Monday, August 30, 2010

Into the Storm

It's not easy to come across low visibility take-offs and landings in the Summer if you only fly with real-time weather mostly in the northern hemisphere. There might not be dense fogs but at least you can have thunderstorms giving you the thrill of flying through cells and severe turbulence.

To say I felt like E K Gann flying through the storms during take-off and landing certainly wouldn't be exaggerated. If you've read Gann's Fate is the Hunter, you should have loved the way he describes those tense moments trying to navigate through ice and low visibility in his DC-3.

I chose this route totally randomly and much to my pleasure both airports proved to affected by storms and heavy rain.

Flight map

DHL flight 2183 was from Hahn Frankfurt to Warsaw Poland. On my last flight I had flown out of the beautiful freeware EPWA and here I've flown into it.

Hahn is the secondary airport in Frankfurt and is a main cargo hub. Incidentally it's also one of Ryanair's hubs. During my 1 hour or so preflight at least 10 Ryanair NGs arrived from and departed to all over Europe.

Weather at Hahn was winds 292 at 11 with a ceiling of 600 feet broken in heavy rain. The temperature was a chilly 12C. Runway 21 was in use this Sunday evening. My departure was Rudus 4s.

Heavy rain in Hahn

I took my time on the preflight to let the weather ease off a little but after 50 minutes there was no improvement and the forecasts weren't very optimistic either. I didn't want to wait any longer and went on with the start up. Besides, the DHL dispatcher was getting impatient anyway!

Falling in behind 2 Ryanair NGs

I fell in behind 2 FR NGs completely indifferent to the storm. Note the weather radar in the shot above.

AI action

I was hoping for a gap in my departure route but no joy. Heavy cells and strong returns were everywhere. The enroute and arrival weather seemed to be stormy as well. I was hoping that conditions would improve at Warsaw on the way.

More Ryanair traffic

The incoming Ryanair crew reported severe turbulence and speed losses at 500 feet so I made a mental note to keep my initial climb speed slightly high to avoid any nasty surprises.

Rolling on runway 21

My GW was a hair over 200K lbs but considering the conditions I used full take-off thrust.

"Into the Storm"

The climbout was extremely turbulent and the 757 bounced all over the place upto 20000 feet with the autothrottle having a very hard time maintaining the computed speed. Still, I have to say that PSS has done a good job here as the climb was quite steady despite the speed fluctuations.

Out of the storm

The flight was calmer above FL200 and although the ride was smooth, the winds aloft were constantly changing direction and speed resulting once again in the A/T playing cat and mouse with the speeds.

I flew over a very crowded EDDF airspace with runways 25L/R in use. Plenty of LH callsigns working their way through the arrivals and departures.

Keep an eye on those "charlie bravos"

The approach was bumpy too and I had to deviate a couple of times to fly around CBs thus ruining the carefully entered LDZ 2N arrival. PSS SID/STARS aren't that great so I usuall enter the SID/STAR waypoints and constraints manually.

Approaching Okecie Airport

Arrival weather wasn't very different from EDFH minus the strong winds. EPWA metar was reporting winds 197/2 and a ceiling of 4300 broken with 16 miles visibility. Not to dramatic.

Established on the ILS 11

The EPWA scenery looks awesome at night as well.

What a sight

During my approach I heard aircraft, a Shamrock callsign to be more precise, lining up on runway 15 so I guess my multiple runway afcad file works like it should.

Ramp overview at EPWA by MK Studios

The next flight will likely be around Spain, possibly a holiday flight with the 737NG.

Thank you for viewing

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Eastern Europe

How much has it been since FSX came out? 3-4 years...? Yet we still see plenty of FS9 shots in the Screen Shot forums on Avsim and FS9 is getting better everyday despite its old age thanks to dedicated and very talented guys (and gals?) like Mateusz from MK Studios. Their recent EPWA scenery is just stunning. These folks just published an updated version which takes care of the minor bugs of the previous versions. On a side note, there are other beautiful Polish sceneries, such as Gdansk or Poznan. Both of them payware quality.

And then how can ISD be forgotten with their wonderful Milan and Rome airports...? (as well as others)

A big thank you goes to those indivdual developpers who've contributed freely to FS9 with their invaluable work.

My last flight was from Warsaw to Kiew, both airports being excellent freeware gems. The UKBB is slightly older but is top quality. I highly recommend it if you're flying around in those skies.


