The First Flight

Welcome to “learning to fly class 101”. No matter what Simulation software you choose I trust you have managed to get it installed. I must warn you as I am a FSX user nearly all of what I will write about will be in reference to FSX. Once you have everything setup it’s time for you to take your first flight.

Now let me stop you there before you go running to the aircraft door of the shiny Boeing 747 parked outside and taking it to Florida. If this is your first time in Flight Simulation, please allow me to encourage and provide a little advice for you…

A ‘normal’ flight in any fixed wing aircraft includes several phases; taxi, takeoff, climb, cruise, decent, approach and landing. Each of these phases present their own challenges and need practice throughout your Flight Simulation exprerience.

So lets grab the keys to that Cessna 172 sat out there on the apron…… Take a seat in the Left hand side… take a look around and familiarise yourself with what you can see. The 172 is equipped with a very clear forward view, but we need to take a look at the panel.

Top Left: Airspeed (knots) | Top Middle: Attitude Indicator (Artificial Horizon) | Top Right: Altimeter |
Bottom Left: Turn Coordinator | Bottom Middle: Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) | Bottom Right: Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI)
The basic controls of most ‘fixed’ wing aircraft. The central control is the yoke, this controls the ailerons and elevators. The pedals operate the rudder. The central area (or centre pedestal on bigger aircraft, you will fine the throttle and mixture or general engine controls). You can also see the flap selector.
Every pilot needs to know how to navigate and communicate. More on those in a future article.
Additional instruments. Top Left: Fuel Tank Quantity | Top Right: Stopwatch/Chronometer | Mid Right: Exhaust Gas Temp (EGT & Fuel Flow | Bottom Left: Oil Temperature & Pressure | Bottom Right: Vacuum (Suction) & Ammeter.

Once you have familiarised yourself with the cockpit and completed a ‘walk around’ it’s time to start up and taxi out to the runway, take off and practice hand flying the aircraft.

The four forces that act on all phases of flight: Lift – Generated from the Wings | Weight: The mass of the aircraft working with gravity | Drag: The resistance/friction of the air acting on the aircraft | Thrust: The effect of a running engine to provide forward motion.

Tip – Most if not all FS-X aircraft have an autopilot and whilst it’s easy to switch it on straight away, it’s a better approach to practice flying the aircraft by hand so you can understand and practiced without help from the autopilot.

Practice flying in a traffic pattern/circuit and levelling off at an altitude and turning through the different sections. Pilots hone their skills this way by performing multiple circuits and landings from time to time.


After you can repeatedly fly the pattern/circuit and many ‘touch and go’ landings, although it hasn’t mattered whereabouts on the runway it is. But you try to aim for the ‘touchdown’ point… Yes there is a certain place to aim for.


It will take a lot of practice and many hours to master the manoeuvres. As you get more and more proficient and better at controlling the aircraft then you work up the scales and quickly you may find yourself at the controls of a 777.

Happy Landings

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