Flight Simulation–Why?

To some individuals, a computer based flight simulator is just a game and to many others it is much more, it’s an important hobby.  I’ve even known many younger individuals who were inspired to pursue aviation careers and became pilots and air traffic controllers as a result.  Regardless of your motive, one can learn and experience many different aspects of aviation and even learn something about geography through a computer based flight simulator program. 

For me, flight simulation changed from being “Just a Game” around the year 2000.  As it was around this timeframe when I was first introduced to the world of internet based virtual airlines or VA’s.  I’ll discuss VA’s in more depth in a future article.  Before 2000, I would load up a flight in my simulator, pick a destination, take off and come back in a hour or two and land the plane.  I was happy if I could land within a hundred miles or so of the airport.  However,  with a little practice (practice does make perfect after all), I could navigate my aircraft and found it was actually interesting to fly the aircraft versus letting the autopilot do it. 

Tip – It is easy to get caught up in wanting to fly “Big Iron” aircraft like the Boeing 747.  However, you’ll learn more about flying and navigating when spending time in the default Cessna type aircraft which are featured in all versions of the popular flight simulator programs.  Work your way up from the single engine prop models just like real pilots.

While I have no desire to take flying lessons or earn my private pilots license, the flight simulation hobby has taught me much about aviation, about the world we live in and I’ve met some really wonderful people as a result. 

Next time I’ll discuss what flight simulator software is right for you (there are many to choose from) and some tips on setting it up.  Thank you for reading my blog.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

Flight Days Five and Six

Continuing our southerly path towards Cape Town, days five and six were pretty much uneventful.  I departed N’Dola airport in the city of Kinshasa, DRC for Huambo, Angola and the Albano Machado airport (FNHU).  The town of Huambo sits at an elevation of 5,584 feet. 

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Lined up on the active at FZAB.  Slightly improved weather conditions from yesterday.

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I love these shots looking back. FZAB in the background.

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On the ground at the Albano Machado Airport (FNHU) in Huambo, Angola for a fuel/food stop.

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Back in the air after a brief fuel stop.  We’ll make Windhoek Airport in Windhoek, Namibia by nightfall. 

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On final for the second time into Windhoek FYWE. Had to go around due to aircraft on the runway.  We’ll spend the night here and resume our journey towards Cape Town, South Africa tomorrow (day six).

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Day Six begins late morning as we depart Windhoek, Namibia for Cape Town, South Africa. 

It’s been an amazing week of flying through Africa.  To break things up just a bit, I’m going to place the King Air in storage at the Cape Town airport while my wealthy passengers spend a few weeks vacationing in Cape Town.  I’ve warned them about the great white sharks and will catch a flight from Cape Town back to London to run some “big iron” flights in and around Europe.  I’ll resume my adventure in a few weeks.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

An issue solved

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I packed away my flight sim computer and other gear (yoke, pedals, GoFlight hardware modules) in early January 2012.  Prior to this timeframe, I hadn’t spent much time flying since July/August 2011.  However, at this time (and even in January 2012) my FSX machine ran just fine. 

Since my FXS machine had been packed away between January and September of this year, I had a number of Microsoft updates to apply to the machine, along with updates to my antivirus programs.  Also, specific to FSX I had several updates to apply for various scenery and other add-ons. 

From almost minute one, FSX was unstable and I experienced many CTD’s or crash to desktop issues.  Many of these were experienced when clicking menus within FSX.  But FSX would also crash when starting up as well as when going to an airport (FSX default or otherwise) via the menu.  The odd part of this was I new I had applied the fix to resolve CTD’s when clicking menus just after I built the new machine two years ago.  Of course I’m talking about the uiautomationcore.dll fix.  This impacts users running FSX on Windows 7 64 bit machines.  If you want more information on this fix, please read this.

Anyway, I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out what was wrong.  I was very close to just biting the bullet and performing a full system rebuild on my machine.  Then on one of my Africa flights I experienced a CTD and decided to do a little more research on the specific error.  The error pointed to g3d.dll.  I used Google to search and found a blog post on the Avsim Forums which pointed to the fault being with FSUIPC.  I hadn’t thought about checking to see if an update to FSUIPC was available since my long hiatus. 

I applied the most recent version of FSUIPC and ran some tests.  Since applying the update, I’ve spent another 4-6 hours on the machine flying, clicking menus and just about anything else I can think of.  The machine is stable and I’ve experienced no CTD’s. 

I hope this information might help someone else. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

Flight Days Three and Four

This update will serve as the update for day three and four as our journey continues into Africa.  Day three began in Niamey, Niger (DRRN) under clear skies.  The decision was made to push on to the coastal city of Douala, Cameroon (FKKD) which is a three hour journey from Niamey. 

