Sunday, March 11, 2007

Going on autopilot

Anyone who has ever experienced a new baby in the house knows that a good night's sleep is a rare thing. The knowledge that you are going to be interrupted every 2 or 3 hours tends to discourage staying up late. A lot of things in life go on hold. As you might expect, frivolous, time-consuming things such as flight simming fall victim to this new order. (I can't believe I just used "frivolous" and "flight simming" in the same sentence. A sentence that does not also contain the word "not".)

I almost never fly with autopilot in FS. To me, the whole joy of the thing is hand flying. I agree with what someone once wrote in one of the forums: "I didn't go through all this cost and effort just to let one computer fly another!". However, I've been using the autopilot lately to squeeze in a little "flying" when I don't have the time to do it for real. If I'm doing necessary stuff around the house, sometimes I'll fire up FSX, take off by hand, then fix the heading with autopilot. Then, every so often I'll walk by the computer and see what's going on. I like to see how the terrain changes, and what the weather ends up doing. These two shots are from just such a session.

Sometimes after a while I will disengage the A/P and try for a landing. Usually, these are not by the book; I'll employ drastic measures to lose altitude because I can't spare the time to do it correctly. But making it back to the runway, or a clear patch of ground, in one piece gives me a satisfying experience even though the flight was hands off for 90% of the time.

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