Flight Air Italy 827, callsign "8WJ" was operated by the 757-200, a type commonly used by this airline, which incidentally features in a great WAR episode.

The preflight didn't take long as the route was fairly short, only a hair over 400NM. I always set my arrival route and runway in the FMC depending on the forecasts, which do frequently change enroute.

By a Polish spotter

Warsaw was having a pleasant summer day this Saturday evening, mild winds from the southwest and 21C, CAVOK conditions.

Starting number 1

Traffic wasn't as much as I anticipated at Okecie. Maybe I hadn't set my flight at a peak hour.

Lovely scenery by MK Studios

Unless you already know, there are 2 runways at EPWA. They're intersecting runways so it's may not be wise to use them simultaneously considering how well AI interacts. Plus, you can't set an arrival and departure runway separately since operations change according to the wind directions. In this case you can use 2 different afcad files or just keep all runway open for both operations. I usually go for the former but in Warsaw's case I chose to keep all runways open.

Being closer to runway 11 I was cleared to that one for take-off. I asked for runway 15 with a longer taxi to take a better look at the scenery as it was at the other end of the airport. I have to say it, Mateusz, you've done an awesome job!

Lining up

Take-off was smooth and easy for today's light configured 757, rotation speed was around 140 KIAS. I climbed on the Maria 1D departure which is basically staight ahead from runway 15 to waypoint Maria.

I noticed somthing I hadn't before in this aircraft. At start-up the instrument needles were illuminated in red and stayed that way untill the generators kicked in. Either this is intentionnally done for situational awareness, which is cool on the part of PSS, or it was some sort of a bug. I can't be sure but I loved it. I have to pay more attention next time.

Maria 1D departure

Enroute weather was calm, despite mild turbulence at cruise altitude. The visbility was good with no clouds and I could make out the cities below.

Weather check for arrival

Calm or variable winds are very tricky in FS as far as arrivals are planned. In the above shot the Active Radar is showing easterly winds at UKBB. However, a few minutes later I was cleared to 36R and had to change the entries in FMC. The metar was indicating winds 343 at 8 with clouds 4000 broken and 19C at the time of my landing.

After the CH NDB I flew directly to the TR NBD and then intercepted the ILS for runway 36R. The stock ATC let's you fly the TR NDB transition by the way.

The charts instruct you to be at 1800 feet prior to localizer intercept which produced a close ground view which can be seen below.

Intercepting the localizer

The winds were constantly shifting on final, adding some challenge to the sluggish feel of the 757. Flying the glidepath manually was a real joy.

Final for the ILS 36R

If this isn't the best part of the flight, I don't know what is. Those approach lights are breathtaking.


My touchdown was a bit firm, due to the variable winds. Of note, I forgot to arm the spoilers as I was too busy trying to capture screen shots!

Entering the terminal area

The taxi back to the stand was long and boring, not much traffic and this is an airport I've flown to and from in FS several times.

Block time for this flight was 1 hour and 20 minutes.


I definitely have to do at least one more flight to or from the lovely EPWA. I made some tweaking with the runways so I want to see if they work as intended. A flight to Warsaw can certainly be expected.

Thanks for viewing

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Halifax to Cincinnati

Back in the saddle after a week. Actually, this past week has been quite busy FS wise. I flew a couple of familiarisation flights in the DF Baron over the region of Brest, France in some pretty tough weather conditions. I had the chance to do a few low visibility non-precision approaches. The Baron flies lovely overall but I found it tricky to land with most of my touchdowns being pretty hard.

A nice surprise last week was (among others) an extremely cool 757 sticker Al sent me. Naturally it went straight on the laptop. It's so cool actually it made me want to roll out my 757 out of the hangar.

Delta Airlines flight 70 (ficticious) was from Halifax to Cincinnati (CYHZ - KCVG) The 1050nm route took exactly 2 hours and 52 minutes from start-up to shut down.

I chose the flysong livery which comes with the PSS install.

Halifax - Cincinnati

Traffic was sparse at Halifax, only a couple of arrivals and departures. The weather was calm winds from the northwest and 13C, chilly compared to the 35C in Istanbul on this Sunday morning.

Halifax terminal

After a swift preflight I pushbacked and was ready to go. The runway 23 was close to my gate and I at the holding point in less than 5 minutes.

Lining up

A Citation was on final for 32 as I started my take-off roll. I have all runways active in this freeware CYHZ.

