The week before last, Chris Stewart wrote an article on how using a flight simulator such as FSX: Steam Edition can help hone real-world flying skills. In the same spirit, I would like to introduce the concept of flying using VFR navigation systems.
When pilots start working towards obtaining their private license (PPL), the initial certification extends only to flying under VFR, or Visual Flight Rules. For the sake of clarity, this article will focus on flying with VFR in fixed wing aircraft in the UK, as rules elsewhere will vary.
VFR flying is based on the pilot’s ability to see where they are going, using ground landmarks as guidelines and visually avoiding obstacles such as other aircraft. Generally, VFR flights are not assigned specific routes by ATC, unless you plan on flying over tightly-controlled airspace (ex. close to a major airport).
The first thing to consider when planning a VFR flight is the weather. In the real-world, you would register with the Met Office and get an official weather briefing so you do not run the risk of flying in unsuitable conditions.
- VFR flying is only permitted in VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions) which means visibility needs to be up to a certain standard. In the UK, you need at least 5km visibility, clear of clouds, and in sight of surface when flying at and under 3000 ft.
- VFR flying is not normally permitted in Class A airspace.
- VMC standards can differ in controlled and uncontrolled airspace.
Then, plan out your flight. The following video will tell you how to do this:
For an VFR flying experience in FSX:SE, go head and try one of Just Flight’s VFR Scenery Packs for the UK, now on sale in our Steam store.