My Top 5 Passenger Airlines to Simulate

Yes, another of my top lists related to flight simulation.  This time, this is my top 5 list of passenger airlines I enjoy simulating their operations.  I simply couldn’t narrow my list down to just five and I felt ten was just going to be a stretch.  While I do simulate other airlines than those I’m listing here my typical go to airlines are always pretty much the same. 

Honorable Mention – VLM

VLM was a small Belgian airline based in Antwerp.  It ceased operations on 31 August 2018.  Ironically, my wife and I used VLM in real life to fly from London City Airport to Antwerp when we visited her family.  The last time we traveled on VLM was our return flight from Antwerp back to London City on 31 August 2018.  Yep, that’s right!  We were one of the last passengers.  VLM operated the Fokker 50 turboprop aircraft and it was always a joy to fly both in the simulator and real life.  My favorite VLM route of course is the London City (EGLC) to Antwerp (EBAW) and the return.

#5 – EasyJet

I consider EasyJet (EZY) to be the Southwest Airlines of the UK and Europe.  They fly everywhere and they fly from many locations.  like Southwest’s all Boeing fleet, EasyJet is an all Airbus fleet consisting of A319’s, A320’s and A321’s.  A perfect airline if you have the FSLabs Airbus packages.  While I don’t fly the FSLabs Airbus as much as I fly the Boeing 737, I do enjoy the time I spend in the aircraft.  One of my favorite EasyJet routes is London Gatwick to Innsbruck, Austria (LOWI).

#4 Alaska Airlines

With the merger with Virgin America, Alaska Airlines (ASA) offers a variety of routes and a variety of aircraft to please just about any flight simulation enthusiast.  Once an all Boeing fleet, Alaska Airlines now operates Airbus A319’s, A320, A321 and the fun to fly Bombardier Q400 along with the Embraer 175’s.  Alaska Airlines offer short-haul routes of 1-2 hours up to medium haul routes of 4-6 hours.  My favorite Alaska Airlines route is Seattle (KSEA) to Ketchikan, Alaska.

#3 Southwest Airlines

I absolutely love the Boeing 737 and it’s my all-time favorite aircraft to fly in the simulator.   So simulating Southwest Airlines (SWA) shouldn’t come as a surprise.  What I like most about Southwest is their routes.  While I do enjoy the hub/spoke route model of airlines like American and British Airways, I also like to be able to fly point-to-point and SWA gives me this freedom while still simulating a real-world schedule.  My favorite Southwest Airlines route is Denver (KDEN) to Austin (KAUS). 

#2 British Airways

British Airways (BAW) ranks number two for many reasons.  First, I’ve been a fan of BA for about as long as I’ve been involved in the flight simulation hobby.  I loved flying the Concorde when it was first introduced in Flight Simulator 2000.  Second, they are one of the only remaining airlines to still be flying the Queen of the Skies, the beautiful Boeing 747.  Today I enjoy flying short to medium haul routes out of London Heathrow, Gatwick and London City.  Between BA’s current and retro fleet of aircraft, there are tons of options to simulate.  My favorite British Airways route is London Heathrow (EGLL) to Gibraltar (LXGB).  For long-haul, of course that would be Denver (KDEN) to London Heathrow (EGLL) in the Boeing 747-400.

#1 American Airlines

In my early career, I spent lots of time flying in and out of Dallas/Ft. Worth on American Airlines (AAL).  Back then most flights were either on the MD-80, Fokker 100 and the Boeing 727.  After moving to Denver in 1998, I still flew American every chance I could.  My first trip to England back in early 2001 was on American Airlines and a Boeing 777-200. 

Around 1999-2000 timeframe was when virtual airlines became popular.  Of course, with American being my favorite airline I enjoyed flying for several American Airline VA’s.  I’ve logged many hundreds of hours flying AA aircraft around the virtual skies. 

