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Flight Log – Wintry Spring

April 24th, 2021 · No Comments · Gaming

Click the above image for the gallery on flickr cause the embed options all suck. Also all images are captioned with additional information not always included below

Time for some bush flying! Well, not really since we visited actual airports instead of just landing out in the wilderness but – small steps. Better to have a real field to get used to how the Carbon Savage Cub handles, since this would be my first time flying it. I’ve used the stock Savage Cub that comes with the game in previous flights, but this aircraft upgrade is pretty beastly, if you take a good look at the link to see all the upgrades it has. The engine upgrade is the most important because it allows me to keep pace better with my flying buddy Andrew, who prefers the digital cockpit of the X-Cub, which has a much higher cruising speed than the default Savage Cub and so on previous flights he’s had to work to fly slow enough for me to keep up. This time out we didn’t have any problems – in fact he sometimes had trouble keeping pace with me since my climb performance is much better.

This flight was originally supposed to take place several months ago over the winter because the area would be the closest best bet to have a look at the snowy weather the sim has been able to produce since an update in late 2020. At that time we would have been able to use live weather data to get snow but now, in mid-April, this was no longer possible. However this past week a large cold front has been sweeping through the entire upper US and snow has indeed been falling in the higher elevations. Nothing that would have lasted more than a day or so but I felt justified creating a custom weather scenario that laid out an 11cm snow cover – still a bit much but dammit we wanted some snow! Also, the Bing ground textures up here have noticeable snowy areas to begin with so it just made everything blend better anyways.

I spent some time before the flight figuring out if there is a way I could get my X55 flightstick on my lap and the throttle quadrant mounted to the left so that it would mimic the control layout of the Cub properly. I was able to ghetto together a setup that worked superb. The stick base ended up half on my lap, half on the books but that didn’t make me crotch-sweat or anything. It had to be there cause otherwise I couldn’t push the stick forward without hitting the edge of my desk. The clamp for my throttle quadrant was able to be rotated 90°, although I could only use two of the four screws but that still let it hold fast and I could side-mount it rather than have to front-mount it – though the difference wouldn’t be that much. It was really fun to fly with a stick rather than a yoke! The only issue is the box it was all set atop is just a little too wide and sometimes I can’t fully deflect my rudder pedals without adjusting it.

Flight plan for this trip.

Well I had all my mods installed still, Andrew had all his this time so we crossed our fingers and loaded up onto the tarmac of Saratoga County (5B2) with the time set to 5pm. Andrew had trouble getting his plane started until he used the ignition key in the game rather than the one assigned to his joystick, my Carbon Cub fired up straight away no problems, which was nice cause the last time I tried it messing with the sim a little while ago I had troubles. I could see Andrew’s aircraft properly this time, using the livery he had selected. We initially planned to take off Rwy21 and I had led us to Rwy32 and had taxied across towards 21 when I realized with winds out the the NW Rwy32 was actually the one we should be using, derp. Andrew was still holding short fiddling with things so I taxied back, we both pulled out to line up and then took off together.

As previously stated, my climb performance is way better but I didn’t realize this at first so I quickly rose above him and lost him on departure. I thought for sure I was ahead of him but he said he couldn’t see me and one of the cool features of the Savage Carbon Cub is a rearwards-facing very bright torch light so people can follow me easily. Finally we turned on player labels (still can’t toggle those for fucks sake) and realized he was actually ahead of me. So I quickly caught up and we began to plod westward towards our first destination. We decided to swap lead-follow each leg, so Andrew would lead first, then me, then him, then me.

The whole time we were trying to figure out where we were in relation to each other and get linked up to fly in formation, I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were so once I was settled on his wing and began to look around I noticed a water feature that looked like Hinckly Reservoir, which would mean we had passed our first airport, Kermizian (0NY3). I made mention of this to Andrew and we began to come about, but then he took a closer look at the GPS display in his cockpit and said that we were only halfway there so we came about back onto our previous course. As my mom would say – it’s not a real trip if you haven’t turned around at least once! Eventually I did spot the airfield as we flew over it, knowing how it looked from the air after working on enhancing it (along with the other two grass airfields we planned to hit). Andrew circled around to land first, while I circled around and promptly became disoriented, losing the field location. He landed, the GPS showed him not to be on the airfield and took off again while I was still trying to get my bearings.

