Becoming a "Bus" driver

As a small jet pilot in real life, and one who is immensely happy in their current path in aviation, it is very likely at this point in my career that I won’t be making the transition to flying for the airlines or cargo operators. As such, I will have to live with one of the very few regrets I’ll probably have in my career - not getting to fly a “big” airplane. For the same reasons that DCS World ticks off my fighter/attack and helicopter pilot desires, so too do P3D and X-Plane for large aircraft operations.

I’ve been eyeing the Flight Factor A320 Ultimate for a long time. It certainly didn’t help when @Sine_Nomine dove into the deep end with his wonderful article on the FF A320 for our site:

In parallel with my fantasy of learning something as complex as the Flight Factor A320 was my ever present love for real manuals - and a couple of years ago I came across the excellent looking publications by Captain Mike Ray. I sat on my hands for once, and didn’t just hit the BUY button immediately, but the FF A320 and Captain Ray’s books have been lingering in the back of my mind for a long time.


After pocketing some extra cash for a fill-in day on the schedule recently, I reasoned that I had “earned” what I’ve so long coveted. A few days later, my order to University of Temecula Press was fulfilled and some shiny new manuals showed up in my post box: The Unofficial Airbus A320 Series Simulator and Checkride Procedures Manual and the Sim-Flying the Airbus A300 Series. Both are spiral bound, beautifully illustrated, humorously written, and satisfyingly thick.

It is my intent to try my best to learn the Airbus using the manuals in a way that is counter to my usual “press the buttons until what I want happens happens” technique that I often use in simulated flying. Since we have some resident Airbus pilots on Mudspike, I’m sure a lot of hilarity and corrections to my mistakes will be forthcoming!

Picking up my new bird in Toulouse, France (LFBO) - I will probably do some of my training here!

I have strict instructions not to touch anything…!

However, I am given instructions to hit a couple switches to enable and register my new purchase…

This will likely be a long and winding thread, probably with not a lot happening fast. Just reading the first few dozen pages of the manuals is going to be fun, but will take time. I look forward to the old school adventure of sitting down with a thick manual, and working through the process of learning something new!

Though I plan to primarily use the Flight Factor A320 Ultimate in these dispatches - there does exist the opportunity to also take a look at the very nice Aerosoft A318/19/20/21 Professional package - so watch for the product flips!


Had me nervous, I thought you meant one of these!!



@BeachAV8R this is fantastic! Please make sure you update us regularly with your progress. I am hoping to start a multi-engine course next year and get an IR. With the hope of gaining my CPL.
I’m very interested in learning a bigger aircraft properly and Mike Rays books look like a great first step.

Looking forward to your updates!


And THAT is also ever present in the back of my mind. I do plan on making it to Australia! As usual, my project ambitions far exceed my available time. I think we all run into that obstacle regularly (I need to check in on the Mudspike Country Club events too!).

Oh wow - well, we can certainly run parallel threads, or you can feel free to tag-team this one. I’d love to hear some of the interesting “insider” information mixed with formal FCOM (Flight Crew Operating Manual / Training Manual - I had to look that one up!) info. I suspect Captain Ray’s book is going to be a good mix of real world information, good to know stuff, and straight from the manual type of learning. For instance, some of his observations on the clock in the plane (I laughed):

“A little personal warning here - this sucker is DIFFICULT to understand…and I absolutely GUARANTEE that if you start fiddling with the switches you are going to get it all screwed up and waste a lot of valuable time trying to get things to run properly. … Go ahead, I dare you to try to set it…”

I’m looking forward to reading about your training/recurrent learning and your observations on my Capt. Walter Mitty Airbus career moments! :smile:

Ah yes - you will likely end up in one if you love aviation. We’ve hired quite a few pilots that are padding out the last five years or so of their careers after hitting the 65 year old hard limit. It is certainly an interesting transition going from the orderly and regimented life of an airline job to one that is a bit more…LOL…how should I say it - amorphous? I won’t have many regrets though - the reason I’ve stayed in this job is that it is so rewarding, I love the autonomy, and I’m home nearly every night with my family. I can’t tell you what a great employer my outfit has been…I’m truly lucky in all regards. And the good news is, we might have new planes coming in a few years, which will give me lots of new and stimulating stuff to learn.

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Won’t it be a bit tricky paging through the manual while in VR?

Yeah - Captain Ray offers a PDF version as well that I can probably import into VR when I’m flying in that capacity. Mostly the spiral bound ones are for me to read while I’m away from my computer, and hopefully retaining enough to put into use in the sim. I’m guessing it will be a mix of VR and 2D simming - although with the HP Reverb arriving on Monday, I might find I’m spending even more time in VR. Really hoping to see a nice resolution bump where I can not struggle to see small letters on the MFDs of some of these planes. I’m guessing a lot of the MCDU learning I can do in 2D too - no real purpose to being in VR when all I’m doing is typing.

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I’m just waiting for @smokinhole to post his horror that I’ve chosen the A320 over say, the FlyJSim Boeing 727 or something. The soulless Airbus will chaff at his sensibilities! :wink:

Oh, not at all…you wouldn’t be bugging. I’ll be very interested to hear your take on on things and observations from the Real World™. If I get too bogged down, I’ll scurry back to my Airfoil Labs King Air where I’ll feel much more comfy and at home…haha…

They are good as far as it goes…but for true emersion you really need them in the original French…IMHO they lose a bit in the translation. :wink:


“Souless”? Where’d you get that? I loved the A320! It was the only airliner that any company was stupid enough to make me a check-airman on. The cockpit was big enough that we would have three flight attendants up to smoke at one time. Yes, your 2019 sensibilities fail to see the charm in that, but you must believe me when I say there was charm, lots of charm. Is it fun to fly? No. But it is the perfect plane to simulate because it is chock full of buttons to push and screens to view.

So @BeachAV8R, I applaud your choice!

(And I really, REALLY miss the ‘90’s!)


LOL…I just assumed. I know you love the 737 and figured you might not be as excited about all the electrons flowing around you in the Airbus. So I’ll be under the microscope from at least two very experienced Airbus captains here.

I should have picked the Tu-154 to learn - that way nobody would know when I’m screwing up… :see_no_evil: :ru:

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Funny. On my phone with eyes still a little blurry having just woke, that monkey emoji :see_no_evil: looks like I’m being “mooned”. As I really thought that’s what it was I also thought, “Respect!”


I just spilled my tea.:sweat_smile:

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Lol, I never noticed that but it does look like you are being mooned.


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Can’t un-see it :slight_smile:

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Don’t look at me. The last time I saw the inside of a ‘bus was in 1998. A lifetime ago. I remember more about the smokin’ hot (and smoking) Irish cabin crew than I do about the plane.


Pictures, or it didn’t happen!


That sounds like good times indeed!

We didn’t have cameras back then!

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We are going to have to commission a courtroom artist to reenact the event…