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The Importance of the Simulator & YouTube

#1
Hey Guys,

I'm about 10 flights in on my FT Simple Scout. I speed built it in about 3 1/2 hours, maidened it successfully, then crashed it into a tree on my 3rd flight, rebuilt it successfully and have done many other things to it like broke off the landing gear by accidentally landing in grass that was too tall, things like that. I've learned loads of valuable lessons, but I think the two that are most important are use of the Simulator & YouTube.

First Off - The Simulator - if you can't fly in the simulator, you can't fly in real life - simple as that. It's an incredible place to practice - but practice also requires a little bit of structure to take away value.

I REALLY implore you all to get some sort of simulator with a way to hook up your radio to it. And here's the big one - play around, BUT also set aside time to fly it like you would in real life. Turn up the wind to 5mph, then 7mph and more - in the sim, you may feel like the wind is unpredictable, BUT it's like this in real life too! Sure you can't hear or feel the wind like you can in real life. But in real life, if you're flying up wind, you're not going to hear or feel the wind until it's already affected the plane! So learn to let it blow you around and not over correct. Fly patterns. Practice landings (Pro Tip I learned from YouTube - Fly toward yourself and then just correct with the rudder onto the runway when you get close!) Use your power to keep altitude and the angle of your nose (angle of attack) to control speed.

A few Sim tips - set up your radio like you would in real life - play with the dual rates and expos (try 20-50% and see what the differences feel like!)

Also Fly with a 3D plane in the sim! Work on simple moves like slow rolls, knife edges (flying sideways) and inverted flight and also see what things like expo and dual rates do that mute the controls. The sim is a really great tool to practice on a 3D plane and then you'll be able to apply that DIRECTLY to your FT plane, warbird, or whatever trainer you have.

Experiment! Each plane has different characteristics. For example - in RealFlight try the Ultimate Bi-Plane and JUST fly with the rudder! Can you do it? Max it out! Bang the sticks! See what happens! How is it similar to your real plane? Apply it!

As for YouTube - Don't make the mistake I did and just watch the Flite Test channels - The beginner series focuses so narrowly on basics, that I feel like you don't actually learn the full capabilities of flying and it makes you think small. So THINK BIG - Think about your next step. Warbirds, Scale? Gas? 3D?:

Try the Michael Wargo beginner series - he's super awkward, but you can still get a lot out of learning these basic manuevers of 3D flight - and in my opinion, learning what you can do with 3D flight will help you with ALL types of planes:

Voro's Simulator Series: This is a little more advanced tutorial series all filmed in the simulator - but starting to think about advanced moves is great for inspiring you to keep mastering the basics so you can get to these!

Good luck out there fellow beginners! Keep your wing tips up!
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#2
All good stuff - but it's funny; I can fly and land just fine in the real world, but as soon as I try to bring a plane down in the simulator, I crash them left and right. I think some of it is the way the plane looks over the runway, or the way that the camera angle moves it, at least for me; maybe it's the position the camera in the sims is to the runway, vs where I stand/how I stand at the runway in real life...
 
#3
All good stuff - but it's funny; I can fly and land just fine in the real world, but as soon as I try to bring a plane down in the simulator, I crash them left and right. I think some of it is the way the plane looks over the runway, or the way that the camera angle moves it, at least for me; maybe it's the position the camera in the sims is to the runway, vs where I stand/how I stand at the runway in real life...
Try flying straight at yourself, then rudder/aileron correct in the direction the runway is heading at the last minute. Try from all angles, don't worry about patterns (although I guess all flying movements are patterns technically), and also try different approach distances, using throttle between 0%-50% to keep your altitude steady, dropping off to 0% as you land.

My guess is that you fly at the same couple spots in real life and are well practiced at those particular patterns/landings. I think learning in the Sim could still really help your control on landings!
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#4
Try flying straight at yourself, then rudder/aileron correct in the direction the runway is heading at the last minute. Try from all angles, don't worry about patterns (although I guess all flying movements are patterns technically), and also try different approach distances, using throttle between 0%-50% to keep your altitude steady, dropping off to 0% as you land.

