Well my student pilot training got off to a bumpy start but it's all behind me now. I went up today with my new instructor and I had a blast! Also, I learned some things.
Since I had gotten very detailed training on preflighting the 152, my instructor (I'll call him "Jimmy") handed me the 'tin' and the fuel strainer and told me to preflight the airplane. So with my checklist in hand, I went over the plane like he showed me, and it was pretty easy with the checklist in hand. I did find some sediment in the right hand fuel tank which Jimmy complimented me on. When I was done, Jimmy double checked my preflight (do you blame him?) and we got in.
Point of No Return
We did our runup and when we got to the checklist item for testing the right and left magnetos, I held my breath. The other 152 had failed this test and we had been forced to scrub our flight. This time, though, there was barely a flutter in the RPMs and we proceeded onto the runway.
Pilot in Command
Jimmy shoved the throttle to the firewall and we were soon airborne. We climbed up to 1500 (~500 AGL) and turned south to the practice area. He explained some things to me, like how you have to "pull up" when you are turning and apply rudder to counteract skids and slips. He then turned the controls over to me and had me bring us up to 2K ASL. We did some shallow turns, with Jimmy making sure I was keeping altitude and turn coordination. Then we did some medium turns, some climbing, and he showed me how to maintain attitude and altitude by using outside references, which I found to be much easier than I expected.
At that point Jimmy did a 45 turn to show me what the plane was capable of. The g-forces were a bit disorienting at first, but I adapted quickly and it wasn't a problem. I suspect that Jimmy was try to see how my body reacted to higher g-forces. One cool note is that up until that time I was not at all tempted to try to find my house (as the practice area is right over my house) but when we did the high-g turn I looked straight down and saw a grass airstrip that a farmer has about 2 miles from my house. That was it for familiar landmarks, the rest of the countryside looks all the same from the air.
"Flight Simulator Promotes Bad Habits"
My flight instructor pointed out a number of times that my ability to hold a course and maintain altitude was very good for a beginner, and asked if I'd ever flown before. I said "not a real plane, only flight simulator". He said that some students were more naturally comfortable with the mechanics of flying, and others it was a lot harder. I've been using various combat and regular flight sims since I was 15, and I think that has given me an advantage. So I would have to say that although MSFS is not a substitute for real pilot training, it certainly gets you familiar with the basics of flying an airplane and it definitely helped me. As Jimmy said, it's probably going to save me a few hours of training.
Jimmy let me fly the plane to the downwind leg of the pattern and turn the base leg. He said he'd let me fly the approach but the whole part about using attitude to govern speed didn't sink in fast enough and he took over for the final approach. Landing was uneventful and we debriefed a bit before I headed home.
All in all, it was a great flight. I learned a lot, I did a good job flying, my instructor is very good at what he does, and I had a lot of fun. Best of all, I have .9 hours of flight logged in my book now. I fly again on Monday!