How simmers get IFR knowledge and skills?

I acquired my IFR knowledge learning to fly and becoming a professional pilot. 7,000+ hours and multiple type ratings later, I am amazed at the level of knowledge flight simmers have who have never flown a real airplane. I started a YouTube channel in late August aimed at teaching simmers and enthusiasts as properly as possible without making insanely long tutorials that are 45 minutes long that can be done in 10 minutes. I have been flying 25 years and playing Microsoft Flight Sim just as long. Here is a link to my channel videos: thecorporatepilotdad - YouTube


with reliable information from a reliable source.
That is my hope for all. I wish all new users could have someone walk them through the process. Most will never have that. I am not suggesting they engage in hours of reading. I just suggest that having those two publications on hand can give them the resource they can turn to rather than the plethora of bad info that is so readily available on the internet.

I agree with all you have contributed with the caveat that most are not so fortunate as to have you as their friend to help them do all those “cool things”.

Happy Flying and Merry Christmas.

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That is just good practice. When I was a CFII, I used Post-It-Notes instead of the suction cup instrument covers you are speaking of. If I was in a good mood I’d draw a smilie face on them that day.


As mentioned above, there is a huge amount of misinformation about IFR in the FS community. A lot of that can be traced to the manner in which people learn.

Most simmers first exposure to IFR is either in an aircraft like the TBM, or more likely, an A320/737/747. Therefore people inevitably learn what they need to in order to operate their chosen aircraft. After some time, they can even be come relatively proficient at operating these aircraft, with a sound understanding of the FMC, autopilot modes, etc.

So many people end up completely skipping the traditional, liner learning path, and jumping straight into the advanced, high level airline type operation. Their IFR knowledge is therefore correspondingly fragmented. As they say, a little knowledge is dangerous, and so many people with ‘some’ knowledge and understanding of IFR, believe their assumption regarding topics and procedures that they simply haven’t explored or experienced in detail. It can therefore be very difficult to decipher the right from the wrong in flight sim related communities such as here.

This is not a criticism or casting judgment, flight simulation is ultimately an entertainment product, and people are free to enjoy it however they desire.

If I can offer any advice to those really interested in learning the ins and outs of IFR flight, it’s to take it slow, and try to stick to a semi realistic learning pathway. Start in a 172 or similar, and lean enroute radio aid navigation until you are completely comfortable. Then look at GPS navigation. Once your understanding grows, continue on to instrument approach procedures, again starting with NDB and VOR approaches, before tackling ILS and RNAVs. Again, when comfortable, progress onto faster more advanced aircraft like the TBM or King Air.

Also, if possible, try and combine time in glass cockpit aircraft with analogue gauge aircraft. Whilst glass cockpits are tremendous, the amount of information and feedback they provide can sometime mask your understanding of the underlying concepts. Analogue gauges are harder to master, but I feel you can learn so much more from them.

Once you are completely at ease with the above, you can add the most misrepresented aspect of IFR flight, communication. Personally, I’d say half the challenge of IFR is understanding and correctly communicating with ATC, other aircraft etc. Something like VATSIM is a great resource, but if you really want to increase you understanding, Pilots Edge is unbeatable. They have an incredible set of tutorials that start from basic point to point flights, all the way up to flights with complex routing, multiple approaches and diversions. You do however need a solid foundation of navigation and approach knowledge/skill before making this jump.

6 months following a pathway such as this will teach you infinitely more about IFR flight, than flying around in an A320 or 787 for the same time frame. All you’ll really get good at there is using the FMC and autopilot.


I’d start with basic flight plans and how to navigate. Heaps of youtube videos out there. Then learn about charts then how to input your flight plans then fly it and practice.

It be a day of learning to get a basic idea.

Then you still have IRS or DME/DME…

Also, I think it’s possible to consider RNP/RNAV and following the FMS line is considered as ‘learning IFR’. Yes that’s how an A320 gets from AtoB, but there is a mass of background techniques and skills to be mastered first.

Many RNP approaches are actually mirroring an underlying VOR/NDB procedure, but putting the plane in the correct spot with GPS. In Airbus speak these were referred to as ‘Overlay’ approaches.