The weather was clear and warm (actually hot) in Niamey.  We fueled and prepared to taxi to the active runway. 

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Taxi from the fuel station to the active runway at DRRN.

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Our departure clearance was granted quickly and we were airborne and turning towards the south enroute to Douala.

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As our route carried us closer to the coast, thick dark clouds began to develop with reports of strong turbulence between 15,000 and 18,000.  I descended below 12,000 and continued to make my way towards Douala.  

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At about 10 miles out, we had one more storm cell to route ourselves around.  This extended our flight time by about 15 minutes, but would ensure a safe arrival.

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As we crossed the river we were instructed to follow the King Air ahead of us.  We resumed our position as number two and made it safely to the ground. 

On Friday morning I double-checked weather conditions and discovered we would need to carefully plot our departure out of Douala much the way we approached.  The coastal storms were back.  We departed Douala for Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (FZAB).

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Departing runway 30 in Douala, Cameroon.
Note the addition of the winglets for the Carenado B200 King Air.

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Circling the Douala airport for a patch of clear sky.

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Headed for smooth air and clear skies as we fly in-land from the Gulf of Guinea.  Our journey today will carry us south of the Equator for the first time on our long journey.

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Just managed to land and taxi off the active before the clouds opened up.

I did experience a CTD (Crash to Desktop) on this flight, but thankfully FSUIPC and the “save” feature helped me get back on track.  I did in fact learn something about a resolution to this CTD and will write about the solution soon.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

Casablanca to Timbuktu and Beyond

In over 25 years of flight simming, my only time to fly in or around Africa was in 2010 when I flew along the northern coast of Algeria and briefly in Libya before heading across the Mediterranean Sea towards Palermo, then on to Athens.  This adventure is allowing me to journey into the deepest portions of Africa and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to fly to Timbuktu.

My rich passenger travelers are tired from shopping and sightseeing around Casablanca.  We depart Casablanca early as we’ll travel most all day in order to reach Timbuktu.  However, I was given strict instructions to limit the flight segments to under 3 hours as best as possible.  I plotted the second travel day to depart Casablanca (GMMN) to Tindouf, Algeria (DAOF).  We’ll refuel, stretch the legs, grab lunch and then it’s off to Timbuktu, Mali (GATB).

I did learn what I needed to know about the flight characteristics of the King Air 200.  Under normal weather conditions, I have a range of just slightly over 1200 miles when fully loaded with 548 gallons of fuel (3671 lbs.).  The King Air 200 is also speedy in comparison to the single engine Mooney I used last time.  My passengers also enjoy all the amenities they expect including full drink and refreshment center (with flight attendant) and that fully enclosed aft lavatory.

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Bright and early in Casablanca.  Time to load’em up and move’em out.

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Ready to go 35R GMMN

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A little bumpy on the climb from Casablanca. 

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The western Sahara

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On final to Tindouf, Algeria DAOF

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Not much here but tarmac.  Topping off the fuel tanks and back in the air.  Thankfully we have that on-board enclosed lavatory.  Smile

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Climbing out over the western Sahara enroute to Timbuktu.

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On final into Timbuktu.

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On the ground at Timbuktu.  The rich family wants to push on to Niamey, Niger (DRRN).  After re-fueling we resume our trip.

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Departing Timbuktu and turning south towards Niamey.  The Beechcraft King Air 200 is getting a workout today.

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On final approach into Niamey (DRRN).

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On the ground, parked and engines off at Niamey, Niger.  

We are 2620 nm into our journey.  Our route will continue soon carrying us further south into Africa towards Kinshasa, DRC with planned fuel stops at Kaduna, Nigeria (DNKA) and Doula, Cameroon (FKKD).  I’ve also plotted my course to Cape Town.  I’ll have the Beechcraft checked out fully before resuming the journey.  From Cape Town our course will carry us up the eastern coast of South Africa, across to Madagascar. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

JT

Let’s get this adventure started

As stated in my most recent blog post in almost a year, I’m gearing up to start a new flight simulator adventure that will take me around the world as I zig-zag between northern and southern hemispheres in the Carenado B200 Beechcraft King Air twin-turboprop.  This aircraft is a brand new addition to my virtual hangar.  While I’ve spent some time in the virtual cockpit of this awesome aircraft, I’ve only managed to spend a few minutes at a time.  So the first leg of this adventure is truly important and one I’ll pay close attention to how the aircraft performs based on general specifications of the aircraft. 

