Real World VFR
Tips and Techniques for VFR Flying
Follow a pilot through a series of challenging flights, and learn the skills needed to explore 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 is a highly accomplished instrument pilot. He’s also the founder and developer of PilotEdge, the award-winning network that provides real (human) ATC interactions for pilots flying and training on flight simulators.
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. 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-authoredwith 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.
You’ll watch this pilot complete a wide variety of challenging VFR flights
- You’re drawn to new flying experiences
- 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 could use a refresher in all areas of 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 pilot Keith Smith (bio below) through the flights in real time as he tackles unusual takeoffs, approaches, landings, airports, airspace and navigation that could challenge any pilot flying VFR.
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. Each flight is followed by a thorough debrief.
The flights span tiny fields to international airports.
Riding along with Keith is veteran Flight Instructor Jeff Van West (bio also below), who designed the challenges that Keith flew. 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 delivers practical advice designed to improve your core pilots skills.
The flights include real-time CFI instruction and the briefings and debriefs help you plan and evaluate each flight as if you were there. There are countless expert tips that will seamlessly transfer to your own cockpit. Real World VFR is a fun 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.
These Videos Will Sharpen Your Skills
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 also work on specific skills including takeoffs and landings (all types), night flying, emergencies and other procedures.
The exercises Keith completes in the simulator 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 VFR videos are available online via a secure, password-protected website. You can watch the VFR videos on any device—Windows PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android. The website has a simple menu structure so you can easily find the segment you want to watch and start it with the click of a button.
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 these files onto my iPad?
A: Yes, if you get the optional USB flash drive you can move the video files from the USB drive to your iPad using your computer and iTunes. We provide step-by-step directions. Of course, you can view the videos online on your iPad with an Internet connection, so downloading them is optional.
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.
Optional: USB Flash Drive
The optional USB flash drive contains all the video files in MP4 format. These videos can be easily viewed on any computer or laptop, and can be imported onto an iPad so you can view them offline. A convenient and portable way to access the videos.
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Instant Online Access
– Instant online access (does not expire)
– Use on Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android
Instant Online Access + USB Flash Drive
– Instant online access (does not expire)
– Use on Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android
– USB Flash drive contains all videos
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You can earn 6 WINGS credits for completing Real World VFR: 2 basic, 2 advanced and 2 master. A simple online form for requesting credit is included on the website.
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