Note: This is a fictional flying adventure using Microsoft Flight Simulator. Any similarities to real world events, people and places is strictly for the purpose of the story. While a trip like this might not be possible (or even a good idea) due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, I’m omitting this from this adventure. At this time in all our lives, we need a little break from reality from time to time.
The day has finally arrived to embark on what I hope will be a fun adventure as I fly my single engine Mooney M20R Ovation around the world. I’ve been busy the past several weeks planning, packing and even more planning for what will be a long, but hopefully fun experience. While I certainly have the “Big Picture” concept of this entire journey planned out, at this extremely early stage of the journey, it’s difficult to say exactly where we’ll be this time next month, in six months etc. The best I can truly do is plan out a few days at a time and hope the weather allows for safe travel conditions.
My wife and I spent a nice, quiet Christmas together completing a few last minute projects in our home. Our friends will be looking after the place while we’re away. Our original plan was to leave on Monday, 28 December and spend a few days with family in Texas, then perhaps spend New Year’s Eve in Mexico. However, Mother Nature had other plans for us and decided to bring about a late White Christmas. So being the flexible travelers we are, we are delaying the start of the trip until after the snow storm and will spend New Years Eve in Texas with family.
I purchased the 95’ Mooney M20R Ovation (reg. N542JS) six months ago from a friend. It’s in near mint condition for a 25 year old aircraft and will be perfect for our journey. The M20R features a slightly longer fuselage than earlier models and while it’s still a four seat aircraft, the extra length will allow for more cargo capacity. In other words, more room for all the things my wife couldn’t leave behind.
My wife and I have flown several endurance flights to best determine just how many hours at one time we can fly. Unlike a road trip in a car where you can quickly and easily pull into the next town, the next gas station for a bio break….this can’t be done as easily when flying cross country. So over the summer we took a few trips and determined four hours is the max. Under most conditions we should be able to keep our flight legs under four hours, with some perhaps exceeding this but that should be the exception and not the rule.
The day has finally arrived. The snow storm was pretty much a non-event, so we decided to embark on our trip on Tuesday, 29 December. We arrived at Centennial Airport (KAPA) just before 9 AM and loaded the last minute items into the Mooney. We also needed to clear the ice and snow off the aircraft.
Our flight route from KAPA to KGTU. KAPA LAA DHT KAMA (FS) LBB SWW BMQ KGTU
With the aircraft fueled and ready to go, we departed KAPA enroute to Amarillo, Texas (KAMA) by way of the LAA and DHT VOR’s.
Holding short runway 17L KAPA
Departing the south Denver area.
Goodbye Denver, see you soon.
Passing the LAA (Lamar, CO) VOR and turning south to intercept the DHT (Dalhart, TX) VOR.
On the ground in a wet and cold Amarillo. We’ll refuel and have lunch before continuing our trip to Georgetown.
With some hot food in our bellies, we taxied out to runway 13.
The weather was quickly changing in Amarillo with freezing temperatures expected soon. We’re leaving just in the nick of time.
Heading south towards the LBB (Lubbock, TX) VOR.
Above the clouds and in smooth air. Next stop Georgetown.
Breaking through the clouds as we approach Georgetown.
North Fork of the San Gabriel River.
Gear Down! Flying over Sun City on approach to runway 11 at KGTU.
Final approach for runway 11.
On the ground at Georgetown Municipal Airport. Total flying time today was 4 hours, 22 minutes with one stop. Not a bad first day. We’ll tie the aircraft down here and spend the night with my dad and most of tomorrow. As we’re slightly ahead of schedule, I believe we’ll be able to spend New Year’s Eve in Mexico after all.
Check back in on my progress as I fly around the world in a Mooney Ovation.
Until next time…
Just a little over 10 years ago, I successfully completed an around the world adventure using a Mooney Bravo in FSX. I departed KAPA (my local GA airport in Centennial, Colorado) on 30 September 2010 and arrived back at the same airport on 19 November of the same year. That route took me northeast through Canada over to Greenland etc. you can view this 2010 route here.
