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I want to get to know the 172!


Shadepiece
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Hello gents,

 

This fall, after my recent separation from the military, I hope to embark on a Professional Piloting Degree program with the Community College of Beaver County in Pennsylvania. I am very anxious and excited to get in the air for real!

 

I know there are some downright fantastic simulators out there for GA aircraft, and I want to hear your guy's suggestions on how to get into it. I really know just about nothing about these GA sims, and could really use a guide to which one is the best for me. Through the school I will be up in Cessna 172R's and S's therefore, I am looking to grab the best 172 sim I can get my hands on.

 

Disclaimer! I understand that a simulation isn't the real thing. I also understand that simulations can sometimes develope bad habits when you get in the real thing however, I think being familiar with the aircraft that I'll be dealing with is worth it for me as it will really allow me to feel like I'm not just starting completely from scratch.

 

That said, I want to pick up the BEST sim that is out there, and from what I've read the A2A C 172 is hands down the best you can get with a close second being from Air-foil labs. I also have heard of FSX, Prep3d, and MFS 11 but I really know nothing about any of those sims or how the modules plug into them. I would really appreciate some help on where to begin.

 

Thank you,

-Shadepiece

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My personal choice is the a2a 172 with prepare3d.  Yes, sims can cause bad habits, but they are great for learning check lists and flow checks.  The a2a also has a walk around, so you can see some of the stuff you'll be looking at when you do the real one.  Outside of just flying around for fun, I primarily use mine to practice instrument stuff, ie: approaches, hold entries, ect.

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Yes you have to buy both.  For A2A I own all 4 GA aircraft, and several of Carenado aircraft, plus the PMDG 737 series.  All three of those companies are superb for their aircraft.    I would also suggest the Opus weather generator (but some people swear by HiFi Active Sky - which is on a 30% off sale right now) for P3d as well (P3d doesn't have one), and eventually the REX scenery sets.  Now everything that I'm throwing at you right now is $1000s, but you dont need all of it right away, just the Sim, the A2A acft and a weather generator.

 

Brit, if you're familiar with FSX, all P3D is is a VERY updated version of that sim.

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I've read a lot of good things about the X Plane 11 Reality Expansion Pack for the 172, and for the price point it seems to be very competitive to the A2A.

 

@Butzell I have heard! The checklists are the real thing and are provided with both the XP11 and P3D 172's. I figure getting some familiarity with them would do me well.

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I read up on X-Plane 11, and I decided to go with the REP (Reality Expansion Pack) for the 172. Both the base sim and the REP are currently on sale, so gor $55 I thought it would be the ideal entry into GA sims. There is a walk-around and pre-flight feature as with the A2A. I would love to get the A2A and the Airfoil labs 172 as well just to compare and get a well rounded feel, but for the sale price on the REP and XP11 I felt it couldn't be beat.

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A few items:

1 - Go for it!

2 - If you are eyeballing the UAV option, don't. Legit employers couldn't care less. BS fly-by-night operations might but you don't want to get near that crap anyway. 

3 - Just get Microsoft Flight Simulator X. It's dirt cheap at this point and you really won't need any more than that as it will have the G1000 C-172 in it I believe. Use it to get the buttonology down. Find out what the school is flying. THE FLYING ISN'T THE HARD PART. I can't stress that enough. The hard part is the academics and even that's not all that hard. 

4 - Don't stop at a two year degree. Use your entire benefit. I know you're probably under that Forever GI Bill (which I am unbelievable jealous and pissed about - we all should have gotten grandfathered into that). Finish CCBC with a killer GPA and do your 3rd and 4th year at CMU or Pitt WE ARE PENN STATE! If you play your cards right you can CFI at University Park while you finish your AS/BS. Or stay right there and go to Penn State Beaver (not as awesome - only 7 degree options available there). 

4a - The reason I say that is the moment you take your foot off the gas with school the harder it is to get back into it. 

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S!

Gen, I never flew P3D or FSX and have few experience with civil fly sim so I can't compare them with XP but I think there are a lot of youtube comparation videos about. I chose XP because my friend uses and told me it is nice to learn how to fly in comercial and private real world. While he was getting his private pilot's brief he flew XP (C172 Skyhawk) for training purpose, and it works very well, second him.

