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Flight Log – Memorial Day Fly

May 31st, 2011 · 2 Comments · Gaming, Personal

Wow has it really been just under 2 months since I’ve last flown?? Yikes I’m afraid so! Luckily in that space of time I’ve still been really productive, churning out over a dozen new airports for MSE Airports and also getting nominated for an AVSIM Reader’s Choice Award in freeware scenery. I don’t expect to actually win but the nomination leads me to to believe that maybe next year I can!

Since I hadn’t flown in a while I wanted to earn back the lost time in a big way, so I planned to fly all day Memorial Day. Of course the day after I decide to do this I finally get word that there is going to be a BBQ at our house after all, so I had to plan in a few hours break to “socialize”. But other than that it was straight-up, non-stop flying from sun up to sun down. To make things even more interesting, I worked up four new things to do on this outing besides just flying to various airports I had modeled since my last flight:

  • I bought a new plane! I’ve had my eye on the Carenado V-tail Bonanza for quite a while now and finally decided to purchase it. The Cessna is still my aircraft of choice for small turf runways but I will be expanding my reach soon into Delaware and NY so the greater distance will require a faster aircraft with a longer range. Plus the Carenado craft has more accurate modeling and systems that create a better immersive experience. I must say though that I was disappointed by the breadth and quality of the documentation – although I have come to understand the reasoning behind the quality I’m still not happy with the breadth. Either way tho the plane itself is great, even if the instrumentation is harder for me to see than the Cessna. I might finally have a reason to invest in a TrackIR
  • I downloaded a bunch of 2004/FSX scenery from Metro Helicopters, a virtual aviation company that operates helicopter services primarily in the Manhattan airspace but also in LA as well. They have various additional scenery in the NY/NJ area that I installed and tested and planned to tackle later on in the Dodo206
  • I left the Scenery Complexity setting at Very Dense while flying through the Manhattan area. This was my first flight with my new i5 Sandy Bridge processor build and the extra CPU HP lets me add more detail to the Aerosoft Manhattan scenery I have installed. In addition to just making the city look denser and the heliports more busy with static aircraft and objects, it also adds new features like a landable USS Intrepid! Didn’t even know that…
  • I used a freeware iPhone app called ForeFlight Checklist (Lite) to enter in the checklists for the Cessna, Bonanza and Dodo (both FCUs). It was pretty slow-going and tedious using the iPhone keyboard to do them all, but I really wasn’t bout to shell out $20 just for the ability to enter them via my keyboard (there are other features of the Pro version but that’s the only compelling one for me besides the backups). Won’t deny that I considered it a few times. But once the lists are in they’re in so no worries there. Anyways I use a Joby GorrilaMobile to stand my iPhone up on my desk with the app open and it’s easy to just tap through the checklists. I used to have them open in one of my side monitors but I would have to scroll through them and every time I took focus over to their window the FSX sound would cut out (did not like using the FSX Kneeboard). With the checklists more accessible now, I find myself remembering to use them more often!

So how did the day go? Well I crashed each aircraft once, and it was obvious in general that I hadn’t flown for a while – but still had a good time! Got to dodge around some clouds, rain and even thunderstorms. The overall plan consisted of taking the Cessna around to all the turf fields that I had yet to visit, and then hopping into the Bonanza for the asphalt fields, and then taking the chopper out over Manhattan to stick some pads. You’ll notice I suspended my 60nm per leg rule – there were just too many airports I had to hit. Here are the highlights, the full details can be found in the Flight Plan.

Leg 1: C01 – JY31

I meant to depart at 5:30 – not 6:30 yet I wrote 6:30 in the  blasted PTD (Planned Time Departure) field so that’s when I woke up to fly. This meant I missed the sunrise, so that was disappointing since the early fields I was visiting actually had edge lighting to make the early arrivals worthwhile. That’s what I get for flight planning while tired. My route towards the field actually set me up for a straight in approach so I took it. Generally for small unattended fields you should fly over them to check the sock for winds and make sure the field is in suitable condition to land on. However I had a weather report from KWWD a stone’s throw away and the runway was long enough so I just flew in hot to be ready for an aborted landing if I needed.