The goal for that trip was simply to circumvent the globe the best way possible and in the shortest amount of time. As a matter of fact, my total flying time for that trip was just over 200 hours. It was a lot of fun and with the release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, I believe it’s time to do it again. But this time I’m adding a bit more realism. My goal will obviously be to fly around the world, but this adventure will be more than just that. I plan to visit as many countries/continents as possible.
Weather permitting, this adventure will start in the next few days. I say weather permitting because I plan to fly each leg using real world weather. If the weather isn’t suitable for VFR conditions, then I just won’t fly. Having said this, I don’t believe it would be practical to fly northeast or northwest at this time. So I plan to fly southeast from Colorado and spend the next several weeks exploring Central and South America. As we get closer to spring in the northern hemisphere, I’ll then turn and head back north to the US and time my crossing from Canada to Greenland, Iceland etc.
How Long Will This Take?
The short answer, it will take as long as it takes. I’m fairly certain this trip will take much, much longer than my 2010 trip. Actually, perhaps my first goal is to be back in Colorado by the end of 2021. This will allow me an entire year and will prevent me from burning out by doing the same thing day in, day out.
The Aircraft of Choice
Much like my 2010 adventure, I’m also going to be flying the Mooney M20R Ovation. I picked up the Carenado M20R during the Christmas sale and while it pretty much handles like any of the other default aircraft, it’s an enjoyable aircraft to fly. Plus with a 25,000 service ceiling, cruise speed of 242 knots and range of 1,100 nmi it’s the perfect single engine aircraft for this adventure.
While I don’t plan to blog about each and every leg of this trip, I will update a flight log and map after each leg so you can follow along with my progress. Every few legs I may write up a blog post discussing the adventure and providing a few screen shots to highlight the trip.
We don’t need no stinkin rules! LOL Ok, there are a few rules I’ve established for this trip. First, I will be flying all legs in real time (no time compression) and real weather conditions. I will adjust the time of day in the simulator when required. I do plan to fly mostly during daytime hours. After all, MSFS truly has stunning visuals and we’ll want to see all we can as we explore our wonderful world.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about this adventure as much as I will have flying it.
Until next time…
Hello Ladies, Gentlemen and Children of all ages… I truly appreciate all who take the time to read the content I publish in written format on my blog site. I realize the written word is so prehistoric in terms of all things new media. After all, we have podcasts, vlogs, livestreams etc. But the old blog site continues to received many thousands of visits each month and I very much enjoy writing and sharing…so thank you all for taking the time to read the ramblings of a middle aged man.
Pay special attention to the subject line and notice the use of the word “My”. This list hasn’t been compiled using some scientific method to include every single payware aircraft available for P3Dv4. It’s just my very own Top 10 list of my favorite payware aircraft for Prepar3D version 4. Yes, I own each of these and try to fly them on a regular basis. The operative word in that sentence is “try”. I’ll explain that later. Let’s get started with MY Top 10 Payware Aircraft for Prepar3D v4.
Honorable Mention – CaptainSim 757
I’ve opted to list an 11th listing which I’ve thrown into the honorable mention category and it somewhat pains me to do so. In my long history of flight sim and my nearly as long history of payware aircraft, I’ve had a somewhat contentious relationship with CaptainSim. But I so much adore the Boeing 757 that when no other options were available, I plopped down my hard earned money and purchased their rendition of the aircraft. While I had a terrible, terrible, terrible (did I say terrible) experience with their version of the 777 and I still believe their 777 flies like a brick, CaptainSim has come along way to improving the 757. While I don’t agree with their pricing strategy, CaptainSim (at this time) is the only option for a 757 in P3Dv4.
Note: In between the time I actually wrote this article and published it, QualityWings did release their Boeing 757 which was originally developed for FS9 and FSX. So technically there are now two B757’s for P3Dv4.
