Sunday, July 25, 2010


My last flight was on the 4th of July. So, after more than 2 weeks of inactivity in the virtual skies, I'm back with a nice 3 and a half hour flight from Auckland New Zealand to Sydney Australia.

QF 50 is a real world scheduled early morning flight from NZAA to YSSY on a daily basis according to the timetable on the Qantas website. Departure time is 06.15 so I loaded up my flight half an hour before, as I always do. The 30 minutes are usually enough for me to go through the preflight and I'm usually done in 15-20 minutes. I'm very familiar with the NG so it even goes faster in its case.

Unfortunately, the SID/STAR file I installed required some tweaking, mainly due to my old Airac cycle, all of which took an extra 10 minutes. I was still ready for engine start by 06.10.

Today's route

Traffic was moderate at NZAA, the local carrier commencing its morning flights. I love it when the ATC is alive as soon as you load up the flight.

The 1200NM or so trip was mainly over the Pacific Ocean.

Calm morning at NZAA

The weather in Auckland was winds 161 at 5 with clouds 2000 broken and a chilly 11C, winter time in the southern hemisphere.

Lining up 23L

I took off on an OT5 departure and continued on to waypoint MAPED to join the N774 airway for the crossing. The Jepp enroute chart also indicates that at MAPED you leave the New Zealand FIR.

After a bumpy climb with clouds as far as the eye could see, I settled at FL 360, the ride was smoother at higher altitudes. The already heavy headwinds got worse as the flight went on with wind speeds upto 95NM!

Cruise flight was going to be at least 3 hours so I let the A/P do the work as I went off to check out one of my new WAR dvds, Luxair Dash8 - E135 - 737NG. I watched 2 roundtrip flights, to EDDF in the Dash 8 and to EGLC in the E135. The approach into London City's tiny airport lookd very interesting. It must be tried in FS.

Nearing Australia, I came back to my "cockpit" to do the approach briefing. The arrival weather was already bad with thunderstorms and heavy rain during preflight. A quick look at the Active Sky weather radar revealed no improvement so the approach was going to be interesting with stong winds, low visibility and rain. Once cleared to runway 34R, I flew the MANFA1 arrival.

In Al's latest review, he flies to Singapore with a really low visibility landing (check it out here) I was very jealous to say the least and was looking forward to a CAT3 approach myself. CAVOK landings are pretty "yawn" if you see what I mean.

T-storms to the left

A wx radar would have come in handy in these conditions and would have also produced nice visuals with red and magenta returns on the ND. During my descent the ride got very turbulent below 25000 feet and between 20000 and 16000 feet I had to disengage the A/P as the aircraft went berserk. I saw the FPM plunge to -5000 before I went manual.

Things calmed down below 15000 feet, relatively speaking but at least the A/P was able to control the aircraft.

Kingsford Smith Airport seemed (and sounded) pretty much unaffected of the storms as AI traffic was very dense. ATC wouldn't stop for a second.

Base turn

I was able to intercept the localizer just before an arriving Virgin Blue 737 but I had a really hard time slowing the aircraft down to Vref due to turbulent weather. Only the lowered gear helped bleeding off the excessive airspeed.

Final, ILS 34R

Weather at YSSY was winds 257 at 14 with 4 miles visibility and clouds ceiling 3000 broken, 1500 few. Heavy rain was also reported.

Although the conditions were not CAT3 the crosswinds made the approach very fun and I landed on the upwind main gear first as instructed in the manuals

Nearly there

My landing was good, considering the tricky winds. I chose 34R on purpose to extend my taxi time so I could do some spotting at this large airport. I was able to hear/see carriers from all over the globe, Air Canada 33 landed just before me.

Company 330

This VOZ freeware YSSY is very well done. Their other airports are good too.

At gate A14, heavies in the background

No ideas for the next flight. I'm thinking on doing some GA flying in Alaska but everything is possible.

Thanks for viewing

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Balkans

Here we are in the Balkans for this flight, just a quick, short hop from Dubrovnic to the capital city of Bosnia, Sarajevo.

Actually, I was looking forward to doing an airline flight from Sydney to Auckland but I just got GTA4 Liberty City Stories so I thought I'd do a short flight and spend the rest of Sunday wreaking havoc around Liberty City. For GTA enthusiasts, the game takes place on the same map but with different missions.

Anyway, the 80NM or so route took me over the city of Niksic and then from there I headed northwest directly to Sarajevo, enjoying the beautiful mountain view along the way.

Approximate route

No detailed preflight with the C182, I was ready to go in 5 minutes and I swiftly taxied to runway 30. I'm not sure runway 30 is used very often in LDDU but the winds were 018/10 so FS didn't make a bad call after all.

Taxing to runway 30

The slight crosswind called for some rudder compensation during the take-off roll, shortly after take-off I turned left and headed towards the NIK NDB.

LDDU is to the left

Among the pleasures of GA flying is radio navigation, I love flying with the ADF and VORs, using the GPS only as a back up. I try not to look at it unless I feel really lost.

The visibility was good with light winds blowing from the North. The flight was rather smooth, except for a few bumpy moments.

Tracking the NIK NDB

I initially settled at 5000 feet for cruise and then realised the it wasn't enough considering the high peaks on my route. I climbed to 7500 right after crossing the NIK NDB.

Drina River?

Weather at Sarajevo wasn't different from Dubrovnik, only here the winds were calmer. According to the charts landings are runway 12 only. I could have flown a shorter downwind leg since I was flying VFR but I decided to fly the whole published approach for the ILS 12. I found out that the stock Garmin also includes the procedure so I loaded it up for a visual reference.

Sarajevo on the left, LQSA is there too

Flying the whole procedure took a while in the slow Cessna which added a few extra minutes to the total flight time.

Following the arc to intercept the localizer

Thanks to the smooth weather the final approach was a piece of cake, nothing more than a glide down the "slope".

Short final runway 12

As I was coming in I heard a Lufthansa callsign holding short for a backtrack. The taxiway I was going to use was near the end of the runway so I touched down late and vacated the active as soon as possible in favor of the LH CRJ.

My landing was perfect, nice and smooth, I barely "felt" the touchdown. I bet that Lufthansa captain was impressed too.

Good freeware LQSA scenery

LH CRJ departing

My next flight is definitely in an airliner. I want to fly that Sydney - Auckland route with a Qantas NG.

To be honest, I miss flying in FS a lot and I hate not having enough time. In Al's latest review he mentions having done 33 flights this year. I've been able to do 26 myself. That equals to about 60 for both of us. We should be able to easily clock 100 combined by the end of 2010.

Thanks for viewing