A real world adventure simulated…Part 1
For about as long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed simulating my real world flights on flight simulator. This probably started in the mid-90’s with the introduction of Flight Simulator 95 (FS 6), but I may have been doing it as early as FS5. Generally the way I do it is a few days or a week or so before a real-world flight, I’ll simulate it on flight simulator. Now during my several year hiatus from the hobby I didn’t simulate many of the flights but having now returned I’m back in the habit. I find it fun and perhaps even a bit superstitious about it now a days. But I also don’t remove the previous check baggage tag UNTIL I reach the ticket counter. Ha ha
Anyway, this simulated flight is a true real world adventure that my wonderful wife and I will be taking very soon. We will fly from Denver, Colorado to London’s Heathrow Airport on British Airways. We will transfer from Heathrow to London City Airport via the London underground to then fly a CityJet (now owned by Air France) from London City to Antwerp, Belgium. If you read my initial review of the Captain Sim Boeing 777, then you know that I planned to fly that aircraft in my simulated adventure as that is the equipment British Airways operates between Denver and London. However, after two attempts to get the Captain Sim T7 off the ground at KDEN, even using that massive 16000 foot runway which I’ll talk about again in a minute, the CS 777 struggled to take to the skies and maintaining airspeed just didn’t happen. I’m superstitious enough about this sort of thing and put the CS 777 back in the virtual hangar. She just isn’t ready for prime time and certainly a workout under a heavy load. I have resorted to go back to the POSKY for this round-trip flight. I know she is up to the challenge. I’m just thankful I didn’t send her out to the desert to retire.
I really have no rules for these flights. I will fly the BA legs on the VATSIM network and will fly the CityJet flighs offline. This is keeping in the rules of my virtual airline, American virtual Airlines. Because British Airways is in the oneworld alliance, I can fly those flights as codeshare and file the PIREPs for hours. However, since Air France is in that other codeshare system I won’t be able to log those hours. But no worries.
Our journey begins at the beautiful Denver International Airport (KDEN) on a warm almost summer evening. The daytime temperatures have been soaring the past few days with daytime highs topping out in the upper 80’s to low 90’s. This of course is not always the best situation for a large, heavy aircraft full of fuel and passengers. This is one of the reasons why KDEN built the massive 16R/34L measuring in at a whopping 16,000 feet (that’s over 3 miles long). This new runway (completed a few years ago) helped put the Mile High City into the record books as this is the longest commercial (non-military) precision instrument runway in the US. This runway would allow KDEN to handle the new Airbus A380 should any carrier decide to add it to their route.
Our journey begins with our British Airways, Boeing Triple Seven (777-200) parked at terminal A, gate A37. The flight had arrived earlier and is currently being serviced, re-fueled, cleaned etc. for the long journey back to London’s Heathrow Airport.
Taking a look at weather conditions both local, along the way and even at our destination some 9 hours away, all appears to be smooth flying. I’ve ordered 194,618 pounds of fuel which gives us plenty of reserves for holding, diversion and contingency planning. We have a full flight and our overall gross weight is just over 540K.
Our route tonight will take us out from KDEN via the Plains four departure, Hayes Center transition then out across Iowa, Illinois and in a general northeasterly direction through New England. Since we are simulating a evening departure from KDEN, North Atlantic Track data isn’t updated so I’m using the data for the real world flight that departed yesterday. It will be close enough. Our flying time will be just a little over 8 hours at a distance of 4135 nm at an altitude of 35,000 feet. As we departed on-time, the Colorado sunset is just about to drop out of sight behind the Rocky Mountains as we climb through 17000 for FL350.
Flying the downwind leg parallel to London Heathrow off the port side. Weather conditions in London were partly cloudy and light rain. Basically a good typical English day. Flight Attendants, prepare for landing.
Making the left base leg turn to intercept the ILS for runway 27L, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are shown just in the background.
Completing the rollout from the base leg turn. BAW100 has joined the ILS.
A “short final” shot for my friend Al. BAW100 inbound ILS runway 27L, Number One for landing.
Thrust reversers and speed brakes deployed. The Posky T7 slows to exit 27L at London’s Heathrow Airport. Taxi to to terminal 5. The journey is only partially complete. Return soon to read about part two.
Until next time….Happy Flying!