Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?

One of the good things to come out of 2020 for flying simulator enthusiasts and new players alike was the new release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator.

The 2020 edition is the new title in the series of simulation-based games that have been released since 1992 on Windows platforms.

You can fly highly detailed and stunning aircraft in an incredibly realistic world from light planes to wide-body jets. What sets this release apart from the previous titles is the addition of real-world data to the game, and I don’t just mean that some of the airports are photorealistic.

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?
Microsoft Flight Simulator

The entire globe has been mapped using advanced artificial intelligence mapping that utilizes real-world raw data to include most, if not all, of the buildings present in real life. Before you ask, yes, you could probably spot your house too.

Do not mistake Microsoft’s offering to be only limited to open-world adventures because at its core, Microsoft flight simulator 2020 is still a simulator.

Even though the new version is more welcoming to rookie players who have never touched a flight sim before, the game still offers vast amounts of technicalities that are better suited to veteran simulator pilots.

With so many highly articulate features offering an immersive experience to the player, one can not stop but think can you learn how to fly an actual plane using Flight Simulator 2020?

Surely I wouldn’t be the only one thinking this, given how the previous versions have been praised by actual pilots for being so in-depth. With the addition of real-world data surely this edition would be the most lifelike out of the bunch.

The question remains, can you train to be a real pilot and learn how to fly using Microsoft Flight Simulator?

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 alone cannot train you to be a pilot, but it is a very good medium to practice once it is set up with the proper peripherals and Flight Simulator 2020 can certainly help you practice in off sessions.

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?
Microsoft Flight Simulator

Read on to find out how actual pilots train, what they feel about FS2020 and you can follow through the same setup with this guide but before that you need to know how Flight Simulator came to be what it is today.

1. How Flight Simulator 2020 Shaped Up

Microsoft Flight Simulator started as a set of articles on computer graphics, composed by Bruce Artwick, all through 1976, about flight recreation utilizing 3-D illustrations.

With increasing demand and support, Artwick established and sold pilot training programs through mail requests.

It all changed in January 1979 with the arrival of Flight Simulator (FS) for the Apple II. From that point on, it shaped a long-running arrangement of PC flight simulators.

What started in 1979 has come a long way with the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020; it was compounded by the fact that the last release, Flight Simulator X, came out 2006, more than 14 years ago!

It’s noteworthy, without a doubt, exactly how incomprehensibly things have transformed from the principal game to the most recent in the Microsoft Flight Simulator establishment. Innovation has certainly taken jumps and limits since.

Microsoft Flight Simulator: A History

2. How Microsoft FS 2020 Literally Changed the World

The new Flight Simulator 2020 includes over 37 thousand airports, 2 million cities, 1.5 billion buildings, terrains, roads, and much more that takes your flying experience to a whole new level. Not to mention the endless list of aircraft at your disposal.

The ability to fly to almost anywhere in the real world is what sets Flight Simulator 2020 apart from the other simulators out there.

You can theoretically perform rolls over your own house and even land on the street out front if it’s wide enough and your spirit adventurous enough!

The gameworld will not be just random gibberish, but Bordeaux-based, Asobo Studio, reinvents gameplay fundamentals by utilizing Microsoft Azure’s satellite data and artificial intelligence (AI) to portray accurate locales.

FS2020 makes use of numerous datasets in real-time, creating an experience set to disrupt the simulation space.

The overhaul is not limited to the world, but even the graphics look beautiful, everything from the town to the airports to the interiors is designed to take your breath away.

With all these additions, Microsoft Flight SImulator 2020 inches closer to being the de facto simulator to train pilots, but there are some things that a simulator cannot teach; let’s take a look at what exactly you need to start flying a plane.

3. What Do Real Pilots Go through?

In order to get a personal pilot’s license, it is not as easy as walking through the DMV and picking up the nearest plane to showcase your skills.

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?
Microsoft Flight Simulator

It is a tad bit harder than that, and simply learning how to fly the Cessna 172 in FS2020 won’t help you get all the way.

To get a general idea of what steps would you need to hold a private flying license, ATP, one of the largest flying schools, outlays the following roadmap:

1. Researching and Enrolling in a Flight School

Both private and commercial pilots would need to go through a flight school, and these flight schools cover everything from top to bottom about flying.

2. Take an Introductory Training Flight

Before you start your training, you are given a training flight that gives you some examples of what to expect from your flight school of choice.

3. Getting an FAA Medical Certificate & Student Pilot Certificate

All pilots are expected to meet high standards of medical fitness and a student certificate from the FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) to start training solo later in training.

4. Start Flight Training Lessons & Pass the Knowledge and Practical Tests

After you complete your training you will have to pass two separate tests which test your theoretical and practical knowledge (which will also include a flight portion). After which you will finally be a private pilot.

All this may sound overwhelming and commercial pilots flying the bigger flights must go through a more stringent process. The general process remains the same as above, and specifics may vary from country to country.

Coming back to FS2020, this all is not to say that Microsoft Flight Simulator lacks any simulator features.

Still, it is that the industry level sims are a tad bit more advanced, and to get your setup as close as possible to that, you need first to get a feel for the real deal. Find out below.

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?
Microsoft Flight Simulator

4. Simulators Used in Flight Schools

Simulators play an important role in flight schools, as you can not just chuck new students into the cockpit and expect them to learn, I for one, would be too terrified to learn anything.

Whereas in an artificial flight simulator with no fear to crash, students can learn better.

These simulators are quite different from when you fire up Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, using a keyboard and a mouse. The only aspect the two would share is that they both have some sense of a display.