#10 – Carenado C208B Grand Caravan with Cargomaster Expansion Pack
While Carenado may not be known for developing truly study level aircraft, usually their attention to detail in producing both a beautiful aircraft and one that handles well in the air is good enough to give me several hours of fun. The Carenado C208B Grand Caravan with the Cargomaster expansion pack was perhaps my 2nd or 3rd purchase from Carenado and it remains one of my favorite aircraft to fly. I enjoy loading it up in the Fedex livery and doing some Caribbean island hopping. While I own a variety of Carenado aircraft and soon plan to add their latest release of the ATR 42-500 series aircraft. I think this one will also be a fun plane to fly around the Caribbean in.
#9 – Carenado Fokker 50
Just like I stated with the Carenado Grand Caravan, the Fokker 50 is beautifully detailed and flies well. This aircraft has made the list due in part to the fact that I’ve flown on this same aircraft so many times between London City Airport and Antwerp, Belgium. Unfortunately, when my wife and I were in Antwerp last summer (summer of 2018) the airline, VLM shut down operations just after we landed back in England. Talk about timing! So now we’ll most likely go by rail via the Eurostar which will be a brand new adventure I’m sure.
#8 – Majestic Bombardier Dash-8 Q400
I would suspect this aircraft would rank much, much higher on other’s lists (if they were to compile one). There are a few reasons why this aircraft ranks where it does on my list and it really has nothing to do with the aircraft itself. You’ve heard the saying…”It’s not you, it’s me” right?
So I was a bit late acquiring the Majestic Bombardier Dash-8 Q400. When I did purchase it, it was for P3D v3. Soon after purchase my life got busy (as it sometimes can do) and I never really got around to learning the aircraft. Then when P3D v4 came out, I tried to upgrade but that was during the time when the FlightSimStore was having their issues which I discussed here and again here. I finally managed to secure the upgraded version of the Q400 for P3D v4. I’ve just not dedicated the time required to learning this awesome aircraft. Perhaps if I can learn to fly this beauty properly, she would rank much higher on my list. But until then….here we are!
#7 – QualityWings Boeing 787 Dreamliner
This is one aircraft which in the real-world I’ve yet to have the opportunity to fly. The 787 ranks lower on my list simply due to the fact the other seven are more of a favorite than this one. While it took the team at QualityWings a mini-lifetime to bring this beautiful aircraft to Prepar3D v4, it was worth the wait. With the recent updates, the QW Dreamliner is truly a dream to fly and one I do enjoy flying every chance I get. Now before I leave the subject of QualityWings, I truly wish they would hurry up and bring their Boeing 757 to P3D v4. As soon as they do, I’ll purchase it and drop the CaptainSim in a heartbeat.
#6 – PMDG Boeing 747-400 v3 (Queen of the Skies II)
While it only took me a few minutes to jot down ten aircraft (11 if you count the honorable mention), it’s now getting down to the truly difficult part. Really from the Dreamliner all the way down to the #1, it really all boils down to just how frequently I fly these aircraft. As I truly love the immersion experience the flight simulation hobby gives to me, I also enjoy simulating real world flights. It’s just really, really hard to consider flying the magnificent Boeing 747-400 on a two hour flight. But then again…there’s always cargo operations.
The Boeing 747-400 will always be a very special aircraft for me. In my lifetime, I’ve flown on several. The first was on a United Airlines when I flew from San Francisco to Tokyo. I’ve since flown on a British Airways 747-400 another three times with a fourth coming up this summer when my wife and I will once again travel across the pond from Denver to London Heathrow on the British Airways 744. While she’s starting to get really long in the tooth, it’s still the most magnificent aircraft I’ve ever had the chance to fly on.
#5 – PMDG Boeing 777
I recently counted the number of trips across the pond (US to UK) which I’ve completed in my life. That number is eleven with my twelfth crossing coming up later this summer. The Boeing 777 holds a special place in my heart (and on this list) as it was in an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 that I made my first transatlantic crossing back in 2001. It was this trip which introduced me to my beautiful wife. Since that first trip, I’ve flown on British Airways 777 several times before they began using the 747-400 on the Denver to Heathrow route.
