Greetings once again fellow simmers.
This update focuses on the South Pacific part of the tour, a region that has been somewhat underexplored by yours truly in the virtual sense.
My last post saw me at Auckland, preparing to make the long trek across to Tahiti. Well, what a saga that turned out to be. P3D crashed twice on me, once just after departure and once at the parking spot. It was with some trepidation that I launched a third attempt, but thankfully got to Tahiti courtesy of some time-compression and an…ahem…visit from the WWV mid-air refueling service. I prefer to fly real time, real weather, real badly etc…but at 7hrs+ trip time, I had to take a shortcut for the sake of practicality, not to mention my crook back.
A nice, visual circuit into NTAA was followed by a gentle touchdown.
Next up was another long trip, this time to American Samoa. This region received the Orbx treatment a while back. The current 47% off sale made it a little easier to open the wallet and add it to my collection.
We copped an almighty amount of ice enroute. I think my FO forgot to turn on the windshield heat. It's hard to find good help these days.
The approach into NSTU was 'sporty' to say the least. After more than 4 hours in the air and with my back screaming at me to get out of the seat, I needed to get us on Terra Firma pronto.
A very tight right circuit to 05 was the result, providing yours truly with an excellent lesson in energy management. As in, keep some in reserve you moron! Anyway, lovely Orbx scenery here.
The next day saw us flying from Pago Pago to another wonderfully-named place - Funafuti International Airport (NGFU) in the tiny nation of Tuvalu. Fun fact about this joint: because it doesn't see much action and space on the island is limited, the locals are allowed to use the runway for recreational pursuits in between 'movements'. A 'movement' is announced by the fire engine sounding a siren, giving people time to piss off before being mowed down by an aircraft. I'm guessing that the pre-landing checks involve an additional action - "Runway clear of kids riding their pushbikes - CHECKED."
The enroute forecast for the trip to NGFU was not promising. Thunderstorms in the area, with an expected vis of just 500m at the destination. I had planned to fly a RNAV approach to runway 03, but it ended up more like an improvised visual to runway 21. And by 'improvised visual', I mean I improvised being visual with the runway, and just closed my eyes and waited for the crash. The end result wasn't pretty, but it was effective at testing the pavement strength.
The next flight to Fiji provided me with yet another lesson in humility. I decided to ditch the FS2Crew FO and go it alone on this leg. Of course, this meant adherence to checklists would be vital. Which naturally is why I overlooked several key requirements, including the gear pins. After 30 mins preparing for departure, I took off, raised the gear and…well, it was going to be a looooong flight with the gear down the whole way. End flight; start again dopey. Thankfully, everything worked beautifully the second time around. Lovely weather enroute and the approach in Suva was definitely respectable, if a little long.
The following day we headed to New Caledonia or 'New Cal' to those of us that speak Strine. This ended up being quite a long flight, with strong headwinds for the entire journey.
The weather gods decided to extend our journey even further by laying on some rather ordinary weather on approach, necessitating an ILS approach.
I let the 'Q fly itself most of the way down, taking over with about 1000 feet to go, followed by a buttery smooth touchdown in the rain. #pureluck
Next up was a late afternoon flight to Port Vila, Vanuatu. Lovely conditions enroute. Landed just before 6pm local with a visual approach to runway 11.
Elevated terrain on final made for some interesting altitude callouts, but otherwise a very stable approach was enjoyed by all.
Life got in the way (as it does…) for a few days, necessitating a longer-than-expected sojourn in Vanuatu. Having consumed far too much of the local Tusker beer, I managed to crawl my way into the right seat of the 'Q for the next leg of the tour up to Honiara in the Solomon Islands.
Feeling a little under the weather, I was hoping for a short-ish flight time, but alas, SimBrief didn't have good news for me. 40 knots on the nose would result in a flight time of around 3 hours. Bugger. At least it would give me time for a decent nap. At 6am local. Like I said - too much of the local brew.
I can't recall most of the flight, having spent the majority of it in the comfort of my reading chair asleep; however, the approach was quite a ride with my lack of coordination transforming the 'Q into an airborne rodeo horse. Some days I'm glad this is just a sim. In real life, one would be invited into the Chief Pilot's office for tea and bikkies without the tea. Or bikkies.
This marks the halfway point in the tour. It's been quite a long journey for the Q400, but it has performed admirably throughout. The pilot less so, but…what's new.
Anyway folks, that's the mid-tour update done. Catch you again at the conclusion of the journey. Blue skies to all!
With the recent release of the 2018 tours, I decided it was time I kept it 'local' for a while and so, the 2018 Australia & South Pacific tour has commenced.
As I write this post, I'm sitting in Auckland, New Zealand. Only in a virtual sense unfortunately.
NZAA could use the FlyTampa/Orbx treatment, but then again, my PC probably couldn't handle a detailed airport of this size, so…as you were boys.
The tour started down the road from my place (well, 120km or so down the road…) at the Gold Coast. Known by by yours truly as 'Cooly', YBCG is a hive of activity these days. Many years have passed since I flew there in a lightie, with the occasional 737 for company. Now, Cooly receives the big boys from Asia.
