To be honest, it’s so much more work than I initially thought. I completely underestimated the time I’d have to invest to get somehow proficient. The learning process is not a time sinkhole because it’s hard… but more because I need to un-learn all the bad habits I took from flying in other “combat” sims. I’ve come from flying an overpowered aircraft whenever I want, wherever I want in any way I want… to flying in a very structured environment that’s limited by boundaries, laws and regulations I’m learning about as I go.
The A-10C has about 3 autopilot modes. The 737 has N1, SPD, VNAV, LVL CHG, SPD INTV, ALT HLD, V/S, ALT INTV, LNAV, HDG SEL, VOR LOC and APP. And some of these modes can be used in conjunction with each other. I won’t describe each mode in detail, but having a general idea of what they do and when they’re employed alone requires a lot of research. Of course, I could just use the “Push CMD and set VNAV + LNAV” approach, but I want to understand the capabilities of the aircraft. Just knowing “oh, I could use this… what if I do that instead?” makes me explore a whole world I’ve never had the chance to experience properly before.
Overall, I’m loving it. When I first took off in the 737 doing a perfect roll without any alarm ringing, I knew I had achieved something. Engaging the autopilot that was set properly and watching EHAM shrink in the distance gave me a sense of satisfaction as if I had tamed a beast. I have come to a point where the PFD messages ring a bell and I actually know what it’s telling me. It may sound stupid, but I really like having that cheeky grin once I figure out the small things like “oh, I forgot to switch my baro pressure to STD since I’m above the transition altitude!” I’ve seen so many tutorials with glaring mistakes with the commentator going “huh? Why’s that happening? Uh… I dunno, moving on!”.
Keep in mind: I haven’t even landed the 737 or A320 “properly” yet. I’m still in the CRUISE section. After that, I’m attacking the approach and landing phases. Should be pretty interesting.
Civilian sims have grown on me. They’re more relaxing. They’re not about this I-shot-you-first-no-you-didn’t-yes-you-did sort of over-the-top competitiveness I see in combat sims at times.