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Air Hauler 2 - Nomad Day 2

Had some business to tend to here in LFED so the next leg didn't take place until the evening.  Something happened to my flight sim though on this leg.  AH2 registered me at LFED as a takeoff/landing with a "Catastrophic" landing resulting in damage to the landing gear.  Since I can't seem to delete these entries or merely "do over" I just had to deal with it.  THANKFULLY, I took the insurance option, (I'm usually very much against this) which let me repair everything for $9,000 instead of the $136000 it wanted!!   Now my financial ledger.  As if the glitch didn't put a damper in my financial situation my first night landing I came in a bit hot and caused some more damage!  My insurance company will probably drop me if I do this again.  So down goes another $1900 in repairs.   I thought I was doing well getting up near $30,000.  Well that went quick....  I keep this pace up and I'm done.   Anyway, the night was quite lovely before all hell broke loose. "The Stars At Night, Are BIG AND BRIGHT... Deep in the heart of Texaaaassssssssss...." Wait..  I'm in Spain. So, I came it a bit hard but not too bad.  NO repairs needed this time.  Spend the night in a smelly hotel ready to hit it again.  Next up we headed out to Barcelona.  Flew next to the Pyrenees Mountains: At the conclusion of this mission I gathered my paycheck and went to explore the town.  Also was greeting with a RAAAANK UP!   I'm really excited about the next location.  For any GAME OF THRONES fans we are heading to Dorn.  Grabbing some Dornish wine and maybe other wonderful Dornish prizes.  Otherwise, to those Non-GOT fans its Valencia Spain bringing some delicious Barcelona Coffee to the good people of Valyria, Mareen, Dorn DOH! Valencia.    A little heavy on this one.  Doesn't leave me much room for fuel, I just made it with the minimum to make it....   All good to go, dropped off the coffee in Valencia.  $25k in the box now back up to where I way before the "Landing Gear incident."  Enjoy some of these images from the flight.  Nothing in the box from Valencia so we sight see for a bit until a job arrives.     Why this shows up below I don't know...  The landing rates!!!

Latitude24

Latitude24

Air Hauler 2 The First set

I'm sure most of us have heard about Air Hauler 2.  A wonderful addon to throw a little economy in the world of flight sim.  Sadly, at the moment it is only for FSX and P3D but fingers crossed the dev will throw compatibility to XP. I've had AH2 for a little while now and created companies with lots of AI and pax routes.  I always end up deleting the company for whatever reasons.  Always felt locked into one area.  So, Nomad mode piqued my interest since I won't have to worry about a "home base" or any base for the matter.   So I figured let's start from the bottom and work our way up wherever the jobs may take me.  I was able to acquire the Beechcraft C90, currently have 22 Rep and $15,913 in the bank.   Sorry for not having the first flight listed, I just didn't know about this blog feature here.   This is my second flight:  EGNS -> EGUO A little bouncy at some points but overall a wonderful flight. I did mess up on the AH2 settings with fuel.  I set the fuel within P3D to reflect what I had in AH2 but I must have messed something up as it defaulted to 100%  you can see below in the current flight log. Next Job #3:  Back to using Non-Network mode..  I tried not to use it because it defaults to UTC time and for me, that means I fly in the dark a majority of the time which is what I don't want.  I believe I can alter the time in game after I load everything up.  At least today is a weekend and it's still daytime.   The wind rock and rolled me a little bit but still had a nice landing.  -104 according to the flight log. Well here we are, LFED - Pontivy, France! Next up - Sab Sebastian, Spain with a delivery of Chemicals.  Not sure what kind but perhaps I don't want to know...   Some more images from this last flight and we will call this post complete!

Latitude24

Latitude24

Another long haul

This was a straightforward trip from Singapore WSSS to (a slightly murky) San Francisco KSFO. All 7,342 nm of it. The thing is, that for most of the time there's only two things to be seen out of the windshield — clouds, and water. And that's when it's daylight! So I won't burden you with any unnecessary comments, just show you a few pics of the take-off and the landing.    Cheers, Brian                   Top of descent:   At last — land!       KSFO rwy 28R:        