Fortunately, Orbx have been focusing some of their development efforts in this region and recently released their Gold Coast Cityscape to much acclaim. It chews up FPS like nobody's business, but it's bloody impressive and brings the region to life. I understand that a custom Orbx-ed YBCG is just around the corner as well. I hope it is available for my return at the end of the tour.
My first flight saw me do a night time run from Cooly to Coffs Harbour, or 'Coffs' as the locals call it. Our aircraft of choice is Majestic's Q400. Again. The Q400 is a popular bird down under and it has captured my simming heart for now. In due course, I might post a review of the 'Q to the WWV forum as it really is a rewarding bird to fly when you take the time to learn its quirks.
Anyhoo….a lovely night VFR approach into Coffs was followed by an even lovelier touchdown on runway 21.
The next day, we continued south to Wollongong, or 'The Gong' as the locals call it. I've spent all of 24 hours in the Gong, but what a memorably messed up 24 hours it was. Anyway, we made good time and travelled overhead Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory and YSSY on the way down.
Sydney was home to yours truly back in the day. I spent my late teens living in Kings Cross or 'The Cross' as the locals call it. The Cross was pretty lively then, not the bland place that it is today. Nowadays, you can almost walk the streets without being stabbed or dragged in to a strip club. Bland.
I screwed the pooch on this arrival, getting myself horribly misaligned to the wrong runway. And by 'wrong runway', I mean a road. My virtual pax were none the wiser as I ducked and weaved my way onto runway 16.
The next flight was a short hop across to Canberra, or 'Hell' as the locals call it. I actually like Canberra, probably because I never lived there. Yet another pooch screwing to be had as I miscalculated the descent point and ended up higher than Johnny Depp at an after-party. To make matters worse, the conditions were better served by flying an instrument approach, which I of course had forgotten to select. "The Q400 turning final, are you visual?" Umm, if that's a runway at our 1 o'clock, then yes. Yes we are.
The first of several long overwater crossings was up next, from Canberra across to Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island. Helped by a full load of gas and a tailwind, the Q400 made it easily and in good time. ETOPS be damned.
I love Queenstown and would return in a heartbeat if the financial gods were a little kinder. It holds a special place in the hearts of myself and the wife. In addition, it has to be one of more challenging and fun places in which to commit aviation, either virtual or real. I've spent countless virtual hours flying every approach they have available, plus a few I invented myself (as you do). Orbx's rendition of NZQN is pretty handy.
And so, with a scenic departure out of Queenstown, we made our way up to Palmerston North and then onwards to Auckland, where I've been busy planning the next flight - the 'big one' across to Tahiti. At 2000 miles+, it's well beyond the range of the Q400, but with some creative licence, I've included a virtual stop in Rarotonga for fuel that will see us through.
Until next time, blue skies to all!
Aaaaannnnd…we're there. North America 2017 is done and dusted.
For a tour that I essentially abandoned early on, it ended up being quite an enjoyable journey. As with other WWV tours, a big part of the enjoyment is discovering places I never would have otherwise.
In terms of the aircraft used on this journey - the Navajo, the Q400 and the Legacy - I found myself fluctuating from day to day during the back half of the tour. When my interest in flight planning started to wane, I jumped in the Legacy. Weather, fuel, airways be damned. Other times, I was in the mood for a bit of challenge and flew the Q400. And occasionally, I'd fire up the Navajo just for the hell of it.
Highlights from the back end of the tour included:
A lovely approach into Phoenix Sky Harbor
A delightful hand-flown departure out of Palm Springs bound for Catalina Island
Flying the Legacy into a gusty Monterey was quite a ride as a 30 knot headwind early in the approach turned into a 10 knot tailwind on final. The activation of 'Plan B' followed, with a landing to the west instead of the east.
I was pleased to have Ketchikan on the itinerary, it being the only stop on this tour that I've visited in real life. Love the joint. Arrived there in the Legacy to crappy weather, necessitating an ILS approach which I flew so poorly, it made my Q400 approaches look professional.
Speaking of the Q400…two of my favourite flights on this tour were the last two legs to Jackson Hole and Chicago.
A night time arrival in KJAC where I hit APPR mode and let the Q fly itself down to minimums. Not surprisingly, it tracked the localiser and glide slope more accurately than yours truly ever could.
A sunrise departure for the last leg of the tour. It was bloody lovely. Well, lovely once we got airborne. I suspect the tower controller had his hand on the crash alarm as we used up every inch of runway 19 to get airborne. One really should remember to account for airport elevation in one's flight planning. I shall remind one forthwith.
The arrival into Chicago O'Hare was bittersweet as always, being the end of another adventure.
I took a moment to reflect on how far the simulation experience has come since flying into KORD in MSFS 5, way back in the 90s. (Image courtesy of The Old Flight Simulator Vault)
Simpler times, in so many ways.
Anyhow, that's me done for another post. Thanks for reading.
With South America, Asia, Europe and North America tours 'in the bag', I think it might be time to head home to Australia for the next adventure.
Until then, blue skies to all!
I've returned to the scene of the crime as it were. The 2017 North America tour, to be precise.
I started this tour back in March 2017, completed a handful of flights and then…well…got distracted. But, one year - and several other tours later - here I am again. As I write these words, I'm ten flights in, currently enjoying the delights of Austin, Texas. I started this tour in X-Plane 10 flying the Navajo, but have since switched across to P3D v4 and a combination of the Navajo and the Q400.