The simulators in flight schools use actual sticks and yokes to stimulate real flying experience. Combine this with hydraulic suspensions to give the student feedback as one would feel in an actual flight.

From the outside, these fully equipped sims are nothing short of being from a futuristic space movie.

Not to be discouraged that your current FF2020 setup doesn’t look quite as close, it is possible to make a similar setup with commercially available instruments and gamepads, as seen below.

Numerous actual pilots come home and train using Microsoft Flight Simulator. Lucky for us, some of them even stream on Youtube and Twitch.

5. Actual Pilots on Microsoft Flight SImulator 2020

  1. V1-Simulations is a real-world Pilot currently flying the narrow-body Airbus fleet, an avid flight sim enthusiast, and an aviation fan. Videos on the channel range from GA, helicopters, and everything.
REAL Airbus Captain FLIGHT TEST | FS2020 Airbus A320 NEO | How REAL is it?!
Real Airbus Captain Flight Test

2. Catstrator (Twitch) has been a “flightsimmer” for the last 5+ years as well as a gamer. He provides an insightful and entertaining view of the world of flight simulation.

3. Emilie is a Captain on the Dash 8/Q400 at a regional airline in Canada; she posts on youtube at “Pilot Emilie” about various flying sims and life.

REAL PILOT Tries Flight Simulator 2020 | Dash 8-Q400 Captain FIRST LOOK | Failed Landing Challenge??
Real Pilot tries Flight Simulator

Thus, Flight Simulator 2020 is not a far cry from the real deal with the right equipment, well as much as a real deal you can get while sitting in your home’s comforts.

We’ve compiled a list of the best equipment you need to set up, to get the best possible flying rig.

6. Setting Up Your Own Flying Rig

Gone are the times when these peripherals were used only by actual pilots looking to fly off duty. With the release of FS2020, more and more people are looking to get in flight sims, and the following gear is all you need to set up your rig.

  1. Yoke VS. Joystick

The first order of business would be to get an input device for your aircraft’s basic controls.

The only two choices here are the yoke and a joystick. The joystick is considerably cheaper than a yoke setup but given since most FF2020 aircraft are yoke based, the realism will not be mich accurate.

If you’re on a tight budget, a joystick with a throttle setup would be the one to go.

A joystick feels natural to gamers and is precise. Even the 30-40$ Logitech 3D is a fan favorite given its precise sensors. A Thrustmaster TCA SIDESTICK is another worthy candidate to consider if you decide to go the joystick way.

A yoke with a throttle setup will provide a more realistic cockpit feel but harder to store when not in use; for FF2020, I’d personally lean towards a yoke just to get that cockpit feel. You can even get a secondary throttle for multi-engine aircraft.

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?
Logitech Pro Flight Yoke System

The Honeycomb Aeronautical Alpha Flight Controls and the Logitech Pro Flight Yoke System are good to control systems listed in order of price.

2. Getting Serious: Flight Pedals

For most, getting a yoke or a joystick is enough, but add flight pedals in the mix, and people know that you’re not someone to mess with.

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?
Thrustmaster TPR Pendular

The flight pedals control the rudder of the aircraft. They help when you’re taxiing to your designated runway and even while you’re in the air.

People usually overlook pedals as they start at over $100, and considering how boring their descriptions are, I would not defend them much. Still, they are quintessential in completing the cockpit experience.

The T. Flight Rudder Pedals are a good budget option and if you have some extra cash(By extreme, I mean four times extra), go for the Thrustmaster TPR Pendular Rudder, which is as smooth as butter.

3. Going All In: Instrument Panels

At this, the only thing standing between you and a full-fledged cockpit is the flashy instrument panels. Sure, you can enable the panels on the screen, but why waste screen space when you can utilize table space!

Can Microsoft Flight Simulator Teach You How To Fly?
Logitech G Saitek Pro Flight Instrument Panel

The flight simulator community’s staple is the Logitech G Saitek Pro Flight Instrument panel with the Logitech G Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel and Flight Instrument Panel being essential additions.

Before you Proceed, BEWARE! None of the additional flight panels works as of now with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. No information is out if these will be supported in the future or not, but I expect Microsoft will soon add support for these too shortly.

7. Give It To Me Straight: Can I Fly The Plane I Have Standing In The Backyard Or Not?

Okay there, cowboy, you’ve got yourself a plane and all the necessary gear but the only thing you lack is the knowledge of flight.

To start learning you first need to practice on a simulator and you certainly can not add hydraulic suspensions to your gaming desk (Or can you? Hmm, that bed looks big enough) to get the feedback, big fight simulators provide in-flight schools, but it is not a far cry either.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 alone cannot train you to be a pilot, but it is a very good medium to practice once you set it up with proper peripherals and can certainly help you practice in off sessions.

8. About Microsoft Flight Simulator

Developed by Asobo Studio, Microsoft Flight Simulator is an Amateur Flight Simulation game available for Microsoft Windows. It will also be launched later for platforms like Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

By utilizing intricate topographic data from Bing Maps along with real time weather forecasts, one will surely be flummoxed by setting eyes upon the game’s phenomenal optic spectacle. Its almost unjustified to call this masterpiece a simulator when its life-like realistic. From incorporating snow-bested mountain range to clamoring towns and cities, almost every little detail of this gem is breathtaking.

Not only are the graphics authentic, its gameplay too is hair-splitting and diligent. From take off and landing to engine inspection; Everything should be looked into with perfection. One will have to get used to the physics of the game along with figuring out how to travel by utilizing VFR navigation.

Innumerable challenges, dares and missions are also incorporated in order to further spice things up along with a worldwide leaderboard to see and compare the progress of countless other pilots.


Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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