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Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid

If you’ve purchased a copy of Microsoft® Flight Simulator as a Training Aid: A Guide for Pilots, Instructors, and Virtual Aviators (ISBN 978-1-61954-049-1), published by ASA, or if you are curious about what this title has to offer, you’ve come to the right place.

This page provides details about the book, including:

If you have a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid, you can now earn WINGS credit from the FAA by completing a short quiz. You can register for the free online course (really just the quiz) at To learn more about the WINGS program, visit the same site. To learn more about Scenario-Based Training with X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator, my forthcoming book about using PC-based simulations to complement flight training, visit the title's page at the publisher's website.

You can purchase the book:

If you have questions about Microsoft Flight Simulator (e.g., system requirements, sources of technical support, improving performance on your system, updates, add-ons, etc.) please see Related Links on this page, the Flight Simulator page here at BruceAir, and the official Flight Simulator Insider site at Microsoft. You can also watch a product demo at the Flight Simulator X marketing website. To learn more about how how Flight Simulator is being used in aviation training, see Flight Simulator in Aviation Training here at BruceAir.

FS two-monitor configuration

Two-monitor setup in Flight Simulator (learn more here—.pdf)

Installing the BruceAir Practice Flights

BruceAir Flight ListSome of the information about how Flight Simulator X deals with with Flight files changed after I finished writing the book in the summer of 2006.

If you are using Flight Simualtor X, copy the Practice Flight files into the Flight Simulator X Files folder that’s a subfolder of your My Documents folder (not the subfolder of the Program FilesMicrosoft GamesFlight Simulator X folder). Make sure that you copy all of the individual .flt and .wx files—not the folders.

The simplest method for copying the BruceAir Practice Flights from the companion CD to your hard disk is explained in Installing the Practice Flights (.pdf), a document on the CD (see the guide to the contents of the CD below) that supplements the instructions in Chapter 7.

You can also download the document here by right-clicking this link and saving the .pdf file to your hard drive.

You also may want to review the topic "All About Flights" in the Flight Simulator Learning Center, regardless of whether you’re using Flight Simulator X or Flight Simulator 2004.

If you need help working with folders and files in Microsoft Windows, see Windows Basics on the Microsoft website.

Who Should Use This Book

Here’s a short list of those who can benefit from reading the book and from using the Practice Flights and other resources designed to work with it:

Table of Contents

Here’s a quick look inside the book:

Foreword by Rod Machado


  1. FS Book CoverAbout This Book
  2. Using Flight Simulator as a Training Aid
  3. Best Practices for Using Flight Simulator
  4. Flight Simulator Essentials
  5. Advanced “Training Features” in Flight Simulator
  6. Differences Between Flight Simulator 2004 and Flight Simulator X
  7. About the Practice Flights
  8. Flying the Aircraft Used In the Practice Flights
  9. Supplemental Information and Web Links
  10. Introduction to the VFR Practice Flights
  11. Sample Briefings for VFR Practice Flights
  12. Introduction to the IFR Practice Flights
  13. Sample Briefings for IFR Practice Flights
  14. Creating Your Own Practice Flights

Using Flight Simulator Effectively

As you can see from the Table of Contents above, the book addresses many topics, including details about how to use the BruceAir Practice Flights on the companion CD.

It’s worth noting here, however, that Chapters 2 and 3 address many general questions that the aviation community often raises about the use of PC-based simulations. They offer detailed answers, advice, and suggestions based on my experience working with aviation training organizations and my own students.

Chapter 2, “Using Flight Simulator as a Training Aid,” discusses the following topics:

Chapter 3, “Best Practices for Using Flight Simulator,” provides specific advice and examples to help pilots and instructors use Flight Simulator effectively, including detailed discussions of the following topics:

What You Need

FSX DeluxeAlthough many of the general recommendations described in the book could apply to other PC-based flight simulations and training devices, I assume you have Microsoft Flight Simulator, specifically either:

You should be running Windows XP through Windows 8. More information about system requirements is available from Microsoft here.

Logitech joystickTo fly BruceAir Practice Flights that use the Garmin G1000 “glass cockpit,” you must have the deluxe version of Flight Simulator X. No add-on aircraft, additional scenery, or other enhancements are required to use the BruceAir Practice Flights discussed in the book.

To learn more about the G1000 in Flight Simulator X, see "Using the G1000" on the FSInsider website.

You also need an appropriate computer, a mouse, and a joystick or flight yoke. For more information about PCs, joysticks, and yokes, see the Microsoft Flight Simulator page here at BruceAir. You may also want to read my reviews of joysticks, yokes, throttles, and other products here at BruceAir.

To view the documents (which are in .pdf format) on the companion CD you need the free Adobe Reader utility.

Resources for Pilots and Virtual Aviators

Chapter 9, “Supplemental Information and Web Links," is an annotated guide to my favorite (and mostly free) online resources for pilots and virtual aviators. You can find the complete set of links on the Aviation Resources page here at BruceAir.

Aviation Book Collage

About the BruceAir Practice Flights

Microsoft® Flight Simulator as a Training Aid: A Guide for Pilots, Instructors, and Virtual Aviators includes a companion CD with more than 150 VFR and IFR Practice Flights for Microsoft Flight Simulator to help you use the simulation easily and efficiently. As explained in Chapter 6, “About the Practice Flights”:

The goal of each Practice Flight is to make it easy to learn about and practice a specific skill or task, such as basic attitude instrument flying, VOR navigation, entering and flying traffic patterns, entering and maintaining a holding pattern, or flying a particular type of instrument approach procedure. The Practice Flights provide starting points for a wide range of situations useful in training for VFR and IFR flying. In fact, the Practice Flights are designed to complement training syllabi typically used in formal flight training.