I have a soft spot for the Nav' but also find it a little too easy to fly. Even old shaky hands here can put her down safely with his eyes closed which suggests that the sim version probably isn't exactly 'realistic'. The Q400 on the other hand is a right bastard. The Dash series and I go way back in real life, so buying Majestic's Q400 a few years back was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, like many others, I've struggled to fly the thing with finesse. The model is almost too real for a bit of casual simming. I know a real life Q400 pilot and he reckons it's easier to fly the real bird. That's not a criticism of Majestic, rather a reflection on the fidelity (or lack thereof) involved in my desktop flying environment, not to mention the absence of a second pilot to help with the flows. All that aside, I've returned to the Q400 in order to add a bit of a challenge to my experience on this tour.
Apart from some ordinary landings, the last few flights have been quite enjoyable, including some thunderstorm dodging in Florida. Holy moly, that was fun. I'm pretty sure I saw the Q400 replace its standard 'Ice Detected' message and just go with 'You're screwed'. This thing truly is an ice magnet.
On my next departure, I was surprised to see that the local lumberjacks have gone on strike and that KMCO Orlando has been overrun by vegetation.
The Q400 is not that much different to any other regional airliner until it comes to the approach phase. I find that you need to be on your game to obtain a stable approach. Like others transitioning from a piston aeroplane, you learn pretty quickly that cutting the power early is a bad idea in the Q400. All landings in this bird are 'firm' but ya gotta keep some power on unless you want to break the backs of your pax. Oh, and flaps 15 is easier than flaps 35, even though I keep hearing my first instructor reminding me to "use all the flaps you have" every time I choose not to.
Anyway, that's the mid-tour update for you. I'll be back with another post at the tour's conclusion. Until then, blue skies (and no icing).
This trip came about as the result of an offline chat I have been having with Alan (WW1000) in which we were discussing the new Tours — and in particular the Long Haul Tour, in which at least some of the legs were by most standards a bit too long for an unmodified Boeing 744. I had therefore resigned myself to not attempting that Tour — until Alan mentioned that he had once done London-Sydney non-stop in a 744, and that made me think again.
Obviously, an unmodified 747 (even an ER version with both additional tanks) was going to... have problems, shall we say — in spite of the fact that the ER model of the 747-400 increased the MTOW to 412,770Kg, with an auxiliary fuel tank in the forward cargo hold and an optional second additional tank in the stabilizer. But the problems I had expected were confirmed when PFPX flatly refused to release the vlight, since the amount of fuel needed would exceed the aircraft's MTOW (Maximum Take-Off Weight). But a challenge was a challenge....
Although a huge trip such as London to Sydney is normally the preserve of the Boeing 777-200LR (even an A340-500, and definitely an A380, would struggle), a little research (OK, Google) quickly revealed that a 744 has indeed done the trip IRL — as recorded in a Flight Global article from 1989 that you can read here. The QANTAS 747-40 ER made it in 20 hours and 9 minutes, just 6 minutes slower than the RAF Vulcan that still holds the record — in spite of the fact that the Vulcan had to refuel in mid-air four times during the trip ;-) . QANTAS's record attempt was made to herald the arrival of the (then) newly-introduced 747-400 ER into their fleet. The flight was made possible because they reduced weight as much as they could and also had a tow to the runway threshold to save taxy fuel: however, the real key to their success was the use of "a special Shell-supplied high-density (0.84 specific gravity, 5 per cent up on the norm) version of Jet A1". I did have a word with virtual Shell, but they couldn't see their way clear to supplying me with their special fuel, so I had to use the usual Jet A-1 and resort to other means to achieve my objective.
So I set about building what I mentally called "the Frankenstein 744". Basically, I set out to create a special version of the aircraft, one that would give Boeing a fit of the horrors, but which could be light enough to do the trip with an ER's maximum fuel. QANTAS used the same technique in their 1989 flight too, to be fair: although the only tweaks they revealed to the writer of the article were "...the lack of cargo containers and pallet locks, and less galley equipment". Hmm. Anyway, happily, in PSX you are able to 'roll your own' to a certain extent as long as it's consistent with reality, in that every item on Boeing's list of available equipment for the relevant model is available (or not) — hence with the ER version you can opt to have auxiliary and/or stabilizer tanks fitted — I fitted them both, and then went through the rest of the options with some care. Having thus built my monster in PSX, I retrofitted it into PFPX so that I could do the planning, and this time PFPX was willing to release a (minimum fuel) flight plan for me to import into my 744's FMC. Unfortunately, I was still left with a slight problem, since PFPX planned the minimum-fuel route like this:
EGLL DET UL6 DVR UL9 KONAN UL607 MATUG UZ660 RASPU UL984 OKG L984 NIROV M991 OLGIN B494 MKL B491 BISNA M23 MARAL B450 BIBIM A909 LEMOD N644 REGET J145 DI A466 JHANG M875 LAPAN B209 JJS P646 PTN N895 BETNO G463 BKK R468 TSN M768 ELBIS DCT SCO H12 BOREE YSSY
(That's the abbreviated ATC-style route, which translates to many more LEGS entries, of course). The snag with it proved to be that when I imported the route into the aircraft and it was translated onto the LEGS page, even before the DET2F SID was added the route was truncated abruptly just before entering Australian airspace. I should explain that the 744 has a slight memory problem, in that there is a top limit of 120 LEGS entries which can be held in the FMC — beyond that you get a "ROUTE FULL" message (and this is faithfully modelled in PSX, of course). So I had to do what RW 744 pilots have to do on their very long flights (I've encountered this previously many times on trips from the UK to Far East destinations, so I know the drill): make a careful note of the missing entries, and then add them in to the FMC by hand (or rather, finger) once safely into the cruise. Not forgetting, when over Australia and having received the ATIS for YSSY, adding the appropriate STAR too, which conveniently (since it meant a straight-in run) turned out to be BORE7P into YSSY's rwy 16R.
