Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Miami Vice

I was a huge fan of the series when I was a kid. I loved the way Sonny and Ricardo chased crooks in their Ferrari Daytona. It was only when I grew up that I found out cops didn't drive around in Ferraris, even in Miami.

The 2006 movie by Michael Mann was even better. There are also great aircraft scenes with Ricardo flying, interacting with the ATC and a sleek Piaggio Avanti climbing out of a narrow gorge. I think Mr Mann is an aviation fan of some sort because he always includes aircraft scenes in his movies.

This review's flight is not with the sleek Avanti but with the good old NG, from Barbados to Miami International. I flew the real world flight of AAL 602 which is normally operated by 757s, by the way. The reason I didn't go with the "75" was because I was simply too lazy to search for a PSS AAL livery. The NG featuring here doesn't have winglets either, again, because I was too lazy to install one.

Today's route

The weather at Grantley Adams was beautiful, winds blowing mildly from the east with few clouds at 2000 and a balmy 31C. Perfect for a Gin tonic before dinner at the oceanside.

The traffic was calm, except for an Air Jamaica A320 coming in just after my departure. The freeware TBPB I used was absolutely a masterpiece and makes you want to fly here more often. Great job, Max Kraus!

160 passengers on this evening trip to Miami.

Left is clear, right is clear...

The taxi to 09 gave me the opportunity to contemplate more of the scenery. I would have liked more traffic but hey, I don't think this airport is a major hub in real life anyway.

There are 2 moments I absolutely love during my flights and I'm sure most simmers enjoy these too (I know Al does!) One of them is the line-up and take-off roll sequence and the other is the final approach and landing. I actually get excited during these phases and get a huge kick out of every second of it.

Barbados apron

I followed the Rnav departure after take-off which basically calls for a runway heading to PEPTI or upto 2500, whichever is first and then direct to an initial waypoint specified on the chart according to the flight plan.

Climbout was smooth and the visuals got better as I hit the clouds above 2000 feet.

Climbing through the clouds

The flight was proving to be well over 3 hours with 1500NMs to go so I let the A/P take full control as I reached my cruise altitude of FL380. The ride got mildly bumpy above FL200.

The flight must have taken me over Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, I say "must have" because I wasn't in front of my PC for the most part. It was dinner time so I set off to make myself a nice home made burger with green salad. In the perfect world of FS, pilots are allowed to have alcohol so a beer was in order as well.

After a pleasant dinner, I took my seat and started on my arrival "briefing". Can you call it a briefing if you do it by yourself? Probably not. The weather didn't seem to have changed since my departure, the winds were 123 at 7, scattered clouds at 3400 and 33C. I had planned for a runway 12 arrival via the Flipr2 arrival at Barbados. Clearance came at 99 miles out and just as I had predicted, the easterly runways were in use. FS ATC was on a good day today and the instructions suited perfectly the FMC.

The downwind leg was a bit of a pain, as they all are, but it gave me the opportunity to get familiar with downtown Miami, well, as much as it can be done in FS anyway.

Flipr2 arrival

If you've noticed it in Michael Mann movies, there are always scenes close to airports with airliners taking off and landing, capturing beautifully the harmony between the city and aircraft lights. No where near Mann's masterpieces, I still think my final approach shot reflects a cool Miami evening with a lot of lights.

Final runway 12

My landing was perfect, a textbook greaser. I slowed down with autobrakes 2 and vacated swiftly the runway to make way for the incoming traffic behind me. KMIA is a busy airport and this evening was no exception.

The FRF scenery is quite good in my opinion as far as freeware KMIAs go. I have all runways active which makes it closer to the real deal too. Also, I found the the parking to be correctly set since I was directed to the AAL terminal. It's not uncommon in FS for the ATC to send you off to GA parking!

AA terminal, obviously

My block time was 220 minutes which seemed close to what the real AAL 602 clocks according to flightaware.com

At the gate, where's Sonny and Ricardo?