brian747

brian747

[2019 Europe] Part 2: Legs 6 to 10

And so we return for part 2.... Leg 6 of the tour first up, from Hamburg, Germany to Lodz in Poland. Appropriate livery chosen. TOGA TOGA TOGA, let's blow this popsicle stand. Safely away. Hmm. 560 AGL and we're in solid cloud. I know I'm flying the ILS and all, but I wasn't actually expecting to fly it to minimums. Not that I know what the minimums are... And we're visual at about 300 feet. Let's call that 'minimums' Ok, so this next leg (to Moscow) presented yours truly with more than a few challenges. In hindsight, it was never going to be simple, especially when you see a mysterious black limo rock up just prior to departure.   Three attempts were required to complete this leg. Firstly, X-Plane bugged out with a CTD. Then, an actual aircraft crash after what I can only guess was an encounter with severe icing. Anyway, on the third attempt, we got away safely in the Aeroflot livery, bound for Moscow. Eerie lighting effect as we cruise. Ominous, in hindsight. And the curse strikes again. Look carefully at the image below and you'll notice something awry. Yep, a belly landing. I wish I could blame X-Plane (or the mysterious black limo) for this, but I can't. Just a flat out cluster of an approach where the Kapitan forgot to lower the gear. Or as I like to call it, 'Autobrakes Extreme'. My first unintentional belly flop in many, many years of simming. As I reflected on this afterwards, I realised how many Human Factors (HF) issues were at play here. The personal irony being that I have developed HF training for others... In desperate need of redemption, I got back on the horse and headed for Azerbaijan. A (thankfully) uneventful flight to a desolate place - at least in X-Plane. The uneventfulness lasted one flight. This next one (to Kiev) was over in about 20 minutes after Kapitan Khaos forgot to start ACARS. Realising it about 20 miles from departure, I made a cheeky 180 and returned to the field. Take two was better and we made it to a low-vis Kiev without further incident. Romania was next on the itinerary. Another low-vis arrival, complete with trees planted over the approach lights. Thanks X-Plane. Thanks. And that's it, for what was an adventurous part deux. Thanks for reading.  

WW9731

WW9731

Far(ther) East — Magadan to Beijing

Looks sunny and pleasant, right? Well TBH this is the first time that I have ever been here that it hasn't been snowing fit to bust. If I tell you that the outside temperature in that picture is a withering -26ºC, then you'll appreciate my agreeable surprise. Welcome to Magadan, which is more or less at the top right hand edge of Russia. Here's the flight map (I'm going from top right to bottom left):   As you can see, my destination is Beijing — another of those places where the weather is often not, shall we say, very favourable, since industrial fog is the norm (Mumbai comes immediately to mind in that connection, too). But just for once, back at Magadan the weather was being amazingly kind to me as I taxyed out and took off. Since they have so little daylight up here, I had timed my departure to take advantage of the brightest part of the day.           Given the climb rate achievable by my trusty RR engines, it wasn't long before I found myself above the cloud layer: here I'm crossing the sea of Okhotsk. During the cruise I step-climbed from FL360 up to FL420 to save fuel — which was especially necessary in view of the strong headwind.   After which it's pretty much steppes and mountains for most of the way....     But a few hours later I was descending towards Beijing....   ....where there are some nasty mountains about, when approaching from this direction.   As I got nearer to the ground, the dreaded Beijing smog made its appearance — made slightly worse by the fact that it was also getting towards dusk.   Definitely time to light my aircraft up like a Christmas tree!   Given the conditions, combined with the fact that it was about time for the compulsory once-a-month autoland to check the equipment anyway, this meant that the landing was boring whilst I watched the automatics make it look easy. Whilst also being tensed like a panther to spring into action in the event that anything had gone wrong, of course — but it didn't.   You can never get enough light on the situation, given these conditions!   But it was an easy taxy from runway 19 to my appointed gate 508. Job done.   Cheers, Brian

brian747

brian747

A contrast in climate (Toronto to Miami)

