Proficiency training Simulator or aircraft?

The following question from a customer asked about doing regular training.  Its important to note that sometimes insurance companies require training in a specific class or category of aircraft.  For example; if you fly a pressurized or cabin class aircraft, you will probably be required to get "factory approved"  initial ground and flight training along with recurrent training after that. Most companies require recurrent every year but there are a few that will go for two or three years between the training. A lot depends on the type of aircraft you are flying.   

That said ---- 

Q. Proficiency.  I'm thinking of going to a school such as RTC, Flight Safety etc.  Most of these companies do simulator training.  Am I better off going out with an instructor, doing the FAA Wings kind of thing, or going to a school?  Training in the airplane will give me some dual, my Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC) and my flight review?  Which is a better way to go?

A. That’s a tough one.  From an insurance standpoint, many of the underwriters require training from a factory approved school that specializes in your specific aircraft.  That training is often in a simulator and counts as your IPC, flight review and dual.  That is if it’s from an approved school or training institution. 

I’m a big believer in the FAA Wings programs and flight simulators to keep a pilot proficient.  If the weather is really bad or your checkbook is a little empty, flying with a Flight Simulator program on your home computer can be a great help.  While it might not be logging "real" hours, it can sure help keep your mind in the flying mood.  The Flight Sim program can overlay weather, set up approaches and do almost everything a pilot need s to do to feel comfortable in their aircraft.  Flying to a new destination?  Set up the Flight Sim program to fly into the area, make a few approaches and you’ll feel like you been there before when you get there for the first time.

Whenever possible take advantage of flying the real thing and practice.   Sure I like simulators and software, but I think the real proficiency comes from flying the aircraft.  That’s why we buy an aircraft to begin with.  Hook up with a qualified instructor that you like and go out and have fun and learn at the same time.  

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