My guess is that you fly at the same couple spots in real life and are well practiced at those particular patterns/landings. I think learning in the Sim could still really help your control on landings!
Yes and no - I've flown at multiple different locations, and had no issues with landing, especially with long approaches. The issue I have with the sims is doing the same long approach, I can't see the attitude of the plane coming in until it's too late, at least with where the sims position me on the runway (almost at the end of the runway). When it's coming in from a distance, it's all pixelated. I know that there are ways I can cheat and put in a window to be able to tell what the attitude is at the distance I need, but that's cheating, and not really representative of real life, so I don't want to fly with that turned on.

Now, if I fly FPV, like in Liftoff? No issues there; I can touch down on almost the exact same spot, if needed (maybe off by an inch or two, due to drift). It is what it is, I guess. :)
 

Hai-Lee

Old and Bold RC PILOT
Mentor
#5
Not all people use or even want to use a simulator and there are also those who refrain from using YouTube.

I have never flown in a simulator but I Design, build, test fly, fly, and teach/instruct in the real world. In addition I am a committee member in the local club as well as a supplier, (off my own designs), to a local Hobby Shop.

When I first started or picked up a RC transmitter I could not even tell my right hand from my left and I was considered a danger to myself and others and yet now quite the opposite.

My belief is that simulators work for some and definitely against others in the struggle to learn to fly RC. When it comes to YouTube it can be a source of good information BUT it is also a great source of bad ideas put forward by FIGJAMS that can encourage others to try to emulate their activities often at great expense.

Another concern is that the local club has had a number of simulator ACES join our club and many of them had issues with other air traffic and spacial awareness. About 10$ of them were so bad that other club members refused to fly whilst the "ACE" was flying! Eventually the worst "ACE" left the club as when he was flying a near miss rattled him so much that he lost control and wrote off his planes, one at a time, and eventually he had nothing left to fly!

There is no set learning path and no single best way of instruction. Real world flying is the destination so many start there.

Just my opinion and experience.

Have fun!
 
#6
Yes and no - I've flown at multiple different locations, and had no issues with landing, especially with long approaches. The issue I have with the sims is doing the same long approach, I can't see the attitude of the plane coming in until it's too late, at least with where the sims position me on the runway (almost at the end of the runway). When it's coming in from a distance, it's all pixelated. I know that there are ways I can cheat and put in a window to be able to tell what the attitude is at the distance I need, but that's cheating, and not really representative of real life, so I don't want to fly with that turned on.

Now, if I fly FPV, like in Liftoff? No issues there; I can touch down on almost the exact same spot, if needed (maybe off by an inch or two, due to drift). It is what it is, I guess. :)
totally makes sense - I forget that I have a pretty good set up in the sim. I have a gaming computer that can pump out max resolution and even with that it's still a little blurry at more than 200 ft out or so.

Maybe try some short approach landings? One technique I've been practicing is higher/shorter approach landings, chop the throttle and with a high angle banking turn back toward the run way, you lose altitude and speed. It is definitely a more high-risk technique. I wouldn't do this at the local club for example, but when I fly at the school near by my house, the trees inhibit me from a long, low approach, so it's a nice technique when no one else is around. When you chop throttle and bank/turn, you lose a lot of altitude fast and sort of swoop in. But if you can be precise about evening out, and applying about 20% throttle, you can avoid stalling and be pretty precise about it, even in windy conditions. Just need to learn the characteristics of your plane.
 
#7
Not all people use or even want to use a simulator and there are also those who refrain from using YouTube.

I have never flown in a simulator but I Design, build, test fly, fly, and teach/instruct in the real world. In addition I am a committee member in the local club as well as a supplier, (off my own designs), to a local Hobby Shop.

When I first started or picked up a RC transmitter I could not even tell my right hand from my left and I was considered a danger to myself and others and yet now quite the opposite.

My belief is that simulators work for some and definitely against others in the struggle to learn to fly RC. When it comes to YouTube it can be a source of good information BUT it is also a great source of bad ideas put forward by FIGJAMS that can encourage others to try to emulate their activities often at great expense.

Another concern is that the local club has had a number of simulator ACES join our club and many of them had issues with other air traffic and spacial awareness. About 10$ of them were so bad that other club members refused to fly whilst the "ACE" was flying! Eventually the worst "ACE" left the club as when he was flying a near miss rattled him so much that he lost control and wrote off his planes, one at a time, and eventually he had nothing left to fly!