While I no longer fly for a virtual airline, American Airlines is my most frequently flown airline in the sim. I tend to fly the Boeing 737-800 the most, but also enjoy flying routes on the 787 and 777.  My favorite American route is Denver (KDEN) to Dallas/Ft. Worth (KDFW).  My second favorite route is Miami (KMIA) to Sint Maarten (TNCM).  The approach into and departure out of this awesome airport never gets old.

In Summary

There you go!  These are my top 5 (plus an honorable mention) of my favorite passenger airlines to simulate.  While this is certainly not an exclusive list of the only airlines I enjoy flying in the sim, these are my most frequent.  But regardless of which airlines make up your top list, I hope you enjoy the time you spend in the simulator as much as I do. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E10

The situation is getting worse. Since returning from Portland, it’s been more than 10 days since I’ve worked and I’m looking at my options.  Before I accepted the transfer to San Francisco, I had been contacted by Southwest Airlines.  I’m currently in discussions and weighing all my options.  Something has to change.  But for now, I have a trip down to Palm Springs and back.  At least I’m flying…at least I’m working.

Flight Details

Our flight today is Alaska flight 596 with service to Palm Springs.  We’re in the B738.  Our block time is 1 hour and 33 minutes, with flight time of just over 1 hour.  Our cruising altitude is 31,000 and we’re taking 13,780 lbs of fuel. 

Route:  SFO WAGES KAYEX LOSHN CLASN SIZLR3

1

Time To Go

We’re all buttoned up and just waiting for the jetway to be moved and the tug to connect to us. 

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Taxing out to 01L.  Looks like a United Airbus is about to depart. 

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Wheels up and we’re off

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Making our turn around SFO.  I do enjoy this departure.

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Bye-Bye SFO, see you later this evening.

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Beginning our descent into Palm Springs

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I’m digging this approach

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Looks warm down there

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Palm Springs, California

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Making our turn to join the visual approach 31L

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Two Red, Two White….We’re Alright!

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Parked up at the gate in Palm Springs.  I believe this is the Sonny Bono (as in Sonny and Cher) concourse.  Has that Denver look to it. 

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I have some thinking and planning to do.  I really don’t want to make a change at this time, but at the same time I need to work.  Decisions, decisions….

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, KPSP Orbx
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.

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.

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.

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E4

My R&R break in Ketchikan has drawn to a close and it’s time for me to get back to work.  Perhaps not as much as I want to, but truly need to.  It’s quickly approaching the end of the month of May (as I’m writing this) and as we only get paid once per month, I need to rack up as many flight hours as possible.  This flight back to Seattle will be the last flight of the month.  As also mentioned on the S1, E2 update, this flight also completes my current schedule with Alaska.  I will receive another schedule upon my return to Sea-Tac.  I’m still thinking about my future and most likely will discuss that next time.

Present Day

I truly enjoyed the past few days I’ve spent in Ketchikan.  But it’s time for me to return back to work.  Once again we have beautiful weather here and this will be a late afternoon departure back to Seattle.  While the Ketchikan area has many endearing qualities, I think the people are what I truly like about my visits here. 

Flight Details

Today we’re operating Alaska flight 9248 with non-stop service from Ketchikan back to Seattle.  This flight originated in Anchorage and many of our passengers were part of that flight.  Our flight departs at 19:35. Our planned fuel for this trip is 15,743 lbs and our take-off weight is 149,457 lbs. with a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet.  Block time is 2 hours. 

Flight Plan: ANN YJQ YYJ MARNR7

1

Let’s get going…

We’re in our standard livery today for this B738.  We’re ready to go and just waiting on the ground crew to disconnect ground services and get the tug connected.  Time is money…

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Cleared to start engines and engine #2 is spinning up. 

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As we taxi up the hill towards runway 11, the sun is setting. 

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We’re lined up and waiting for our take-off clearance.  We had a departing Cessna in front of us.  While we have no worries from his lack of wake turbulence, the last thing that pilot wants to see in his rear-view mirror is a Boeing 738.  Winking smile  But he’s headed for Sitka, so he’ll be turning and proceeding NW soon.

