What bad habits does MSFS encourage for real world pilots?

I am curious as a simmer with around 50 hours experience what bad habits I am picking up using MSFS. I know I sometimes skip through the preflight check-lists. Also I think MSFS is rather forgiving on my hard landings. I am sure no one would rent me a plane in real life ! Let’s hear some more …


It’s conditioning me to ignore anything ATC tells me to do!


Trimming it was for me. My Flight instructor got pretty mad as i learned myself to trim in the wrong way and it was hard to get rid of that behavior. :slight_smile:


The VS chasing that‘s encouraged in the landing challenges is the worst habit of sim pilots. A correctly flown flare by the aircraft manual ensures a safe and firm landing, everything else becomes dangerous quickly for numerous reasons.

Trim unfortunately doesn‘t have any alternatives as our hardware controls don‘t move by themselves, they are spring centered. Correctly moving force feedback controls would enable a correct trim implementation.


Exactly, the lack of Force Feedback encourages bad habits on trimming, atleast for me.
Also, flightsims teached me to fly the plane with the trimwheel too much.

IRL, you lift or lower the nose first to the point you want it to have, then apply some trim, let off the yoke and see what the nose is doing and then pull/push the yoke again and apply trim, till it is where you want it.

In the sim i tend to just trim till the nose is where i want it to be. But i could get rid of it finally and now im trying to do it the same way in the sim. But the lack of force on the yoke is a missing factor one has IRL.


If I would trim that way IRL, my passengers would throw up!

Continously trimming to remove the force required to hold the stick/yoke in its off-center position works IRL and in the sim, at least for me.


Hehe, why? Thats how my CFI learned it to me, we are talking about C172 here.
How would you do it?

MSFS is a great tool to learn about aviation, how aircraft and their systems work etc. It might even be used to enhance flying skills once you ALREADY have some real world experience, know the right techniques and the pitfalls of using a flight simulator for training. The most common problems I came across as an instructor:

  • Using made-up MSFS ATC phraseology
  • Using the trim wrong, i.e. instead of removing “permanent” control forces, using small bursts of trim to fly the plane.
  • Improper instrument scans, using performance instruments to control the plane instead of controlling instruments.
  • Using instrument references instead of visual references and not looking out while flying VFR.
  • Wrong landing techniques, improper speed and glidepath management on final approach.

The list goes on and on, basically you don’t know what you don’t know and those voids are being filled with made-up theories and techniques which then become habit and hard to unlearn. It doesn’t apply to everybody of course, but it is risky.

For me Xplane and FSX have been very useful during type ratings during which I used to buy a proper 3rd party version of the plane as a procedure trainer, learn the flows, checklists, procedures, location of controls and buttons etc. I have never used a flight simulator for the flying aspect of it.


Ah yeah, thats kinda how it is, guess i didnt explain it not correctly. Thats why i mentioned the lack of force which is important for trimming.


flying without shoes


I never understood this lack of force complaint.
All joysticks i know are self centering, hence you need to apply force to keep them off-center.

Thats btw the reason why the Gladiator NXT at least doubles realism in flight sims compared to e.g. the T16000M.

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Since i got me a Honeycomb Yoke, it feels much much better i have to admit. TheSaitek i had was horrible, but i only realised that after i upgraded. The Honeycomb needs much more force and gives me a much better feel than the Saitek gave me. Id love a FFB yoke tho, but the prices are insane…


I know people who do that IRL…

Flying while drinking beer :slight_smile:


Where I flew (back in the day) this was the issue that the instructors agreed was the most common and most obvious bad behavior from flight sim users. Of course this was back in the days of FS95 or before … so there wasn’t much to look out at :rofl: I learned my flight simulator bad habits pretty much as my real flying was coming to an end. It’s great to finally have graphics good enough for VFR worldwide.

All I need now is for Just Flight to add the Tomahawk to their Piper line up…


Ignore aircraft to aircraft collision is a habit in msfs but means death!


Maybe VR also makes a difference since it is easier to actually look around.


What a great topic! Thank you!

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Hold the nose where it should be and trim to release the force. There is no need to take the hands off the controls to see where it goes if you have a bit of sense in your hand. Trim is not a flight control, it just neutralizes control forces. There are certain maneuvres for example when flying in thermals with a glider where you can trim slightly to the back (note that I don‘t write up) but that belongs rather to the „tipps and tricks“ section.

What you explained has become relatively common with the addition of electric trim to the yoke or stick to small aircraft, you just need to move the thumb and don‘t have to take any effort with your arm muscles. But if you‘re on approach and have to move your arm from the throttle to the trim wheel in a C172 all the time trim gets a different meaning. Or when your right hand is flying a glider with the left hand pulling the spoilers.

Below the line the airplane shall never surprise you but that‘s exactly what it does when you take the hands off to check the nose.


Thanks for your input. Of course i did not meant to say “take the hands off” in this sense, more like “release the pressure” on it. I didnt explaint it well, obviously. :slight_smile:

“removing the force required to hold the yoke in its off-center position”, as PLZ said above, was more the term i was looking for. :slight_smile:

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