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General Tutorials

Learn to Fly a Flight Simulator

First Catch Your Rabbit

It is an urban (or rural?) myth that the once famous cookery book writer, Mrs Beeton, prefaced her recipe for rabbit stew with the above sentence. Maybe few of us eat rabbit stew any more, much less capture rabbits (well if you do, please let it go again - don't eat it!.) However, back to flight simulation! Long before you take to the skies, there is a lot of work to do.

Once airborne, you can't just pop in to the nearest garage if you run short of fuel; there are no road signs if you find yourself a bit lost; is your aircraft too heavy to take off? These are just some of the things you need to check before taking off in an aircraft. So you will find our Preflight web page very useful - setting out most of what is necessary to enjoy a trouble-free simulated flight.

Two Pilots - One Aircraft - Who has control?

Cockpit sharing can be very sociable and a lot of fun. Both pilots can be half a world apart, connected to each other over the internet, but there is no detectable delay in flight performance. In the applications below, two people can share one aircraft cockpit. Aircraft control can be swapped between them quickly and simply. The handling pilot has full control of all aircraft systems. The non-handling pilot has control over the aircraft systems except his joystick and rudder pedals and any buttons on his joystick.  This facility is extremely valuable for training of course. An instructor can demonstrate a manoeuvre sitting at his computer, while the student watches the aircraft being flown on his computer. The student can then practice the manoeuvre while the instructor watches.

  • For FSX/ FSX-Steam Edition and Prepar3D, there is the inbuilt shared cockpit option within the sim. Full details can be found on the FSX Tutorials page.
  • For X-Plane, the option currently is a payware program called Smart Copilot. Unfortunately, because it is payware, the Club is unable to use it for one to one training.
  • One of a few truly game-changing utilities for Flight Simulation enthusiasta in the last few years has been JoinFS. This simple to use application not only works in the three FSX family Sims, but also in X-Plane.


JoinFS deserves its own paragraph on this page because it has revolutionised the world of multiplayer flying.  Although VATSIM and IVAO have offered a multiplayer environment for many years, and both FSX and X-Plane have cockpit sharing capabilities as described above, the Freeware JoinFS allows cockpit sharing without the need for port forwarding or payware or indeed anything complcated at all, and it works across platforms. A pilot flying X-Plane can share their cockpit with someone using FSX, or Prepar3D and vice versa. As a consequence, it has become the multiplayer environment of choice for Club training. An additional advantage is the author, Peter Memmott, is an active Club member, and the software is in continual development.

From 2022 onwards, the Club now permits offline flights using JOINFS, to join in Club Events which are run offline. So we have published a pdf document outlining how to use JoinFS.


Weather is of vital importance to VFR flights - much more so than for IFR flights. This tutorial gives the lowdown on Flight Simulator weather, and the METAR and TAF weather codes, and the interaction of weather and Visual Flight Rules. It includes the September 2012 change to UK Rules of the Air to allow VFR flight at night. Weather for VFR Pilots

Flight Procedures

Joining The Circuit at an Aerodrome

The UK is perhaps unique in having an aerodrome joining procedure called "The Overhead Join". In some countries, they believe this procedure is crazy, but if the procedure was fundamentally unsafe, then it wouldn't exist - simple as that. However, it does require a bit of study to work it out and you have to have your planned inbound manoevres all carefully thought out long before reaching your destination - even prior to departure. The old adage "The more you do on the ground the less you have to do in the air" is never more true than with the Overhead join.

Flight Procedures (continued...)

In addition to this procedure, there are also distinct procedures for holding when inbound, if the aerodrome is busy. You can "hold in the overhead", which is a procedure conducted over the aerodrome and within the Aerodrome Traffic Zone (ATZ) and there is "hold overhead" where you circle above the aerodrome above, i.e. outside the ATZ. Confusing? Not if you learn the procedures carefully.

In the Club, on some of our "Mad Monday" evenings, controllers will deliberately test the inbound pilots' mettle by asking them to carry out any of these procedures. Fortunately, Our Air Traffic Services Manager has written a comprehensive tutorial on this subject, complete with numerous diagrams showing sometimes bewildering flight patterns unless you study carefully. One word of warning though - the Club emphasises that members should have FUN, so if you mess up, the worst that will happen is that you feel a bit of a fool. The solution to that is just to try again next time! To find out more, download The Overhead Join.

UK Air Traffic Services

Real World Airspace Rules for Club Pilots - UK Flight Information Services

In 2009, the CAA amended the definitions of Air Traffic Services in Classes F and G airspace. The rules were further modified in 2011 to make them easier for leisure pilots to understand. The link above takes you to official guide to the real world airspace definitions. This is required knowledge for Club pilots, as you will need it when communicating with ATC on VATSIM or IVAO.

Instrument Flight

Basic Instrument Flight - The IMC (IRR) Rating

The UK was unique in the aviation world in having a rating for instrument flight which was designed for VFR pilots who might be faced with adverse weather and need additional skills. The Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) rating provided training which was a sub-set of a full Instrument Rating. However, in 2015 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) stopped recognising it (because it doesn't exist elsewhere in cloudless rainless Europe?) After an outcry from the UK General Aviation industy a new rating the Instrument Rating Restricted (IRR) rating was created in 2015 with almost identical qualification requirements.   This comprehensive tutorial is atill called "The IMC Rating" because it was written during the real world IMC training of one of our members before the EASA change. Pilots flying with VATSIM are recommended to have at least this level of knowledge and skill if flying on instruments. However, it is not a Club requirement.

This is a complex technical document used by a real world pilot during instrument training.  If it seems too complex to you, leave it until you have more experience. A simpler document covers VOR tracking, (see below) which can be useful for pilots flying visually across the default Flight Simulator scenery.

Finding the Way - VOR Tracking

VFR navigation can be considerably helped by partial use of radio navigation aids (navaids). This tutorial explains how to track to or from a VOR and how to use two VORs to get a position fix. For a full instrument flight tutorial, see the item above.


SIMCOM X is a stand alone communications system, (primarily) for use by pilots and controllers using any Flight Simulator. It will link with any Simulator platform to enable the pilot's radio frequency selection to syncronised with or be controlled by the simulator's aircraft radio, or it can be entered into SIMCOM X directly by the user. These SIMCOMX Help Notes should enable pilots to get started using this useful tool.