A bit of a faff? Maybe, but this was an attempt at the record, after all. 8-)
But could I make it? There was only one way to find out....
I took off from Heathrow's rwy 27R, followed the DET2F SID, and once I was well past Dover added the missing waypoints to the FMC for the end of the trip. (I added the STAR much later, while over Australia, once the weather and runway in use were known). Here I am over Timor and approaching the coast of north Australia.
At the beginning of this you saw a map of the vlight (planned using PFPX's "minimum fuel" option). The initial cruise altitude was FL290, but to conserve fuel during the trip I step-climbed to FL310, FL330, FL350, FL370, FL390, FL410, FL430, and ultimately FL450 — which is pretty much the ceiling for a 744. (The record-breaking QANTAS flight also step-climbed to FL450 by the end of the trip). The planned time for the 1989 QANTAS journey was between 19 hours 23 mins and 19 hours 54 mins (their actual time was 20 hours 9 minutes). I was therefore anxious to do it in less than that if at all possible — hence my determined attempt at step-climbing to conserve fuel as much as I could. The only potential problem being those very high altitudes....
I have talked about "coffin corner" on the forum previously (see here and here for details) and therefore I have to admit that a step climb to FL450 was something that I accepted with some reluctance and only on the grounds of maximum fuel economy. I also monitored the vlight pretty closely (some might say, nervously <*cough*> ) for the last four hours. I did at one point push the nose down a fraction just to practice getting out of the subsequent unpleasant train of events (OK, you guessed, I was also getting a bit bored with long range cruise), and the result was immediate (see pic) — the bottom row of 'red bricks' threatened to rise into my flight régime, the speed climbed to 0.867M, the autopilot chucked me out of VNAV in disgust, and I had to repond decisively to get things back under control again before ATC noticed the departure from my assigned altitude. 8-º
There was also plenty of time to observe that at FL450 (hmm, that *is* 8½ miles up, I suppose) the horizon is definitely curved. OK, the effect is being exaggerated somewhat by my wide-angle lens view within FSX, but you can get an idea of the effect nonetheless).
At the Top of Descent I was happy to find that that straight-in approach to rwy 16R was definitely going to be easy-peasy.
Descending thru FL200 I had just the moon and some clouds for company:
Happily, throughout the trip I had benefited from some kindly tail winds that reduced my fuel usage (even during the descent they were still helping me, as you can see) —
— with the result that when I'd approached the Top of Descent with just 150 nm to go the FMC was predicting that I would land with 22.5 tonnes of fuel still on board — luxury!
During the long trip I had had plenty of time to decide that at the end of it I'd be using autoland (I thought it wise not to take even the slightest risk of messing up this landing, not after 19 hours): it's ages since I did one anyway, and the rules do say that I'm supposed to do one a month.... 8-º
After landing, I taxyed to gate 35 in the International terminal with a certain measure of relief, and shut down. But the big question is: how long did the trip take?
The official answer (according to the WV ACARS monitor) was 19 hours and 8 minutes — so a record indeed! (OK, a slightly fluky one, perhaps, but it still counts!). X-)
And the aircraft's onboard ACARS OOOI agrees (even if it does seem a little confused about my departure airport??!):
To be fair, I suppose I was lucky to get favourable tail winds, and, as an added bonus, a straight in approach to rwy 16R, but anyway — I made it. :-)
So many thanks to Alan for the challenge! Right.... it's time to take a look at the Long Haul Tour, I think.... :-D
And...we're done. With an early morning arrival into Stansted, Europe 2017 is now complete.
25 flights, 21 countries (I think), 1 heart broken (mine).
For me, the highlight of the tour was the geography lesson afforded to me by the experience. I flew to places I've never heard of, or have heard of but didn't know where they were...
As I mentioned in a previous post, the weather on some of the earlier flights was pretty ordinary, as was the sim's frame rate as my poor PC laboured under the strain of rendering it all. Conditions improved markedly in the latter stages and I seemed to score tailwinds on every leg to boot. Performance issues aside, the way that P3D v4 (thanks to AS16, ASCA and Envtex) renders the environment is very impressive. It actually triggers memories of real-life experience, and that brings a welcome smile to an old fella's face, I can assure you.
It's hard to select a favourite flight on the itinerary. The approach into Kangerlussuaq, Greenland rates a mention, as does the one into Split, Croatia - especially on the day I arrived with gusty winds tossing the Legacy around like a...Legacy. I enjoyed spending time in Italian skies (and Italian birds just quietly...) The approach into Rotterdam was interesting, not because it presented any real difficulty, but because I was a little distracted by all the dykes. There's a joke in there somewhere.
