Sunday, May 30, 2010

Buenos Aires

A change of continent for this review and we're in South America this time.

I didn't have time for the flight last week but I did the preparing with new AI packages and sceneries for my first flight on this continent. I also did some work on the SAEZ afcad file so both runways could be used simultaneously. SAEZ turned out to be one of those difficult airports to work with in FS. Departures and arrivals use different runways on opposite directions so a 2-afcad file solution was in the works. Or, you can keep all runways open if you don't mind your AI getting cleared to visual approaches in IMC conditions.

Anyway, on with the flight. I flew a short route, recommended by Al with the B200, from Montevideo, Uruguay to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 170NM or so trip took 1 hour and 45 minutes gate-to-gate. If you're wondering why it took so long, it's because I got lost over Buenos Aires trying to find the airport! I get to that in detail later in the review.

Approximate route

The weather at my departure airport was calm but cloudy with winds 057 at 3, 18 miles visibility and clouds 3000 scattered, 7000 overcast. The temperature was 14C on this Sunday morning flight. Since Uruguay is in the Southern Hemisphere, it's Autumn over there.

Capitan Corbeta CA Curbelo airport has a great body of water just to its north, I found out on Google maps that it was the Laguna del Sauce. What a cool name!

Take-off from runway 08

After take-off, I climbed on the runway heading and turned due south to intercept the radial 273 inbound on the CRR VOR. I also tuned in the CRO NDB for a back up. The ADF is an excellent instrument where available.

The clouds started clearing up at around 10000 feet with the ride getting smoother as I ascended.

Climbing out of the clouds

The enroute weather was cloudy so I couldn't enjoy the view below, I was hoping to get a glimpse of Montevideo on the way, unfortunately, no joy.


My cruise flight didn't take very long and I started my descent from 15000 feet at around 60 miles, just after getting cleared to the ILS runway 11. The weather seemed be challenging with strong winds blowing from the south accompanied by rain and low visibility.

Descending into the soup

My arrival route was initially a direct-to to the EZS VOR which is the airport, basically, and then turn to roughly the opposite heading of the runway for a circle-to-land on runway 11. At that point, I'm not sure what happened, maybe the strong winds drifted me off course because I couldn't locate the localizer and literally got lost. The low visibility didn't help either.

Trying to find the airport

After about 20 minutes of circling dangerously over Buenos Aires at 1500 feet and a missed approach, I found out that I had left the autopilot in GPS mode so the localizer wasn't appearing on my HSI. On my 2nd attempt I tracked the localizer and flew the glideslope manually.

SAEZ ATIS was winds 185/15, 5 miles visibility and 13C. The clouds were a towering 600 and 1000 scattered, 3000 overcast. Not the best conditions for flying with GA aircraft you're unfamiliar with.

Short final runway 11

My approach was as good as it could be in these conditions with the B200 bouncing all over the place, very fun but a tough struggle against the gusts. My landing was awful, though. I was too lazy to go around so I practically slammed her on the runway at around 400 FPM.

After landing, I was curious about those new WOAI packages I had installed. I was delighted to see plenty of aircraft on the apron, with many local and international carriers.

Impressive AI on the apron

The GA ramp turned out to be on the other side of the airport so the taxi took around 15 minutes.

On a side note, I discovered the Flightwatch weather message feature of Active Sky on frequency 122.000. I'll definitely be using it in the future on the ground in lieu of FS ATIS since it can be used simultaneously with the ATC.

A UN aircraft in a rainy Buenos Aires

Next stop is Tel Aviv, Israel, possibly from Geneva with the Swiss A330. I have to do some testing with the beautiful freeware LLBG 2006 before though. The other option is to fly to Barbados from Argentina. There should be a really cool freeware TBPB if I recall correctly. I'm actually favoring the 2nd option since I want to do more flying with this SAEZ scenery too.

And before I finish, you can find Al's own South American flight with an MD-11 right here.

Thanks for viewing

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Subic Bay

We're in Asia this time. I'll be honoring 2 recent visitor countries of my blog. Vietnam and The Philippines.

Fictional flight UPS 88 was from the cargo hub of Subic Bay to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The 800NM trip over the South China Sea took 2 hours and 15 minutes gate-to-gate.

