Some instructors say that flying can’t be taught in the cockpit. And while we have to fly a certain number of hours in an actual aircraft in order to earn the various levels of pilot certificates, there is some validity to this argument. In the cockpit, there are many distractions from the teaching process: traffic, ATC calls, weather, turbulence and simply flying the airplane. All that goes away in the simulator, making it an excellent tool for primary and recurrent training.
Not only are there no distractions in a simulator, but also when something happens during a training scenario in a sim you can pause the flight at any moment to discuss what may have gone wrong and why, or what was good about the most recent flight segment. You can also stop the simulator to discuss what will happen next. For example, if a student gets behind while setting up for an instrument approach, the simulation can be paused allowing the student to catch up. There is no way you can do that in an airplane with real air traffic controllers providing guidance. And best of all, no matter how badly you mess up, you, your passenger and the sim will remain unharmed.
With a simulator there is no wasted time flying to a practice area or doing extended patterns in busy airspace during takeoff and landing practice. And the hourly cost is lower too. Modern simulators such as the Redbird full-motion simulator, which is now available at many flight training facilities around the country, generally rent for about half the cost of an airplane. And, while the numbers vary from rating to rating, several hours spent in the simulator can generally be applied toward the total hourly requirement for the certificate as long as you’ve been flying with an instructor at your side.
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