Of course, the 777 ranks here for much the same reason as the 747. But I do tend to fly a lot of domestic Fedex routes and they are always fun to fly. I truly love this aircraft.
#4 – FlightSimLabs Airbus A320/A319
Longtime and regular readers of my blog postings will certainly recall a time where I actually said I would never own the FlightSimLabs Airbus aircraft. A few months later I changed my mind and wrote about the reasons for changing my mind. I’m grouping the FlightSimLabs Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft together as they are very much the same aircraft, just slightly different variants. Both are awesome to fly and both get taken out of my virtual hangar from time to time for shorter routes when I want to simulate flying for American, British Airways etc. While I’ll always stand firm in the frustration felt with their earlier business practices, I firmly believe they have turned that corner and this team of developers are doing some really awesome things. I look forward to their A321 variant and will add it to my virtual hangar upon release.
#3 – Milviz DHC-2 Beaver
I absolutely love flying in the wilds of Alaska with this awesome looking and equally performing aircraft. An aircraft like this allows me to appreciate the shear beauty of the wonderful Alaskan scenery and with the float plane variant, there’s no place I can’t go. Just as it says on the Milviz website, the DHC-2 Beaver embodies the ‘can-do’ attitude that’s made this iconic bush plane a symbol of hard work for nearly 70 years.
#2 – A2A Cessna 172
The finest study level general aviation aircraft available for Prepar3D v4 (also for earlier versions and FSX) which you’ll find on the entire interwebz is the A2A Cessna 172. I’m really not sure you can call yourself a flight sim enthusiast unless you own this aircraft. While A2A also offers (and I own) the Cessna 182 and Piper Cherokee 180, the Cessna 172 is aircraft I truly love to fly. I will often load it up at Centennial Airport (KAPA) which is only a few miles from my home and office and fly around the Denver area.
#1 – PMDG Boeing 737
There’s a reason why both #1 and #2 on this list also appeared in my “Top 5, Must Have Add-ons for Prepar3D v4” article I wrote last fall. I must also admit that while I do very much enjoy flying low and slow in the above mentioned A2A Cessna 172, my main flight simulation passion is and has been for a very long time with jetliners/tubeliners. As it happens, the PMDG Boeing 737 happens to be my favorite, my go-to and my workhorse aircraft of choice and for many reasons.
First, versatility. This aircraft can practically go anywhere pending you account for fuel usage. As it’s popular with many different airlines, you’ll find a wide range of liveries available to simulate your favorite airline. It’s also a really easy and forgiving study level aircraft to start with. I can literally load up P3Dv4 with any variant of the PMDG 737 and within 10-15 minutes I can be taxing toward the active runway with everything running/programmed and ready for flight. Last, but certainly not least….the PMDG Boeing 737 is easy on frames which means you don’t need to have as powerful of a PC to still be able to enjoy a payware, study level aircraft.
Well, there you have it. My Top 10 plus an honorable mention just for the heck of it. Really with the exception of the #1 (PMDG 737) and #2 (A2A C172) the other listings could just about fall in any other order. Meaning, they all are top-notch payware aircraft and a whole lot of fun to fly. When asked, or even when I’m not asked…I always recommend both the A2A Cessna 172 and the PMDG Boeing 737 to those who are just starting out in flight simulation. As previously stated, both are truly awesome aircraft and both will give you that “As Real As It Gets” experience.
I think I’ll work on a “Top 10” Airport Add-on list next. Stay tuned…
Until next time…
The journey continues into the 5th consecutive flying day. I wanted to briefly explain how I’m managing to fly for five days in a row with a daily average of over 1000 nm. Well…it’s very simple. I took a few days off from work. But unfortunately, I go back to work tomorrow (Tuesday, 5 October) and as a result the “Around the World” adventure will slow down considerably. So if you check my progress over the next few days you’ll know what is going on. But this is OK as I’ve reached a point where shorter legs and flying segments will be just fine. Remember my goal is not to do this in a certain amount of time. The goal is to complete it and have fun along the way.
