MSFS inspired me to pursue my PPL

When I was a teenager I fell in love with flying through FSX. Ever since I’ve always dreamed of getting my pilots license. Back then it was a financing issue: There was no way I or my family could afford it. Fast forward to now; I’ve established a decent paying career and have some savings built up…

When MSFS was released I was using a Saitek X-55 HOTAS to fly. My father runs a hobby shop and often buys things that people bring in to resell… Well shortly after MSFS released someone came into his shop with an entire setup of Saitek Pro Flight equipment… He bought it from them and shipped it to me (We live a few states away). That was it! I took that as a sign… It’s time to get my private pilot’s license!

Last weekend I took an Intro Flight at a local flight school. I absolutely loved it! I’ve now got my Class 3 medical and I’ve booked 2 more lessons.

So, Thanks Asobo+Microsoft! You’ve helped me rediscover my love of flight and pushed me to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a pilot.

See you all in the air!


Good luck with the PPL, it’s hard work, some scary times but well worth it! My first MS Flightsim contact was at a PC show in South Africa in 1984/5 , no colour, just green, and it hooked me. In the early 90s I got my PPL. I bought a flight yoke and rudder pedals from some barn stormer in Texas. It looked like it was put together in the backyard, water pipes, etc. I used it on a later version of FS to practice crosswind landings, helped a ton. After my PPL I did a lot of work flying from Johannesburg to Mozambique, was epic stuff. Was exploring that area on FS 2020 and brought back tons of memories. I must say the landings are amazing, so realistic. Enjoy!

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That’s awesome! IMO, MSFS is the first desktop simulator that has sufficient graphic fidelity to accomplish a lot of the Private Pilot syllabus. As an instructor, I was using X-Plane, but its use for Private Pilot training was very limited. MSFS will be better when we get improved flight dynamics, multi-monitor support, and better aircraft systems. But even now it’s pretty awesome.

Flying is amazing. Simming is the next best thing. Enjoy!


That’s so awesome! \o/ Good luck on your lessons and happy flying! :small_airplane: :smiley_cat:

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That’s awesome! FSX made me want to get my PPL too, but I put it on the backburner because of finances. MSFS 2020 encouraged me to look into it again.

Unfortunately, it’s still financially unattainable :laughing:


Good luck! FSX was a massive help when I got my Private. Not so much the trike flour bombing missions, or the Area 51 UFO chase, but I could recreate my lessons in the simulator and do them over until they were perfect. It cemented what I had just learned and kept me fresh for the next lesson such that I was able to go for the checkride with pretty low time.

Getting familiar with the cockpit and checklists were massive too. And even though i didn’t have ortho scenery, FSX also let me get familiar with what the area looked like from the air. The instructor could tell me to head to a field and I knew where to point the plane and when we were getting close even though I had never been there except in FSX.

I can see big improvements in all of these areas in Flight Simulator, so it should be a great tool for aspiring private pilots. I’m also glad they finally decided to ship the game with some popular trainers like the 152 and da20. I wish I had this 152 back in the FSX days. I bought a third party one before I stepped up to the 172.

There are things to watch for when switching between IRL and sim, like rudder usage, keeping the plane coordinated, and side slipping to get down aren’t really things yet in this simulator. But overall it should be huge help.


This is exactly what I’m hoping to use MSFS for! After my intro lesson I flew the exact same path we took and kept in mind all of the things the CFI said to me throughout the lesson. I’m hoping to be able to set up a GoPro in future lessons to be able to see what we did inside the cockpit. I’ve been practicing patterns and turns around a fixed point. I’m really hoping it’ll help me be prepared for my check ride as soon as I hit minimum hours.

The instructor did this in my intro lesson and it blew my mind! I’ve never heard of that maneuver before. I tried it a few times in MSFS since and it seems to work pretty well.

Thanks everyone for sharing your stories and for your encouragement!


Update time!

I’ve got 2 hours in my logbook and can’t wait to get more! I think I’ve really impressed my instructor. During the second lesson we did power off and power on stalls, turns around a fixed point, and one touch-and-go to introduce me to the pattern. When she was filling out my logbook she said “I’m not usually writing these maneuvers until I’m at the bottom of the page.”