My departure was late thanks to having to troubleshoot a sound problem so I could split my voice/sounds audio between headphones and speakers.

Leg 2: JY31 – JY04

All I have to say for this leg is I’m glad I got into the habit of checking for VOR identifiers! I tuned into the NAV1 beacon I was homing in on and heard a different Morse code than what I had noted in my flight plan, so I checked the chart on my side monitor and the code matched what I had in my plan so then I checked the frequency I had entered and realized I was tuned to the wrong VOR! One of many stupid ways to get lost, glad I didn’t fall for this one (but don’t worry I screw up later).

Leg 3: JY04 – 9NJ6

Halka Nurseries approach almost did me in – I forgot (and didn’t check – stupid) that there were power lines with actual wires strung up on the approach to Rwy18. I remembered that there was a displaced threshold (not marked) at the same time I saw the power lines – luckily I was still high enough to stay above them but I didn’t even want to hit the replay to see how close I came to them.

Leg 6: JY17 – JY08

The weather had been dodgy all morning – clouds here and there, some low some not so low. I was weaving and bobbing to stay out of them. On approach to JY08 I actually saw some lighting off to the north. I cruised that way a bit to try and screencap some flashes but I was always too slow on the capture button. I did hear some thunder roll through my home area as I began my flight earlier in the morning and the REX weather radar showed severe storms moving through central NJ. Luckily they cleared out as forecast before I headed up that way. Also thankfully they didn’t bring any nasty winds with them!

Leg 7: JY08 – 9NJ8

This was one of two legs for the day that topped 60nm (in fact both came in around 100nm). I had time before departure so I used it to double check the weather ahead since I would be going through central Jersey, and I found it all clear but waited until my ETD rolled around to takeoff. Unfortunately I didn’t let me engine ramp up enough before releasing the brakes and didn’t get enough speed to make it off the ground before running into some trees. Fail.

Luckily that was the first time I remembered to save my flight before taking off! So saved it from being an Epic Fail.

After reloading I tried again and still barely managed to clear the trees at the end. Dunno if it was my operation of the aircraft or the fact that I didn’t bother to check runway length and takeoff distances (*whistles innocently*) but at least I made it out alive this time. As I climbed to cruise altitude I contacted PHL APP to request Bravo transition – of course I was approved. I had an alternate route planned in the event of not being allowed into the Bravo airspace and considered simulating ATC denying me but ultimately decided that would have no benefit for me. Planning the alternate route was the beneficial exercise, not actually flying it. Had I been denied I would have flown to the intersection of the two VOR radials I plotted that would keep me below the Bravo shelf and out of the surface airspace.

Granted clearance, I continued to climb but soon found myself in the clouds – well in between the cloud layers at least. Rather than waste fuel and time dodging around and over clouds, I decided to drop back down to the deck and head west for the river early rather than follow the NJ Turnpike northeast with the clouds. I also tried to maintain a proper 500ft vertical separation below the cloud layer – but later on I double checked and realized at this low height it’s just simply “stay out of the clouds”. Regardless, I did so.

Because I was now below 2700ft I had to call Trenton to get Class D clearance as I continued along the Delaware River north. Again, no problem and there was no traffic as I passed through and announced myself clear (almost forgot!)

Now here’s where I screwed up my VOR navigation. I thought the VOR radial was along my route to the airport, but it was instead tangental to my route. I should have made a note that the VOR was just backup and I had originally planned to VFR navigate the whole way along the river until I spotted the airport. So anyways as I noticed my DME showing me heading towards the VOR instead of away from it, I decided I had missed my radial and turned around. But then I started heading towards it again and realized it was not in the direction I thought it was. So I checked the chart and realized I had the wrong VOR location in mind. Hence arriving almost 10 minutes late.

Pattern Practice

Once I arrived back at KBLM I taxied over to one of the hangars to store away the Cessna until I need it again for smaller turf fields. Then I loaded up the V35B in another one of the hangars and proceeded to create a new profile for my yoke, quadrant and HOTAS to take in additional features of this craft like a variable-pitch propeller, cowl flaps and landing gear – things the Cessna does not have. Next I started her up – which took a few tries until I realized that you can’t select both of the fuel tanks like you can in the Cessna, so I selected one of the tanks instead of leaving the fuel selector in the (what I now know as) OFF position and got the engine started. Imagine that.

