A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E9

While I’ve only been based at SFO a short time, I’m starting to sense a bit of an uneasy feeling.  Some of our pilots have had their schedules cut and others temporarily furloughed.  While I enjoy a relaxed schedule, I also need to work.  After all, if we’re not flying…we’re not earning a living.  I’m hopeful this is only short-term problem as it’s been over a week between flights for me.  But hey…today I’m flying up to Portland and back. 

Flight Details

I’m back in the right-hand seat and flying with a captain I’ve worked with before.  We get along very well.  He’s been my mentor for a while now and I’m always pleased to serve as his FO.  In this case as is SFO at SFO.  Smile   Perhaps I’ll have some time to speak to him and get a better understanding of what all is going on. 

Our flight today is Alaska flight 800 in the Boeing 737-900 up to Portland (KPDX).  Our alternate will be my old stomping grounds of Sea-Tac.  Our block time today is just under 2 hours.  We’re taking 16,000 lbs of fuel and have a planned cruising altitude of 34,000. 

Route:  TRUKN2 GRTFL DCT MACHU TMBRS2

1

It’s Time To Go

Today we’re in the “More To Love” livery which celebrates the merger between Alaska and Virgin America. 

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No flight can begin without a walk-around.

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Time for push-back and hopefully an on-time departure.  Today our taxi is a little longer as we’re departing from 28L.

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Let’s Roll

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Wheel’s Up

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Climbing to cruise

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The view on this side of the aircraft won’t change much as we fly up the coast of California into Oregon.

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I believe that’s Mt. Hood just behind us. 

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Clouds are building as we begin our descent into Portland. 

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Making our turn to join the localizer for 10R

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The Columbia River just below. 

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Cleared to land 10R

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Nice

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Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-900
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KSFO Flightbeam, KPDX Flightbeam
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California, Orbx Pacific Northwest
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E8

Our new San Francisco adventure starts now and I’m really excited about this new opportunity.  My first flight out of SFO will be a trip over to Vegas and back in the 737-800.  I’ve flown into and out of SFO many times, but there’s something a little different about this first flight out, as now I’m based here.  The good news is I’ve been really made to feel welcome by all the SFO based team and I’m starting to settle into my new home. 

Flight Details

Today I’m serving as Sr. First Officer on Alaska flight 1932 with service to Las Vegas.  Our flight today is in the Boeing 737-800.  Our block time for this trip is 1 hour, 40 minutes and we require 14, 650 lbs. of fuel and our take-off weight is just over 148,000 lbs.  This is a late afternoon flight and will be arriving into Vegas just around sunset. 

Route:  WESLA4 NTELL Q162 ESSAA DCT BTY SUNST4

1

Let’s Go Already

Our 738 is at the gate and being prepped for the flight.  As Sr. First Officer, it’s my job to perform the walk around. 

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We start at the front and make our way around. 

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Inspecting the engine and control surfaces.

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Making sure all lights are working as they should.

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Then to the rear of the aircraft.

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Tires and gear all look good.  It’s time to head back inside.

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Some things are still branded with Virgin America, but that will soon change I’m sure.  Time for push-back.

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Push-back and two successful engine starts.  It’s time to taxi out to 01L.  Don’t worry…it’s a short taxi. 

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Line up and wait.  We’re waiting on a United B788 landing on 28L. 

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Blasting off 01L at KSFO on our way to Vegas.

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Making our left turn to circle around SFO and join the departure out of the Bay area.

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Climbing up to FL370. 

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The sun is setting and the moon is rising as we enter our cruise phase. 

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Beginning our descent on the Las Vegas SUNST4 Arrival.

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The view from my office window.

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Beautiful sunset

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The Vegas strip just off our left side.

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On final approach.

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Cleared to land

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Parked at the gate and deboarding.  We’re set to return to SFO tonight.

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Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-800
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KSFO Flightbeam, FlyTampa KLAS
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

Real World Meets Sim World

I know I’m not the only one who enjoys simulating their real world flights either before or after any trip.  I’m actually a little superstitious about it to be honest.  In the past dozen years or so, there’s only been one real world trip which I didn’t fly in the sim before hand.  It was a few months ago when I received the word that my Mom had passed away.  I rushed out to KDEN and jumped on a Southwest Boeing 737-700 and flew to Austin.  When I got back home a week later and found myself in the mood to spend some time in Prepar3D, I setup that flight in memory of my mom.  I think she would have appreciated that.  After all, flight simulation has been a hobby I’ve been involved with since I was a teenager back in the early 1980’s.