Compared to some other tours, I liked the number of shorter legs on this one, considering my choice of aircraft for the tour. Admittedly, that flight from Ireland to Greenland required the [ahem] assistance of the WWV air-to-air refuelling service, but...every other flight was nicely suited to my little bird. Thanks Brian for a well-planned and enjoyable itinerary. Looking forward to the 2018 edition!
A handful of screenshots appear below. Til next time folks!
So, it's been a while between drinks, as they say. I started this tour back in those heady days of 2017. You all remember 2017 right? Nah, me neither. I can't be sure if it's my cognitive decline that causes me to forget, or a simple case of not wanting to remember. In any event, I now find myself in 2018, with a tour to complete.
This mid-tour update sees yours truly parked in Bari, Italy, enjoying a glass or 20 of the local vino with a buxom young Italian bird that I will call Luciana. Because that's her name.
Since I last blogged, the little Legacy has taken me to destinations far and wide, including a sphincter-clenching journey from Ireland to Greenland, a visit to Vlad's mates in Russia before heading south through Germany, France, Portugal, Spain and then east, to Italy. While some fellow simmers are no doubt very familiar with Europe, this old bloke is a virtual virgin to these virtual skies. At least, that's what I told Luciana. You know, looking for some 'education' and all that.
Doing this tour in a light aircraft during the northern winter has proved challenging. I've never flown so many instrument approaches in such a short time. Published minimums have been ignored on more than one occasion, replaced by a personal standard that is somewhat flexible to say the least. I've come to appreciate that sighting the runway before landing is optional.
I will leave you with a small selection of screenshots from the journey to date. It's been a great trip so far. Til next time; blue skies.
Hello everyone, my name is Dennis (WW2096), I am a lover of aviation, it is more to say that it is my passion.
I have used FSX and X-Plane. Since I started using X-Plane, I really love flying on this other platform.
Since I used it I have been researching its plugins and aircraft.
I found that in Russia, the IL-96-400 is in development, this aircraft is really amazing, because as an aviation lover I read about them and I know that in América the only one that uses a similar model is "Cubana de Aviación" with the IL-96-300 and the best is free.
You can find it and download it at the following address: http://x-flight.su/addons.php
To make it easy for you to find the link, use Chrome and translate the website.
Comes with 4 liveries: Aeroflot, British airways, Lufthansa and Sochi
The bad thing is that it is in Russian, but I do not see that it is an impediment to be able to learn how to fly it.
I just installed it to start studying how to fly it and I want to share with all those who want to do transatlantic flights.
I hope this plane will be of great help to all of you.
Hello everyone. My name is Tom (aka WW5152) and I would like to share some screenshots of a flight I did from St. Louis, Missouri (KSTL) to Las Vegas, Nevada (KLAS) in a Boeing 727-200.
The default ATC for FSX vectored me in for a visual approach and landing, or as I call it "Shaking Hands with Danger". (I'm not a very good pilot.)
Happy New Year! Here is to writing 2017 on everything for the next 3 months.
Woke up this morning to find that Captain Sim released the 757-200 base package for P3D v4! I slapped down my plastic and got me a copy.
Some of you who have P3D v4 know that there are practically NO aircraft outside the stock planes, PMDG, and recently FSLabs A320 out there. Like literally nothing (I've been searching). Even if you aren't a fan of the 757, it is hard not to be excited about some new variety.
After a very long download (I am sure their servers are screaming), the 221mb install file took about an hour to download. I updated the AIRAC data through Navigraph, and was on my way for a short hop.
Flight model is great. Handling is very responsive, a joy to fly. Being a typical man, I don't need no tutorials....but I will likely review them to learn the finer points. I was able to get right in and fly with my PMDG knowledge.
Los Angeles International (KLAX)
Departed 7L at 2010z
Routing: GARDY2 LAS DCT MLF QWENN5
Cruise at FL330, M0.82
Salt Lake City International (KSLC)
Arrival on the ILS, 34R, Autoland, at 2155z
Metar: KSLC 012327Z 0200/0306 33006KT P6SM SCT080 SCT150 FM020400 14004KT P6SM SKC FM021800 33006KT P6SM SCT120 FM030300 16005KT P6SM SCT150
At KLAX, some exterior shots of the new model:
And some interior shots:
Take off and enroute:
Some shots of the FMC:
Approach and landing at KSLC
Happy New Year!
Usually for my Christmas trip I do Rovaniemi or Iceland or one of the traditional Santa-ish places to go. But this year, I thought I'd try somewhere different (apart from the snow, of course), so I picked Sion, LSGS.
Those of you who know Sion will by now be thinking that it's no place to land a 747, and you're dead right, it isn't. In the Real World™ you'd be in quite a lot of trouble if you tried it (as I discovered, they're a bit short on 747-sized parking spaces, apart from anything else). But hey — it's Christmas.... :-)
To land on rwy 25 you need to folllow a precise course through a narrow mountain pass.
Your final heading to the runway is 243º, but naturally the runway heading is 252º — and did I mention that it's only 6,562 ft in total length (although you can't use that much, naturally)? But hey, what are carbon brakes for? 8-º
So here's a few pics of the last part of the trip, given that that's the.... interesting part. :-)
As you can see, the earth is a bit bumpy around here. The bad news is, we have to start to descend below those peaks....