By the way, a huge fan and contributor to this blog with her cool ideas, my girlfriend was insisting that I should include a map with the route among the screen shots featuring here. She was around during the flight today and brought up the subject again. From now on, for each flight I will post my route on a section of Google map.

Approximate route

The weather at Subic weather was hectic this morning with severe thunder storms. Surface winds were 240 at 6 with 2 miles visbility and heavy rain. Clouds were 1800 broken, the temperature was a humid 32C. Considering the hot temperature and rain I didn't derate the take-off thrust.

Hectic weather at Subic Bay

I installed a few WOAI packages of airlines operating in the region before the flight but the traffic was very sparse at RPLB. On another note, the freeware scenery is very well done by the way.

I don't know if it was FS ATC or pure luck but ATIS was reading runway 07 in use only (since runway 25 doesn't have a precision approach) but I was cleared for take-off from 25 at the holding point and didn't have any problems such as the IFR getting canceled after take-off. I followed the SID 23 EXORA departure and joined the M725 airway.

Taxing to runway 25

You can clearly see the strong returns on the wx radar above, normally the airport should be closed under these circumstances, fortunately in FS, no such restrictions.

The taxi was long as I was parked at the cargo ramp which was at the opposite end of runway 25. It would have been more fun had there been some AI to spot. Still, I comtemplated the beautiful scenery during the long taxi.

Lining up

Climbout was very bumpy and the A/T and A/P had a hard time maintaining pitch and speed.

On a side note, I found some replacement FDEs on Avsim, in the PSS forum so I was very curious on how the aircraft would fly with the modified thrust entries. My initial impressions were quite good and I noted a slight improvement over the stock .CFG with the thrust being less brutal and more linear if you see what I mean. I still need to do more flying to be entirely sure.

Climbing out of the weather

The ride got smoother passing FL180 but the storms remained below me for most of the flight. I initially climbed to FL320 and step climbed to FL 370 an hour later.

Once at cruise level, AI showed up on the ND and I heard the usual Asian carriers over the net.

Cruising over the South China Sea

I started my descent 140 miles out of VVTS and the clearance to runway 25L came at 70 miles out. No need to change anything in the FMC as I had initially planned for this runway via the AC NDB prior to departure per Active Sky forecasts. Obviously the weather hadn't changed since.

VVTS ATIS read winds 270 at 7 with clouds 1500 few and 1700 scattered. The temperature here, too, was again a humid 34C.

The Vietnamese coast

I love approaching an airport which I've never been to before and I always try to take note of all the landmarks, as far as they're featured in FS and the visibility permitting of course.

Saigon River? Tracking the localizer

The approach was pretty much straight in. I wish there were an equally good scenery as RPLB for VVTS too. Still, it wouldn't prevent me from flying in and out of here in the future.

Short final 25L

I went manual at the 1000' callout and crossing the threshold at 100 feet, I performed an excellent landing.

Much to my dismay, AI was sparse here too. Maybe I should take a look those Asian packages again...

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh

My next flight might be toTel Aviv per the last entry, possibly a Swiss A330 flight from Geneva. I also have to do a flight into or out of Uruguay which could be with the B200. I'm getting a huge kick flying around places I've never been to before.

I know I'm repeating myself here but I should definitely fly in Asia more often!

Thanks for viewing

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I had had enough of calm winds and clear skies at my arrival airports and was hoping for more challenging weather for a while. This time I was lucky and had strong winds at the departure airport and low visibility at the arrival one.

Flight SK 3675 was from Vienna to Copenhagen. I thought SAS would have a daily real world flight between the 2 cities but apparently I was wrong (or I couldn't find the flight) so instead I just filed a fictitious number.

After 2 flights with GA aircraft I was missing my airliners, I chose the SAS 737-800 with Niclas Andersson's (a.k.a Mr Sas) outstanding photo real repaint. This is one of my favorite NG repaints and I love flying it. For the record, Niclas has also a Star Alliance livery which is equally awesome but I prefer the cooler, classic SAS colors. You can get the textures in the Avsim Library.

It was a cool morning in Vienna, 9C with strong winds, 310 at 22 gustling 33, few clouds at 1700 and 2500 broken.

On a side note, my cousin is attending university in Vienna so I might check the weather with him later today to see if Active Sky was accurate.

Spotter shot, earlier in the morning

As the winds were blowing from the northeast, I took off from runway 29 on a Lanux1C departure. My LOWW setup uses 11-29 for departures and 16-34 for arrivals.