Memorable Flights

I’ve had many.  When I first moved to Denver back in the late 90’s, I would fly to visit my family in Texas.  Before hand I would simulate an American Airlines flight from KDEN to KDFW in one of my favorite aircraft the MD80.  After landing at KDFW, I would jump in a Saab 340B and simulate the quick flight down to Killeen – Fort Hood Regional.  Then I would do the reverse. 

Of course, in my job I’ve traveled a lot.  Some domestic and many trips overseas.  After all it was a business trip back in 2001 which led to me meeting my now wife.  But regardless if I traveled domestically or international, I set aside the time to simulate the roundtrip flights before I head to the airport in real life.

London Calling

By the time you read this, my wife and I will be halfway through our European vacation.  Once again we’re headed cross the pond from Denver to London Heathrow via the Queen herself a beautiful Boeing 747-400.  A trip I’ve made about a dozen times.  Anyway, we’ll spend a few days in the English countryside before heading to Antwerp, Belgium (family visit) on the Eurostar for a week, then back to the English Countryside for another week and then back home to Denver. 

A few weeks ago I completed the first leg of the trip and flew my PMDG 747-400 from Denver to London Heathrow.  On Thursday, 4th of July I completed the return leg and captured the following screenshots of the trip.

Of course, no trip of this magnitude can be completed without snacks.  I’ve gotta say, the food British Airways serves in their business class is top-shelf and the drinks are nice as well.  Smile

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I would have snapped a picture of the bags being loaded, but GSX being GSX decided to use belt loaders which just looked really silly.  So here we are being pushed back from our stand at London’s Heathrow (UK2000) airport (one of my favorite airports in the world). 

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Pushback complete, time to taxi out to 27R

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Once you get this big girl rolling, she just wants to fly and fly she does.  I don’t fly the Queen near as much as I wish I could. 

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Well on our way across the Atlantic. Personally I find the return trip to be a lot easier than the eastbound trip.  I think it has to do with flying during all daylight hours. 

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If you happen to live or have visited the Denver area, then you know all about our late afternoon thunderstorms.  They can wreak havoc with on-time departures and can cause holds while these powerful, but quick moving storms move near Denver International.  In the below, we’re approaching KDEN for the ILS 16L approach with storms brewing just northwest of the field. 

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Touchdown imminent.  9 hours, 45 minutes after pushing back from Heathrow we safely touchdown on runway 16L at KDEN (Flightbeam). 

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And with that…I’m ready to board the Queen for what might be my last flight aboard a Boeing 747-400.  As most will know, United Airlines retired their last 744 in 2017 and with that it marked the end of any US carrier flying the Queen.  Other airlines including British Airways have also started the process of replacing their 747 fleet with 777’s, 787’s and others from that other aircraft manufacture.  Smile

As a point of reference, when I began flying British Airways between Denver and London (2001 timeframe), BA operated the 777-200 on this route.  They changed to the 747-400 in Spring of 2015.  While BA’s plan to reduce the number of 747-400’s by 50% in 2021, the Queen may still fly until 2024.  But who really knows what the future holds…

Until next time….God Save The Queen!

Jerry

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E7

Just a little clarification.  As my storyteller series continues to unfold, I’m going to be taking a new job in APL with Virgin America.  As Virgin America was acquired by Alaska Airlines and fully merged in 2018, for the sake of this continuing story line…I’m going to continue to fly for Alaska.  But be based in San Francisco.  APL will think of me employed by Virgin America…but I’ll follow the real world situation and consider myself still employed by Alaska.  Confused?  Hopefully not….

Present Day

Image result for flight deck door images

Upon returning from the Las Vegas trip, I had a few days off and needed to give serious thought to my future plans.  The way I saw it, I had three possible doors to open and walk through.  Thankfully I knew what was behind each door.  The hard part was deciding.  Would it be door #1, door #2 or door #3?
I also suppose there could have been a 4th option, but I just don’t have the brain power to think about that option right now. 