This was a short (by 744 standards) jaunt from the snow of Toronto to the distinctly milder temperatures of Miami.   Ready for pushback at Toronto gate C29  
Pushed back and engines started  
It looks icy out there!  
Let's get somewhere warmer!  
This stuff is all very well on the ski slopes but...  
Ah, that's better!  
Just started the descent towards KMIA  
Miami, here I come  
Touchdown at dusk  
Parked at the satellite International terminal  
 

brian747

brian747

[2019 Europe] Part 1: Legs 1 to 5

And another WWV tour begins - 2019 Europe. Thanks to maestro Brian Cowell for his work in putting together this little adventure for us all to enjoy. As I write this post, I am almost halfway through the tour, parked in Larnaca, but this first PIREP will only account for legs 1 to 5, as I haven't had time to sort the rest of the screenshots 2019 Europe begins at Farnborough. My chariot of choice for this leg was the ‘Zibo mod’ 737 in XP11.30. I thought I would see what all the fuss is about and (1) try to learn this bird, and (2) get XP running decently on my old rig during this tour. I can’t say I’ve succeeded with (1) yet, but I have got XP11.30 running reasonably well, primarily by configuring all the sliders to so far left that they are practically off the screen. Anyway, Ryanair seemed the most appropriate livery for this first leg. I think this is Heathrow? No ortho, no Orbx or anything like that on my rig. Touchdown in Prestwick. Long, but on the centreline. Good enough for me. Next up, I switched back to P3D and the Q400 when I saw what the weather was going to be like for the 2nd leg arrival into Bergen. Sorry XP11, but the weather representation in P3D is more to my liking when conditions are 'marginal'. Totally different representation of Scotland when you jump back into P3D. Started with the ILS before becoming visual and doing the rest myself. Leg 3 took us from Bergen down to Aalborg, Denmark. Back into the 737 for this leg to test out yet another new update from old mate Zibo. Down to Luxembourg for Leg 4. I don’t think I’ve ever been to Luxembourg in the virtual sense. An all together uneventful journey and I was starting to feel moderately comfortable with the 737 by this point. Leg 5 had us heading up to Hamburg, Germany. Really pretty on the way in. And that is where I'll conclude this post. The next few legs is where this tour started to get interesting from the perspective of successfully completing flights. More about that in the next post Thanks for reading folks.    

WW9731

WW9731

 

fsx p3d now x plane 11

While most of us have root's in fsx or earlier  now p3d     i have dabbled in x plane for a few month in 2018  . I can now say if you  do some research into the scenery side of x plane  [all free]   with a bit of a learning curve.........   wow   You x plane boy n girls know what i mean, If you have hd mesh's and ortho [photo scenery ]   and im only starting. The add-on airport's are free too      there are payware ones as well. but it a trial n error until you find a good airport  for free , Some of the payware isn't all there cracked up to be, I haven't bought any yet as the free stuff is good enough. But there is a tonne of them. The only thing lacking is pmdg level aircraft except for zibo's 737 it's close to pmdg .[free] . Just a few shots of some flight's.   better push bach    is awsome.   X-Plane_2018-12-15_14-29-15.bmp

Greg

Greg

Just in time for 2019 Europe Tour 2018

Knight Aviation completed the Europe 2018 Tour just in time to be back home @ Langebaanweg Airport FALW to see 2018 out. We arrived 12pm the afternoon 31/12/2018 just in time to light the braaivleis (barbecue) fires for the old years eve. The 2018 Europe tour took us to some of the best scenery there is, from stunning  mountains with white snow blankets covering them, to the darkest of the earth where the sun barely ever shines and where your compass wants to hit the floor, to an Island they say is FUN but you think on Approach "this is really going to hurt", to behind the Iron curtain and back to the sunshine Islands in the Mediterranean sea, to the home land of the God Father and to the dry sands of North Africa. Norway Flesland totally blew my mind with its small Islands.  We did the tour in peak Winter time and at times I wanted to actually put on my thick coat...............mmmm wait you are in South Africa mid summer and mid heat wave.......maybe not a good idea. 21 Countries in total 25 flights.  We really enjoy doing this tour. KA was hired by a couple of Israeli Rabbi's and soon learned why they say "where there are 2 Rabbi's together, there are 3 opinions." They really have different opinions all the time. Luckily it was our Air Hostesses that had to listen and the pilots could tuck away in the cockpit.   So we started the tour from Tel Aviv Yisra'el. We ferried our new Boeing 757-200 C32A up for the tour from FALW via Nairobi and back via Yemen Socotra and Kinshasa DRC. Our new Boeing 757-200 C32A proved her self as an excellent  AC for the use of doing tours and what a pleasure to fly. Little under powered from FL380 if you really want to sit at FL400 or FL410 you really have to managed a step clime from FL380 and have to keep her at 87% thrust at FL410.  She is more comfy at FL350 - FL380 for the cruise at Mach 0.8.         