Outside of RNAV is a wealth of interesting and rewarding IFR flying


also, this may have been posted but Yoube has just GOT to have some sort of tutorial for this. and as someone else stated flying old school is very hands-on… keeps ya focused… current airline pilots can actually ‘sleep’ :joy:

I’ve been using the “fly and die” method since subLogic on a C64.


used to subscribe to a UK magazine PC PILOT that came out monthly.
Amongst talking about sims, add-ons etc, it had a section that went into various aspects of IFR lying in detail. One week might be reading approach charts, the next explain beacons etc etc. Modern version would be finding a decent youtube channels

Honestly… I can’t understate the influence from Air Crash Investigations. The level of detail they go into flight procedures and systems is incredible. Frankly I know more about flight systems based on stories of failures relating to those systems and why they are important. After watching enough episodes you can begin to spot the errors and reasons for crashes before they are spelled out by the doco.

then cleaning it all up, refining the procedures via checklists and listening to actual pilots and yt cockpit vids, especially landing procedures

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Along the same lines I can highly recommend this series: Air Disaster (3 book series) Kindle Edition (

Amazingly well written and well researched and I learned so much from these when they were first released. Or, to go directly to the source:
Aviation Accident Reports (

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Rod Machado.

I miss that guy :cry: .


There are very few NDB’s left within 40 miles of Boston. North of Manchester, NH, most of those are there and are used in approaches, but, south of there, there are very few. I’m sad they are gone. I enjoy using radio navigation. When I learned to fly (mid-nineties), GPS was very much in its infancy, so I radio navigation was all I learned. And I really enjoyed the challenge of it (and feared hand flying holding patterns blind). Then I left flying in 2001, learning how to use GPS since I got back into flying two months ago has been… interesting :slight_smile:

I worry about the day our satellites are taken out by a large disturbance from our sun. Hopefully most airliners have some sort of backup system (although, it’s not like they’ll all come crashing to the ground…). Then again, it’s likely the VOR’s and NDB’s would be taken out by that, too…

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There are human sources out there for teaching sim pilots IFR. There are people on, for instance, Boston Virtual ATC who do training. WINGS Introduction - Boston Virtual ARTCC

And there are many other sources on line if you search for them, people who give their time or who you can hire. e.g.

And, yes, I like corporatepilotdad, too :slight_smile:

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Even the C152 is a great plane to start in. Two Nav gauges with ILS and NDB (no DME). It’s nice and slow so you have time to get your bearings (pun intended), not a lot of systems to distract you, no autopilot so you have to do everything yourself, nice simple platform to learn in.

After you’ve gotten some training in one of the human run ATC groups, you can get some charts and start practicing on your own. A neat tool to use that’s free to start with (they would appreciate a small donation if you start using it to help maintain the servers for the charts and other data) if you’ve got an android tablet or phone is Avare. It has up to date NOAA charts and supplemental data and more for at least the US, you can update them for free every month. I wrote up instructions for how to use it with MSFS here. Of course there’s also Navigraph; I haven’t used it so I can’t speak to it. I use Avare for flight planning and as a backup GPS when I fly for real, too. I know people in Europe use it for flying, too, but I don’t know where they get the charts from. There is an Avare user group out there.

Make sure you have a good way to trim the plane though so you’re not worried about maintaining altitude. I set up the throttle axis on my Logitech Extreme3D Pro joystick as a trim axis (-100% - +100%, don’t use the other one), and it’s made flying soooo much easier (I’m not much of an autopilot user, I prefer to fly by hand like I do for real in Cherokees), much closer to real life. Granted I have experience trimming real planes, so, there’s something else to pick up, but, it’s not hard. It is a little sensitive, but, you can get it right on, as opposed to trying to set up buttons to move it up and down which is impossible to get right.

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Thanks for the shoutout! I meant I like thecorporatepilotdad, too.

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agree… getting used to VOR NDB inputs ands radials is best learned SLOWly


PilotEdge has an exhaustive supply of YouTube videos on EVERYTHING. PilotEdge is an application / service that provides an ATC system and works with X-Plane and the MS sims. They employ real air traffic controllers and their coverage includes US airports in every airspace category. They have “ratings” for every VFR level and for every IFR level, suitable for GA planes all the way up to airliners.

The service is expensive (over $300 per year), so it is intended for real pilots to learn and practice or for serious sim pilots who wants the aviation experience to be “as real as it gets”.

BUT, the training videos, workshops, and demo rating flights are free to all. Go to their web site for more info.

FS2000 to FSX had an extensive flight school by Rod Machado. That is how I learned. It would be worth it to catch FSX:SE on sale just for the flight school.

At some point the FAA started putting their publications online.

Forums and newsgroups.

Pre internet I’m betting mostly books and talking to people.

Now we have Youtube and Twitch.

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