Finally I was able to re-locate the field using the reservoir as a landmark and approach for a landing while Andrew watched to see where I was going. He actually ended up approaching a tad faster than he should have and shot right past me on final! I talked him down, saying it was the first clearing not the second, and he came in hot but landed okay. On the roll-out however heading towards the trees he braked too hard and nosed over into the ground. I bumped down hard with one big hop after a steep short final but managed not to break anything. Rushing to get off the ground earlier at 5B2 after a late start, I had forgotten to setup my external flight-tracking and landing-analysis tools – but I can say for sure this was a very rough landing. Was only the first though, there are subtle but noticeable differences to getting this plane down compared to the default Savage Cub I will need to get used to.

Andrew reloaded onto the airfield and we setup for departure after I brought my external tools online. I decided not to bother setting up the flight-tracking but I did remember to download a new replay tool I discovered so I could check it out. It was my turn to lead and even though we could go just straight north to the next airfield (NK26) I decided to head northeast then northwest to dogleg it more over the mountains. I ended up not traveling quite as far east as planned but had no trouble finding the large lake that led us towards the airport and flew low along some ridgelines on approach to really get some dynamic views from the gradually setting sun casting relief on the terrain and glinting off the water. Flying north of the field set us up for a left-hand pattern for Rwy31. I was cut again on landing as Andrew continued to find he descends faster than me at idle, but at least he didn’t almost crash into me as he whizzed by this time 😛

We both came down okay although Andrew appeared to land left of the runway and disappeared as if he had crashed into the trees, but says he came down fine. This time I had my landing analysis enabled and was rated an “average landing” – already getting better! Taxiing back I saw Andrew pop back into existence so we got prepped for our third leg, which he would lead. Getting lined up for takeoff I ended up rolling down a slope at the end of the runway towards the trees and had to slew back up, which was a pain because you can’t slew in small increments. I also noticed Andrew’s aircraft floating over the terrain and this was likely due to him having the higher-resolution terrain installed as part of the US World Update, which I didn’t have installed (although I have since installed it now that I know it works okay – in prior testing that was one of the differences in Andrew’s broken install versus my working one).

No issues on departure, rather than fly a direct NE route that would take us over mostly lowlands I proposed heading east then north, which would cover the mountain area I failed to fly over earlier on the way to NK26 and also take us right past the tallest peak in the state, Mt Marcy, which is also the name of the airfield (1I1) for which we were bound. Although Andrew had his GPS, the visual waypoints were easy to keep track of along the way, with our turn northwards over Indian Lake using the orientation of the lake itself to point us right towards Mt. Marcy, which could be distinguished as the tallest peak in the range ahead of us. Once past Marcy it was easy to pick out the valley we had to go for to get down to the airfield. We actually ended up flying over it without realizing it and coming around spotted it to land. Third time was the charm and I was rated a “very soft landing“! Although I got to buzz Andrew on landing this time he was already on the ground when I did so.

It was getting dark, but thankfully the Carbon Savage is outfitted for nighttime VFR and our final destination (KGFL) was a lit airport. Also, finding our way wouldn’t be a problem thanks to Interstate 87 leading us straight to it once we departed and exited the valley to the southeast. Sure enough, no problems enroute and while Andrew chose the more direct approach to Rwy19 I came in at an angle and turned left onto final for Rwy12. Technically we were both landing with a tailwind but the runways were ridiculously long for our aircraft so we just kept our speed up. Still, it didn’t let me gently set the aircraft down so I ended up with another “average landing“. We both landed right about the same time and taxied over to the tie-down apron to park. ~4hrs total for this flight and not a single serious technical issue along the way! The biggest problem is that for some reason Andrew doesn’t seem to see any of the static aircraft that I can see, and generally ends up parking inside one of them 😛

I’ve also given up using ATC completely because it’s pretty buggy and also I’m just still annoyed that you can’t use it to communicate to other players and you can’t use your voice, especially given the strict phraseology and the improvement of voice analysis. It’s good to go through the motions if you’re using the sim to keep up on your real-world pilotage but I don’t plan to do that so what’s the point? Especially when you can’t crash into other players anyway so why bother getting on the CTAF? I’m still considering looking into VATSIM however.

The next flight is already in the planning stages, heading out to Cleveland with a stop-over at Buffalo since we can’t make a direct flight in the Cessna 152/172. The Niagara Falls area would still look better with DX12 and the new particle system but for an aircraft flyover the scenery will do as it currently is – will definitely revisit the falls area with a helicopter in the future once it’s better looking up close. Then I think we will continue westward after some flying around the Lake Erie islands. I would like to reach the PNW by late summer/fall and up to Alaska by next winter…

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