My next lesson is a week away so in the meantime I’m going to keep practicing patterns and landings in the sim every day until then. I’ve been using SimToolkitPro to track my landings and how smooth they were. I’m hoping to perfect my landings and be able to solo with <10 hours. I’m trying to get my PPL in as few hours as possible… mostly just as a challenge to myself, but also to keep costs low.

Also studying up for the knowledge test every night. Not forgetting that part :slight_smile:


Wait till you get to unusual attitudes with the hood! Fun and scary. Also, your first spin and recovery. Scared the bejesus out of me!


Fantastic, flight sims were the trigger for me to gain my NPPL, just got my licence back in the post this week. So the real learning starts now!!

I am sure you will enjoy every minute of it, I certainly did, it was so worth while.

Enjoy :smiley:


Training’s going great! I’m about 8.5 hours in and my instructor gave me a take-home pre-solo written test so I think I’m getting close to soloing! Here’s a quick video with some turns and landings from my last lesson. We did some instrument flying in this lesson with foggles. Putting those on and not being able to see outside was the first time I’ve felt a bit scared during the training, but it was pretty cool and I knew I had my instructor there keeping an eye outside the plane.


Nice! I recently started for the PPL myself. Not necessarily from MSFS but I feel once multimonitor support is in/vr I can use it a bit more for VFR study. Im around 11 hours in myself now and starting to have that pre-solo talk with my CFI. Looks like your in NY as well! Hello from down on Long Island! Currently taking lessons out of FRG!

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Give us an update on your license progress!

I went from 0.5 to 1,000 in my interest for aviation thanks to MSFS so I’m kind of in the same boat, just gotta save up first before I start


Sure! It’s been going well. The past few lessons have just been circles in the pattern over and over to get more consistent on my landings. The instructor’s been giving me less and less instruction, and being more and more strict about maintaining altitude in the pattern, maintaining speed, and staying on the centerline. At the end of the last lesson she said I’m RIGHT on the verge of soloing! Super excited for that.

One of the recent lessons we left the pattern and did some steep turns before coming back to do my first crosswind landings. You can see some of that here:

Doing the crosswind landings actually helped me improve my normal landings a lot. That lesson in the video is when I really got the hang of when to flare for landing.

Thanks for your interest, and I hope you can get flying really soon :smiley:

Edit: Oh, and I passed the written test about 2 weeks ago :smiley:


This is awesome to read. I wish you the best of luck with it!

I hope to follow the same trajectory, having been interested in aviation my entire life. I’ve actually got my wife encouraging me to do a discovery flight now, although she doesn’t quite know at this point that I am seriously considering “going the distance” for my PPL. It’s funny how the older you get, the more some of those things that have seemed financially out of reach become more realistically attainable. I’m by no means rich, but when you compare the expense to other common life expenses, vacations, etc., it seems more reasonable.

Now that you’ve had some experience in a real plane, I wonder if you’d mind sharing your thoughts about how it feels compared to the sim? I’ve been approaching this from day one as if I am taking real lessons, and trying to be serious about my time in the sim. The part I’m most unsure of is how yoke and rudder sensitivities compare to RL. Could you share your yoke & rudder sensitivity settings? Were these influenced/changed by your experiences in a real plane?


Thank you!! I definitely agree that you should go do a discovery flight. It’s so amazing! Pro tip that nobody told me: Get a logbook before your discovery flight and you can log it as your first training session.

I’d be happy to share :slight_smile: The feel of the rudder and yoke is… so different in real life! In the sim there’s nothing “pushing back” on the other side of the control. You can’t feel the pressure on the yoke that’s relieved as you change the trim. In the sim you’ll (probably) never have a death grip on the yoke fighting to keep it held back. Once you’re up at cruising altitude it’s probably not that different, but with takeoff and landing the sim just feels like a toy compared to real life.