It's definitely an odd feeling to look around and see rock *above* you!
But as we thread our way through the mountains, down is the way we need to go....
As this shot shows, the valley is reasonably wide so far, although it narrows somewhat, up ahead.
Now and then a patch of localised mist appears, which helps to increase the heart rate even further.
On the sheltered valley floor, the snow is fairly patchy — either that or else they haven't started to get their full winter allocation yet.
Aha! Runway in sight (even if this isn't going to be a straight-in landing, as you can see).
OK, prepare to land: double-check that all the automatics are disconnected and let's enjoy some old-fashioned hand flying. Happily, the 744 is a delight to hand-fly. :-)
Landing (or perhaps crashing) imminent — the brisk cross-wind from my left isn't exactly helping things, either.
Phew! *And* I managed not to go off the end of the runway (sorry there's no pics of the landing itself, but I was a tad busy!). The runway turnoff has a fairly tight left turn, as you can see.
In fact, the taxyways are clearly not designed to be wide enough for a 744, either.
They weren't sure where to put me without blocking up the taxyways or the apron, but we found a space eventually.
So a safe arrival at Sion — and a very Merry Christmas to all! :-D
So after a break of a few weeks due to commitments in the real world, I have managed to wedge in some time for an update on progress. A relatively short flight from Yeager Airport to Richmond International Airport (KRIC) for a visit to the state capital of Virginia. Virginia is known as the 'Old Dominion' due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America, and also "Mother of Presidents" because eight US Presidents were born there, more than any other state. Richmond, the state capital had an estimated population in 2016 of 223,170 making it the fourth most populous city in the state. In terms of the nation and population, Richmond ranks the 98th largest city. The James River which flows through Richmond (and which I flew over - see below) is the 12th longest in the United States that remains entirely within a single state. So without further ado the following pictures plot my flight:
Take off from Yeager Airport. I've been directed to do a loop of the airport before heading on my outbound vector. Not sure why...
Going past Yaeger Airport. Bye bye Charleston.
Beautiful landscape in this part of the US. Forests and ridged hills/mountains.
What a day for flying...
The James River
Finals into Richmond International Airport
Taxing in to the GA area. Nice flight.
So with Richmond under my belt, thats 24 of 50 states visited. Just under half. Time to point the plane north next with Maryland up next. Until next time....
If there is one region I have neglected to explore properly in all these years of simming, it is Europe. What better way to address this oversight than by doing a WWV tour - Europe 2017 to be precise, compiled by the one and only brian747 no less!
From what I understand, Europe 2017 was put together so that it would be suitable for 747 size aircraft. Naturally, this means I'm going to fly something that would fit inside the cockpit of a 74. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Lancair Legacy.
One of flight sims funnest birds, RealAir's Legacy is one of my 'go-to' aircraft when I was just want to punch holes in the sky. It's the type of aircraft that I would build for myself if (1) I had more than 4 cents in the bank and (2) could build an aircraft. While she's a quick bird, she's got limited range, which naturally makes her perfect for a WWV tour. Not!
2017 Europe begins at Stansted and takes us to Dublin.
It's a cloudy old day in the Old Dart, but a bit of ORBXness is visible enroute.
Approaching EIDW, I catch a glimpse of a golf course - one of many to be found in this part of the world.
On approach to runway 28.
One leg complete, 24 to go.
The next post will be a mid-tour update. Until then!
Right. That didn't go according to plan.
What started out as a fling with Connie, ended up as a schizophrenic dash across the Asian continent in 4 different aircraft and 3 different simulators.
But, dear readers, the Asia 2017 tour is complete.
Connie is a lovely old girl, but her ancient autopilot struggled to keep the blue side up as we rocked and rolled across southern Asia. Views like the one below were a common occurrence. While I enjoy a bit of inverted flight, my crew and passengers did not - and expressed their fear in no uncertain terms.
After being reported by the crew for reckless aviating, I was removed from active duty aboard Connie and left stranded on the subcontinent without a ride.
I grabbed the right seat on a Q400 for one leg, landing in visibility that made reaching the runway a genuine lottery. Luck was on my side that day, but with a PC struggling to render frames above single digits, I decided not to push it any further. A change of sim was in order and back to X-Plane 10 we went.
The Epic E1000 took me to places I've never heard of. All was going well, but boredom was starting to seep in to my experience, so a further change was in order. I decided to give X-Plane 11 another try. And if you're going to make a change, you might as well go 'all in', so I grabbed the v1.2 update to the IXEG 737, grabbed an adventurous (and discreet) crew and continued southbound.
The remaining legs were flown in XP11, mostly without incident, although with frequent stutters on my ailing rig. I did find myself getting bored after a couple of flights in the Classic, so reverted back to the E1000 for the last few legs. Pictures don't do XP11 justice when it comes to the night lighting. Just lovely. And not a bad hand-flown ILS approach, if I do say so myself.
Anyway....the 2017 Asia tour is done.
2017 Europe has started, in an aircraft unsuitable for the task. Of course. But that's for another post.
After a short break, my adventure continued into West Virginia. West Virginia is the 10th smallest state by land area and the 38th in terms of population. It also apparently has the second lowest household income of the 50 states. My flight today was to take me from Capital City, in Kentucky to Yeager Airport about 2 miles from downtown Charleston, the capital of West Virginia...
Take off from Yeager Airport...there are clouds afoot.
Cloud base seems to be lowering...
White out...in the clouds
There be Charleston down there with Yeager Airport just visible too.
A fairly uneventful flight and finals into Yeager Airport.
Taxing past the terminal
Parked up at Yeager Airport
Charleston is the capital and most populous city in West Virginia with 50,821 residents. It does not rank in the top 300 US cities in terms of population however. 23 capitals done, 27 to go...the other Virginia up next...
I decided to do a trip totally within Chinese airspace, especially given the aggressive programme of airport building that is currently going on in China. Air traffic there is controlled by the military — also, all altitude clearances from ATC are given in meters, but the Chinese have devised their own special Metres to Feet conversion table which seems to assumes that 300 metres is equivalent to 1000 ft <gulp> and which must be used by all aircraft for conversion. (IRL, another consequence of the fact that the country’s airspace is largely controlled by the military is that they leave little room for civilian aircraft even as the domestic airline industry is booming, so that the airways are chronically congested and delays are frequent. Happily, that doesn't affect simmers).
The trip started at Lhasa, Tibet (ZULS) and ended at Sanya "Phoenix International" (ZJSY) — here's the map: as you can see a ground distance of 1211 nm became an air distance of 1603 nm....
The take-off was not entirely without interest. At an elevation of 11,713 ft Lhasa Gonggar airport (ZULS) is among the highest airports in the world (see the list at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest_airports ). Only aircraft that have been specially adapted to be able to land and take off at such high altitudes (and whose pilots have been specially trained) can use it — fortunately the Brian's Charter 744 has received such modification. Even so, I used nearly every inch of the available 13,123 feet of runway for my take-off, and then climbed gently and with extreme care, since the thin air at that altitude doesn't provide as much lift (and, of course, the engines don't provide as much thrust) as at a normal airport, either. Just for interest, I had previously tried the Microsoft trike at ZULS, and sure enough it was unable to get off the ground.
With the surrounding terrain being somewhat inhospitable (!!), it pays not to stall when climbing away from Lhasa Gonggar!
Fast forward to the end of the cruise, which included a couple of step climbs, and here you find me approaching the ToD.
And here are some parts of the instrument panel at the start of the descent.
After the cold snowy peaks of Tibet, the shores of the South China Sea provided a more welcoming appearance. Sanya airport is at the southern tip of Hainan, the southernmost province of China.
Unlike ZULS, Sanya Phoenix airport presents a routine challenge when it comes to landing a 747-400, since its 11,155 ft runway is located at an elevation of just 95 ft. In 2016 the airport handled over 17 million passengers. Here are a few shots of the approach and landing —
And soon after that I was shutting the aircraft down at gate 6.
OK, now for the trip back — the approach into Lhasa Gonggar is "interesting", to say the least. ;-)
A picture paints a thousand words so I'll let the screenshots do most of the talking on this update and my flight from Nashville to the capital of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Frankfort.
Take off from Nashville International Airport - downtown in distance.
There be downtown Nashville back there
Clouds and mist beginning to develop
Proper instrument flying now...
Nearing Frankfort and the cloud is thinning thank goodness
Approaching Frankfort and its airport, the aptly named Capital City Airport. (KFFT)
Bit low as I approach the threshold
The trusty Cessna tucked up for the night
So, here we are in Kentucky. The 15th state to join the Union, ranking as 37th in geographic size and 26th most populous. Frankfort, the capitol is the 4th smallest capital in the US in terms of population weighing in at 25,527 in 2010. Louisville is the biggest city in Kentucky with Frankfort some way behind in 14th. In terms of my trip, I've now visited 22 state capitals with 28 ahead of me. Halfway is within shouting distance.... I think I'll have a go at the Charleston next...
After a few days in Jefferson City it was time to head south west into Tennessee. Nashville is the capital and I understand there is a bit of music heritage in that area so appropriate background music was selected. I decided to take off in the wee hours. The only issue, as a result, was it was dark and the lighting wasn't great. So the taxi to the runway, although short, was a bit too exciting and I think I went round in circles before I found my way...
Thank goodness, a sign ........I'm sure I've been here before...
A taxiway at last...
Finally on the runway - time to take off
After take off there was not much to see for a while as it was pitch black and not many cities along my flight path, though I thought I could see St Louis in the distance at one point. The light began to get better and I saw I was flying in some early morning cloud.
A foggy, cloudy early morning...
A bit wet and misty over Tennessee
The weather cleared as I approached the capital with blue skys threatening to break out... before a simple landing into Nashville International Airport (KBNA)
Proper daylight but with some haze
Finals into runway 13 KBNA
Safely shut down and tied down at KBNA
Nashville is the capital and largest city in Tennessee. It has a population of 660,388 making it the 24th largest city in the US. Tennessee is the 36th largest and the 16th most populous state of the Union. Kentucky up next...
Time to head further east into Missouri. Also time to fire up P3D v4 again for this flight and take the Beechcraft Bonanza up for a spin.
Clear weather with not a cloud in the sky as I prepared for take off Topeka for a 0630hrs take off.