Door #1 is basically stay with Alaska and stay in Seattle.  I could continue flying mostly the same routes I’ve been flying. 

Door #2 would have me accept the transfer down to San Francisco and operate the old Virgin America routes.  Most likely I would stay in the Boeing 73x aircraft.  But could certainly work through the process of getting type rated on the Airbus A320.  This option would certainly better assist me down the road. 

Door #3 is to look at the list of offers I have available.  I really didn’t want to take a step back in pay and my ultimate goal is to eventually get hired on by a 5 star airline.  As far as I’m concerned, this can wait until I reach the rank of captain.  I’m really in no rush. 

A part of me feels that Alaska needs/wants me to go to San Fran.  After all, if they didn’t…they wouldn’t have offered it.  So I must be doing something right.  Again…decisions, decisions. 

OK….

Done!  We’re moving to the Bay Area.  Might as well. 

Flight Details

All my belongings are packed and being moved down to the San Francisco area.  My car is also being shipped down and while I’m still in Seattle, I managed to get assigned to a flight down.  Might as well earn some money and XP in the process right?  Right!

Today I’ll be serving as Sr. First Officer on Alaska flight 1740 with non-stop service to San Francisco.  Our flight today is in the Boeing 737-800 with a total block fuel of 17,141 lbs. and a take-off weight of 159,232 lbs.  Our block time is 2 hours and 10 minutes and our cruising altitude is 35,000.

Route:  HAROB6 FEPOT Q3 FOWND MLBEC BDEGA3

2

Time To Go

The feeling is somewhat bitter sweet.  While I know this won’t be the last time I fly into Sea-Tac, I’ve truly enjoyed calling this airport home.  I’ve enjoyed living in the Seattle area, but looking forward to finding out what life is like in San Fran. While I know this isn’t permanent, SFO will be my new home for the foreseeable future. 

For my big send off, Alaska has matched me up with one of the old black/white liveries.  She’s a classic for sure and I’m honored to have one last opportunity to fly this livery before they are all repainted.  Obviously, Alaska has been most concerned with getting all the Virgin America Airbus aircraft updated first.  After all, branding means everything. 

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We’re all buttoned up and ready to push back. 

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Push back the Boeing 737-900

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Holding short runway 16L.  We all bow to the Queen.  A Boeing 747-400 landing 16L.

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Once the Queen vacated the runway, it was our time to blast off for SFO.  Bye Bye Sea-Tac.  See you sometime soon.

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Turning to join our departure course. 

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Climbing out above the clouds. 

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Descending into what will be my new home for a while.  Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge just out of the Captains window. 

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Silicon Valley

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Clear to land, runway 25L

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Almost there….

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Short final for 25L. 

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At the gate, SFO.

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The sign above the door says it all.  Or at least tells us we landed at the correct airport.  This day and age, that fact is not always a given.

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I’m here and a new adventure begins at SFO.  We have a busy schedule of flights which start almost immediately.  For me, A Pilot’s Life has really helped to give purpose to my virtual flying.  APL makes you think, it makes you plan and it makes you work hard to gain both experience as well as money. 

I truly hope you are enjoying this storyteller series and I hope you’ll tune back in for the next episode next week. 

Thanks again and happy flying!

Jerry

Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-900
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KSEA Drzewiecki Design, KSFO Flightbeam
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E6

Hello and welcome back to another installment of my “A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series”.  As you might recall when we were last together, we landed in Las Vegas (Alaska Flight 634) and were due to return back to Seattle that afternoon/evening.  Let’s get right into the action.

Present Day

I’m still contemplating my options as it relates to my career with Alaska.  I will admit that a change of scenery will do well for me.  My contract with Alaska is up and in reviewing the job offers out there, I do have options. 

As you can see below, Alaska has offered me the option to move to San Francisco and work in what was the old Virgin America division.  The pay is a step forward as my current pay rate is $39.39 per hour and Alaska is offering me $39.55.  The next best choice for me would be to leave Alaska and of that list, Southwest Airlines is the most attractive.  Southwest has offered me a job before and each time they up the ante.  So I’d rather keep moving up if at all possible.  Decisions…decisions.