In 2010, my Mooney had a range of less than 900nm.  This meant my average leg flying time was approx. 3-4 hours.  The King Air range is about double that of the Mooney, but that doesn’t mean I’ll have 6-8 hours to spend in a single sitting.   But of course, with the aircraft upgrade I’ll also have additional airspeed available which I didn’t have with the Mooney.  It should all balance out.

The first planned leg will be a long one taking us from the departure airport in Antwerp, Belgium all the way to Casablanca, Morocco.  I have plenty of re-fueling options along the way should the need arise.  But I want to challenge the suggested performance characteristics of the aircraft while I’m over heavily populated areas versus a large body of water or the Sahara.

I’ve plotted the route for the long journey to carry us over Paris, Madrid, Seville (refuel), Gibraltar then Casablanca with estimated travel time of just under 6 hours.  

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My new Beechcraft B200 King Air twin-turboprop parked at Antwerp airport EBAW. 

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Holding short, runway 29 EBAW.

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Position and Hold (OK, Line up and Wait) RW 29

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Turning southwest towards Paris.  The river Scheldt just below.

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The port side Pratt & Whitney doing its job.

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Sunset over northern Africa

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Short final runway 35R Mohammed V International Airport GMMN.

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Parked with engines off as the sun sets and a Royal Air Maroc departs.

My passengers are thrilled to make it to Casablanca and will spend a few days sightseeing.  Our journey will resume soon as we continue to fly south into the heart of Africa.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

JT

It’s been a while….But

I know it’s been a while since I posted to my flight simulation blog, Position and Hold.  Like many of you…I just get too busy from time to time for my hobbies or I let one hobby sort of over rule everything else.  Some of you who follow this blog may know that I’m an active amateur radio operator (aka ham radio).  I host an amateur radio podcast titled The Practical Amateur Radio Podcast (PARP).  PARP will celebrate its 5th birthday in May 2013 and along with my amateur radio hobby, it keeps me busy.

The last time I posted to this blog was almost one year ago and at that time I was thinking about starting another adventure journey in my new Carenado Malibu JetProp.  Unfortunately, this adventure never got off the ground.  Instead I devoted much of the first nine months of 2012 to finishing the basement project I started some 3-4 years earlier. 

The two pictures below show what the basement looked like in January 2012 (top photo) and the finished product on September 1, 2012.  With exception to the granite counter installation, everything else including framing of the walls, drywall, texture, painting, flooring and cabinet installation was completed by mine and my wife’s own hands.

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During this remodel phase, much of my flight sim gear was packed away and my available time to sit in front of a computer and fly a computer plane around from place to place was just not available.  Now that I’m in my new space, it was time to drag out the flight sim gear and enjoy the hobby of flying again.

Ironically, from the time I packed my gear up to the point that I began unpacking…those flight simulator gremlins managed to get into my PC and work their havoc.  I spent a few frustrating weeks experiencing CTD’s and other FSX problems.  I became seriously frustrated and decided to just walk away from it for a few days. A few days did turn into a few weeks, but I believe I’ve made some good progress and have not had the CTD’s which I experienced on early flights. 

To sort of cap off 2012 and kick-off 2013, I plan to start another flying adventure.  This new adventure will be similar to my Around the World flight in 2010, but also different.  In 2010 I set off in a single engine Mooney Bravo from Centennial Airport (KAPA) with a single goal of flying around the globe and returning back to KAPA.  You can view my route here.  I began the 2010 journey on 30 September 2010 and completed it 19 November 2010. 

For my 2012/13 journey I plan to depart Antwerp Belgium (EBAW) in the new Carenado B200 Beechcraft King Air twin-turboprop.  My fictional journey is to serve as pilot for a large wealthy family who have nothing better to do than tour the world.  They have more money than judgment and the sky truly is the limit on just where this journey will take us. 

The first few legs of the journey will take us from Antwerp, Belgium towards Casablanca, Morocco.  From Casablanca, I’m told the journey will continue deep into the heart of Africa and what once was the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and the capital city of Kinshasa.  From Kinshasa we will likely continue south to Cape Town, South Africa.  After Cape Town we will travel in the direction of Madagascar.  From Madagascar the route and plan is open. 

The idea for my 2012/13 journey is to see new places within the FSX world (hence the trip to Africa).  Just like the 2010 trip, I have no idea how long this will take me to complete as I zig zag between northern and southern hemispheres around the globe.  I plan to start soon and you can track my progress here

As I tried to do in my 2010 trip, I’ll post screenshots and blog updates throughout the journey.  I plan to get started soon.  So look for updates in the next couple of days.

Happy Flying…

JT

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