For me at all started with VR. I was amazed at how good Elite Dangerous and Sim Racing games where for immersion so while on youtube I stumbled across Xplane 11 videos showing how you can “now” fly in VR. So I grabbed a copy and set about playing.
However the play soon turned to a deeper interest and I started to google about what it took to actually lean to fly VFR club style weekend piloting. I then settled on a plane that I thought was within reach should I wish to actually buy into one and finally found that same plane available for Xplane.
Like the IRISsimulations Jabiru the Ikarus C42 I bought was designed by a programmer who was actually learning to fly IRL so he had modelled it as close as he could to the real thing. I enjoyed playing with the aircraft and started to learn a bit about actually flying, or what people refer to as flying the numbers. I decided at this point I was definitely going to learn to fly IRL so I also bought a training pack from a well known supplier Pooleys.
This lead to reading about and understanding flight better and I googled and youtubed and generally absorbed as much as I could about various areas I was interested in - navigation, flying circuits and owning aircraft. I eventually signed up to a club and started flying for real. It was like a form of validation to me that the Sim was like real life. I loved it and continue to learn on Xplane to this day. But then came MSFS2020!
Now as I stated at the top its only VR I am interested in so I did not get MSFS2020 on release day, infact I waited until they announced VR was live and grabbed a copy. At first I could not get a good result in my headset at all, “unflyable”, stuttery mess was all I could achieve. I went from what I term normal settings 90hz - 100 across the board and medium settings and switched to the lowest settings 72hz - 60 across the board with low settings and still no luck. Finally stumbled on a thread that just worked and for me at least it was 80hz - forced ASW off - that made it all finally sing. At last I was off the starting blocks in MSFS202.
Now anyone from Xplane who flies VR will tell you, it looks OK with Orbx, it flies very well, solid VR performance BUT no weather and the shaders are iffy. So in MSFS its like wow,! Clouds, scenery, sunsets are all absolutely stunning, I literally get lost in myself each night flying VFR around areas I know, the scenes are stunning. There is no but here either, its just amazing.
So I came to Simulation because of VR, then I started to actually learn and realised I could practice and perfect that learning in my study… but now, now in MSFS2020 I suddenly find myself looking at other aircraft, I have never done that in xplane, its the Ikarus all the time. I dont want distractions (and to be fair there are not many in xplane) from learning to fly it and control it and it flies very very very similar to the club plane I learn in. I use it to practice before and after lessons, it really is very good and well modelled. Back to MSFS not only do I find myself looking at other aircraft I am now also flying in weather, I love it. For me in order to get solid performance Xplane is limited to clear days no wind, but here its live weather, other pilots, live traffic!!! Of course in the UK we get grounded, weather is a student pilots nemesis, but here who cares, 30mph cross wind no problem lets take out the Aerolite 120
So I started to use Simulators to learn how to fly, but now with MSFS2020 looking as good as it does I find my self flying to relax! Flying across a gorgeous landscapes with the mist settled in the hills, puffy clouds above you and the sun filtering through and setting is just jaw dropping. Its detracting from my studies but its also the carrot to actually get my licence and to get as close to the experience as possible IRL. Who knows maybe one day I will try a tube liner, for now the number of hours/days/months I’ve spent on business sat in those things no thank you, but hey never say never.