4

Flight Details

This is the return flight from Las Vegas back to Seattle, Alaska flight 635.  Our planned fuel for this trip back to Seattle is 19,640 lbs and our TOW is 161,731.  Our cruising altitude will be 34,000 with a total block time of 2 hours and 36 minutes. 

Flight Plan: SHEAD1 OAL LOMIA LKV HAWKZ7

Are you Ready?

We’re running slightly late as we had a passenger who hadn’t boarded, so their bags had to be removed from the aircraft as standard procedure.  The ground crew needs to move a cart out of the way and then bring the tug around.  We’ll be pushing back in just a few minutes. 

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Push back underway and along with that is engine start. 

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Tug disconnected and we’re given the all clear. 

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Leaving Las Vegas

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Climbing out on our departure SID. 

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A noticeable Washington landmark just above the clouds off the right wing.  (Mount Rainer)

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Typical cloudy afternoon as we make our way along the arrival route.

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The view from my office window.

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Almost home as we fly near downtown Seattle. 

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Hello Boeing…..

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Safely back where we started about 6 hours earlier.

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I’m not scheduled to fly for a few days and need to give Alaska Airlines my decision by end of the week if I want to consider the move to SFO.  I’ll admit, I’m certainly leaning in that direction. 

Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-900
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KSEA Drzewiecki Design, KLAS FlyTampa
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E5

Good morning, good afternoon and/or good evening and thank you for returning to our 5th installment in this Storyteller series focusing on A Pilot’s Life.  A few things to catch you up on.  In the last installment, we traveled from Ketchikan back to Seattle.  This was the last flight of the month as I completed it on 31 May. As I get paid monthly, I received a nice paycheck on 1 June and have already made a few strategic purchases which will assist me in gaining more XP per flight.  As you can see from the screenshot below of the main APL program screen, my bank account has had a nice $2,253.60 in it.

1

After purchasing two items in the APL Shop which consisted of a mobile phone and a flight bag, I now only have $983.60.  These two purchases will earn me an additional 15% XP per each flight and help me to gain my promotion to the rank of Captain just a little quicker. 

While I could have purchased the headset instead of the mobile phone and gained a total of 20% XP, I’m trying to be somewhat practical with these purchases.  After all, who doesn’t own a cell phone in this day and age.  Next month I’ll make additional purchases.

2

Present Day

I’m hearing about an opportunity I may soon have to transfer down to San Francisco.  As a Sr. First Officer who will soon be moving up and over to the left seat as Captain, I suppose Alaska is looking to ensure I stay both motivated as well keep from burning out by flying back and forth from Sea-Tac.  I must admit that I do like the idea of a change of scenery.  SFO was the main hub for Virgin America and after the merger, Alaska kept SFO as a hub. I’ll be sure and keep you informed if this move becomes reality. 

Flight Details

Today we’re operating Alaska flight 634 with service from Seattle down to Las Vegas.  Our flight departs at 10:30 AM.  Our planned fuel for this trip is 31,335 lbs and our take off weight is 162,046 lbs. with a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.  Our block time is 2 hours and 38 minutes. 

Flight Plan: SUMMA1 LKV RYANN J92 BTY SUNST4

3

Let’s Get Going

This will be a turnaround flight for me.  While I enjoy the overnight stays in Vegas, my bank account can do without the possible gambling losses which might be incurred if I were to not have the best of luck.  Let’s face it, my luck in Vegas the past few trips hasn’t been the best.  I lost BIG TIME at the roulette table and ended up falling off the mechanical bull.  But as they say….what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

Today we’re flying the Boeing 737-900 with the special 100th year Boeing livery.  ServAir is stocking up the aircraft galley.

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Next of course comes the bags.  We’re set for an on-time departure. 

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A little help from our friends…

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Holding short at 16L

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Blasting off and on the way to Vegas.

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Just a little hazy this morning.  We’re now above the clouds of the Seattle area.  Nothing but clear skies to Vegas.

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Ladies and gentlemen, if you direct your attention to the left side of the aircraft you’ll see the Vegas strip where I’m sure all of your hard earned money will be left.  Welcome to Vegas Baby!

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Typical Vegas weather has us landing on the 26’s. 

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Lake Mead in the background. 

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Easy does it.  I personally love this photo.  The sky, the shadows. 

