Brian Lewis has been a flight simulation enthusiast for many years, starting with version 3 of X-Plane.
Like most users who were serious about creating a real aviation experience on their computer, it was the realistic flight model that attracted Brian to X-Plane. Asked about his favorite flight scenario in X-Plane Brian commented “Shooting an approach in IFR conditions, coming out of the clouds early evening at KSFO to see the beautiful runway on short final. So very realistic.”
Like most users aspiring to become real-world pilots, Brian has used X-Plane to hone his piloting and navigation skills. “I use high resolution scenery @P52 / KPRC and fly mainly GA VFR . I also navigate using VOR’s, GS and NDB’s. This realism in terms of navigation is what helped me so much in getting my PPL at 42.7 hours.”
Recently, after obtaining his private pilot certificate, Brian, a former law-enforcement officer, took to the skies in a Cessna 177B Cardinal at the Cottonwood, Arizona airport with his wife Brenda and daughter and son Kaitlynn and Tyler. Brian says:
I always knew that somehow, someday, I would get the opportunity to earn my PPL. Although my age and this time in life will keep me from going much further, I was determined to get the PPL. This is where the years of using X-Plane saved me a lot of money. The first time up, my CFI (retired U.S. Airways pilot who flew 767 internationally) wanted to know how many hours I had. I responded a few unofficial hours with a friend. After eight hours total, I flew my first solo. Within two weeks, I was flying my first cross-country solo. About 6 weeks from starting my lessons, I took the FAA written scoring 100%. The knowledge I gained from X-Plane helped with that tremendously. I recall the first time my CFII on a dual x-country asked me to intercept and fly the 070 radial from IGM. I did so without any instruction, because I know exactly what to as a result of using X-Plane. From start to finish, I had 42.7 hrs when I did my check-ride. The day before my check-ride I did a 2 hr x-country to KIGM from P52, just in case we were off on our math. The FAA examiner had never passed anyone fewer than 63 hrs, so he put me through he ringer on July 30th, 2013. Nevertheless, after nearly a 3 hour oral, and 1.5 hour flight test, the examiner found nothing to fail me on so he issued my PPL.