Last week I wrote an article titled “The Wonderful World of Virtual Airlines”. I discussed the finer points of why one might want to join a VA and provided a short list of examples of those VA’s which I’ve had direct experience with. As I mentioned in that article, virtual airlines are not for everyone. For all the reasons why one might want to join one, there could certainly be an argument made towards all the reasons why one shouldn’t follow that path. It really boils down to the individual and what he/she wants to get out of the flight simulation hobby. There really is no right or wrong answer.
With a few rare exceptions, I’ve typically been a one VA at a time type of person. The free time I often have to enjoy my simulation hobby is sometimes limited. One of the points I tried to hammer home in that previous article was most (if not all) VA’s will require a minimum level of participation to remain active within the organization. While this is typically only 1-2 PIREPS per month, there have been times where I’ve completely burned out due to too much going on in my life and just need to take an extended break. Other times I’ve lost interest in flying online and if you fly for an online only type VA, then this can be an issue. But I digress…
With the gaining popularity of flight sim after the release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, and my own enjoyment with the new sim, I’ve wanted to do more with my new investment. As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, for me…MSFS2020 will be used (for now) as mostly VFR GA flights. I just don’t feel the default aircraft are VATSIM ready and I do enjoy flying jets on the VATSIM network. So until such time as study level aircraft are available for MSFS2020, I’m going to stick with GA in that sim.
A few days ago I saw a Facebook posting in the VATSIM group regarding UK Virtual being compatible with MSFS2020. I had heard great things about UK Virtual over the years and decided to check out their website. I really liked what I saw with regards to the number of airlines they feature (over 120) and the airlines schedules (over 35,000). But what really caught my eye was their GA (general aviation) tours. The wheels in my brain began to turn and within a few minutes I had filled out my application and was anxiously awaiting the approval confirmation.
UK Virtual, but not virtually all UK
The name might imply that this is mostly a UK based virtual airline. Not true! While the vast majority of members might be from the UK, UK Virtual has members from all over the world. The 100+ airlines they feature are also from all over the world. All the major US airlines including the major freight carriers are represented. So the possibilities are truly endless.
Touring with MSFS2020
Those wheels in my head I mentioned a few minutes ago now have me flying the default Cessna 172 in the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 as I’m flying along the old Route 66 from Chicago all the way to Santa Monica, CA. This tour (the first one I’ve attempted with UK Virtual) is divided into two parts. Part one consists of 15 flight legs with the first leg departing Chicago O’Hare (KORD) and ending at Tucumcari, New Mexico (KTCC).
Departing Joliet Regional (KJOT) on leg 2 (part 1) of the Route 66 Tour.
The tour ends on 30 September, but as I’m half way through part 1, I shouldn’t have an issue making it all the way to Santa Monica.
Somewhere over southern Illinois on my way towards St. Louis.
Flying VFR and following the old Route 66 towards St. Louis.
The mighty Mississippi River as we near St. Louis.
Part two of the tour will depart Tucumcari, New Mexico and end in Santa Monica, California. I’m sure I’ll provide an update as part two as I begin in a week or so.
Over all I’ve been very pleased with the way this tour was setup. There’s a mixture of large airports and smaller municipals mixed in for variety. When flying VFR with GA aircraft I do prefer the smaller municipal/regional airports to the larger airports as it cuts down on taxi time. But all-in-all I’m having a fun time with this tour and with UK Virtual.
Of course UK Virtual offers plenty of tour options for jet aircraft which I’m sure I’ll explore in time. I’ll also provide a similar update in a few weeks as I explore the many airline schedule offerings so stay tuned.
Until next time…