So I took off for some pattern practice – mainly for landings but also just to get a feel of the aircraft and to practice patterns in general. However a steady stream of air traffic made things rather complicated. I had to fly a missed approach the first time simply because I was too high thanks to rushing my approach to beat in another aircraft, and the next time I came around a Piper Cub taxied onto the runway and made me shoot the missed approach again. The third time I finally managed to slot in between two arriving aircraft and get on the ground in one piece (though not without audible complaint from the aircraft). However after that it was time for departure on the next leg. Oh and no my patterns were not that great either 😛

Leg 10: KBLM – KFWN

My first leg in the Bonanza was the longest one to give me the most time to accustom to cruising in the plane, even though I would still be doing it under varying circumstances thanks to the Hudson Corridor SFRA. Before even that however I planned to fly over Sandy Hook. As a national park area, you need to be at least 2000ft above it, and when I got up there I saw some lowish clouds hovering in the area so I decided to divert around the Hook and duck down early to slide under the NYC Bravo shelf. From there it was an even further drop down to 1200ft to prepare to enter the SFRA. Transiting craft should operate from 1000 – 1299 feet so 1200 is a nice height that leaves you some room to bump up and down a little. For once I was also in an aircraft that can cruise faster than 140kts so I had to watch my speed upon entering as well. Finally I pre-composed what I would need to transmit on the CTAF as I passed by/over various landmarks along the way.

The Hudson transit went okay, although I found the elevator trim to be way more sensitive than the C172 so I was bobbing quite a bit but didn’t break ceiling – well okay maybe once for a few seconds. I’m sure ATC didn’t notice. I also said “twelve hundred feet” in my first location call but then switched to “one thousand, two hundred” for later calls. I guess the former would have been fine since it’s more concise. It’s a CTAF not an official ATC channel so I bet people have their own tweaks to the general usage. Once clear of the corridor I was still underneath Bravo airspace so I rose up as high as I could and waited to intercept the VOR radial that would let me know I was out from under the airspace and could rise up further to cruise altitude.

And waited…. and waited…

Finally I realized I had done something wrong again. Sure I haven’t had too much experience with an HSI gauge since all the C172 has are CDI needles but I was pretty sure I had set the thing right and the yellow line should have dropped down to complete the arrow. So I gave the OBS card a spin around and noticed that the arrow never lined up under any orientation. I double-checked that a To/From flag was displayed to confirm it was receiving a VOR signal and then finally toggled the NAV/GPS switch. The needle came alive. Argh! 😛

Leg 11: KFWN – KCDW

So there are two things about KFWN that make it unique (not really in a good way): one is that the taxiways are in such bad shape they don’t have any markings on them anymore and two, part of the main taxiway leading down to Rwy03 is so broken down you can’t even use it, which means you have to taxi back on the runway to take off. Sooo I land on Rwy21 but realize that the crosswind is really more in favor of Rwy03. I turn around to taxi back to where I exited the runway and all this time I had blatantly ignored the CTAF comms. I get to the runway and realize there’s no hold short marker. I know, deep down, that I should hold short anyways just because that’s what you’re supposed to do before entering any runway. But I decide to buck the system and just cruise on out… right underneath a Beech Baron on short final. I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin upon hearing over the CTAF:

“KFWN traffic, Beech [identifier] flying the missed approach”

Ok ok FINE I’ve learned my lesson.

Leg 12: KCDW – N05

I guess in retrospect N05, despite having an asphalt runway, was really a field I should have visited in the Cessna. But before I get to that, I wanted to note that I had to follow some departure procedures from Caldwell, which isn’t an everyday occurrence. Always be sure to read the airport remarks section for special details like these.

But anyways I arrived at N05 and had to clear some trees on approach – probably wouldn’t have been a problem except that I had still not gotten a good feel for the way the Bonanza descends on final so I ended up kinda popping over the trees and diving for the runway, then pulling up and hovering until I touched down about halfway down and a millisecond before I was about to shove the throttle back forward. But instead I just stood on the brakes. I forgot the tactic of lowering the rest of your flaps to bring further weight and drag down on your rear (was at approach flaps only) and I actually skidded off the end of the runway and to a stop like a foot from the road.