Knight W

Knight W

Teaser for the 2019 European Tour

I've been having all sorts of fun over the last couple of months brewing up an interesting collection of airports for next year's European Tour. I've just put the finishing touches to it, so I thought I'd post a few pics of one of the little challenges that will be included, for those who dare. I won't say where the airport is until the Tour comes out, just to keep you in suspense.....      It's one of those places where, owing to the presence of some hideously large chunks of rock scattered over the landscape nearby, the runway is significantly offset from the localiser — so you only really have one chance to get it right or it's a go-around. There is an alternative procedure whereby you overfly the runway and then do a circle to land coming back, but I'm too old to wait that long (I'm bound to be desperate for a beer by that point), so I just go for it.      And since I can get a 744 in there, you guys'll find it easy-peasy, right?      The thing is — you'll have to wait until the Tour comes out to find where the airport is (if you've been there, please don't spoil it for the ones that haven't, let it come as a surprise...).       This is the European Tour, remember, so you can forget about Nepal or South America. (Mind you, I have noticed that lil' ol' Europe does have a mountain or three scattered around...). OK, here come the HappySnaps:   It wasn't the greatest weather for flying in the region, today.  
At the end of the descent there's a scenic trip through the mountains as you approach the airport.  
It's an... "interesting" approach.  
The runway is in sight (just about).  
Although we're currently about 20 degrees off the runway centreline....  
OK, I'm going for this....  
Landing (or maybe crashing, one of the two) imminent.  
Yup, we're looking good  
Hah! Not quite on the centreline.        
But we're down.  
It isn't a particularly long runway, though. Braaaaakes....!  
Parked!  
OK, where's that beer?  
  Cheers, Brian  

brian747

brian747

Asia 2018

And so another tour for Knight Aviation comes to an end. Asia 2018. What a demanding and challenging tour this has been at times. The high mountains in the Northern part really made this an interesting journey for Knight Aviation. During this time KA went through some really big changes with P3D v4 still new to KA, KA also upgraded it fleet with a new GTX 1070 oc 8gb in the later stage of the tour. KA also found a FMC finally that works more or less with it's AC's (not yet totally ideal, but much better to once I tried before.)  KA was contacted by a international choir for a tour of Asia, and jumped at the opportunity to do it. The choir sounds really more like a cat in distress and really interfered with the captain's nap at times, but luckily the flying was very interesting. Oops did I say that out loud..........mmmmm no pilot of KA ever takes a nap in the cockpit........honestly!  So our journey started on the 27/10/2018 @ Presidente Nicolau Lobato International  10:49 z (According to Acars) and ended on the 30/11/2018 @ 19:41z. But there where one more short little leg to do.....LUKLA....cr@#@!p. Well we where defiantly not going to fit the B738 in there (we are not @brian747 that probably could fit the B744 in there and then take it out of there as well). Wrecking about 3 King Air 350 that just does not want to bleed off airspeed even if we bring her in just above stall speed, we decided on a Grand Caravan and really had to plant it as close to the rnw numbers and still with reverse prop and maks breaks it run off just just. (anybody that have the right plates or approach for LUKLA  please I might need those next time I go in there.)  LUKLA SSOME OTHER PICS      

Knight W

Knight W

Leeds-Bradford (slightly in advance of Worldflight)