There is no set learning path and no single best way of instruction. Real world flying is the destination so many start there.

Just my opinion and experience.

Have fun!
Totally agree with everything you've said here. There's a spectrum of how people learn, and perhaps encouraging too much of one thing over another is the biggest problem. For me - using the simulator is about disciplined practice of landings, different approaches, learning things I wouldn't attempt with a $100+ plane in real life, and gaining some confidence to try those patterns conservatively in real life.

To your point, I think the simulator can totally run someone off course when it's used to mess around so much that you are practicing bad habits you take the field.

Thanks for your reply!
 

Hondo76251

Well-known member
#8
This is an interesting thread. Its fun to see all the perspectives!

I learned a great deal (god, has it been that long???) on MS Flight Simulator '98...
I spent some time working on getting a pilots license, but that's expensive! I racked up hours in ultralights just because it was cheaper...

I went from flying real planes, (by the seat of my pants I guess you'd say) to flying RC now... I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one with a "love/hate" relationship with a simulator! I can't put my finger on what the driving factor is, the major difference, but I'm a much better pilot in "real life" than I am in the sim so I can sympathize with this sentiment:
I can fly and land just fine in the real world, but as soon as I try to bring a plane down in the simulator, I crash them left and right
Maybe its just simple depth perception? I can look (often behind me) in a quick glance... bring a plane 360 over my head, do a hammerhead, and put it down within inches of where I wanted most of the time... I can't get close to that level of precision in a sim. (but I can 3d, which I've yet to even attempt in real life)

The question I've had lately is, "What is the best approach with my kids?" They are such a different generation its hard for me to tell. I didn't touch a game controller until I was probably 15, long after I was proficient with automobiles, tractors, and various heavy equipment (heck, I probably had 20 hours in light aircraft by that point) But they also skipped the generation of "console gamer's" that I'm more familiar with... they are more familiar with touch screens than gameboys...

I have realized one important flaw in my kids learning... I let them play my old HALO game and I let them play without inverting the controller... (whoever the nit-wit at Bungie was that decided backwards was "normal", and NORMAL was "Inverted" should be flogged) but I've had absolute heck in fixing this with my kids! If you push forward on any control it should go DOWN!!! This is true in tractors/equipment, AIRCRAFT, WTF would they reverse that in the gaming world???? but I digress... My kids have done very well in the simulator and have had much less success applying those techniques to the real world than I thought they would...

This actually just brings it all back to what I've always felt all along, about most everything in life really... I don't think there is any TRULY valid simulation than can replace the full stimulation of experiencing the real thing first hand. My Flight Sim '98 was a good learning tool, but it was the hours of actual stick time that taught me how to grease a landing off a steep decent with a good "blip" of the throttle to cushion a fast landing with a pillow of air from the prop... (A habit that I've carried into the RC world)

The simulator is a great tool, I still use it to this day, but it will never replace real stick time!
 

sprzout

Knower of useless information
Mentor
#9
I have realized one important flaw in my kids learning... I let them play my old HALO game and I let them play without inverting the controller... (whoever the nit-wit at Bungie was that decided backwards was "normal", and NORMAL was "Inverted" should be flogged) but I've had absolute heck in fixing this with my kids! If you push forward on any control it should go DOWN!!! This is true in tractors/equipment, AIRCRAFT, WTF would they reverse that in the gaming world???? but I digress... My kids have done very well in the simulator and have had much less success applying those techniques to the real world than I thought they would...
Funny you should mention this. It seems that the kids who are showing up on Monday nights for free flight instruction at our field are going through the same issue - they get to the line, the instructor takes them up, and as soon as they switch over to let the student fly, the kids go full forward on the sticks, causing the plane to nose over. I'm actually working on developing a 3D printed disc that will work, but the DXe radios don't have a nice edge to the gimbals like the rest of the controllers do - they made this chamfered lip that won't allow me to put a modified gimbal protector on it. :( Fortunately, I have an idea I'm going to try to design, if I can get it built; I'm going to create a limiter that goes on the stick itself that will prevent movement just for the elevator/ailerons, so they won't be able to really crank over the nose, or apply a ton of aileron. It'd be one thing for them to adjust the expo in the radio if it were something like a DX6e or DX6, since it has a screen, but the DXe doesn't allow that easily unless they have the Bluetooth module to program it with.