Facepalming Student Pilot
My Dad flew B-17s over Germany during WWII and trained Korean pilots for the USAF. Flying was always a part of his character, but he just didn't keep up with it. When I was a kid, his boss owned a twin engine plane (no recollection what kind) and he would do repo flights for him. I got to fly in the co-pilot seat for one of them.
It was something I was very interested in doing myself. When I was in college, I looked into it and the sticker shock drove me away. It just seemed like something that would be prohibitively out of reach.
30 years and a career later, I realized that I have never re-visited/challenged that expectation of flying being too expensive. So, I looked, and I facepalmed. Yes, it is an expensive hobby. Out of reach for a poor college student, but within reach for someone that has worked hard for 30y and managed finances well. Hence, facepalm.
So, I have been studying on my own and talking to the local flying club while getting all of my ducks in a row. Of course, now that I am ready to really move, the virus hits. C'est la vie. Just means that I will be focusing on working through to my written test earlier rather than later.
The important thing is that I am not mentally blocked anymore. I have goal of PPL this year, and stretch goals of IR and ME (most likely next year). I have a picture of my dad kneeling down in front of his B-17 that will always be in the cockpit with me...
17 Replies
P.S. Ignore the name. I am "Jack". I entered this as my nickname, as I NEVER use Ross. But, like most systems, nickname appears to just be a placebo here :-)
Way to go Jack. I had the dream of flying since I was a little boy.  Just like you, after. was in college I looked into it and found it to be WAY too expensive for me.  I began my PPL training at the age of 60. With a full-time job and traveling out of the state every month, it took me longer than I wanted but two years later I was sporting a beautiful certificate and bought a 1967 IFR rated 172.  Been flying for fun and business for three years now and loving it. I raised my kids with the instructions, "Don't ever let anyone tell you that you CAN'T do something."  I feel the same way about flying.  This virus will pass and you will be enjoying the fruits of your tenacity.  Congratulations on staying with it.
Thanks, Frank!

Yeah. Definitely good advice. I would add to it what I wish I had done: if it looks like you can't do something, figure out what you can do, and keep expanding on that until you get what you really want!
For example, I wish I had subscribed to aviation magazines, et al, instead of just forgetting about the whole thing. It would have kept me engaged, and I would have stayed on the path.
So for now, I can't take lessons: we are all sheltering from the virus. But, I CAN study extra ground school, et al, so I am. I am an always-studying kinda guy, so I am not worried about ground school becoming stale if I finish it before I start flying. After all, ground school is just the minimum. There is ALWAYS more to learn!
Hello Jack..
I never hesitate to suggest investment in a solid home simulator system.   With a reasonable investment you can reduce hours to PPL by a substantial amount.  Coordinate with a CFI beside you and you can accelerate the learning curve and save thousands of dollars. 

If you want suggestions on hardware and software, send me a PM.

Want proof of concept?   Read Rod Machado's article here:

Personal Story:   I just had a chat with a local and newly minted CFI who got a new position a few years back to fly commercially in a heavy Boeing cargo operation.    After being told by the instructors in the multi-million dollar sim that his instrument skills were just terrible, he used an absolutely cheap desktop sim at a local flight school for several intensive days to refresh his instrument skills.   He came back and passed his review with flying colors.   The instructors were amazed and then stunned when they found out how he got back to proficiency so fast.   

So investing in a more expensive, but very affordable, sim now will pay for itself many times over as you progress.

Happy to assist.   

Already have xplane 11 with a saitek (aka Logitech) yoke, rudder, and throttle quadrant.
Haven't been flying much yet, as I don't want to learn bad habits. When I start IR, I am going to get the nav & 530 extras and spend a lot of time in the sim.
Mostly focusing on ground school atm while waiting for the world to un-crazy.
Great.   Hope other readers will see this thread.   BTW - The Saitek/Logitech and CH Products Yokes have been supplanted in the budget category by the new Honeycomb.  I have the Yoko yoke which is worth every bit of the price.   

