How simmers get IFR knowledge and skills?

Depending on your radio stack, you can still fly using an AM radio transmitter as an NDB… they’re still on the charts!



I think you should go back and read the FAA announcement again.
100’s of VOR stations will be phased out over the next decade.

Navaids will continue to be used for many, many years to come. The cost of maintaining seldom used or redundant systems can no longer be supported. This does not mean that the basic system of using radio navigation will become a thing of the past.

The day that every aircraft with flight certification will be solely GPS or INS is a long way off. Until that time, it is a poor pilot that cannot utilize every instrument installed in their aircraft. The day will come when you are outside radar coverage, in IMC and your GPS will fail. If you cannot navigate using whatever backup is installed you will become another statistic augured into the side of a hill somewhere.

If it is installed, learn to use it.


This is completely false. There are very few approaches in North America that do not have an NDB built into it somewhere. There are still locations that have no other form of navigation available. VORs that are not scheduled for decommissioning are not just left to rot if they breakdown.

I am sorry if I sound harsh, but misinformation is my all time peeve. Please be sure you are properly researching a subject before presenting facts based on “something I heard or read somewhere”. There are users on this site looking for useful advice and/or trying to learn aviation. Let’s keep the information they read, at the bare minimum, based on fact.

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This is taken directly from the FAA Powerpoint:

In case of a GPS outage, a VOR-equipped aircraft without DME/DME/IRU would:

– Climb, if necessary, to obtain VOR service with ATC radar assistance if available
• Coverage at 5,000 AGL in CONUS, in western mountainous area VORs will be retained
• VORs retained to be no more than 77nm from any point in CONUS
– Proceed direct to VOR and then VOR to VOR through the outage or to an airport served by a retained VOR or ILS will be no more than 100nm away.

CONUS = Continental United States


…But is a game forum the right place to learn aviation? Most of the info on this forum is game centric, because we are discussing a game.

In a sense, both @blueline308 and @willisxdc are correct. Many people coming to the game are here for the purpose of playing a game only, and only need to know about 5% of what a real pilot would know. Even if the information isn’t 100% accurate, it’s more than enough to enjoy the game.

But for pro pilots looking to improve their skills through the game, it’s a completely different ball game. I’d say there’s two very distinct audiences for this game, and that their needs are very different.

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Whether it is the right place to learn or not, it is an aviation related game. It is important, I believe, that whether a gamer just having a bit of fun or a new simpilot interested in aviation or an airline pilot practicing flow, the information being presented if they have a question is factual.


I certainly agree that information should be accurate. I remember a thread about not being able to capture the GS at some airports. The GAME solution was to approach at 2K feet. Some ppl got all bent out of shape because it was suggesting to fly below real world minimums. The solution worked for the game and allowed the player to play successfully.

Personally, I don’t want my airline pilot learning on a video game :slight_smile:

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All the comments here are very true. But ultimately, they lack the main point, which is unless you’re in a strict training regime, we all learned IFR operations by trial and error.

The original FSX came with tutorials that taught the very basics of radio navigation and IFR flight, but introduced really subtle concepts like approach plates. Naturally, if you’re interested in the subject, you end up looking around for more approach plates, which inevitably introduce you to new concepts that you look into, thus introducing you to new concepts, and so on.

The thing with IFR flight, when most of us weren’t using this as a training tool, is continuous exposure to new things and learning about how tools apply in certain situations, and how they apply in new and exciting cases.

I would say, from my first exposure to learning how to fly an IFR flight independently to when I would say I was fairly proficient and knowledgeable was…roughly 6 years (freshman year high school until one day in college I decided to become a VATSIM controller for fun).

This is the reality of non pilots enjoying the world of flight sim. There are no real courses or instructors sitting with you as you learn. It takes time and an interest to learn to advance from bumbling novice gamer to accomplished sim pilot.

This is why, I believe it is so important to weed through the garbage. Having good basic reference material can help shorten the time frame. If given good information it is possible to learn to do it right the first time and reduce the time fumbling through.

Consider the real world requirements to be licensed to fly IFR (in Canada) …

An applicant shall have completed a minimum of: 50 hours of cross-country flight as pilot-in -command in aeroplanes and. 40 hours of instrument time of which a maximum of 20 hours may be instrument ground time.

Obviously this does not include the study time to pass the written exam, but you can see that to be physically proficient shouldn’t take years, if proper guidance is offered. Imagine how much more enjoyable the experience when you KNOW you are doing it right.

That’s all true, but as I alluded to, if you’re not doing this as a strict training regime, you’re only doing this for fun. In which case how much effort do you want to put into learning? Studying books upon books at a time may be very time efficient, but I recall my time with the Instrument Procedures Manual was not a very exciting one (thank you, publishers of From the Ground Up). However, 6 years of learning really slowly turned out to be helpful when I went through ground school, PPL, Night, Multi, and Multi IFR training, because these pieces of knowledge are already firmly ingrained into your mind over 6 years of continuous learning.

I have a friend who’s flying on flight sim and wants to do all the cool things I do. The best way to learn is to expose him to little bits of information he needs to know for each flight, and slowly fill in the gaps here and there, rather than overwhelm him with a ton of reading material.

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Actually, I learned IFR procedure by flying with my CFII for many, many hours “under the hood.” And he’d place circular rubber covers (they had suction cups on them… I think Rubbermaid?) over all the vacuum gauges or all the gyro instruments to simulate systems failure. Then, he’d have me take my hands and feet off the controls, put the airplane into an “unusual attitude” and have me fly out of it.

I guess that’s what you mean by “strict training regimen” eh?



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: