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Flight Log – Diversion

September 10th, 2012 · No Comments · Gaming

I recently took a second look at Plan-G, which is a freeware VFR flight planning tool built for FSX. I had checked it out originally a year or so ago but felt it was too much extra trouble to learn and use when I really didn’t need any complex flight planning tools – I mean I’ve been using simple plain text files for the last two years! But I figured as I started to branch out more from NJ now that I’m running out of airports to model I would need some extra help plotting longer flights and using a more complete aviation mapping system as SkyVector only shows you one chart at a time. At least, it did until recently when in the last month or so it began allowing you to pan around seamless aviation charts across the entire globe. Figures 😛

Anyway I decided to stick with learning how to utilize Plan-G and still use SkyVector for backup navigation due to the fact that it uses actual navigation charts and Plan-G simply uses navigation data it draws over a street map. The benefit to Plan-G over drawing my routes on the SkyVector site is that I have a better means of saving them in a visual format that’s easier to recall than deciphering a text file plan I wrote. The one downside to Plan-G that came with the most recent release is that you can’t take an existing route line and redirect part of it without creating a custom waypoint in the process. This means I’m creating a lot of waypoints that get saved to the Plan-G database that I’m only going to use once for a specific flight plan.

Other than that annoyance, I’ve found Plan-G easy to pick up and suitable for even my simple needs.

Here’s the Plan-G flight plan for this flight. (Right-click Save As)

For this flight I wanted to check out the new freeware KPHL scenery from SunSkyJet. I decided to hop back into the Bonanza, which I had left at my last airport project, Lakewood (N12). It was a morning flight, and I knew the weather wasn’t going to be great but it would be doable. I planned to fly south along the coast, intercept the ACY VOR on the 120° radial at 12nm out and then arc around ACY until the 300° radial. I originally planned to head straight from there on a bearing for KPHL but decided instead to change that and stick to visual aids and instead picked up the Atlantic City Expressway and followed that west to Philly. I had also planned to step climb during my DME arc for extra challenge but unfortunately the weather prevented me as the cloud cover was around 3200′ and I wanted to go as high as 4500′ by the time I turned towards Philly.

After making it down the coast okay I climbed from 1500′ to 2500′ just before intercepting the 120° radial since visibility was dropping, I hadn’t enabled any flight following and was getting apprehensive of passing low over Ocean City (26N) as I arced around the VOR. The climb threw my trim off and the winds were picking up too so getting established on the arc took me a while longer than I would have liked and put me at 11.1nm, which is outside the +/- 0.5nm buffer I like to keep myself within. Eventually I smoothed out and was able to drift closer to 12nm out as I turned, but I was also distracted by an inconsistent rumbling/banging noise and since I don’t fly in many thunderstorms in FSX it took me a while to realize it was thunder I was hearing – the lighting flashes in the distance became visible as I continued to turn westward.

By the time I passed over Ocean City I could see clear out west where there was nothing but low cloud and lighting, so I made the call and swung around to make an approach at Ocean City. I called out for Runway 6 and brought her down as quickly as I could – probably a bit too quickly as I went through an abbreviated mental landing checklist. I landed okay though still, if quite long down the not so long runway. Looking at the weather didn’t show any breaks anytime soon so I left the plane parked at Ocean City.

Two days later I came back during the day to attempt the rest of the flight. Weather was still overcast and even lower than before with a 1500′ ceiling but visibility was 10nm and there were no showers or t-storms in the area so up I went. After slotting in between arriving traffic I departed down Runway 6 and turned right to circle back over the airport and establish my DME arc the rest of the way around. I flew at 1000′ to give me proper vertical clearance from the clouds and that was sufficient for the entire flight thankfully since this part of NJ is barely a few dozen feet above sea level. Once 12nm from the VOR I simply set my NAV2 CDI to 300° and then judged my turn by looking at my approach speed to the DME, which I kept as close to 0 as possible. I find this much simpler than the original method I learned, which is useful if you don’t have approach speed instrumentation available.

Once I turned over the Atlantic City Expressway to follow it west I contacted KPHL for landing and was told to make straight-in for Runway 35. I was still way too far out to line up with any runways so I continued until I was near the Delaware River and then turned to follow it south until I was abeam the airport and could make a right turn for final approach. It was pretty busy when I arrived, and I even had to slow my approach to make sure an airliner landing on intersecting 27R was past my runway before I landed. In fact ATC instructed me to go around but they did so practically as my wheels were coming into contact with the ground, so I slowed and taxied off ASAP but still not before ATC reproached me with a “you were not cleared to land!”. Oh well, they still gave me Ground hand off so I contacted Ground and asked for east parking, since that’s where the GA aircraft go but unfortunately I hadn’t bothered to take a close look at the airport diagram and realize that east parking is actually overflow airline parking, which was already overflowed so they ended up directing me to a gate. Then in the process of getting lost taxiing I got into a traffic jam with three airliners.

In the end I gave up and reloaded my aircraft at a GA parking spot at KPHL and saved the flight from there. As I’ve found is true with most airports that feature realistic parking, having your commercial AI turned up to max can overwhelm the airport since in real life they park out of service planes away from gates while in the sim they just sit there for a long while before either departing later or timing out. So eventually aircraft run out of gate parking and overflow where possible into GA parking. I will have to do some tweaking to find a good setting for KPHL, but at least the scenery itself was great and I look forward to departing out of it next time.

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