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With the departing Cessna out of the way, it’s wheels up for Alaska 9248. 

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Continuing our climb up to FL350. 

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Beautiful weather for flying.

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That just about does it for the sun for this day. 

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And now for the wing view. 

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Of course the problem with flying at night is…..

Cleared to land runway 16L at Sea-Tac.

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Just a few more seconds…..

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There we go…a smooth touchdown. Yea…I suppose it’s also good to be back home. 

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Parked at the gate and beginning our shutdown checklist. 

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As previously stated, this flight marks the end of my schedule.  We get 10 flights scheduled to us at one time.  My new schedule set has me returning back to Las Vegas, Portland, San Francisco, Salt Lake City and finally back up to Juneau. 

4

As I don’t want to commit to any decisions at this time, I most likely will take the Las Vegas flights out and back.  I should then be close to the end of the 7 day waiting period on my Sr. First Officer contract and will look at all my options.  The deciding factors will be hourly salary and routes.  As you can tell from the image below, these are the flights I’ve completed with Sun Country (based in KMSP) and Alaska (based in Seattle).  I’d also still love to get hired by a 5 star airline like American, United etc.  Time will tell.

5

Thanks for reading.  I’ll keep you posted on my decisions.  Talk to you once again soon.

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: KSEA Drzewiecki Design, Orbx Ketchikan
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, NA Pacific Fjords
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, E2

Thank you for returning for another edition in the “A Pilot’s Life” Storyteller series.  I’m still trying to work out the title format I’ll use.  For now, I’m going with Series 1, Edition 2.  In each of these updates, I’ll spend a little bit of time catching you up on flights I don’t cover in detail.  This way you are somewhat aware of the progress I’m making as I continue my APL career. 

After arriving at Sea-Tac from our flight from San Francisco (S1, E1), I had a trip out to Salt Lake City and back to Sea-Tac that same day.  These two flights increased my APL XP up to 235.20.  I have just over 414 XP points to accumulate until I’m eligible for my promotion to the rank of Captain.  (See below)

1

In addition, this trip up to Ketchikan and back will complete this assigned schedule set.  As I can’t consider options from other airlines at this time, I’ll need to accept at least one more schedule with Alaska.  If you are new to APL or not familiar with how it works, once you accept a position at a new airline or you receive a promotion during your employment with an airline, you can’t accept a new offer until a period of 7 calendar days have passed.  As I was promoted to Sr. First Officer on 26 May, I will not be eligible to accept or apply for any other jobs until 2 June. 

2

As for my plan after 2 June, well…..I really don’t know.  I first will take a look at the job offers I receive.  If these are lucrative enough, I will certainly consider them.  The challenge for me is with 3rd party add-on scenery.   The add-on airport scenery I own is mostly concentrated in the USA.  So accepting a job with any of the major US based carriers will certainly give me plenty of opportunities.  However, accepting a job with a European (or any other region) will certainly give me some interesting route opportunities which obviously will lead to some interesting stories to tell.  Again…time will tell. 

Present Day

The day has come for my flight up to Ketchikan, Alaska.  A number of years ago, I spent some time up in Ketchikan piloting small bush and float planes hauling paying customers to secluded hunting and fishing spots.  While there isn’t much money to be made (certainly compared to a commercial airline pilot), I could certainly see myself returning back to the slower life which can be found in places like Ketchikan and Juneau at some point in the future.  But of course, time will tell.   

The flight today is an afternoon flight out of Sea-Tac in the Boeing 737-800.  We’re in our special livery titled “Spirit of the Islands”.  You can read more about this special livery here or watch the short video below.  The livery honors the Aloha State. 

The weather today in Seattle is in rare form.  Today is one of those days where (while it’s a great day to fly) you are almost wishing you were flying so you can actually get outside and do something.  But I need the work as I am still paying off the student loans.  The great news is I have arranged for a few days R&R in Ketchikan.  I am going to visit some friends for a few days and will catch a flight back to Seattle later in the week.  Weather permitting, I might even rent a float plane and do some exploring. 