Most of the Practice Flights begin the air, with the airplane in position to fly an approach, practice basic flight maneuvers, rehearse VOR navigation skills, and so forth.

You can find additional BruceAir Practice Flights and Bruce IFR Skills Flights here at

All of the Practice Flights use the Cessna 172 Skyhawk or the Beechcraft BE58 Baron, but you can switch to any airplane in the Flight Simulator hangar before you start “flying.”

Practice Flight NamesLoading and using a Practice Flight is as easy as opening a Word document or visiting a Web page, regardless of whether you use Flight Simulator X or Flight Simulator 2004.

The Practice Flights use a consistent file-naming convention so that they sort together in the list of flights and are easy to distinguish. The list of Practice Flights (see below) includes the names of the preflight briefings and charts associated with each Practice Flight, and it also suggests categories of lessons and drills that each Practice Flight can support.

Each Practice Flight name begins with “BruceAir” and an abbreviation indicating whether it is a VFR or IFR Practice Flight. The identifier for the nearest airport or navaid follows. If the goal of a Practice Flight is to learn about an instrument procedure, the procedure title and transition come next. Finally, the file name includes the type of aircraft and an index number to distinguish among Practice Flights that share the same purpose, location, and aircraft, but differ in time of day, weather, or other factors.

The list of BruceAir Practice Flights provides more information about each flight, plus the names of the preflight briefing and charts associated with that flight.

You can find more BruceAir IFR Practice Flights for Microsoft Flight Simulator here at BruceAir.

Samples from the Companion CD

CD ContentsThe companion CD includes charts, preflight briefings, and other resources to enhance the Practice Flights.

Many of the resources, including all of the BruceAir Practice Flights (but not all of the Preflight Briefings and charts) from the companion CD are available for download from a SkyDrive folder.

To view the documents (which are in .pdf format) you need the free Adobe Reader utility. Some of the items are collected in .zip files.

The OneDrive folder includes the following items:

Other Resources on the Companion CD

The companion CD includes (in .pdf format) excerpts from or complete editions of FAA training handbooks and official references, such as the Aeronautical Information Manual, the Pilot/Controller Glossary, the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide, Air Traffic Control, and Contractions. Each preflight briefing lists the excerpts relevant to a specific set of Practice Flights. The CD also includes glossaries of aviation terminology from the training handbooks. Follow this link to the full list of references and other resources on the CD.

The FAA breaks most of these titles into a series of files, sometimes making them awkward to read and search. To solve that problem, I've merged the separate PDF files for the most important books available from the FAA and posted the complete volumes in one of my SkyDrive folders. Now you can explore the complete texts without having to open multiple files.

You can use the links in the following list to download the complete training handbooks in .pdf format from the FAA website. If you prefer real books, ASA offers reprints of many titles.

To learn about more books and other (mostly free) aviation resources available on the Web, visit Aviation Resources here at BruceAir.

Microsoft Flight Simulator Essentials

Using FS PowerPointThe companion CD includes a self-paced Microsoft PowerPoint show, “Using Flight Simulator Essentials,” that explains key features and offers tips to help you get the most out of Flight Simulator.

The CD includes the Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer that lets you view the interactive presentation even if you don’t have PowerPoint installed on your system.

If you prefer to hold paper in your hands, the CD also includes a .pdf version of the presentation that you can print for reference.

You can download that .pdf version from the CD contents directory at my SkyDrive folders. Follow this link to save the 7 Mb .pdf file to your hard drive.

On the CD you will also find a list of key commands (.pdf), a reference to essential Flight Simulator commands and features that you can print and keep handy as you fly.

I’ve also collected other flying aids that I find useful on the Goodies for Pilots page here at BruceAir.

Errata and Corrections

The first copies of Microsoft® Flight Simulator as a Training Aid: A Guide for Pilots, Instructors, and Virtual Aviators appeared in early January 2007. Inevitably, the first printing contains a few glitches, which I note below.

My New Book about PC-Based Simulations

My new book about using PC-based simulations to complement flight training was published in January 2012. To learn more about Scenario-Based Training with X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator: Using PC-Based Flight Simulations based on FAA and Industry Training Standards (ISBN: 978-1-1181-0502-3), visit the title's pages here at BruceAir and at Wiley & Sons.

Reviews from Readers


“Lots of good solid information, well written and thought out; I would recommend it highly.”

“This is a well written book and a good introduction to FS as a Training Aid. I am a private pilot and have been using FS since its inception. I have always had difficulty convincing instructors (ground and flight) and fellow pilots to review the program and perhaps use it as an adjunct in their training. Bruce Williams, an accomplished pilot, CFI, and at one time on the developer team of MS Flight Simulator does a great job of explaining how it can be of assistance to both the student AND the instructor.”

Read a review (PDF) of Microsoft® Flight Simulator as a Training Aid: A Guide for Pilots, Instructors, and Virtual Aviators by Dudley Henriques of the International Fighter Pilots Fellowship.


“Having owned every version of MSFS, I was skeptical about shelling out over $20 on another "add-on" book. However, as a new Private Pilot and aspiring CFI, I wondered if someone had really delivered on making MSFS a more meaningful training aid for student pilots. Williams has certainly done it. The book and its accompanying compliation CD are great; well worth the cost. I’d recommend it to any user of Flight Sim.”