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More Practice Flights for Microsoft® Flight Simulator

KYKM IFROne of the great joys of flying is that no matter how many hours you’ve logged and certificates and ratings you’ve earned, there’s always more to learn, and you can constantly improve your flying skills.

To help you explore additional challenges, especially those involving IFR flying, I’m creating additional BruceAir Practice Flights to complement the exercises provided on the companion CD included with Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid. Of course, you’ll get the greatest benefit from and enjoy these new Practice Flights more if you have a copy of the book, which provides both useful general background and specific advice for aviators using Flight Simulator as training aid.

But you can utilize these additional BruceAir Practice Flights, available for download here at BruceAir, as stand-alone exercises to help you develop, hone, and retain flying skills—especially the mental agility that is the foundation of all piloting tasks. You can also use these Practice Flights as “tests of skill” to see how well your knowledge of IFR theory, procedures, and cockpit skills is holding up. As I explain in Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid, you don’t always have to "fly" these BruceAir Practice Flights to benefit from using them. The Practice Flights can also serve as tools to explore IFR procedures during classroom sessions and preflight and postflight briefings.

Virtual aviators—Flight Simulator hobbyists—can benefit from studying and “flying” these Practice Flights, too. I know that many hard-core Flight Simulator enthusiasts enjoy airline flying in transport-category aircraft, but those looking for new virtual flying challenges may want to explore these Practice Flights. Flying solo in a piston-powered airplane under IFR is perhaps the most demanding type of flying, short of air combat, that most pilots will ever experience.

IFR Flying Challenges

I’ve created these supplemental Practice Flights specifically to highlight interesting and demanding procedures for pilots who already understand the fundamentals of IFR flying. These exercises take you beyond plain-vanilla, vectors-to-the-FAF, straight-in approaches. The Practice Flights focus on airports with complex procedures, often required to accommodate obstacles and terrain, and I’ve set up the initial conditions on the assumption that ATC will clear you to fly charted routes transitions without the benefit of a controller’s guiding hand.

Please understand that I can’t provide individual instruction via email about the details of flying the procedures for these Practice Flights or using Flight Simulator. If you have questions about the procedures, IFR flying techniques, or Flight Simulator, please review the background information in Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid and the resources available here at, and consult an instrument flight instructor.

Sources of Background Information

For more information about the Flights feature in Flight Simulator, see Chapter 7, “About the Practice Flights,” in Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid. Also see the topic “Flights” in the Microsoft Flight Simulator Learning Center (also available in the Learning Center section of the official Flight Simulator Insider website).

Voyager LogoCharts and other data, for use only for virtual flying and the BruceAir Practice Flights, are reproduced with permission of Seattle Avionics, Inc., publisher of the Voyager Flight Software System, which includes a feature to export flight plans to Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Obviously, you must be properly trained, rated, and current and use valid charts and other information when you fly IFR procedures in the real world. In other words, these BruceAir Practice Flights are useful as aids to help you understand and rehearse representative types of IFR procedures, but they are not intended to train or prepare you to fly specific routes, approaches, or departures.

The background information provided with each set of Practice Flights refers to specific sections of the FARs, AIM, and other resources for pilots and instructors. Excerpts from public-domain resources such as the FAA training handbooks are provided as .pdf files on the CD and website for Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid. For detailed descriptions of the resources, see Chapter 1, “About this Book,” and Chapter 9, “Supplemental Information,” in Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid. You can also find links to these references on the Aviation Resources and Flight Simulator as Training Aid pages here at

These Practice Flights reflect the procedures in effect when I created the flights. Some of the information that they’re based on may be out of date, and the database in Microsoft Flight Simulator is not revised to include the additions, corrections, and deletions incorporated in databases and charts required for real flight. If you compare the charts provided with these Practice Flights with current aeronautical charts and data, you may find that some procedures, navaid frequencies, altitudes, and other details are no longer valid or correct. In particular, note that GPS procedures published after a specific version of Microsoft Flight Simulator was developed are not included in the Flight Simulator database for the GPS. For more information about these issues, see “The Flight Simulator Database and IFR Procedures” in Chapter 2, “Using Flight Simulator as a Training Aid,” in Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid.

What You Need To Use These Flights

FSX BoxTo fly the Practice Flights, you need Microsoft Flight Simulator, specifically either:

You should be running either Windows (version XP SP2 through Windows 8).

You also need an appropriate computer, a mouse, and a joystick or yoke. For more information about PCs, joysticks, and yokes, see the Microsoft Flight Simulator and Product Reviews pages here at BruceAir.

IFR Procedures at Yakima, WA (KYKM)

KYKM SectionalThe Yakima Air Terminal/McAllister Field (KYKM), located just east of the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington state, presents a pilot with a variety of challenging IFR procedures, including ILS, VOR, VOR-DME, GPS, and Localizer-BC approaches. The approaches include DME arcs, step-down fixes, high-workload transitions, and other features required to create procedures in an area bounded by high terrain, restricted airspace, and other constraints. You can explore similar challenges by flying the IFR departure procedures at KYKM.

(“Yakima,” by the way, is pronounced “YAK-uh-mah.” Say “yak-KEE-mah” and the natives will immediately know that you’re not from around those parts, which boast fine vineyards and wineries, plus some of the world’s leading hops producers—all good reasons to visit Yakima in a real airplane, provided that you can stay overnight....)

The Practice Flights available in this section begin with your aircraft ready to fly the IFR procedures at KYKM listed below. You can find copies of the approach and departure charts at SkyVector via the preceding link.

All of the BruceAir Practice Flights for the approaches begin in the air, with the autopilot ON in HDG and ALT modes and with the simulation paused. To start the simulation, press the P key. When you want to hand-fly the aircraft, disengage the autopilot by clicking the AP button the autopilot in the avionics stack, or press the Z key.

To learn more about essential skills for using the Practice Flights with Flight Simulator, see “Microsoft Flight Simulator Essentials” on the Flight Simulator page at, where you can download a .pdf version of a self-paced PowerPoint presentation to help you master virtual flying skills, plus quick-reference guides and other resources.

KYKM Departures:

Your aircraft is positioned near the departure end of runway 27; you can fly any of the departures and published transitions from that starting point.

To practice departing from another runway, change to Top-Down View and use the Slew feature to move the aircraft to an appropriate takeoff position.

KYKM Approaches:

List of Practice Flights for KYKM

The titles of the BruceAir Practice Flights use the naming convention described in Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid and on the Flight Simulator as Training Aid page here at BruceAir. Each name identifies the airport, procedure, starting point (a named fix on the approach chart), and type of aircraft for the flight.

Installing the Practice Flights for KYKM

Copy the Practice Flights to your hard drive. Follow the instructions from Installing the Practice Flights.

If you haven’t logged enough file and folder operations to keep your PC and Windows skills current, you can learn about how to work with folders and files on the Windows website.

The Practice Flights themselves are available in two .zip folders, one set for Flight Simulator 2004, the other for Flight Simulator X. Right-click the link below for the set for your version of Flight Simulator and save the .zip file to your hard drive. Follow the instructions in BruceAir-KYKM-PracticeFlights.pdf to set up the Practice Flights for use with Flight Simulator.

Visualizing Holding Pattern Entries

If, like many pilots, you break into a sweat when cleared to enter a hold, check out "Visualizing Holding Pattern Entries," a .pdf version (6.7 Mb) of PowerPoint show that you can download from the Goodies for Pilots page here at BruceAir. The interactive PowerPoint show is included on the CD that accompanies Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid.

FS Book Cover