Flight Details

Today we’re operating Alaska flight 179 with non-stop service between Seattle to Ketchikan, Alaska.  Our flight is scheduled to depart at 16:30 from gate N13.  Our planned fuel for this trip is 17, 111 lbs. and our take-off weight is 148,985 lbs.  Our cruising altitude today is FL340 and we have a block time of two hours, three minutes. 

Flight Plan:  BANGR9 PANGL QQ PR/N0338F 160 V309 ANN

1

Walk Around

As the turnaround at Sea-Tac is a quick one today, I’m conducting the walk around while the bags are going in.  But all looks good with our aircraft today. 

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Looks like that’s one heavy suitcase.  I’d offer him a hand, but you know…union rules and all that.  Remember, bend at the knees. 

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These guys are good.  But of course with Sea-Tac being our main hub, you would expect nothing less.  Catering, fueling and the last of the bags are going on.  Time to get rolling. 

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It’s time to push back

It’s a busy day today at Sea-Tac.  We have company traffic flying in and out, plus an American and Delta are also preparing to pushback. 

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We’ve been cleared for engine start.  Starting Engine #2.

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Good engine start on #2, starting engine #1

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As we taxi out to 16L, a Virgin America (now of course Alaska Airlines) Airbus lands.  I guess we haven’t got around to painting that aircraft just yet. 

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Alaska 179, Line up and Wait 16L

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Positive Rate, Gear Up!

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Beginning our right turn to join the SID.

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Wing shot…..Oh Yea!

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The view from the office.

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Climbing out over Vancouver Island.  The views are rather impressive this afternoon.

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Beginning our descent.  We’re about to cross over Annette Island and the Annette Island Airport (ANN) is visible through the clouds.  ANN served as the major airport from the WWII era until the early 70’s. 

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Slowing our speed as we continue to descend.  The appearance of the water is very calm. 

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The approach into Ketchikan for runway 11 brings us in almost parallel to the airport, then fly  out approx. 25 nm.  Then we do a easy 180 degree turn.  Starting to make our turn now. 

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Looking forward to spending a few days flying around Ketchikan and exploring. The weather forecast is calling for excellent VFR flying conditions.

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Completing our 180 degree turn.  As we roll out the runway should be directly in front of us. 

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We’re cleared for the approach runway 11.

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Cleared to land, runway 11

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Clear of the active and beginning our downhill taxi.

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Just as we roll in, a company 737-800 is about to pushback for Anchorage. 

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At the gate and shutting down.  In just a few minutes I’ll begin my short vacation break in one of my favorite places in the world.  I think before I head to the hotel, I’ll walk down and see if there are any aircraft to rent. 

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Well that just about does it for this edition.  I certainly hope you are enjoying reading these as much as I’m enjoying flying and writing about my adventures.  I hope you’ll check back next week for another adventure.  It might just be a mini-adventure as I rent an airplane and fly around Ketchikan before heading back down to Seattle.  Talk to you soon.

 

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: KSEA Drzewiecki Design, Orbx Ketchikan
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, NA Pacific Fjords
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, E1

Welcome to the first series and first edition of “A Pilot’s Life” Storyteller Series.  For more context on what this storyteller series is about, please read Return of the Flight Sim Storyteller.  This will bring you up to speed and set the stage for this first edition. 

Commercial Break

LOL  OK….I figure this is as good a place as any to plug my new Flight Sim Project, Flight Sim Helpers.  Flight Sim Helpers is my way of giving back to the community which has been so good to me for over 35 years.  The concept of Flight Sim Helpers, is to help those who are just starting out in the wonderful hobby of flight simulation.  However, regardless if you are brand new or a seasoned veteran, all are welcome.  I’m actually hoping to recruit others who are knowledgeable in FSX, P3D and X-Plane to serve as moderators and subject matter experts.  If you are interested, please let me know.  For now, please visit and join the Flight Sim Helpers Facebook Group and also check out the Flight Sim Helpers website.  Thank you and I’ll now proceed with the story.

