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At their most basic level (when things are going well) airplanes are not that hard to steer around the sky, probably not that much more difficult than steering a car down the road. You don't need a phd or years of training. The years of training are their to handle all the what if's and challenges; all the regulations, safety considerations, sharing the airspace, being responsible.[1]

almost all inexperienced users climb out too steeply (Vx or even lower), where p-factor is extremely strong. Around 55–65 KIAS, they yank the plane off the ground, then put it into a steep climb on the edge of a stall. In real life, you'd see your flight instructor's hair turn white about 30 seconds into that procedure, if she didn't actually grab the controls away from you. Departing a big, paved, unobstructed runway like KSFO in the 172, you should raise the nosewheel just a couple of degrees around 55 KIAS and hold it there — DON'T try to yank the plane into the air. In a slight nose-up attitude (nosewheel held an inch or two above the pavement) and no flaps, the 172 will fly itself off the ground at around 70 KIAS. Gently lower the nose to an 80 KIAS climb (rounding up from the 172's Vy of 76 KIAS) for the first 400 ft AGL, then — unless ATC has asked you to keep the climb rate up — lower the nose even more for a 90 KIAS cruise climb. With this procedure, you'll barely even notice the p-factor, you'll avoid overheating your engine, and you'll have good forward visibility to spot other traffic. tl;dr — if you experience a *lot* of p-factor in the 172 (unless you're taking off from a short, obstructed grass strip or similar) it means you're not flying it correctly. [2]

My piloting strategy (both for FlightGear aircraft, and real world RC aircraft and UAV's when flown manually) is to let the airplane fly itself. Apparently people put a lot of thought into designing airplanes so they are stable, safe, and mostly know how to fly on their own. The best thing you can do as a pilot is to stay out of the way. Once in a while you can offer some subtle suggestions or gentle nudges, but not much more than that. I know other pilots can have a much higher gain strategy and horse the airplane around with a lot of control inputs. Both flying styles can get to the same end result about as well as each other, but I personally like the hands off approach as much as possible. It's no coincidence at airshows I much enjoy the big graceful swooping maneuvers of the T-6's versus the cray head hammering and tumbling pitts and extras.[3]

One of the first things you need to do is learn to grip the yoke (or stick) lightly with your thumb and one or two fingers, rather than seiing it in a white-knuckled Iron Fist of Death. It wil be great when we have inexpensive consumer controllers that can give realistic feedback to the pilot, the way actual controls do (e.g. the ailerons become sloppy near the stall, you feel the buffet of the surfaces in turbulence, etc.).[4]

The airframes are already designed to neutralise propeller effects in cruise (more or less - no airplane flies 100% hands off, even in smooth air, without an A/P). They become slightly noticeable around Vy, and very noticeable around Vx or slower with full power. If people just push the nose down a bit, most of the problem disappears, in real life or in FlightGear. I think part of the problem is that most casual users are used to watching how jets climb, with the nose pointed at the sky, and then try to put the 172 in FlightGear into the same attitude (or as close as they can get). In fact, most piston planes are only a few degrees nose-up when they climb, and some might appear almost nose-level if they're heavily loaded on a hot day (or high elevation).[5]

David suggests not chasing either the ASI needle or the HUD ribbon/bug, because you'll never stabilise. Instead, put the horion (real in VMC, artificial in IMC) in the place that gives you the desired speed, and do what it takes to hold the horizon in exactly that position in the window or AI until you make the next power change. You should still check your airspeed indicator periodically, but only as a secondary verification to make sure that your attitude is still correct and that the speed isn't creeping up or down. Also, you don't actually need to be able to see the numbers on the ASI most of the time to know that your speed is OK; just remember where the needle is supposed to be: [6]

Flying a plane isn't like driving a car where you turn the wheel and the car turns and press the accelerator and the car gets faster (flying a spacecraft is even less so). You're also almost never flying where the nose points to - you'd be worried if that'd be the normal state of car driving. It's actually more resembling a feedback loop - you apply a change, you take some time for the plane to settle into the new equilibrium, you apply whatever correction you need after evaluating the situation. Most of the time you let the plane fly itself - this settling into equilibrium is important. For example, if you increase throttle, you don't get faster immediately - it takes a while, at first just the engine gets louder. Before you notice much, you'll actually start to climb, so when you notice that you have to be prepared to push the stick forward a tad - only once you do, you see the effect of the change. Adjusting airspeed isn't a one-time action, it's a process which you initiate and need to be prepared to guide over the next minutes. If you treat flying as a series of one-time actions, then you'll constantly chase transient states and the plane will appear very jittery and unstable, because you never allow it to help you fly it. The C-172 in FG isn't touchy at all - you can fly it to the ground so slowly that it feels like you could get out and walk alongside... And I don't even have a decent input device, I do this with the mouse. But the difference is that I have real-life pilot training - while this is just for a glider, I'm assuming this gives me the right 'feel' for the process aircraft are controlled, so these days I don't even think about it. Btw - the F-16 is also very easy to fly because you get lots of augmentation technology at your disposal. It's a very responsive jet, unlike others without fly-by-wire hard to stall in a nasty way - just the approach is *a lot* faster than with a single-prop GA craft. Piloting isn't something that comes naturally - you have to learn it. Just like you have to learn to drive cars.[7]