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Being from the UK I find it interesting how each US state has a song, a flag, a seal, and a long list of living insignia (such as the state bird or fish) or inanimate insiginia (such as the state food, mineral or song). Two flights and two states to update on today. The first is a flight into the Yellowhammer State (Alabama), a yellowhammer being the state bird - followed by a flight to the Magnolia State (Mississippi) (a flower) and probably the trickiest state name to spell.
I returned to my trusty Cessna 172 at Tallahassee airport for the 155 mile flight north west to Montgomery Regional Airport (KMGM). Taking off from Tallahassee was straighforward with a light wind and clear skys with a few clouds at higher altitudes than I would climbing to. I was struck once again at how warm it was at about 9am local time (26C). The flight was uneventful with no incidents to report on. The terrain on my epic trip has so far been fairly flat with a few rolling hills but certainly no mountains in the 4 States I had already covered. This flight was no different. A visual approach into KMGM proved smooth and standard. There is a theme developing with state capitals, so far, in that the majority are the second largest cities in their respective states. Alabama being no different with Montgomery being the second largest city behind Birmingham (which looks very different from the Birmingham I know in the West Midlands of the UK!). Anyway, the capital, Montgomery has a population of 200,022 ranking it as the 115th largest city in the US. After an overnight stop in Montgomery is was time to head almost directly west into Mississippi....
The State Flag of Alabama
I should mention at this point that KMGM was the first airport I have landed at which was only 2D. No buildings or clutter, but, having done some research, it looks like X plane has a really good project underway in which people build airports. Once these approved as accurate they get uploaded into the default X plane on the next update. It seems a fantastic idea and KMGM was the first airport I've been to which was not detailed so it already has good coverage. Accurate runways and taxiways at KMGM, just no buildings......yet:
Taking off from KMGM (no buildings...yet)
So, an early morning flight to Jackson, Mississippi was afoot. I had decided to fly to Hawkins Field (KHKS) about 3 miles from downtown Jackson instead of the much larger commercial airport serving the capital - Jackson Evers International Airport (KJAN) which was a bit further out from the city. Take off was straight forward in fairly clear skies but with a few miles the cloud built up and became overcast. Continuing to climb I eventually broke out from the cloud - and it was properly overcast.
Breaking out above the overcast conditions
Following a long cruise I began to descend into the white fluffy stuff with a total white out for a good miles. Thankfully as I reached about 3,000 feet I broke out the bottom of the cloud so I could at least see where I was going.
Breaking out from under.
Using the fantastic charts provided by Navigraph I was able to fly the RNAV approach to runway 16 and landed safely in a very humid Jackson...
Hawkins field in sight for my approach.
Unusually (so far), Jackson is both the capital and largest city of Mississippi with 169,148 people ranking it as the 149th biggest city in the US. So, there we have it. 6 states done, 44 still to go....
The State Flag of Mississippi
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Looking for a executive jet for X11?
Just purchased this aircraft. I am very impressed.
Provides extreme situational awareness for IFR and VFR, ease of operation of all systems.
The Skyview Garmin GTN 750/650 package is sweet.
It occurred to me that I hadn't been to South America for a while, so I set myself up with a 6,000 mile trip from Calgary to Rio de Janeiro (back in my usual 744 again). :-)
Minimum of words, so here are some pics of the vlight:
Crossing South America (map)
Printing the arrival ATIS on the flight deck printer:
Descent forecast obtained:
Top of Descent from FL390:
Beginning of the STAR:
Approaching Rio de Janeiro (SBGL):
Touchdown and taxy in:
Arrived at gate 46:
Thanks for viewing! :-)
Sorry I have kind of been MIA for a bit. Kind of struggled with some health issues the last few weeks. I've tried keeping up with my Flight Duties but that has had to be the extent of it. But, at least for now it looks like it's full steam ahead! Still not really up to the entire " Fly and Blog " experience so thought I would keep going with a look at my payware airports. Also, those following in the forum know I was starting to have issues with payware AC
becoming too mentally complex, yet default way too easy. I think I came up with a plan of action so will kind of go into that here as well.
