Well just pulled off my first takeoff and landing, in a PA28, at the local airfield. Was a spur of the moment trip to discuss the PPL. Somewhere from popping in to chat my CC slipped out and paid for a 30 minute trial lesson.

My only other flight time was over a year back, and again was just a trial. That wasn't the warrior, and it scared the whatsits out of me. This time was soo different. I actually enjoyed myself.

Firstly if you look at my GA sim its a warrior, so I was happy with it. Secondly my instructor was a commercial pilot, very calm, and just a really nice guy who put me at my ease. So even though this was a 30 minute flight it felt longer, and I loved it as opposed to being scared. Really think I have a chance now for a PPL, and spurs me in my practice at home.

I assume the confidence in the plane, cockpit layout, and controls paid off as my instructor let me fly the whole flight. From engine start, through taxi, takeoff, landing, and back to parking with shutdown. He said himself it is very rare to let a first time student land, but he likes to take you to the limits of what you are capable of. Rest assured he kept a close eye on the aircraft, and he was close to the controls in case I did anything silly.

I must admit I found flying the plane far easier than the sim, although a lot, lot bumpier than my sim ever shows. I felt my way around the sky, I could feel the 'pull' when I was not trimmed properly. Something I know I will miss when I go back to FSX. I could also look around, the ground detail is obviously 'real' so I could fly around much easier than FSX. However the years I have spent flying over photo scenery really help, spotting railways, roads, and knowing where the airport was by instinct. I was not thrown out by being at 1100 ft ASL. So my approach pattern was good, I could judge that I was too far right or left in advance, and then correct. Enough to pull off that first real landing myself

Ok I admit it was my second attempt, on the touch and go the instructor took the controls during finals to help me bleed off altitude. However I did the climb out, flew the pattern, and landed the next approach 100% at the controls. I stopped us, and did the taxi back to parking and shutdown.

It surprised me how much harder it was to bleed off speed, and altitude in the real plane. My PA28 sim is far more docile, something I will be trying to sort out. Both realism and weather will need to be mucked about with to try and get the realism up. As an example I was discussing with my instructor about how bumpy it was, and he said that today was what he would call calm! Although we did have some gusts, in the sim the runway doesn't dance around the way this plane did on approach. Below 1500 feet its just 'lumpy', the sim isn't.

Also their is a difference is power, at cruse above 1500 everything is actually quite real. At full power the real one pulls far more to the left than the sim. Also the LV light flickers at low RPM, but not in the sim. Lastly the engine instruments in the real thing are more jumpy, and starting her was a pig. Although she was a pleasure to fly once running.

Takeoffs for real are more difficult, like landings she dances more around the runway. I did a lot more rudder control in real life, and pedals are heavier, which I prefer. She jumped into the air, with far more back pressure than my sim. However the climbout felt familiar, if a little more 'lively' than I am used to. Again, its that sub 1500 ft thing and full power. Hit 2000 ft and drop to 2000 rpm and its just like the sim at home, really really close.

Of course for real I could feel all our power changes, flaps coming in, etc. in the sim you get a very real nose up with flaps, but you dont feel yourself slowdown. We also had to watch for traffic, and had real radar advisory running. With a few friends up flying as well we had a few calls to advise us to watch out, however it was amazing viz, so we could spot them easily.

If anyone has some tips on weather settings for a 'real' calm, as opposed to FSX's idea of calm I would be interested.

So overall:

Startup: Very real
Taxi: Real, but rudder pedals not tight enough, toe brakes in sim too sensitive. (I have CH Pedals)
Takeoff: Real, not enough sway, too easy to get off runway in sim. Climbout, very close.
Level Flight: Very real at cruise.
Landing: Ok, sim really easy to land compared to real life.
Flaps: Very real

Flight is just not lumpy enough in sim below 1500ft, which is not anything to do with just flights flight model.