final quick glance at the PMDG 747 showed me bits of the cockpit I'd
>never seen before - but I ran out of time to try this aircraft. One
>humorous observation with the Tiger was leaning forward to look over
>the stick to see the compass - it worked too. And if you lean forward
>enough you can make any single dial fill the whole screen.
>Is it worth the money? This is a tricky question because I think it
>comes down to how much you would use six axis freedom. Real pilots look
>around a heck of a lot and this gadget frees them of the viewing
>limitations in FS. In my case I found I reverted to real world
>techniques almost immediately. FS pilots have never had this freedom
>nor to they have any real world habits to adjust to like good lookout -
>they never have to worry about a Tornado boring down on them at 600kts.
>What I can't guess at is whether FS pilots would develop any real world
>habits once viewing limitations are lifted. Maybe it depends on how
>good a natural pilot you are - I just don't know. For those more
>interested in cockpit displays and button pushing I doubt this kit
>would prove of any value at all.
>Andrew Herd recently reviewed TrackIR Pro 4 and this is what stirred my
>interest in it.
>Andrew gave it a definite thumbs up (despite hating VC's almost as much
>as I
>do) - as did Bob at RC Simulations when I spoke to him. It's not cheap and
>you look a right dipstick with alien antennae sticking out of your head
>for me, these are minor points for a product that will change the way I use
>FS forever.
>The one major disadvantage in describing TrackIR 4 is that you can't
>use screenshots to convey how it works. I'm not sure a video would do
>it justice either. Words are inadequate (especially mine) so I suggest
>the best option is to find if it is being shown at one of the FS shows
>and give it a try.
>(currently upside down in a Spitfire about 20ft off the deck in the
>Welsh hills, looking at the rocks going by.)
>-----Original Message-----
>From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Gerry Winskill
>Sent: 07 August 2006 21:10
>To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: Where Can I Go Next?
>First four of the ones I don't recall visiting are now visited. Since I
>can press the pause button, in the privacy of my own home, I can get
>away with this project. Arthritic kneck is currently limiting me to ten
>minute stints in front of the screeen. Doctor changed the pills today
>but, tactfully, said he can't do anything about the passage of years.
>Don't the Apollo crew lie on their backs, to look at monitors? Can't
>see SWMBO letting me get away with that idea.
>Gerry Winskill
>Bones wrote:
>>At my last count there were 316 operational airfields/strips active in
>>the UK. About 215 of these were available in FS2002 and 225 in FS2004.
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>[mailto:jhb_airlines-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of franklyn
>>Sent: 07 August 2006 16:11
>>To: jhb_airlines@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>Subject: [jhb_airlines] Re: Where Can I Go Next?
>>My VFR Flight guide lists 223, active and inactive, major, minor and
>>farmstrips, from A to Y. Frank

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