Today we are going to take a look at Flight Beam's KDEN in HD
My favorite time to fly out of Denver is at dawn. Watching the sun come up over the mountains as you start your climb out is enough to make me forget my issues. LOL
Flightbeam's scenery starts out on the highway coming into the complex.
Coming into the Parking lot you can begin to see a lot more activity.
After parking it's a quick trip to the tram station
We find our equipment out at Gate A-43. I have been looking for something harder than default and easy to comprehend payware. I settled on Wilco's CRJ for now. I know it isn't all that challenging, but for a Brain Cancer vet like me it gives enough challenge without all the frustration. Also, I chose to go immersive with a whole experience like starting my own Cargo Airline or something where I can totally become absorbed from picking hubs and routes to scheduling and finally flying. That's when I realized that Wilco had a CRJ-900 in America West livery and there it was. Re vitalizing an old airline via Fspassenger X !
Heading out by the United Maintenance Hanger
All set at Rwy 8
And a final look at Denver from the air.
I know this is all kind of korny. But hey, it works for me !!
Until next time.
When we created the current website as you see it from the ground up we managed to significantly reduce the time it took to add new airlines. However, it still took time - around 3 hours each time to make sure all the data was correct. So with that in mind, with the new website being developed, a new schedules designer was created. This app on the desktop will allow me to add new airlines in around 15 minutes.
BTW this is developed using .NET 4.5.x so like ACARS is not compatible with Windows XP but given its an internal tool won't affect anyone but me.
So pulling out Visual Studio (recently updated to the 2017 version), I created a program that looks a little bit like ACARS. Just to show a bit of the code:
This small yet powerful program is several 1000's of lines of code (nothing compared to your favourite game or office app). However it also allows me to connect with the online database and download all of the airports and aircraft to a local database.
The final result is a simple dialog allowing me to add an airline (one aircraft type at a time). However this method does not require me to get all of the aircraft regos so also makes it easier to change later.
Once the schedules have been sorted and checked (again that aircraft and airports database comes in handy), I can then upload the schedules direct to the website without ever having to go in the browser. Basically 15 minutes work which used to take 3 hours (when we first started 5 years ago it used to take a month).
Whilst this program will not be available to regular users, it shows how developers also develop their own internal tools to make their life easier. So next time you are concerned that your favourite developer hasn't had an update in a while its probably because they are developing a tool in the background to make life easier (i.e. a support system or content delivery system).
10,847nm | 42hrs 32mins
With our return to La Paz, the 2017 South American tour comes to a bittersweet end. I will try and keep this post succint-ish, but when you’re trying to recap 25 flights…it could bear a resemblance to Tolstoy by the end.
Firstly, I want to say thank you to the everyone behind the scenes that makes this possible. By ‘this’ I mean Worldwide Virtual. I can only imagine how much work is required to keep this VA functioning. 1300+ active pilots is quite an achievement. Thank you to the admins and to the community for being so welcoming and supportive of each other.
I posted a few individual flight reports here on the blog, but stopped when I found myself spending more time blogging than flying!
Jeez, it’s a big joint! I visited places that I’d never heard of, let alone been to in the virtual world. Sorry, French Guyana.
Historically, South America has been somewhat neglected with regards to flight simulation scenery; however, this has changed in recent times.
On the X-Plane side of the fence, we have an ever-expanding range of quality freeware airports and I was fortunate to find some wonderful airports on x-plane.org to support this tour.
La Serena in Chile, Ushuaia in Argentina and Santos Dumont in Brazil are the standouts.
I cannot remember enjoying my ‘drive’ around the airport as much as I have on this tour.
Freeware scenery development is a labour of love for developers; and I for one, love their labour!
My steed for the tour was the IXEG 737-300 in Varig livery.
An old aircraft with a livery that belongs to a defunct airline.
Old and defunct - the title of my autobiography.