Any way, the VATSIM (https://www.vatsim.net/) and IVAO (https://www.ivao.aero/) network are compatible with XP11, FSX ands P3D so I think you can go for any with the same results.

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Wow Trev, that is incredible advice. I definitely feel so much more comfortable to have you gents to guide me a bit as I get into this. I am really excited for it, and very anxious to get stuck right in. I think this will be a positive outlet for my excitement.

 

It would also be beneficial to get a jump on the academic side of things as well, but I'm really not sure what all that entails.

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Wow Trev, that is incredible advice. I definitely feel so much more comfortable to have you gents to guide me a bit as I get into this. I am really excited for it, and very anxious to get stuck right in. I think this will be a positive outlet for my excitement.

 

It would also be beneficial to get a jump on the academic side of things as well, but I'm really not sure what all that entails.

1 - Take the math assessment test. If you're weak, you want to know that right away and fix that quick. If you have to take 000 level math to get in the groove, do it, no matter how stupid you feel. Trust me on this one. 

2 - Go on their website and see what the required coursework is for each track you may consider. For instance:

http://www.ccbc.edu/professionalpilot

3 - Apply and get accepted.

4- Get an advising appointment with a faculty adviser in your field of study. IF they assign you an advisor from anthropology or whatever, they're just going to give you the cookbook version. Find someone you can sit down and talk with about what exactly you want to do. 

4- Register for classes. 

5 - Get with the school's filing official (usually someone in admissions/registrar or veteran student affairs or something with a similar name. Usually this is done before the previous semester is over. Not to worry though, you'll just do it when you register for classes. Even if it's a week late the VA will give you the back pay on the BAH. 

6 - get with the others that are ahead of you in the program and get as much inside gouge as you can. You've been out of the world a while, so you know what to do: develop a network of people to study with. 

7 - Health insurance. Don't get the student health insurance through the school it doesn't cover shit. Another 'trust me on this one' type situations. Get over to the local VA CBOC and sign up ASAP. 

 

Question: Are you ready to start in the fall?

 

The academic plan they have has you taking physics 1 in the third semester. I'm assuming it's algebra based and not calculus based so you should be OK if you did well on the college algebra (or higher).

 

At this point I'd just start rambling so any questions you may have, fire away either on here or via PM. 

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Trev is giving excellent advise. Especially the part about the actual flying part being the easiest (though, you will question that as you try to master crosswind landings... among other things )

 

My 2 centavos is to look at their maintenance facility (no surprise from me... eh?). I've worked on and have seen many flight school planes. Due to the rigorous schedule and low profit margins things get... let's just say "deferred", sometimes to the point of affecting airworthiness. Though even if the place looks a bit messy, it doesn't mean that it's a bad facility... maintenance is not always pretty. Talk to the mechanics, ask them questions, play dumb. Most good mechanics are happy to enlighten fledgling pilots (and love to flaunt their expertise). We are normally ignored and anyone showing an interest in what we do is generally refreshing, though if they're busy... best to step away. Early morning at the start of the shift is the best time to approach.

 

Talk to the students... especially those close to finishing, ask them if they're satisfied with their CFIs, their aircraft, and their general experience.

 

If you're thinking of aviation as a career, don't think Piloting is the only way. (Trying to build hours you will probably be making less than minimum wage at first and scrambling to find a seat). There are options in Maintenance, Dispatch and Administration. Also, the FAA is bleeding due to the old school retiring. Lots of opportunities and right now is a boom time (not like when I started... I had to take what I could get... slapping Airphones into the backs of the seats in 737s, in the middle of the night... over and over for minimum wage).

 

Still... I often wish I'd continued on with commercial piloting instead of going into maintenance, but I do enjoy what I do. 

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 ....Also, the FAA is bleeding due to the old school retiring. Lots of opportunities and right now is a boom time (not like when I started....