I usually follow along with one or more of the Worldflight trips, although without the "benefit" of Vatsim. This year Worldflight's only UK landfall is at Leeds-Bradford, where the 7,382 ft runway is not the shortest they have to contend with this year, but nonetheless it still requires some care in a Boeing 747-400. Although as luck would have it, (well, my sort of luck anyway) as things turned out I had rather less than that to work with. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It all started when my favourite steed was in for its D check, and afterwards it was evident that a new paint job would be required. [Translation: over in the real world, I had decided to change my puppet aircraft in the scenery generator from the FSX version to a POSKY 744, so I pretty much had to reach for the electronic paintbrush]. Now I hate repainting with a passion, mostly because I do it so rarely that I can never remember how I did it previously and so have to start learning again from scratch (not to mention that it's always a different paint kit anyway), but I felt that a touch of new paint probably wouldn't go amiss, so I gritted my teeth and produced one. Since I have the artistic eye of a Neanderthal there isn't much difference from the old paint (still the same colours and the same overall layout) but I did remember to change the Union flag to the English flag (in view of the fact that these days the Celtic fringe are making noises about going their own way, which is fine by me) hence that was the only change of any significance. Apart from the seasonal touch of a Christmas hat, of course.     Anyway, I felt that Worldflight was a good opportunity to give the new paint job a quick trial — so I decided to do a short flight from Heathrow into Leeds-Bradford. The first problem came when I discovered that Worldflight would be landing there some time after 2 a.m. tomorrow morning. Hmm. These days I need what little sleep I can manage to get (between hanging upside down in the wardrobe eating white mice, of course), so sadly I had to discount the possibility of vlying alongside everyone else. Therefore when my wife conveniently announced that she had decided to spend the morning at a bridge competition I decided that now would be the ideal time, albeit a few hours ahead of the Worldflight guys. I always use RW weather, and today's is somewhat problematic and November-ish. It was fairly murky at Heathrow ....   .... and up aloft I had to climb through a lot of gunge ....   .... before reaching my cruising altitude at FL190.    And in the nature of such trivial trips, it wasn't long before I reached ToD and started my descent into Leeds-Bradford.     I had (optimistically?) planned to use rwy 32: it has an ILS, which is always reassuring in poor vis conditions, and furthermore there's a nice generous turning circle at the far end. So it was with a familiar feeling of disappointment that I discovered on checking ATIS that the runway is use was rwy 14.   <sigh>   Life's like that, right? Although it is kinder for local residents in view of noise considerations, I suppose.  However, as Britjet pithily puts it in his Route Information Manual for this year's Worldflight, "Approach to Rwy 14 is over the high ground. Ridge 6.5nm out on the approach to Rwy 14 which may give rise to radio altimeter ramping and possibly GPWS activation." (Which it duly did). And "Mast to 262 ft asl at 2nm finals Rwy 14". Oh, and: "ILS 14 – G/P fluctuation may take place between 3.5nm and 1.5nm from the Rwy 14 threshold. Note that the ILS G/S angle is 3.5°", not to mention "The landing thresholds of both Rwy 14 and Rwy 32 are considerably inset". And finally "Many aircrew have commented that the published missed approach procedure is difficult to follow." Right. All good clean fun, then. But the comment that spooked me slightly was this one: "Poor visibility due to industrial haze may occur in settled conditions as well as radiation fog". I always knew that the folk on the wrong side of the Pennines were a bit odd — maybe it's that radiation fog?  Otherwise, it's easy-peasy. I've landed my 744 on plenty of runways shorter than this (my landing at Sion was one, although sadly the pics of it in my blog have been lost thanks to Photo-trash-bucket's cessation of free hosting), and the snag with this particular runway is that if I don't stop in time to exit left on taxiway D then I don't know how I'm going to turn round, so that makes the runway even shorter than would otherwise be the case....    Hey ho, and it's time for an approach to runway 14. Given the prevailing weather, the latter stages of this were entirely in cloud, and in fact the runway only became visible disturbingly close to minimums when I was about to press the TOGA button (thank Icarus for RNAV! — although I had my diversion to Manchester ready in RTE 2, just in case).    Once on the runway it was time to see just how quickly I could slow the thing down.... ....and happily I was able to achieve 10 kts just in time to negotiate that extremely tight (for a beast that's 744-sized) turn onto taxyway D.   All dramas now safely behind me, I blithely cleaned up the aircraft as I taxyed in....   .... even stopping to accord precedence to the minnows.   In fact I was so elated that I even achieved a rather more precise parking position than is my norm.       It was only after I had shut down the engines and gone looking for the WV ACARS that I discovered that I had forgotten to start it at the beginning of the vlight.  <DEEP sigh>  (We all do it from time to time, but it still irritates the **** out of me). It serves me right for feeling good about the landing, I suppose.      Ah well, there's always another day.... Cheers, Brian