Personally, I think it’s the most immersive aircraft I’ve flown in any desktop simulator.
She humbled me on every flight and I mishandled her like a clumsy bastard, but I sure enjoyed her company on this tour.
On a tour of this length, you tend to rack up a few memorable moments. It’s difficult to pick a favourite, so I will share a few highlights instead.
WW17100 Departure from La Paz
Taking off from the world’s highest commercial airport was quite an experience. La Paz has a long runway and I needed every inch of it to get airborne.
WW17102 Engine failure on descent into La Serena
I don’t know what caused the failure, but one minute I was heads-down in the FMS and the next…
I was rather chuffed to get her down in one piece.
WW17108 An improvised approach into Ushuaia
This was one of several (ok, many) departures from published approach procedures during this tour.
I thought I would be able to weave my way through the hills near Ushuaia, while remaining visual. I was wrong.
In the end, I flew a visual circuit with an oblique final to runway 07 and loved every second of it.
WW17112 Going missed (and missing) in Rio
One of the tour's longer legs has you flying from Asuncion in Paraguay to Santos Dumont (Rio) in Brazil.
I selected an approach based on the SimBrief forecast, but that turned out to be a horrible miscalculation, made worse by some horrible flying.
Long story short, we ended up high, fast and headed for an overshoot thanks to a 15kt tailwind.
I decided the only course of action was a go-around, but not the published procedure of course.
No sirree. A fighter jet-like teardrop turn at 1000 feet, in cloud, concluded with a firm landing on runway 20L at SBRJ.
WW17119 Canyoning in Quito
Ah, Ecuador, I shall miss you.
What a wonderfully challenging leg this was. A bumpy cruise, followed by a bumpy approach, followed by a bumpy landing.
The terrain around Quito (at least in X-Plane) is rather interesting to say the least.
Once again, I ended up flying a hybrid ILS-RNAV-COMPLETELY MADEUP approach to runway 36, but it was terrific fun.
WW17120 Scary real
A middle-of-the-night flight down the spine of the Andes from Quito to Cuenca.
I just wish someone had told me about the thunderstorm before I lined up for departure.
Holy guacamole Batman, did we encounter some rough weather on this flight.
We picked up a healthy dose of ice on the climb to the point where we stopped climbing.
And when terrain is painting at 20,000 feet around you, that’s known as El Problemo.
X-Plane is generally regarded as having the most realistic ‘night’ in any sim. The approach into Cuenca was incredible.
From a lighting perspective I mean; certainly not an airmanship one.
WW17121: Some days you just shouldn't fly
This flight was more a lowlight than a highlight. Thanks to the field elevation and a very warm day, we accelerated like a dead snail.
It was at this point in the takeoff roll that I closed my eyes and pulled hard on the stick.
The approach lights never stood a chance.
And anyone driving on the bridge with a dashcam would have something to post on Facebook.
WRAP IT UP, BUDDY!
Ok, let me attempt to wrap this up before everyone, myself included, falls asleep. If you’re thinking about doing this tour, I hope this post has provided you with some encouragement to do so. The longest leg is 1353 nm, or about 3.5 hours in a jet. There are many shorter legs of 1 hour or less. No need to set the automatics at 400AGL and come back tomorrow.
You'll experience a variety of weather, including wicked winds and turbulence over the Andes. Some of the approaches are challenging to say the least, best flown on autopilot - which is precisely why you should turn the bloody thing off!
And with that, I'm done. I'm taking a break from the touring life and blogging.
Until we meet again fellow simmers, Ciao!
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I love this landing its not that easy but its a lot of fun..
LOC RW 26 approach Landing RW 08 visual MIN 3700FT TRANS ALT FL120
/3.5 distance radial
247 radial & 065 in the next line
FLIGHT PLAN WAY POINTS
DVR KONAN KOK KOMOB DIK
PITES GEBDA KRH WLD BAVAX
From RTT track 255 to AB then track 230 to inn
then 264 to the 3.5 OEV radial ring [min 3700ft]
turn right and land RW 08