I had 135 passengers on this Sunday morning flight, TOW was a hair over 132K lbs with a fuel load of 14K lbs. Arrival weather was announcing low visibility but within our RVR limits so a divert wasn't planned. (It never is in my FS anyway!)

Taxing to runway 29

Schwechat wasn't very busy this morning, the usual European operators merrily coming and going...

My stand was close to runway 29 so the taxi time was quite short. Derated thrust would do as I was not really heavy. Now that I think of it, I'm not sure derated thrust is used in gustling winds, I should check that in my manuals.

Lining up

The gusts made the take-off challenging with speed oscillations, my Vr was around 142 knots but I rotated at 150-155 to be on the safe side. We don't want to ruin the flight with a tailstrike.

The climb was bumpy too.

Passing through the clouds

Cruise flight consisted of me checking the enroute maps to see which countries I was flying over. After Austria I entered the Czech Rep, Germany and finally Denmark.

Nothing to report about cruise flight, pretty much uneventful with a mild tailwind from the south.

Descending into Kastrup

FS ATC gave me the descent instructions at about the same time as my FMC so I followed it. FS ATC was on a good day today and was quite cooperative.

A weather check revealed that conditions hadn't improved at Kastrup and the visibility was still around 1 miles with a 300 foot ceiling. Cool, just as I had planned. I was cleared to 04R and flew the RNAV CDA 2M arrival.

I'm hearing hardcore enthusiasts shouting out that 04R isn't used for arrivals at Kastrup. But EKCH is one of those hard airports to replicate with AF2. I didn't want to use 2 separate files and I found the best setup to be 04L-22R for take-offs and 04R-22L for landings per the terminal layout. 12-30 is completely closed.

Entering into the soup

The winds were reported 110 at 11 so a crosswind landing was on the menu, making the low visibility approach even more fun. The ride got bumpy as I entered the soup

I made a stupid mistake though, I forgot to engage the 2nd autopilot and passing 1500 feet with still no visual, I was cursing myself for my negligence.

Still no visual on the runway

The runway still hadn't come into sight passing next to 04L, fortunately just before the minimums callout the approach lights came in sight and I found myself calling out "landing" with a slight grin and went manual from there on. FS can be very rewarding indeed!

I hope the F/O keeps quiet in the pilot's lounge on that silly mistake!

Very short final 04R, isn't this a beautiful sight?

Despite the crosswind my landing was pretty good, a greaser I might say. Traffic was coming in behind me so always the gentleman simmer I am, I vacated the runway as fast as possible.

Kastrup was unsurprisingly full of SAS aircraft. I taxied easily to the gate as the terminal area here isn't very complicated. The chrono was reading exactly 90 minutes as I was shutting down.

SAS country

I always get the impression that I should fly more often to the arrival aiport featuring in my flights. Copenhagen was no exception, I should definitely fly here more often!

For my next flight I'll be heading to the Phillippines, a completely new discovery for me as I've never "set foot" there in FS. I might try out the C210 for that one or maybe a cargo haul with the 757, we'll see...

Thanks for viewing

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ile de La Reunion

Reunion Island it is then.

This place is one of those undiscovered spots for me in my FS world. Luckily for me I had an entry from there on the blog which gave me the opportunity to fly there. Otherwise, I doubt it would have come to my mind with so many options.

Anyway, just like I did in Panama, I decided to fly around the Island and not to or from it. This way I would get a better chance to learn about Reunion. A quick look at the map revealed that the Island was small enough to do a whole tour in just under an hour. Good because I wouldn't have had more time than just that on this weekday evening.

I chose the C182 for this trip. Take-off was from Roland Garros airport in Saint Denis (FMEE) with a clockwise tour following the coastline. I found out there was a small airfield on the other side of the Island which would be suitable for a touch and go.

Final checks done, ready to go

Traffic was calm at Roland Garros, mostly because I don't have a lot of AI for this part of the world. There was only a heavy Air France, a regular customer at this airport. Departure weather was winds 208 at 4 with 16 miles visibility and 23C. Clouds were reported as 2000 few.

Taxing to "14"

After a quick preflight and plotting my route on the map, I taxied to runway 14. I was parked on the far end of the runway which required a long backtrack. I cut short at half of the runway and took off with ease in the C182.