During landing when you go to flare is when I notice the difference in sensitivity the most. With the ProFlight yoke since there’s no force feedback it’s a (mostly) uniform smoothness as you pull back. You apply X pressure and it’s gonna come out Y amount, no matter where in the range it is. In real life as you’re landing and pulling back on the yoke it gets harder and harder to pull back. It took me a good handful of lessons to really get the hang of how much I needed to pull back on the yoke during the flare.

Landings have been the biggest thing I’ve had to focus on. Flying the plane is easy, it’s landing that’s difficult :stuck_out_tongue: My first few flights I had a really hard time convincing myself to descend, lol. 1000ft feels so much lower in real life than it does in the sim.

The other big area I lacked is proper rudder usage. It’s been a few weeks since I was in the sim but last I checked you can still completely ignore the rudders and the turn coordinator will never be off-center. I have all assists off and can fly perfectly coordinated without ever touching the rudders. That really put rudder usage in the back of my mind and I’m still fighting to remember to use them while turning in real life. And in real life at full power you really need to keep the right-rudder in to keep going straight. I just haven’t felt that need at all in the sim and have to dance between the left and right rudders to stay lined up on takeoff.

Unfortunately my settings recently got reset by one of the updates and I haven’t had a change to get them back how I want them. I did try to adjust the sensitivities to feel a bit more realistic after I started training but I hadn’t gotten it to feel quite “right”. Rudder feels way too sensitive most of the time, and… maybe it’s just my hardware (I got the yoke second hand) but I feel like my yoke is more sensitive pushing it forward than it is pulling back. I think I was at like -70% sensitivity on the yoke, but I believe I saw in a recent update that they changed controller sensitivity and that might not be necessary now.

I hope you get up in the air soon, there’s nothing like it! For the first month of training I just could not focus on work during the day… all I could think about was getting back up in the sky :stuck_out_tongue:

Edit: wow, that’s a wall of text… I like to share lol


Thanks for the great reply! Really makes me want to get into a real plane ASAP, but it probably won’t happen until next spring. I already know the feeling of not being able to focus on work, I get that way just dealing with the sim and all my side efforts to learn what will be needed for the written test, etc. :smile:

As of the last update they did some tweaks to the flight characteristics of most of the GA planes, and I now find that I do need to “step on the ball” more often. It doesn’t deflect too far, but it does deflect now. I’d read a post from someone else that said they had somehow concluded that adverse yaw is modeled in the sim and turns were actually uncoordinated, but it was the turn coordinator that was fubar and not reflecting this so without any other feedback mechanism it was hard to notice. It seems like they have fixed it at least somewhat.

I’ve read many debates about whether simming is bad or good for someone hoping to pursue a real PPL, but I love seeing real examples like yours where it certainly seems to have helped. I’ve been focusing as best as possible on trying to develop good habits like using the rudder, etc. I have no doubt that RL flying will be a lot different than flying in the sim, but I honestly can’t see how using this as a tool to learn before hitting a real plane wouldn’t give some kind of a head start.

Anyway, I too seem to have produced a wall of text here, lol. I’ll keep watching this thread in hopes that you continue to share your progress, and I’ll give a shout when I finally do climb into a real cockpit. Thanks again!

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Whew, had quite the windy lesson the other day! Watch me get bullied and beat up by the winds for a few landings. The first ‘landing’ we did a really low go-around to practice keeping the nose straight going down the runway in the wind. This lesson was… not really fun :stuck_out_tongue: That was the most challenging flying since I started training and it was exhausting…

But it must have helped! Because a few days later I had my best landing ever! Here’s a quick clip of that, you can barely even tell we touched the ground.

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Good job on the windy passes, you kept the nose aligned with the runway, good use of rudder!
Not so easy this flying stuff, ey? :smile:

You’ll be certified in no time! Then the real tricky bit starts: keeping flying and staying sharp!


Just remember when you are in real life it’s not a sim anymore. And things get shacky! Other than that , I used my fsx to practice the procedures and memorize the items of the checklist , specially the emergency ones. You won’t regret !

You start with a bag full of luck and another empty of experience. The idea is to full the empty one before the luck one gets empty!
Happy flying

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