Thanks to an incredibly gracious offer by a fellow POA user I had contacted through this very forum--we both live in Arizona and he is a CFI--I received my first 4.1 hours of logged flight instruction time today. I've been a moderately avid user of Microsoft Flight Simulator (and X-Plane) since the age 10, when my dad first installed an IBM PC in our house that came with MSFS software loaded up on a bunch of weird-looking, large, floppy disks. Decades later, after using Microsoft's most recent version of FS (which has incredible and mind-blowing graphics by the way) I finally took the plunge and enrolled in Sporty's online ground school with the intention of obtaining a PPL, and have gotten about 25% through that. I also read several pages of reading assignments in advance of today's flight. My POA friend had me sit on the left side. The airplane was a 1969 Cessna Cardinal 177. He performed the take-offs and landings. While at a comfortable and safe altitude, he turned the controls over to me to perform several controlled turns, ascents, descents, and work on maintaining level flight. I also got lots of introductory practice to taxiing, which seemed harder for me than actually flying the plane. We flew from KFFZ (Mesa, Arizona) south to KAVQ (Marana, a suburb of Tucson), back up north to land at KCGZ (Casa Grande), before heading back to KFFZ. I also got plenty of excellent instruction and demonstration of pre-flight inspection procedures, fuel management, flight briefings, and more. Did almost 40 years of flight simming help me? Probably not except at the most introductory level for purely academic concepts. Sure, I know what the throttle does already in concept, but I had zero muscle memory on whether pulling it or pushing it increases or decreases power. In fact, I increased when I wanted to decrease and vice versa several times in the beginning. Use of the rudder is another stunning difference between simming and flying, because in the sim you can almost forget that there even is a rudder. A novice simmer who is not intentionally trying to fly realistically will never, in fact, bother using the rudder while turning. You just point the joystick in the direction you want to go and the ailerons do their thing. The average non-pilot simmer will not notice the effects of adverse yaw, and therefore will not care about it, ever. Although the sim does force you to use the rudder to taxi, the average simmer hits a button to automatically appear on the runway ready to take off. The rudder is an after-thought. Now, suddenly, I can barely maneuver the airplane without figuring out how to operate it, much less with my feet. Most jarring, obviously, is the feeling of flying that simming can never compete with, except I assume for high-end professional simulators used to train real pilots. Although the air was moderately good today in Arizona, there were enough "bumps" to get my attention. Keeping the plane straight and level required constant attention and input, far more than what's needed with an MSFS flight, most of which we sim fans fly heavily on autopilot anyway. MSFS is a huge help in a couple of regards that might give me advantages over other student pilots. From the moment I climbed into the plane I was instantly very much at home with the entire dashboard, especially of a Cessna Cardinal which is very similar to the classic Cessna 172 used in MSFS. An airplane dashboard is intimidating to most non-pilots, and would probably freak me out if I'd never seen it before. But everything was immediately familiar and recognizable. One of my favorite aspects of simming is using old-school navigation techniques, so I sim a lot using ADF, DME, and VOR technology even when flying planes with glass cockpits. So there were my old friends, right where I expected them to be: the VOR dials, communication and frequency panels, the numbers on them, etc. Thanks for reading. Sorry for length. I'll keep this thread up over time as a journal of sorts as I progress with my instruction. And many thanks again to my fellow POAer who generously and patiently showed me the ropes.