The American Virtual Experience

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Long time readers of my blog will certainly know that I’ve discussed the subject of virtual airlines (VA’s) many times.  I’ve shared with my readers the pros and cons of VA membership and I’ve also shared my experiences with some of the best and worst the internet has to offer.  This writing is going to focus on a new (to me) virtual airline and why you should join today.

During the internet age of my flight simulation experience, I’ve always enjoyed being a member of a virtual airline community.  For me personally, I’ve found VA membership brings a sense of purpose to my flight simulation hobby.  Especially when flying jetliners around the world.  I’ve held memberships in many different VA’s over the past two decades and served in many capacities including pilot, hub manager, executive management and even owned my own fictional cargo based VA for about 5 years where I served as CEO.  For the most part, my experiences have always been extremely positive.  I’m a believer in the saying “You Get What You Give”.  More about this in a minute.

Prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the spare time I had was rather limited and it had been several years since I had been a member in a virtual airline.  However, being stuck at home and especially after being laid off in July, I found I had more time and I began seeking out a new VA to call home.  For most, the choice of VA will most likely be an airline in their home country and one they prefer over another.  Growing up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and beginning my IT career there as well, I always preferred to fly American whenever possible.  So I’ve always gravitated towards an American Airlines based VA whenever possible.    But unfortunately, not all VA’s (even those simulating AAL) are created equal. 

A few weeks ago I found myself somewhat bored with the American VA I belonged to.  While I was keeping myself busy flying (almost daily) and I was serving in a management capacity, I just wasn’t happy with the direction things were going.  While I’m not going to mention the name of this VA, I’ll just say that I’ve had a long history with them and in all honesty not much has changed or progressed with their systems in more than 10 years.  Don’t get me wrong, they are a fine VA with wonderful and dedicated individuals.  But I just wasn’t happy and felt I needed to make a change. 

In the VATSIM Facebook group I saw a posting from another American Airlines VA which caught my attention.  I clicked the link and had a look over their website.  After reading as much as I could from their About, FAQ and News pages and reading even more comments others have posted on Facebook, I decided American Virtual was going to become my new home.  I completed the application process and was absolutely stunned when I received my acceptance and welcome email within 10 minutes of applying.  In the past I’ve waited 24 – 48 hours or sometimes longer to be accepted into a VA.  Being hired/accepted in the short period of time I experienced after signing up with American Virtual showed me these guys are a serious VA.  Of course it needs to be said, VA’s are operated by real-life humans and the expectation of being hired within 10 minutes will not always be possible.  However, any properly managed virtual airline should be able to review, process and hire certainly within 24-48 hours.  But I digress….

I downloaded the ACARs program and setup my first flight from DFW to DEN in the PMDG Boeing 737-800.  During the flight I joined the American Virtual Discord and found it to be an active and lively group.  By the time I completed the return flight to DFW I had decided I made the right decision.  The very next day I contacted the CEO and inquired about an open hub manager position at DFW.  While I was new to the VA, I wanted to offer my experience and willingness to serve in a management capacity and was promoted to the role of hub manager over the DFW hub. 

While I realize this has quickly become a lengthy post, I will wrap things up very shortly.  I promise!  While most VA’s operate in a similar fashion by allowing pilots to accrue hours, offer group flights and an online community via forum, Discord etc.  American Virtual takes all this many, many steps forward. 

In a recent video message from the American Virtual CEO, Sean Jackson, he describes the VA as being “more than just a virtual airline, but literally a technology company that provides virtual airline services.” During his six minute address, he highlights many of the features which makes American Virtual stand out as a leader in the flight simulation community.  A few features he discusses are as follows:

Flightaware Schedules

At American Virtual we strive to mirror the real world American Airlines flight operations in as realistic manner as possible.  American Virtual uses flight data from Flightaware to inject real world flight data in the scheduling system for both American Airlines and also its direct subsidiaries.   

Enhanced Flight Air Map

American Virtual uses a feature rich graphical tracking mod which provides a street level view of your aircraft in flight.  This is very similar functionality to what you might see with real world traffic on FlightRadar24.

Premium Miles

Earn miles towards purchase of real items or unlock special privileges on the site.

Perks Program

Earn discounts towards amusement parks, movies, sporting events, restaurants and more.

Odyssey Magazine

A quarterly full-color virtual magazine similar to American Way (AA’s inflight magazine). 

Discord Community

An active community on Discord where virtual friendships are forming on a daily basis. 

Plus Much, Much More…

American Virtual is hiring and if all this sounds interesting to you, you should join today!  But before I let you go, near the top of this lengthy article, I mentioned a saying or motto which has always been important to me.  “You Get What You Give”.  I’ve applied this in all aspects of my life, everything from my faith, my family, my education, my career and to my hobbies.  In the very short time I’ve been with American Virtual, I can tell you this is also an important motto from the CEO all the way throughout the management team.  There’s more to running a successful VA than just opening the doors.  The effort Sean and his management team, as well as each individual member is putting into this fine VA will only strengthen its core.  I’ve found my new home and I certainly hope you’ll join me

I hope to see you in the friendly skies at American Virtual.