My GW was 195K, with the conditions permitting I derated the take-off thrust.


I headed directly to waypoint HIDIG after take-off per the Halifax 3 departure which is basically vectors to fix.


Nothing to report for the climb stage of the flight, cruise altitude was FL 380. The skies were clear until I got close to Boston where clouds formed up and stayed during the rest of the flight.

Over Boston

The route took me over Boston and Kennedy airports, I could really see them as they were right below me but I tuned briefly into their tower and ATIS frequencies to listen to the activity down below.

Around 80nm out, I got cleared to runway 18L for KCVG. Initially the winds were northerly at Covington but they shifted to the south on the way. I kept track of the arrival weather during the flight by the 122.000 Active Sky advisory frequency.

I had set up the TIGRR1 arrival in the FMC at Halifax, I just changed the arrival runway and inserted a couple of new altitude restraints.

TIGRR1 Rnav Arrival

Arrival weather was calm southerly winds with 4 miles visibility.

Final runway 18L

I noticed 2 very eager AI aircraft trying to cut me off on my left side at localizer capture. I realised I wasn't going to be able to outrun them so I slowed down as much as possible to let them land before me. I knew the second one would go around anyway.

AI action

The second one did get the go around instruction but the first fucker who landed didn't vacate the runway soon enough which forced me to pass through it on my landing roll. Of course I got the go around instruction too but honestly I couldn't be bothered.

Very short final

I flew most of the final approach manually and my landing was pretty good too, not a greaser but but still below 200 fpm.

Taxing to the gate

KCVG is a large airport which I knew from my previous experiences here. The best part is the 3 parallel runways which enable a good traffic flow. I set the center runway for take-offs and the left and right ones for landings. Perfect for FS.

Fellow Delta ships

To be honest, I'm not a fan of this flysong livery and don't see myself flying it again. It looks like one of those indistinctive boring charter liveries you can see at European airports... The Delta livery looks much better.

Although I enjoy GA aircraft, airline flying is where my heart lies. Doing touch and go's in Cessnas or Beechcrafts may be a lot of fun but it won't come close to that rewarding feeling you get when you vacate the runway at the arrival airport. What a joy that jet whine is...

Thanks for viewing

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Alright, I know I mentioned an IFR flight with the A36 last time but to be honest I just couldn't resist flying the NG after watching the Luxair WAR dvd.

The 737-700 flies a round trip to Djerba, Tunisia which is great to watch but it was too long to fly in FS. Instead I headed to Dinard St Malo in France (a fictitious flight obviously), an airport I wanted to fly to since a while for the wonderful freeware scenery. It's an excellent place for GA flights too.

Today's route

Weather at ELLX was winds 282 at 9 with clouds 2000 scattered and 5000 broken. The Active Sky radar was showing storms building up to the southeast. I kept an eye on them but the cells didn't seem to near my deaprture path. As I was departing to the west, I was going to leave them behind so no problems there.

I had also got the Cargolux dvd and during my preflight 2 of their 747-400Fs arrived. I stongly recommend the dvd, by the way.

Cargolux coming home

You may have noticed it in the shots, in the bottom right you can notice my location. I've started using Snapper for capturing screens. I had downloaded it back a while ago and it just sat there on my desktop waiting to be used. Fortunately this time I noticed it before the flight. It's a great simple piece of software.

ELLX Terminal

ELLX isn't a very large airport, a single runway with the terminal on one side. A lovely classical secondary airport setup. I love these in FS as they're easy to setup afcad wise and you don't end up with erratic AI taxi behaviour.

I was light as a feather with a Vr of 115 knots.

Cleared to go runway 24

The climb was smooth and I departed on the RAPOR4X SID which is pretty much a stright out departure from runway 24.

The river Seine ahead

You might have noticed in my previous reviews an ugly horizon line at higher altitudes. As much as I tried to get rid of it with different AS settings and textures it wouldn't go away. I went back to my pre-Active Sky solution and installed the Soft Horizons sky textures. Problem solved! A big thank you goes to John Cillis for his great freeware add-on.

FS ATC was once again spot on with the descent instructions, it also offered the DIN VOR transition for the ILS runway 35 approach. The descent was faily turbulent all the was down.

Descending towards Dinard

St Malo weather was calm winds from the north with few clouds at 2400 and 21C. I flew the VIREX 1C arrival.