 

Guilty, as charged   :P

 

Hard to beat the money in the FAA, you should have veteran's preference, benefits (health, retirement, etc), they send you to their own schools, even pay the lodging and travel, and the job security is second to none.  The thing is they want experience, so if you have some from the military, talk yourself up and get your foot in the door.

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This is all absolutely incredible advice, and I feel so fortunate to have this insight from the group. Thank you all for the immense help. I am registered to the School and hav spoken at length with the VA Leasion who is really very good, and have successfully applied to and accept to the school. The next step is getting registered, and that also means I have to import my credits. Thankfully, I was able to complete an Associate's degree through the Air Force while I was in. I'm hoping thise credits will transfer in nicely.

 

I'll try to brush up on the math though as it's been a LONG time. I am very interested in speaking with the maintenance guys down there at the airport, and I also know that the most of the instructors are through Moore Aviation. I am not really sure if that's a good thing or not, but maybe you guys can make heads or tails of it.

 

The one drawback to this particular degree program is that the VA dropped a TON of the aviation repated degrees to basically all the schools in the US. There were issues with smaller schools closing before students finished their licenses, but the VA had already paid out in full for the program. This prompted them to drop every school in the nation besides three, which were the ones that own their own aircraft. Now obviously, not many schools can own their own aircraft so the VA has started accepting appeals from the schools as long as they are FAA 141 certified. Now CCBC is not only 141 certified, but also 144, and 146 as well, and they always had those certifications. The VA lady at the school has been giving me updates on their appeal process, and it's looking very good. She seems to be very much on top of it. She is new as of last year however, my brother-in-law, also a vet (we worked together in the AF), is currently in a nursing program which she has pushed some things through the VA to improve the benifits for this program. I have a good feeling about this old retired Army gal, she has been doing good work.

 

Other schools here in Pennsylvania that are in similar circumstances have successfully appealed their programs. Unfortunately, this won't be done in time for this fall semester, but thankfully I should be able to avoid having to take a lot of general education classes that I'll be transferring in. This should allow me to only have to cover my flight costs. I am also waiting to be seen by the VA for my medical claims which could provide me with some benifits that will cover this semester anyhow.

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As a veteran, you’re in-state everywhere in the country as far as tuition rates go. Unless there a compelling reason for staying in Western PA, you really should consider other options as well, especially if you already gave an associates.

 

U North Dakota, Purdue and Embry Riddle immediately come to mind. North Dakota has 120 airplanes and is a full up 4 year university (many airlines require a 4year degree on top of all the ratings).

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If you have any questions about FAA Tech Ops, don't hesitate to call me.  I'm not sure of your technical background or qualifications, if any, from the military; or if you're even interested in that kind of career field.  One thing that I can tell you is that the Gov't generally doesn't screw people the way some companies do.  It's not that they don't enact changes; but normally they only do it for people coming in after the changes are enacted, not retroactively.  That's been their history; but I'm not saying that it couldn't be "Trumped" by some new policies.

 

You could also be an Air Traffic Controller.  Job opportunities are nation-wide.  They have a separate union (NATCA: National Air Traffic Controller's Association) and a better deal than Tech Ops (PASS: Professional Airways Systems Specialists).  However, I've seen what they do and worked hand-in-hand with them.  I would only want to try it at a low-volume facility.  That said, a lot of people do it and I believe you can retire in 20-25 years....no age limit.  I worked 34 years because of the lower age limit.  And I will also say this: the high volume facilities are always the first to get the newest and best equipment, and get higher priority when it comes to modernizing and renovating their facilities.  The people that work at those places think the entire FAA is like that, LOL.  If they only knew.

 

I am in tight with some pretty high-ups in the CSA (Central Service Area: HQ: Fort Worth, TX), but unfortunately, they just retired.  However, I can check with my buddy and put in a good word if there's a position open somewhere that they have influence in.

 

S!

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I don't think you'll regret it Gen! I finally got it up in the air a couple nights ago, and wow was it cool! I have done a lot of studying on proper procedures on the ground, during takeoff, and on landing, and I was able to do all of those things nearly flawlessly first time!! I am pretty happy with the whole experience!

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