You are correct.  Best to have a CFI working at your side.   For the time being, you can do screen sharing via Skype and be assured those "bad habits" are avoided.   No reason to delay formal instruction.  You and your CFI can each sit comfortably at home while you train PPL cross country skills (see more below).  Perfect for this time while we are waiting out this virus challenge.   

For X-Plane be sure to add the $20 SimCoder REP for the default C172 to get realistic flight physics.  And finally, I have to mention Air Manager, which I run on a 23" touch screen with dual Com/Nav and VOR's along with a dial gadget called the Knobster.  No need for more dedicated sim hardware.  Air Manager has dozens of free community and paid premium instruments.  An excellent alternative to the sim hardware.

Be safe and stay well!
If I was further along (i.e., had started flight training prior to C-19), then I'd definitely do that.
As it is, the bad habits I want to avoid fall into two categories: One is "oing the wrong thing because I don't know the right thing (i.e., what you reference below which a video chat with a CFI could help with).
It is the other one that I am more concerned about: while I can learn proper procedures, etc., and practice them in a sim, what I can't is train my responses to inputs. E..g, the yoke on my sim will also have pressure returning it to center, rather than pressure from virtual control surfaces, and my horizon is always in front of me, not off of my wing (even in a 3 monitor setup). So, I would be learning to react to wrong cues because the right ones are not there.

So, in the meantime, I am focusing on the things in my wheelhouse: book study, learning checklists and memory items, etc. Having a blast doing that.
Thanks for the tips on xplane. There are indeed no end of free and paid add-ons. A lot to sort through!
Those concerns are totally valid.   My first yoke was the CH Products Eclipse.   Then I bought the Iris Dynamics force feedback yoke via Kickstarter. 

Ultimately, due to the poor performance of both in different respects, I bit the bullet and studied all the reviews on the Yoko.   This yoke was designed for Virtual Fly's real world customer.   They also make full scale enclosed 6DOF sims, by the way.   The Yoko's initial application was to fly an 8,000 pound UAV.   The only negative is the cost. 

You are concerned about control surface pressure.   In the Yoko, unlike the budget gear, pitch demands trim to relieve the pressure.  Roll is not like this, but for VFR flight, I use the wings, outside horizon and glances at the artificial horizon, DG and VSI to maintain the correct flight path.   Pretty much just like real world flight.  

If you can save up the bucks, the Yoko is simply outstanding.   The reviews are uniformly positive, which is what convinced me to make the jump.   

One CFII flew my rig with X-Plane.  He was not happy with how P3d functioned earlier.   With XP and the REP add on, he gave my sim an 8+ out of ten.   

Regarding a CFI or CFII in home simulation, a video chat is ok, but as my gear is so immersive and realistic,  I use the instructor almost every flight.   I am happy to pay him $40 / hour as I am learning in a genuine sense.   During this "Shelter in Place" time I fly every week on the sim and have my instructor observing the flight via Skype screen share.  Then I do practice flights to hone skills and the cost is pennies for electricity.   

The objective is correct, complete and substantive training so I want the instructor right there either sitting beside me or observing via Skype.   He throws all sorts of anomalies and emergencies at me, so I am always required to fly both mentally and physically.   The quality hardware and a home sim friendly instructor provides everything but the G forces.   And, for now, neither of us have to travel.   So the closure of non-essential businesses here is affecting my training so much less.

Between real world flights to transfer the sim based learning to reality, many hours of aircraft rental can be saved.  That is what pays for the sim hardware in just a short while.

Thanks for the response.   Wish you every success in your training.
I found that using a yoke or flight stick and rudder pedals from CH Products with my flight sims helped me maintain muscle memory in flying an aircraft.  The most helpful way in maintaining a level of proficiency in procedures I found is to use a head tracking computer accessory, like the TrackIR with TrackClip Pro, with the flight sim in virtual cockpit mode.  This allows me to look around the cockpit while activating the proper switches, setting up the radios, etc. while completing the aircraft checklist items.  I also find this combination essential for VFR flight because I am easily able to look outside the aircraft to determine proper positioning and timing for the traffic pattern.  I use both MS Flight Sim X, Steam Edition, and XPlane 10; the flight characteristics are better in XPlane but ATC is much better in MS Flight Sim.