Taxing under a clear early morning sky at Forbes Field
After take off I turned east on a flight path that would take me past Kansas City, just to my south, heading into Missouri. The weather became more cloudy as went through central Missouri but cleared again for a straight forward landing into Jefferson City Memorial Airport (KJEF).
Kansas City is off to my right somewhere - and the river marks the Missouri state border
Cloud starting to build as I go further into Missouri
REX and ASN in P3D for clouds and weather - looks pretty good to me
Superb volumetric clouds afoot
Bit of a cross wind on approach into runway 30 at KJEF
Jefferson City is the 15th largest city in the state with a population of around 43,000 people. Bizzarely, Jefferson City is apparently known as 'Jeff' by many in the area. The capital is named after the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson and in 2013 was judged as America's "Most Beautiful Small Town" by certain pundits. Wider Missouri is the 18th most populous (about 6 million residents) and the 21st most extensive in area.
So with a visit to Jefferson City done, that's 20 states down and 30 to go. Nashville beckons...
A rapid update this for a relatively rapid flight. I took off from a short stop over in Lincoln, Nebraska for the 125 mile flight almost due south into Kansas and its capital city of Topeka. I think I may have vexed ATC around Lincoln airport with some artistic flying on take off (still getting used to the Real Experience Pack).
Artistic flying after take off from Lincoln Airport - lovely clear weather for it though
Lincoln Airport in all its glory - if you look closely, you might see some very angry ATC staff shaking their fists at me - oops!
Downtown Lincoln, Nebraska
Weather was clear and not much to speak of during the flight (I have been lucky so far with it). After an uneventful flight I did a GPS approach into runway 21 at Topeka Regional Airport, formerly known as Forbes Field (KFOE).
Getting lined up with runway 21 at Topeka Regional
Not far to go now...
Topeka, aside from being the state capital, is the fifth largest city in Kansas with a population of about 127,000. Nationwide, Topeka ranks as the 217th largest city in terms of population. Apparently the name 'Topeka' comes from Kansa-Osage language meaning "Place where we dug potatoes". Kansas became the 34th State to be admitted the Union in 1861 with Topeka being chosen as the capital a short time later.
So with Topeka visited, that's 19 state capitals completed. Just 31 to go... Missouri up next.
Time to head further east into Nebraska. This time a flight from Denver to the capital city of Nebraska, Lincoln. A flight of about 370 miles as the crow flies (or a trusty Cessna).
But the first challenge was to negotiate the long taxi to runway 25 at KDEN. As per my previous post, Denver International Airport is the largest airport in the US by land area making some of the routes to the runways fairly epic. Things were made a bit more complicated by my decision to depart in the very early hours so I could meet the sun coming up. So a lengthy taxi in the dark required some careful planning and eyes peeled for signs.
The start of the epic taxi to runway 25
Made it to runway 25 with sufficient fuel still in place for the actual flight!
I finally made it to runway 25 with still enough fuel remaining for the actual flight. After take off the huge size of KDEN could be seen as I circled the airport.
KDEN stretches out below...
and KDEN goes on and on...
Once on the correct side of the airport I headed east for the far side of Nebraska where Lincoln is situated. The further east I went the ground began to drop away from the high plains of Colorado. Just after 6am local time the sun began to rise with a morning mist over Nebraska.
Sunrise over Nebraska
A pleasant early morning flight...
Early morning mist over Nebraska
The weather around Lincoln airport determined an approach into runway 36.
Finals into Lincoln Airport
KLNK is yet another default airport which has the buildings in the right place (part of the X plane Gateway project)
Shutting down as per the Reality Experince Pack - Avionics off before the engine or else we might fry the electronics!
Lincoln is the second largest city in Nebraska behind Omaha. With a population of 280,364, Lincoln is the 71st largest city in the USA. It has been the capital since Nebraska became a state in 1867. One unique thing about Nebraska is that it the only triple land locked state. You learn something new every day! Next stop Kansas...
Colorado State Flag
Another brief update on a brief flight. It's just over 100 miles between the capital of Wyoming, Cheyenne, and my destination for this flight, Denver. Both cities sit at a high altitude with Denver known as the Mile High City as a result. It does mean the trusty Cessna 172 needs a bit more care and attention on take off, especially as I now fly with the Reality Expansion Pack fitted. (I keep flooding the engine on start up!)
Downtown Cheyenne on just after take off
The endless High Planes of Colorado (that obviously aren't endless)
Turning back north to approach runway 34L at KDEN
Runway 34L lined up in the distance (honest - it is there!)
Nothing much of interest to report on the short flight itself (relatively flat landscape but high) with pleasant clear weather. One thing of note is the size of Denver International Airport itself. With a land area of 52.4 square miles it is the largest airport by land area in the nation. It certainly seemed to go on and on as I taxied in for what seemed like hours - I wonder if anyone has ever ran out of fuel on the taxiway in reality?
In 2010 Denver had a population of 600,158 making it the 24th most populous city in the United States and the largest city in the state as well as its capital. Interesting side note - Colorado, Wyoming and Utah are the only states which have boundaries defined solely by lines of latitude and longitude (and I've visited them all now). With Denver visited that's 17 state capitals under my belt, over a third done! Nebraska up next...