Okay so landing instead of balking the approach wasn’t the best decision I’ve made.

Leg 13: N05 – KLDJ

This leg’s VOR gaffe is hilarious. So okay I’m departing N05 and already have the OBS tuned to a radial that will lead me to my first VOR waypoint so I can turn to it right after takeoff and climb out. So I take off and once established in the climb go to turn on the radial, but the HSI needle has already become completely misaligned. So I start rotating the OBS and turning towards the needle, but for every few seconds of turn the needle alignment falls out before I can reach the radial. Eventually (and none too soon I am sad to admit) I realize it’s impossible for me to align with any radial because I’m circling the VOR at a distance of less than a mile. Okay, seriously. No more flight planning when I’m tired because I have no idea why I planned to tune into a VOR 2nm from the damn airport!!

So I jumped straight to the second VOR that I should have just vectored to in the first place, and continued on my merry (frustrated) way.

Flying the approach to Linden I found myself sandwiched between a Piper and a Bombardier. Having a freaking jet on my tail I think caused me to rush the approach a bit, but it could also have just been my inexperience with the plane’s approach profile – either way I smacked down on the pavement too hard and triggered a complete crash.

Last airport. Figures.

Quick note: my alternate destination was planned with clear weather in mind – there was a chance I would arrive at KLDJ with thunderstorms looming so 47N was the weather alternate.

Heli Ops Around Manhattan

After dinner and spending time at the BBQ downstairs, it was back in the cockpit behind the stick of a Dodo206. Taking off from Linden, which was always the plan after arriving in the V35B, I flew the LINDEN route up to the NEWARK route that put me over the lower NYC harbor area. There I started taking stock of the Very Dense Manhattan scenery swinging by KJRB for a quick stopover and then a hop over to 6N5 for another short break before heading up the East River, across Central Park and landing on the deck of the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier museum. Next I weaved haphazardly through some high rises (wheeeeee!) and set her down on top of the MetLife building where the old Pan-Am heliport is located.

Next I flew out across Long Island, past the Jones Beach monument I now have a scenery object for, and out to the Freedom of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship with a helipad on the prow. It was a 35-minute flight to get out there – wish it was closer. It took me three missed approaches and in general a good deal of hovering and futzing around, but I finally manged to set down smack dab in the middle of the helipad. That was very rewarding.

I departed the Freedom and headed back to Manhattan to arrive just as sunset was kicking in and making the sky beautiful, however things came to a fiery end when I attempted to nail the helipad atop the 111 Wall St building. It was even smaller than the cruise ship helipad and I was having so much trouble seeing it – I finally ended up descending off to the side of it rather than on it and crashed into the building. Plus after a full day of flying and having basically every other helicopter landing that evening be an exercise I was probably just tired. Scratch that, I am tired 😛

It was good to fly again. Till next time!!

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Let’s all have a chat… | MegaSceneryEarth(TM) Airports

    […] in an airshow at KMIV (which I have yet to model – took some reference shots!) and Monday I spent all day flying. It was […]

  • Sarika

    Hello et bravo pour cette vide9o ! Aujourd’hui il cligne des yeux (e9le9ment de9je0 vu sur la psaasge8re du Commander 112 de Flight1), mais demain il mettra ses lunettes de soleil quand il sera e9bloui, il pourra se de9placer dans l’avion et en sortir une fois pose9, et l’ombre de sa casquette sera projete9e sur son visage. On verra enfin le cable de son casque qu’il devra brancher et qui bougera en fonction des mouvements de l’avion. Seront ame9liore9s les reflets sur les chromes, et un jour aussi, des bans de poissons sous la surface de l’eau visibles du ciel. Bref, inutile donc indispensable mais tre8s probables dans les prochaines versions ou add-ons. 😉 Null doute que le progre8s continuera, en attendant vivement que des add-ons profitent des nouveaute9s moins visibles de FSX !Bons vols Vincent.

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