On a side note, I got to try the new C182 checklists my buddy Al sent me. They are actually for the C182Q but they go perfectly with the RG as well.


I took off in a south easterly direction so I just had to turn slightly south to follow my route. The cloud cover made me settle around 3000 feet so I could enjoy the view below.

Cruising along the coast

As I flew along the coastline, I must have flown close to little communities. According to Google Map, I flew close to Bras Panon, Saint Benoit, Sainte Anne and Sainte Rose to name a few. I also found out I flew roughly along the RN2 (highway)

After the southern tip of Reunion, Pierrefonds airport came into view. Runway 33 was closer to my course but I chose to fly a circle-to-land approach to runway 15 to add to the fun.

Downwind for FMEP

At 3DME from the PFR VOR I turned right and lined up for a short final. I came in too high as you can see in the shot below.

The weather was about the same as departure, calm winds and good visibility.

Short final runway 15

After a smooth landing, slightly stalling her before touchdown, I took off with ease and banked right at 500 feet to head back to St Denis.

I leveled off at around 2000 feet for cruise flight.

It appears I was now following RN1 and flew close to Le Gouffre, Saint Leu and Saint Paul.

Flying low

I also flew over a bridge at some point, I'm not sure where it exactly was but I'm guessing it was close to Port de Plaisance.

What bridge is that

Reunion Island must a beautiful place. I had friends from there back in my college days and just like all peoples originally from pleasant, tropical climated places, they were very friendly and always cheerful.

Over Saint Denis

As I approached FMEE I slowed down and lowered the flaps to enjoy the view over Saint Denis. ATC cleared me the ILS 14 and came in over the coast.

FMEE is similar in a way to Zurich in terms of runway layout. It's easy to confuse runway 12 and 14 if you're flying visual approaches. If you've done an approach to Zurich from the west, you'll see what I mean.

I tuned into the ILS frequency for the pleasure of instrument flying and enjoyed the view flying slowly down the glideslope.

Final for ILS 14

I intentionally touched down late to shorten taxi time and vacated the runway at the first exit. My landing was pretty good, once again I slightly stalled it before touchdown.

The entire flight over the Island took exactly 1 hour. 1 hour of pure pleasure and learning that is!

My next flight is set from Vienna to Kastrup (LOWW-EKCH) which I plan to do this weekend. 2 flights with GA aircraft and I'm already missing the NG and the 757.

Thanks for viewing

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Alright, there has been a few visits from a couple of new countries on the blog the past week. One of them was Panama, a country which has never been in my FS log. I did one flight in Trinidad a few years ago and that's my only one in Central/South America so far.

So, here we go (again) in the B200 for a 200NM flight from Panama City to David. Isn't that a cool name for a city. Btw, I love the movie The Tailor of Panama in which you can see a great deal of the bustling capital of Panama.

If I'm going to fly over a country I never been to before in FS, I prefer to go "low and slow" to discover more, you can't see much from 35000 feet. Google map is also an excellent tool.

The total trip from MPMG to MPDA took 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Taxing to the active, 18

The weather was great at Panama City, a sunny 26C with few clouds at 2000 and calm winds blowing from the northeast.

Take-off and climb were smooth thanks to the nice weather.

I was surprised to see how good the default FS autogen was here, well, relatively speaking of course but still, I think Panama City looks good enough.

Panama City to the right

The climb phase is still too fast for me in the B200 and by the time I complete the climb checklist, I'm like at 4000 ft! I definitely need more practice.

I initially flew directly to the Taboga Island and then turned right to intercept radial 243 to the Santiago VOR, continuing on to the DAV VOR which is at the destination airport.

Over Santiago

The weather was slightly cloudy along the way but the visibility was still good enough to do some sight seeing from 7500 feet. The clouds cleared up as I approached David.

Cruising, just before starting my descent

I was cleared to a right downwind to the runway 04. No ATIS at MPDA, no problem, the Active Sky radar was announcing winds 100 at 12 with clear skies and 22C.

Approaching David, this must be roughly the Isla Sevilla

The intercept for the inbound course of the DAV VOR came at around 10NM and flew the final approach manually. No VASI or PAPI so I kept an eye on the altitude and the DME. The slight crosswind added to the challenge.