Present Day

Once again I had an overnight layover in the Bay Area.  This time at SFO.  I enjoyed a nice steak at the hotel in celebration of my new promotion.  Looking at my schedule, I’m due to fly back to Seattle then out to Salt Lake City and then back up to Ketchikan, Alaska.  Oh…my favorite.  But I need to get through the next few days first. 

The crew shuttle picks us up at our hotel at 4:30 AM sharp.  It really feels like we only just arrived.  But I had the rest required by the FAA and anxious to get back to sunny Seattle (NOT).  It’s been raining all up and down the West Coast of the US the past several days.  We have a great crew with us today, so we expect no issues.  Of course I’m dreaming of my next promotion which will finally have me at the rank of Captain.  But  I’ve gotta grind it out from 212 XP up to 650 XP for this one.  But XP points do come a little quicker with each promotion.  As a comparison, at FO I earned just a little over 5.0 XP on KSEA to KOAK.  However, with Sr. FO on the flight from KSEA to KSFO, I earned almost 8 XP.  As soon as I get paid (end of the month), I’ll purchase a mobile phone which will earn me a 10% XP bonus each flight. 

Flight Details

This morning my captain and I will be operating Alaska flight 1737, non-stop service from San Francisco to Seattle.  Our flight is scheduled to depart at 6:00 AM from gate 52B.  Our planned fuel for this morning is 16,720 lbs and our take-off weight is 148,143 lbs.  Our cruising altitude will be FL360 and we have a block time of 2 hours, 9 minutes.  We anticipate departing from runway 28L. 

Flight Plan: TRUKN2 DEDHD DCT RBL DCT LML HAWKZ7

route_thumb1

Walk Around

As Sr. First Officer, it’s my job today to conduct the walk around inspection of our Boeing 737-800.  This is the first flight of the day for this aircraft and the bags and cargo haven’t arrived yet. 

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Almost done, checking all lights and this aircraft is looking good. 

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Here Comes the Bags

Obviously we can’t go anywhere without our passengers and all their bags. 

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Time for push-back

With our passengers, bags and a small amount of cargo loaded onto our Boeing 737-800, it’s time to close the doors and push back from the gate.  The skies are looking a bit rough this morning, but we expect no departure delays this morning. 

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After a brief taxi, we have arrived at runway 28L. 

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ASA 1737 is wheels up and on our way to Sea-Tac.

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Making our right turn and headed east towards OAK.

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The  obligatory wing shot. 

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Making our way along the SID or Standard Instrument Departure, just a slight chop as we continue our climb.  We’ll keep the cabin crew in their seats a bit longer, but reports are smooth skies above FL200.

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It’s complete cloud cover as we make our way through northern California and into Oregon. 

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At FL360, we can relax a few minutes before we need to start planning our descent and arrival into Seattle. 

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Monitoring a thunderstorm as we cruise above Portland. 

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As we begin our approach and descent into the Seattle area, a little drag is required to meet the speed restrictions of the STAR or Standard Terminal Arrival Route.

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Runway 34C is in sight.  No auto-land required today.  The Sr. First Officer has control. 

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I think it’s going to be a beautiful day in Seattle today.  This makes a nice change.

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Clear 34C, Cross 34R and taxi to the gate.  Note the other Alaska B738 which arrived just before us.

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Parked at the Alaska terminal Sea-Tac. 

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I’m due to report to another aircraft and Captain for a rotation down to Salt Lake City and back in the Boeing 737-900.  Since I only have default scenery for SLC, I will return with my “A Pilot’s Life” Storyteller Series in a few days for my trip to Ketchikan, Alaska.  That’ll be fun. 

Until then…

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 737-800
Airline: Alaska Airlines (ASA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KSFO FlightBeam, KSEA Drzewiecki Design
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America, Orbx NA Pacific Northwest, NA Northern 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.

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