Real World VFR
Tips and Techniques for Improved VFR Flying
Ride along with a pilot and CFI on a series of challenging (and beautiful) flights. These videos will inspire you, and give you confidence to explore your own new flying adventures.
Jeff Van West (L) and Keith Smith discuss a flight.
In this program, you’ll be riding along with pilot Keith Smith. Keith also starred in our Real World IFR program, so we brought him back and gave him a new set of flying challenges—this time in the VFR world.
Keith flys his Lancair 360 extensively on business (mostly IFR). To keep things real, we placed Keith in a Cessna 172 for these VFR challenges. Keith is not an instructor, which further enhances the real-world feel of these videos.
Joining Keith in the cockpit is veteran CFI and flight educator Jeff Van West, who is also the Creative Director at PilotWorkshops responsible for overseeing the development of our training programs. Jeff created the missions that Keith flies in the program, and provides a valuable role as both instructor and color analyst.
In addition to being a highly experienced Flight Instructor (with certifications for single- and multi-engine airplanes and seaplanes), Jeff is a nationally recognized aviation writer. His work has appeared in AOPA Pilot, Flight Training, AVweb and many other outlets. He was the former editor of IFR magazine and the co-editor of Aviation Consumer. His books include FSX for Real World Pilots (co-authored with Kevin Lane-Cummings), which is still a top seller on simulator-based training eight years after its publication. Jeff was also the creator of the original pilot transition program for Cirrus Aircraft.
Above all, Jeff teaches with a healthy balance of humor and realism, which you will appreciate when you watch the Real World VFR videos.
Watch this pilot complete a variety of challenging flights.
You’re drawn to new flying experiences and challenges
You feel rusty on flying skills or ATC communication
You fly regularly, but appreciate new ideas and techniques
You’re a student pilot trying to understand how it all works
You want to explore new ways to improve your VFR flying
Real World VFR is delivered in a series of ten recorded end-to-end flights, spanning a wide variety of airports and terrain. These flights were designed to be challenging, yet accessible to a proficient private pilot. They don’t require superhuman skill, just more preparation, and thought.
Each flight starts with a thorough briefing, then you follow Keith and Jeff through the flights in real-time as they tackle unusual takeoffs, approaches, landings, airports, airspace and navigation that could challenge any pilot flying VFR. Each flight is followed by a thorough debrief.
As you fly along, Keith talks you through each task and procedure as he completes it. You hear all of his ATC interactions so you’ll know the proper phraseology to use. There are no shortcuts—you follow most flights in real-time from engine start to engine shutdown.
The flights span tiny fields to international airports.
Keith and Jeff discuss the different approaches and techniques that Keith uses in the flights. You’ll enjoy the friendly banter that goes back and forth throughout the flights. Jeff keeps Keith on his toes, and you benefit from his wealth of experience as well.
The view over Keith’s shoulder reveals terrific insights. You see exactly what he sees and hear exactly what he hears. Watching Keith sweat it out on these flights gives you a window into procedures, techniques, ATC interactions and critical decision-making you can’t get any other way. You’ll find yourself glued to the screen as the scenarios unfold, trying to anticipate what will happen next. Keith makes mistakes and not every flight goes as planned—because it’s real, unscripted flying! That’s why this program is so unique.
You may find yourself watching these flights over and over to gain confidence with VFR in the real world, from its simplest to its highest demand.
Watch the flights unfold, and pick up valuable tips along the way.
Not Your Typical YouTube Flying Videos
There are tons of flying videos on YouTube. Some are entertaining, but few have real instructional value. Real World VFR is different—like YouTube videos, it offers a first-person view from the cockpit. But it also offers real instruction that meets our quality standards. You can be sure that our pilot is demonstrating good technique (or being called out if he’s not).
Each flight includes a thorough preflight briefing to help you plan, then a debrief to evaluate the flight as if you were there. There are countless expert tips throughout that you can easily transfer to your own cockpit. Real World VFR offers a fun, effective and proven way to improve.
- Find a small, remote island airport at night
- Land at Boston Logan Airport (Class B) VFR in a Cessna 172
- Fly the New York City Hudson River VFR Corridor, and then land at Teterboro, one of the busiest Class Delta airports in the world
- Depart at night in the mountains, using an IFR technique to avoid them
- Encounter VFR into IMC for real, at night
- Manage system failures, simulated emergencies, and other surprises
- Use the power of ForeFlight for VFR planning and in-flight situations
- Navigate cross-country, using only pilotage and dead reckoning
- Takeoff and land on short fields—some grass, some paved, some scary
- Get sucked into a “black hole approach,” but escape to avoid disaster
- Make an overwater crossing that is eerily similar to the JFK Jr. flight
And you’ll do it all hearing complete ATC communications, in all types of airspace and phases of flight.
Flight Videos: Brief—Fly—Debrief
Keith and Jeff selected some truly demanding flights for this video series. To mitigate the elevated level of risk, they performed a thorough briefing before every flight, which is one of the most instructional aspects of the program.
The flights were recorded in real time using high-definition video cameras mounted in strategic positions throughout the airplane. You’ll feel like you are riding along with Keith and Jeff. In addition, you’ll hear all of their in-cockpit conversations in real time, as well as all ATC communications.
Keith and Jeff debrief every flight, where they grade Keith’s performance, discuss his choices and distill the important lessons.
Build Skills On The Sim
Before Keith and Jeff launch on the real flights, they use a flight simulator to re-familiarize Keith with the Cessna 172 and get him comfortable with the tricky airports he will visit. They work on specific skills including takeoffs and landings (all types), night flying, emergencies and other procedures.
The exercises Keith completes in the simulator, and the coaching he gets from Jeff, are valuable for any pilot.
You’ll Also Get These Bonus Videos:
Real World VFR Q&A
Q: How do I access the Real World VFR videos?
A: Your training is available online via a secure, password-protected website. You can watch it on any computer, tablet or phone.
Q: Will my online access ever expire?
A: No. Once you register your login credentials, they will never expire. You will always have access to the program.
Q: Can I download the videos?
A: Yes, with your online access you have the option to download the videos in the program.
Q: Can I access the videos from more than one computer or device?
A: Yes – with your login info, you can access the site from any device as often as you want for personal use.
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Real World VFR
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