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

The Future of VATSIM’s CTP

If you’ve been perusing some of the social networks and perhaps listening to some of the more popular Twitch and YouTube streamers, you may have heard that the ever popular VATSIM Cross The Pond events might be in jeopardy.  If you are new to the hobby of flight simulation and especially VATSIM, the Cross The Pond (CTP) events are held twice a year with the west bound event taking place in the spring (Europe to North America) and the east bound event (North America to Europe) in the fall.  This past Saturday, the eastbound event took place. 

I’m honestly not sure just how many years the CTP event has been taking place.  I’ve participated in a few over the years and made the early decision to sit this previous one out for a few different reasons.  First, I just don’t have the time to dedicate to a full international flight of 8+ hours at this time of my life.  Second, I also felt I was a bit rusty on my oceanic procedures and didn’t have the time to do anything about it. Third, with the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 our hobby has exploded with a ton of new simmers and I figured things might be a bit chaotic as a result. 

The 2020 Effect

Much like everything else which has occurred in 2020, the earlier westbound event this last spring caused VATSIM to take a few additional measures to ensure the eastbound event ran much smoother.  From what I’ve heard, the earlier westbound event was so chaotic with pilots and ATC screaming at each other and ATC just logging off that it became extremely difficult for VATSIM to find enough willing controllers to staff the fall event.  This is sad because these events are supposed to be fun for all who participate.  For pilots to truly get the “As Real As It Gets” experience, we need controllers who are willing to invest their time in controlling and staffing a full top-down ATC experience. 

One of the changes VATSIM made for the fall event was in how pilots requested and were awarded a slot.  It was done on the lottery system.  VATSIM capped the number of pilot slots and for the very first time requested pilots who did not receive a slot to NOT fly oceanic during the event. 

Entitlement, Entitlement, Entitlement

Just like the run on toilet paper the world experienced in the early days of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, entitlement reared its ugly head in the VATSIM world.  Pilots who didn’t receive a CTP slot still made the decision to fly across the pond (some even flying the opposite direction) just because they could.  Some of these pilots endured lengthy holds both on the ground and immediately after departure and restricted to flying below FL290.  I’m hopeful these restrictions helped to minimize the impact to those who had valid slots.

The Future

I’m optimistically hopeful these CTP events can continue in 2021 and beyond.  Many in our community are throwing out their own ideas on how things could get better.  A suggestion of holding CTP more frequently seems to be one popular opinion.  With the amount of events VATSIM is currently holding on an annual basis, I don’t see how they have the bandwidth to add more CTP events to the schedule.  The only way this might work would be to restrict VATSIM members from being awarded slots in more than one pair of crossings per year.  This still would not prevent those who don’t have slots from flying oceanic anyway. 

All this really hinges on each individual VATSIM member doing their part to ensure they follow the guidelines.  If VATSIM says don’t fly oceanic without a valid slot, then stay the hell away.  But in the world we live in today, this is most likely just a pipe dream. 

One More Thing

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again.  VATSIM is a wonderful multi-player environment which brings together the functions of both Air Traffic Control and Pilots.  There is no AI Traffic (default or payware) that even comes close to giving a pilot the same level of experience.  In my 20 year experience with VATSIM and SATCO before that, both networks have always been friendly and welcoming to new members.  However, there is (and always has been) a slightly steep learning curve to mastering the basics.

I often throw out the comparison with TruckersMP which is a multiplayer server environment for both Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS2) and American Truck Simulator (ATS).  While TruckersMP has a fairly loose set of rules which must be followed, someone relatively new to ETS2 or ATS could login to TruckersMP and be driving on the network in a very short period of time.  This just isn’t the case with VATSIM, IVAO or PilotsEdge. 

If you are reading this and you are either brand new or unfamiliar with VATSIM, have a read through a post I wrote back in April of 2019 titled, “The Basics of VATSIM”. 

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone in the US has a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

VATSIM Ready for MSFS2020 Day One

111114951_3652564898091592_684078394498485044_n Oh Boy!  Are you ready for the onslaught of brand new pilots to flood onto the VATSIM network?  You better be.  The old saying of “If you build it, they will come” will prove to ring true in just a few weeks.  If you are new to flight sim and the world of VATSIM, please take a look through some of my tutorials I’ve written.  They might help you.   I even have a Basics of VATSIM tutorial which will give you an overview of what you need to do and know before your first online flight. 

A Prediction

With the upcoming release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (MSFS2020) scheduled for 18 August 2020, the growth of our flight simulation hobby (and that of VATSIM) will be nothing like we’ve seen since the release of Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) way back in 2006.  No other flight simulator (including P3D or X-Plane) has experienced the hype like MSFS2020 has had over the past 13 months since the news broke from the E3 Conference in June 2019. 