The next flight is going to be from Australia to New Zealand or vice versa. Like I said above though, I can definitely see myself flying more into and from that gorgeous TBPB scenery.

Thanks for viewing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I just didn't want to leave South America. Actually, my planned flight was in Europe and the Middle East as I was thinking of doing Geneva - Tel Aviv but I just had to do an airline flight on this continent.

I remembered seeing a great Barbados airport scenery a few months ago and decided to give it a go. The stretch from Buenos Aires to Barbados proved to be as long as a transatlantic but I was determined to do the flight.

DHL flight 872, fictitious obviously, was a fresh fruit and meat haul from Buenos Aires to Barbados, the cargo being imagined by myself.

South American route

My take-off weight was around 235K lbs with 66K of it consisting of fuel. I loaded her with a bit over the required amount in case I ran into headwinds during the long trip.

Since the 3000NM flight was going to take half a day, I rushed with the preflight and started my taxi 10 minutes after I launched FS. I had done most of the planning before anyway.

Shot by the DHL dispatcher in Buenos Aires

Storms were building southeast of SAEZ as I was getting ready to depart. The other side of the airport was clear skies but I could see lighting east of the airport. Take-off was going to be interesting, I thought. Winds were 300 at 5 and 12C. Winter is just starting in the Southern Hemisphere.

Taxing to the active, "29"

Traffic was sparse at SAEZ. Despite the heavy amount of AI at gates, I guess peak hour had not come yet. My taxi took around 10 minutes and as I headed to the active I observed the departures and arrivals per my afcad modifications.

Departing traffic was correct using 29 but I also had landings on 29 which was supposed to occur only on 35. SAEZ is a diffuclut airport to replicate in FS, runway usage wise. That's why I prefer parallel runways in FS. They work like a charm.

Climbing out of Buenos Aires

Despite the building storms, my climbout was really smooth, without any turbulence. The modified air files I was using made a great difference and the PSS 757 was behaving better, the climb rates closer to what I've seen in WAR dvds.

As I was heavy, I initially climbed to FL320 and let the FMC compute the S/C further into the flight. My first S/C was to FL360 and then to FL380 as I burned fuel and got lighter.

The Amazon

The flight took me over the South American continent and I flew over Paraguay, a part of Bolivia, Brazil (obviously) and Venezuela, my route heading due north.

On many occasions I had the opportunity to see sections of the Amazon river, other than that most of cruise flight was relatively boring and I did other stuff around the house, among other things a nap!

Occasionnally clouds formed up below me and the ride was very lightly bumpy due mild turbulence. Luckily the wind was in my favor and I didn't run into any headwinds.

The forecasts for Barbados remained unchanged and I got cleared to runway 09. As much as I love the PSS 757 I find the VNAV descent logic a bit flawed so during my descents in this aircraft I keep track of the altitudes and speeds. Curse at it all you want but I still don't think FS ATC descent instructions are that bad either.

Turning base for runway 09

There doesn't seem to be any arrivals for TBPB, coming in from the south, I followed the 15NM DME arc and intercepted the localizer. The rest was pretty basic for any simmer, lower the gear when the glide slope comes alive and slow down to Vref + # depending on the winds.

Barbados airport offers a lovely view as you approach over the water and get to enjoy the city lights along the coast. I bet it's even more beautiful in real life.

Short final ILS 09

My landing was quite good with a nice smooth touchdown. I slowed down with autobrakes 2 and reversers. TPBP is easy to cope with taxiways wise and I went straight to the cargo ramp without any hesitation at junctions.

Sunset at Barbados

I found out this was one gorgeous scenery so I decided to do another flight from TBPB. I've got an entry from Peru recently so I might fly. The alternative is to head up to the US. It's been a while since I've flown there, by the way.

Also, I want to do a Qantas flight from Australia to New Zealand. Again, too many options and not enough time...

Thanks for viewing