My position as of this posting is EBAW (Antwerp, Belgium)
I’ve traveled a total of 6670 nm
I’ve burned a total of 643 gallons of fuel
I’ve flown a total of 35.5 hours
My next destination is LFBG (Cognac, France)
Day Five – Leg 11 & 12
Day five began without rain…but St. Petersburg was cloudy and some patchy fog. Visibility was poor when flying over a portion of St. Petersburg. But I did manage to grab one shot which is typical of St. Petersburg that I’ve seen in pictures with the domed buildings and the tall spires (see below). I do plan to start looking into scenery add-ons for some of the future areas I plan to visit. But for now I’m just running default scenery with my sliders cranked up fairly high.
Today I plan to complete two legs. I will depart St. Petersburg, Russia and head towards Berlin, Germany for a fuel/food stop. Then I’ll proceed from Berlin down to Antwerp, Belgium. In my real life my Mother/Father-in-law and Brother/Sister-in-law all live in the area. Actually my Mother/Father-in-law live less than a mile from EBAW (Antwerp, Airport) and my wife and I fle2 into that airport from London City last summer (2009) and plan to do it again next summer (2011). I enjoy sitting out in my in-laws garden and listening to the sounds of the airport. The Fokker 50 that CityJet uses really has to wind up to get off the just short of 5400′ runway.
I departed St. Petersburg, Russia after breakfast and spending time reading weather reports and examining charts. The trip to Berlin would be around 4 hours and I will cover a little over 700 nm. I expect fair weather for the duration of my journey today. After take-off from ULLI, I made my turn to the west. I was able to snag the photo below which shows the unique round terminals which are located in the center of Pulkovo Airport. If you visit the wiki page here and scroll down you’ll see a photo.
ULLI (St. Petersburg) airport. Note the round terminals in middle.
My route carried me across a portion of the city. From pictures I’ve seen of St. Petersburg you note the tall spires and domed buildings. This is somewhat depicted in FSX. (see below)
Flying over a portion of St. Petersburg, Russia.
I continued southwest across Estonia, Latvia, Poland and into Germany. I picked Berlin’sTempelhof(EDDI) airport as it is the smaller of the three in the area. I was looking for easy in and out access and a nice rahmschnitzel for lunch. EDDI has a unique half-circle shaped terminal as depicted in FSX (see below)
Berlin’s Tempelhof (EDDI) airport. Left base to active runway.
Short final into EDDI Berlin, Germany
It was fitting that I flew into Berlin today as my wife cooked rahmschnitzel for dinner tonight for my birthday dinner. I turned 44 today. After a brief lunch, refuel and inspection of the Mooney it was time to resume my flight. The second leg would take me from Berlin to Antwerp, Belgium (EBAW). As previously stated, I’ve flown into EBAW in real-life. Last summer (2009) my wife and I visited her family. We flew from KDEN to EGLL (Heathrow). We traveled across London and departed EGLC (London City) for Antwerp. Oddly enough, it is easier for us to do this versus fly into Brussels.
On short final into EBAW (Antwerp, Belgium). I love this little airport.
I will spend at least one day (perhaps more) in Antwerp. The next opportunity I will have for any flight sim ops would be on Wednesday afternoon. If not then, it could be Friday or the weekend. I’ve really enjoyed my five days of simming. While in Antwerp, I may look to virtually trade my FSX default Mooney into a Carenado Mooney M20J. I know I said I wanted to do this in a default FSX aircraft. I don’t feel I’m cheating since I’m staying in a Mooney. But I’ve grown to love this aircraft (what can you expect after spending over 35 hours flying her) and love the look of the Carenado product. But I’ll just have to see how much I can get for my slightly used Mooney. Would you like to buy it?
Well I’m going to close and post this blog post. I’ll be back very soon with more blog postings. I have several blog postings in progress regarding a lot of different flight simulation topics. I realize people visit for different reasons and perhaps not everyone is into my Around the World journey.
Until next time,