I am currently in the process of getting my instrument rating. Flying in and out of Reno however, we rarely get good IMC weather that you can practice in. Reno generally has really clear skies, devoid of any clouds at all. If there are clouds that most likely means that icing will likely by an issue, or if it is hot out, thunderstorms. Because of this I have gotten very little actual IMC time. I am getting close to my checkride, but I am still missing some instrument time.
The Redbird FMX I have spent some hours in.
Since I am missing some hood time I decided to try out the full motion simulator. The simulator was called the Redbird FMX. It has the option to be set up for several different planes, even glass setups. I have been flying a 172 with the G1000 and it was great that the simulator had this option. The actual simulator has a footprint of about 10 feet by 10 feet. It sits surprising low on a welded metal frame that is painted red. This one was located on the second floor in a room with an average ceiling. Inside there are two chairs, I found mine quite uncomfortable. The machine is constantly humming from various fans keeping it cool. The whole simulator gets power from a single normal outlet.
The instruments were simulated very well and all the same buttons and knobs were there. The taxiing and taking-off feel very unnatural. The pedals are extremely sensitive and it is very hard to keep the yellow line under your right knee. Once in the air the simulator is at its best. It keeps constantly moving a slight bit, making it feel like you are truly in flight. When my CFI would turn on some turbulence it felt incredibly realistic also. There are 6 computer screens that wrap around the console and instruments. It was extremely nice to shoot approaches, without the foggles, and break out at minimums. This was the first time I tried this and really got to practice it. When trying to land it again felt odd and unnatural.
Overall the simulator was a very pleasant experience. It feels very realistic when flying. Taking off, landing, and taxing are difficult and feel unnatural. It was great to be able to pause the simulation and discuss the approach. If you are looking to get more instrument time, or to keep your IFR credentials current, try out a Redbird FMX near you.
Have you tried a simulator? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Me at PHNL with the 1998 Cessna 172
The night before was stormy and very windy, unusual for Hawaii, where I lived at the time. I woke up several times that night disappointed because I thought the flight would have to be cancelled. Luckily when the sun rose above the mountains the sky was clear and the wind was gone. I rode my motorcycle to the hanger, on the south side of the airport, where I was meeting Scott my CFI. We walked out the backside of the hanger to a row of tie downs. Nestled between some twins was the airplane we would be flying, a 1998 Cessna Skyhawk 172, N9512F. Scott showed me the checklist and we walked around a pre-flighted the plane. The plane seemed so simple. Cables that activate the control surfaces and a small four cylinder engine turning a propeller. I had flown a lot in my life, but not in something that felt smaller than a car. We hopped in and completed the pre-flight. The Lycoming engine roared to life and the flight had begun.
Honolulu airport is very busy and exciting. Attached is Hickam Air Force Base, there are F-22’s, F-15’s, and C-17’s stationed here. We took off after a large FedEx DC-10 on the 4L runway. I had my hands on the yoke, but Scott took care of everything else. I was astounded by how easily the wheels lifted off the ground at 60 knots. The plane seemed to effortlessly gain altitude over the clear blue water of Oahu. I was nervous when I saw the speed at only 73 knots, surely planes needed to go faster than that to stay aloft?! Scott reassured me that was indeed all the airspeed that we needed. We headed east around the island. We flew past Waikiki and the Diamond Head Crater. It was the most amazing feeling in the world and it felt incredibly natural to control the plane. For the first time in my life I felt how solid air could actually be.
We decided to fly counter-clockwise around the island. The view from the Cessna was incredible; you get a perspective of the land, like none other. The weather was good and we were able to stay below all the clouds. When we flew by the Kaneohe Marine Corp Base we had a C-17 pass about 1000 feet underneath us on its way in to land. We also encountered several coast guard helicopters also cruising around the coastline. The radio calls that Scott were making sounded like gibberish to me, but I didn’t care. For the first time in my life I was controlling an aircraft and I felt at home. The flight took about an hour and we came back and landed on 4L. This flight got me truly interested in aviation and I never looked back.
More Photos from first flight: Aviation Galleries
How was your first flight experience? Please Comment Below
We are in a very exciting and turbulent time in the world of aviation. Sequestration and furloughs are hurting the industry, while new amazing materials and innovations are fueling it. Soon we will be flying in patterns with pilot-less planes. Boeing and Airbus have both created the new generation of commercial aircraft. Alternative forms of energy are being used to power flight. We are living through a new aviation revolution
Mostly carbon planes are starting to take to the skies. The Boeing 787, which just came back into service after a long and costly battery issue, and Airbus test flew its A350XWB this last Friday, June 14. Glass cockpits are replacing steam gauges in almost all new aircraft, in fact, many companies such as Cessna, only build their planes with glass cockpits. Solar and human powered flight is becoming a reality. The Solar Impulse is making progress as it makes it way across the country using only solar power. Not all the changes are good however. The sequestration has put a massive strain on our ATC network and furloughs still plague many professional pilots.
All this change is inevitable and should be embraced rather than scowled upon. All this technologies are making aviation safer and more efficient. Someday VORs will go the way of NBDs and be phased out for GPS intersections. Glass cockpits are becoming the new standard in all planes, from GA to commercial planes. Today’s pilots have more information available to them on the PFD and MFD than ever before, increasing their situational awareness. Pilots need to know and stay up to date with this new information. Being a pilot is a never-ending learning process. The future of aviation is bright and will continue to flourish for the many years to come.