Turning outbound DIN VOR

No arrival or departure traffic at LFRD.

Final runway 35

Initially the arrival weather was southerly winds which was cool because runway 17 offers only a VOR approach and no ILS. The winds shifted en route to the north and runway 35 came in use. I could have flown the VOR approach for this runway but I have an strict ILS policy where available on my airliner flights.

Almost there, beautiful airport

The landing was a greaser with autobrakes 2 and full reverse as the runway is only around 7000 feet. I hate those backtracks as well so I try to slow down to get the exit.

Great scenery

The whole flight took 76 minutes in total, it could have taken less actually but I used a low cost index and had some headwinds along the way. An excellent European route in my opinion with 2 wonderful freeware sceneries. The Dinard scenery is one of those payware quality freeware gems for FS9. Don't miss it.

An IFR flight can be expected with the Dreamfleet Baron in the next review.

Thanks for viewing

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A36 Bonanza

This review can be considered as sort of preview for my upcoming flight. I just discovered the DF A36, thanks to a friend who gave it to me as a birthday present.

For those who already know, the A36 is a great FS9 add-on. I found out it was a real classic and felt like a complete idiot for not knowing about it. That said, I wasn't a huge GA fan in the past, I only flew airliners, mostly the PMDG 737.

It goes a few months back when I discovered how fun and instructive GA was, although with a bit of encourgement of a fellow simmer. Without his advice I still would have been flying airliners exclusively.

Today's route

Seattle being the default airport in FS, I thought why not as it offers great scenery and decided to do my test flight around there. Another reason is I recently got a very cool Seattle sectional area chart (thanks Al!) so I wanted to use it as well.

Sea-Tac was busy as always (I've only been there in FS!) and as I sat on the GA ramp trying to figure out how to use the Garmin 430 the usual US carriers were coming and going. I remember hearing a lot of Alaskan callsigns so I guess it's one of the main operators here.

The weather was a chilly 13C with heavy clouds, overcast at 800 and 2800. The winds were calm from the south.

I plotted an angled route to Ozette passing over Diamond Point on to Neah Bay and then down to Ozette which took about a flight time of 50 minutes in total.

After getting the aircraft set, I headed excitedly to runway 16R for departure.

Following a Delta MD-90

KSEA was IFR only which I didn't understand since the visibility was quite good. FS ATC didn't clear me insisting that the airport was currently IFR, which of course I ignored and went on with my taxi anyway. Actually I don't ignoring the ATC but this was test flight anyhow.

I have no idea how the real A36 flies but the take-off roll felt "correct". The best part came once I was airborne. The aircraft felt extremely smooth to fly and responded nicely to trimming, a rare experience in FS.

Over Tacoma, lots of clouds

Seattle was very cloudy this Sunday. I encountered really heavy turbulence right after take-off and had to fly manually as the autopilot had a nasty tendancy to stall aircraft. Above 5000 feet the flight was smoother and the A/P worked much better.

More clouds and Alaskan 313 flying close by

I played around with the autopilot, banking the aircraft left and right in HDG mode, intercepting VOR radials, switching back to GPS mode to see how the aircraft reacted. The DF Bonanza was just like the PMDG NG in that matter, the flight dynamics and instruments are done very well.

I was getting low FPS figures and suspected the aircraft of being a frame hog but as the clouds cleared the frames increased so I guess the heavy clouds were more to blame than the add-on itself.

Approaching the TOU VOR

I loved the Garmin 430 and its FMC-like features making auto-flight very fun but the RXP weather radar is an exceptionnal instrument. It goes perfectly well with the radar pod on the starboard wing too. I'll add the wingtip tanks on my next flight as well. They look very cool on the A36.

Flying over the TOU VOR banking hard right, I began my descent into KUIL from 7500 feet. I leveled off at 2000 feet and flew the left downwind leg for the runway 04. The winds at KUIL were 050 at 3 with clouds 500 overcast and 2500 overcast, 12C. Not very different from KSEA.

Short final runway 04

I flew the whole approach manually and again loved the feel of the aircraft. The winds were calm so the approach was a piece of cake. My landing was quite good too, considering it was my first shot in this aircraft. I also loved the aural alerts of this add-on.

Nice animations by DF

Like I said in the begining, this was just a preview and my next review will be of a full IFR flight in this lovely aircraft. How about Africa, hmm...

Thanks for viewing