CAT-1/CAT-2: Airport Error/Utility of Flight Simulation

Questions and comments about the PE Pilot Training Program

Re: CAT-1/CAT-2: Airport Error/Utility of Flight Simulation

Postby redge » Mon Jan 07, 2019 3:43 pm

Re my reference above to using a marine chart to help plan a flight across Long Island Sound, here’s a related observation about the CAT-1 exercise...

If I was planning a flight from Océano Airport, there are two pieces of marine, rather than aeronautical, data that I would want. When is low tide and how far out is the low water mark?

Looking at the geography, and knowing that this area was at one time famous for its Pismo clams, I suspect that the slope of the beach just beyond the end of the runway is very gradual. Low tide and an extended beach could come in very handy in the event of an engine/mechanical failure on takeoff.

Similarly, my view that following SR 166 is the smart way to fly from Océano to New Cuyama is fundamentally based on the fact that SR 166 is not the twisty road that one might think from a quick glance at the aeronautical chart. Indeed, the lazy course of the Cuyama River, which SR 166 follows, is a hint.

At this point, there are YouTube videos on just about everything, and it turns out that the videos on this highway show that SR 166 itself, and many places alongside it (lots of flat scrubland and in places agricultural land), would make a pretty good landing strip. Certainly better than the surrounding mountainsides and trees of Los Pedros National Forest. How much more time would this route take? Not more than about four minutes, and possibly none due to less time climbing and descending.

Of course, if one is bound and determined to use radio navigation, hey, fly right over the mountains, keyed to the Fellows VOR/DME, and hope that you don’t run into clouds/mist or have a serious engine or mechanical problem. The YouTube videos on the CAT-1 exercise do exactly that, and unsurprisingly the sim pilots involved in all four of the videos that I’ve watched run into high elevation weather problems.

I don’t believe that a competent flight instructor would approve a flight plan submitted by a student pilot that called for the over-mountain routes that are apparently being routinely used for the CAT-1 exercise.

As someone who is new to simulation, but whose objective is a real private pilot license, this kind of thing makes me ask the questions “Is this sim business a waste of time, and more importantly, does it encourage an attitude that undermines safe flying?”
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Re: CAT-1/CAT-2: Airport Error/Utility of Flight Simulation

Postby Ray Salmon » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:09 am

redge wrote:Re my reference above to using a marine chart to help plan a flight across Long Island Sound, here’s a related observation about the CAT-1 exercise...

I don’t believe that a competent flight instructor would approve a flight plan submitted by a student pilot that called for the over-mountain routes that are apparently being routinely used for the CAT-1 exercise.

As someone who is new to simulation, but whose objective is a real private pilot license, this kind of thing makes me ask the questions “Is this sim business a waste of time, and more importantly, does it encourage an attitude that undermines safe flying?”


A competent instructor would entertain the consideration of the high altitude routes and may even suggest a dual flight on one of them as a means to teach valuable flight planning lessons. The student will learn a lot more by seeing what it is like and talking through the risks involved thereby developing his own decision making matrix. The job of the instructor is to teach the student how to make good decisions and do himself out of the job of approving or disapproving anything.

As far as your observation on simulation being a waste of time...If the objective is to use it as a training tool for the real world, yet you consistently treat it differently than the real world then its use will obviously be much more limited and you approach the "waste of time" end of the spectrum. You get out of it only what you put in. We even have this issue in the airline simulator world which is obviously used as a real-world training tool. "Train like you fly, fly like you train" is the mantra. It's all too easy to become complacent or use the simulator as an excuse for poor performance. Don't treat the sim as "just the sim" and you'll get so much more out of it. There's a big push away from maneuvers-based training to scenario-based training to make the simulator more effective in training for real-world scenarios.
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