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Some Southwest aircraft parked at LAS.

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At our gate and shutting down.  The ground crew needs to get us turned around in less than an hour. 

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That’s all for now.  Tune back in next time for the flight back to Seattle. 

Credits

If you are interested in experiencing your own “A Pilot’s Life”, I highly recommend the A Pilot’s Life, by SimBitWorld add-on for Prepar3D, FSX and X-Plane.  You can learn more about the A Pilot’s Life by visiting the SimBitWorld website and/or purchase APL at SimMarket.  Also, please read my full review of A Pilot’s LIfe here.

Flight Simulator:  Prepar3D v4.5 (hotfix 1)
Aircraft:  PMDG 737-900
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KSEA Drzewiecki Design, KLAS FlyTampa
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, Orbx Northern California, Orbx Southern California
Sky/Cloud Textures: REX 5 SkyForce and REX 5 Environment Force
Weather Generation: ActiveSky (ASP4)
Flight Planning: SimBrief, Navigraph, FlightAware, FlightRadar24

Note:  If you are interested in any of the above mentioned add-ons.  Visit my P3D Add-ons directory for links.

Microsoft Flight Simulator – 2020

A few weeks ago I discussed the completely out of the blue announcement Microsoft dropped on the world regarding their planned release of what they have titled “Microsoft Flight Simulator”.  Of course depending on what you are reading and where you are reading it, you might also see it referenced as Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.  The 2020 has been added by folks in the community simply because the anticipated release date is sometime in the year 2020. 

Beware False Prophets

Almost overnight we’ve seen many in the community come out as “Experts” and “Insiders” when just about the only thing they are an expert or insider on is the art of BS.  I find it extremely interesting that literally a few “no bodies” in the community were some how, or another privy to info from Microsoft, when many of the legit major players in the FSX and P3D communities were just as blinded sided as the rest of us.  So my advice, is take anything you see/hear from some folks on YouTube as complete and udder BS for now.  Some folks will do just about anything for a few extra clicks here and a few extra subs there….With that said….I’ll continue.

Word From Microsoft

Microsoft provided a bit of additional information a few weeks ago in the form of an announcement which can be read here.  In this announcement, Microsoft attempted to clear the air on several important areas in the bullet points I’ve pasted below:

  1. We are making Microsoft Flight Simulator. Emphasis on the word SIMULATOR.
  2. Designed for PC, optimized for multiplatform support (e.g. Xbox).
  3. Yes. We are supporting 3rd Party Content Development and Community Content creation. We are aware of the concerns in the current eco-system and are working to address them.
  4. Yes. We genuinely want to work closely with the community in the development of this title.
  5. Accessibility is important to us. Whatever your abilities are, if you want to fly, we are going to do whatever we can to make that happen. Yoke and pedals, mouse and keyboard, controller, etc. No pilot should be left behind.

My Thoughts

I’ve received a few emails from some of you asking about my thoughts and even asking for advice regarding the subject of MSFS 2020.  Bottom line is I’m still hopeful and I’m also excited about what this could mean for the future of flight simulation.  However, until we know even more than what we do now (and let me just say, we still don’t know a whole lot), I’m going to continue flying and enjoying Prepar3D version 4. 

One of the big questions I’ve been asked more than once is whether or not I’m going to stop investing in P3D and P3D scenery.  The assumption (and I agree) is anything currently available for FSX/P3D will not be compatible with MSFS 2020.  I’ve often said that I believe at some point we’re going to need to yank the band-aid off and say goodbye to old/outdated add-ons that will only continue to be a boat anchor to any forward progress we want to have in any simulator.  But in the mean time, if an add-on comes out for P3D that I’m truly interested in…then most likely I’ll purchase that add-on. 

These are very exciting times we live in and I believe we best buckle our seat belt, as it looks like it will only get better.  Remember, competition is always a good thing.  Competition helps to produce better products, more affordable products and sometimes forces those who can’t keep up out of business.  It’s just how business works.

The expectation is we may start hearing more from Microsoft later this summer (August timeframe).  I’ll certainly be watching, listening and reading and may from time to time provide my opinions here on my blog site.  But I think we’re all in a holding pattern until more is known.  This is really all I know.

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

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