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This question already has an answer here:

I'm starting to save up to get my pilots license and I was thinking I might be able to do some amount of prep work by using a flight simulator. That being said, I realize there must be some huge limitations to what I can actually learn, on my own, on a flight sim.

So, out of curiosity, are there good things to try practicing on my own in a flight sim? There's got to be a few basic things that would make it worth my time... Otherwise I'll just go back to flying around aimlessly like I usually do :).

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marked as duplicate by Pondlife, abelenky, falstro, Philippe Leybaert, Lnafziger Jan 16 '14 at 20:49

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    $\begingroup$ I bought a Saitek rudder/yoke/quadrant setup and FSX a few years ago, and I've found the hardest thing to do is pattern work. Having to control your head in-game to look out the window and get an idea of your location is very difficult and not something you'd even have to think about in the real thing. Other than that, make sure you turn off "easy mode" in the sim. P-factor and a lot of weather is turned off by default in FSX, for example. $\endgroup$ – Garrison Neely Jan 16 '14 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife - Aw, the title of the other one was a bit misleading for me. Yeah, it looks like the other thread has this covered. Thanks for linking me. $\endgroup$ – Jay Carr Jan 16 '14 at 20:44
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    $\begingroup$ Just a small additional suggestion: Spending a couple of hours with a flight instructor now (even while you are saving up the money to take "real" lessons) on the simulator can show you what you can be practicing and help keep you from learning some bad habits. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jan 16 '14 at 21:04
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I'd advise against "flying around aimlessly".

Even if it is a simple, routine flight between two nearby airports, fly it fully, and try to fly it as professionally as possible (can you keep your heading to within +/- 3 degrees? can you keep your altitude spot-on?)

Another good exercise is to do all your navigation planning in detail (each heading for a certain number of minutes), then try to take off, and using nothing but the compass and stopwatch, find out how close you get. (and when you end up off-course, figure out where you went wrong!)

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