brian747

brian747

Saving an Queen of the Skies

Knight Aviation decided after the completion of the charter tour of Aussie, it is time to expand it's fleet and what better way to do it with an Queen of the skies? Through a very trusty broker and expert on B744 named Brian747, KA got hold of a good solid mid life B744 decommissioned by an well known Airline.    KA immediately jumped at the opportunity to rescue  such a beautiful young Queen of the sky and put her back where she belong at 41 000 ft. Only problem was she needed to be rescued out of some grave yard in the middle of some unforgiving dessert, called Mojave Airport -KMHV (could actually be called aircraft HELL). Brian747 arranged for the refurbish and new paint job to restore her, to be done in Las Vegas McCarren Int. - KLAS.  She then had to be taken to Miami Int. - KMIA for her new engines and proper inspection and registration, apparently the inspectors and the engineers work better in the tropical climate of Miami but I think they just wanted a reason for all paid vacation in Miami..............mmmmm The next step when she is all done is the trip to her new home base Cape Town. Meet the Queen at Mojave, who would do such a thing to such a beauty?   Climbing away from the HELL and back in the sky where she belong! Turning for ILS approach at Las Vegas. Long finals with Vegas in sight. Taxiing to the gate. Unveiling of the new painted KA B774 Queen of the sky  This the new look the day before the flight to Miami at the unveiling.    The flight to Miami Climbing out of Las Vegas for FL410 The Mississippi river  Approach into Miami Int.   Now for the leg home Cape Town SA FACT!

Knight W

Knight W

LOVING P3D

Here are some more feed back on the P3D conversion KA undertook. First I must say I am loving it. KA since done three more flights in the Ausie Pacific 2018 tour and not even so much as a stutter, I am maintaining a FPS rate of 60 and the sim is smooth. Had to do some fine tuning to some of the scenery density but got it now where my GPU are happy. Next will be to upgrade to a 8GB GPU....mmmmm Here are some pics of the last three approaches. Regional Jet trying to steel KA landing spot  Who can keep the nose the longest in the air?

Knight W

Knight W

 

Knight Aviation finally took the plunge

As every one probably by now knows I was considering it for a while now to do a P3D step up from my old trusty (actually these days just crashing) FSX and last Sunday after yet another VAS OOM sim crush, just before I was to start my descend after a two hour flight , I decided it is time for all Knight Aviation Aircraft to get the P3D conversion.  What kept me from doing it in the first place turned out to be a breeze.  That was the buying online - "what if I do not receive the license like they say, how will I get support me being in South Africa ect." I had bad experiences before with well respected companies so I am a bit OCD about stuff like that. Immediately after payment my details where emailed and I was on my way.  The next step was downloading the 12,6 GB file, but luckily I have fiber at work and that too was not much effort to do.  Ok wait so some where there had to be a catch this is just to easy, it's like flying C172 with a 3 axes autopilot   ......damm that would be just to easy. So I was expecting the install and run of P3D yeah there is where the catch going to be.............wrong I had a more difficulties buttering bread when the butter are bit cold...smooth sailing. Well done Lockheed Martin.  On Monday night after installing P3D I just had enough time to fire up P3D just to see how it looks like and I kicked the tires and light the fires of the C130  just for a quick flip and with not knowing the AC panel quite good or speeds and my joystick not setup yet I .......mmmmmm crashed landed on the runway. Guess Knight Aviation won't be doing Cargo for awhile unless we can borrow Brains 747....... Back to the Sim Tonight I got every thing setup and imported my B738 from FSX into P3D and did a circuit at FACT. The default scenery is so much better. It feels and looks much better then FSX even, that is to me any-case. Now we will just have to see how it does on longer flights. I also need to fine tune every thing still. I will work out what works best as I continue with the Aussie Pacific tour. Here are some pics of the new P3D B738 at FACT and over Table Mountain.

Knight W

Knight W

Knight Aviation officially took to the skies.

Although Knight Aviation already done a tour of Africa/Middle East (Africa/Middle East 2018 tour) and a tour of Mexico/Caribbean (Mexico/Caribbean 2018) the official launch of Knight Aviation was only on 8 September 2018 with the first official flight from FALA (Lanseria SA) to FAGG (George SA) done with the new Knight Aviation owned B738.

Knight W

Knight W

[2018 Australia & South Pacific] Mid-tour update

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!  

WW9731

WW9731

[2018 Australia & South Pacific] It begins

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!

WW9731

WW9731

[2017 North America] Tour wrap

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!

WW9731

WW9731

 

[2017 North America] Mid-tour update

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).    

WW9731

WW9731

London Heathrow to Sydney Kingsford Smith non-stop in a 747-400 ER?!

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 Cheers, Brian

brian747

brian747

 

[2017 Europe] Tour wrap

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!    

WW9731

WW9731

 

[2017 Europe] Mid-tour update

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.      

WW9731

WW9731

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