I have to add a note here, the other developpers should take some advice from Aeroworx on how to simulate trim. The trim characteristics on the B200 are great, the aircraft responds very nicely and steadily to trim inputs.

Final for the VORDME 04

Even though I crossed the threshold at 50', aiming for a greaser, I touched down a tad too late (again!) luckily the B200 doesn't need a great deal of runway to slow down.

Some simmers can't stand the default airports in flightsim. Ok, they are crappy but I won't discard a destination for that reason. Frankly you would be missing a huge part of FS if you'd only fly to add-on scenery airports. Besides, it's possible to enhance airports (and do other cool stuff) with the new ADE9 program, into which I have to look sometime.

Where can one get good ceviche in David?

There are 2 other new entries, Reunion and Denmark. I'm planning on doing another VFR flight in Reunion, probably in a Cessna and an airline flight to Kastrup (Copenhagen) from Vienna. I'm hoping to do both by next Sunday.

Just as one wise simmer once said, "So many places and so many aircraft to fly, yet not enough time!"

Muchas gracias for viewing! Los comentarios son bienvenidos!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

La Baguette and Die Sachertorte

I love both of them, especially the latter with a lot of whipped cream. I also love flying around large European hubs and as you probably know, LFPG and LOWW are among the most notorious.

I've been to Roissy more than a few times in real life and although I hate it as a passenger because of its disorganised terminal, I love it as an aircraft buff because of the variety of airplanes and carriers you can spot there.

Lauda flight 112 was an imaginary one since Lauda only flies to holiday destinations after being bought by Austrian Airlines a couple of years ago. 118 passengers on this evening hop to Schwechat, ZFW was just a hair over 117K lbs. I took off with around 18K lbs of fuel, more than enough for the hold or divert free world of flightsim.

Taxing to 26R

Roissy was full of Air France traffic departing to almost everywhere around the world as well to Provence (mainland France except for Paris).

During my pre-flight I could hear thunder, the weather was hectic in Paris, winds 303/7 with few clouds at 500 and scattered at 1800. 12C with thunderstorms in the area.

My enroute weather forecast was announcing tailwinds which is always good news.

AF T7 off to Bejing

After a lengthy taxi to 26R I was 3rd for take-off behind an Air France 777 and a Croatian A320. I like the layout of LFPG, it's easy to work with the runways when they are all parallel. As in real life, I set the inner runways for take-offs and the outer ones for landings. This way the departing traffic flow doesn't get interrupted and you get a nice flow.

Paris to the left

The initial climb was pretty smooth to my surprise, slightly bumpy but I wasn't out of trouble yet. As I neared 18000 feet, I hit some really violent turbulence which threw the plane around quite badly until FL200, above that everything went back to normal. I did this flight on Sunday so I guess the Parisiens didn't have a pleasant Sunday, weather wise.

Eiffel Tower and "Défense" district right below

The view was good though on the Lanvi 1B departure as you get to see the city of Paris just below turning back to the CLM VOR. Acutally, the view was the reason I flew the whole departure route, normally I take shortcuts just as in real life, i.e. direct-to's by the ATC.

The storm cells stayed with me until along the way, I didn't deviate, I just flew straight into them. No danger in FS.

Should we deviate? Naw...

Traffic was dense over Europe this evening, as I guess it normally is in real life too, the ATC didn't stop and it was hard sometimes to respond, getting that annoying sound simmers are familiar with.

I had initially planned for the ILS 34 via the Gamli 4W arrival. The weather hadn't changed and ATC cleared me to runway 34. I asked for a SNU transition which was promptly granted by the FS controller.

Final for the ILS 34, landing checklist please

Weather at LOWW was winds 329 at 5 with clouds 1800 few and 5000 broken. Temperature was 14C.

Short final

My landing was good this time again and I made an extra effort to quickly vacate the runway for the company 737 landing behind me.

Evening departures at runway 29

The taxi was long at Vienna, I won't complain though, it was a perfect opportunity to do some spotting. I couldn't fly to Schwechat before I got Active Sky because for some reason the default online FS weather only updates itself there briefly every hour. The result is you end up with the fair weather scheme when it's actually snowing! The other Austrian airports were in the same situation, not anymore though, my flightsim has been reborn with Active Sky.

Almost parked (photo shot by a dispatcher friend of mine!)

Where to next...? Plenty of options...

Thanks for viewing and feel free to comment!