The Long and Winding Road

It’s true!  It’s been a long and winding road awaiting the release of what will become the next generation flight simulator.  While Lockheed Martin has truly made great advancements on the old ESP/FSX platform and P3Dv5 is truly the best we’ve seen thus far, MSFS2020 will eventually blow away everything we’ve come to know and love about FSX/P3D.  I also believe many X-Plane users will also gravitate to MSFS2020 in time.  While the year 2020 has been a difficult year with COVID-19, 18 August 2020 will be a truly remarkable day for all flight sim enthusiasts.  But 18 August is only day one in this journey. 

Setting Expectations

While I’ve not been involved in any of the alpha/beta tests of MSFS2020, history has taught us the road to the future is first often filled with bumps and holes.  With every new release, there will be a period of growing pains which we must all endure for the greater good.  Take for example the recent release of P3Dv5.  Released on 14 April 2020, it’s only now just become stable enough to fully replace the previous P3Dv4.5 version.  Yet, we’re still awaiting some aircraft and scenery to be made compatible with v5. 

Most likely the initial release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will have some opportunities and challenges.  While VATSIM has announced compatibility on day one, there is uncertainty as to when third-party developers like PMDG, FSLabs, etc. will make available their study level aircraft models for the new sim.  Another unknown at this time (specifically with VATSIM functionality) is will FLAi model matching be available day one.  What is model matching?  Well in simple terms, if you are flying commercial jets and you want to see the exact airplanes, exact liveries of the other pilots…this is where model matching comes in.  Model matching has evolved over the years and is quite possibly the best it’s been with FLAi.  For seasoned VATSIM flyers, this functionality will be important.  I want to see other American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest etc. while connected to VATSIM just as I do today.

New to VATSIM

If you are brand new to the world of VATSIM (and perhaps even to flight simulation) then Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 (out of the box) will be a great opportunity to earn your wings.  Unlike P3D which does not offer any default jetliners, MSFS2020 will offer both the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 747-8.  While these default aircraft are not appealing to most who are seasoned veterans of the hobby, they are a great for beginner pilots.  But then again, if you truly are new to flight sim at the release of MSFS2020, I highly suggest you begin with default Cessna 152 or 172 and delay your entry to the world of VATSIM until such time as you at the very least understand some of the basics of flight.  Even taking time to understand how the default Airbus A320 or Boeing 747-8 functions offline will make your transition to VATSIM a much, much better experience.  Not only for yourself, but also for others around you.

Not A Game

VATSIM and Flight Simulation IS NOT A GAME!  At any given time you’ll find hundreds (if not a thousand or more) taking to the virtual skies to simulate the amazing world of aviation.  Regardless if you are flying a Cessna 172 in VFR conditions or the Queen of the Skies, Boeing 747 in IFR conditions or controlling in any of the levels that make up Air Traffic Control (ATC), we’re all doing our very best to simulate real world operations.  As I mentioned earlier in this writing, please also take time to read the Basics of VATSIM and other tutorials.

Brace, Brace, Brace

For us seasoned VATSIM veterans, regardless of which ever simulator we use on the network on and after 18 August, we must accept and understand we will have many new pilots who are just finding their way via MSFS2020.  We must prepare ourselves for this eventuality.  We will encounter scenarios as a result of new members who are new to the network spawning on the runways and not understanding simple ATC commands.  Heck, we encounter these things now, but I anticipate much, much more of this behavior.  I would simply ask all my fellow seasoned VATSIM pilots to be patient, be courteous and be helpful when you can.  We all began our VATSIM journey in more or less the same way.  We all have made mistakes and some of us (myself included) still sometimes make simple mistakes. 

Final Thoughts

While I still plan to delay the use of Microsoft Flight Simulator until such time as PMDG and others have released study-level aircraft,  I will be actively flying on the VATSIM network most likely as AAL301. If you have a question or need a little help, please let me know and I would be more than happy to assist.  Likewise, if you’re a fan of American Airlines and would like to join a great group of flight simulator enthusiasts, I personally invite you to join American virtual Airlines (AvA).  AvA is the oldest virtual airline in the VATSIM community.  At AvA, we value community, camaraderie and especially fun.  AvA is an awesome virtual airline which I’ve been a member of (off and on) for the past 19 years. 

And until next time…

Happy Flying!

Jerry

Flying Online–My Pros and Cons

I’ve been flying online using the VATSIM network since its beginning.  For those in the know, that’s about 19 years.  My early memories of VATSIM were somewhat stressful.  I had spent years flying the Microsoft Flight Simulator style of ATC and really didn’t have much knowledge of how VATSIM ATC (or real world ATC for that matter) operated.  But I managed to build up my confidence and knowledge and completed a half dozen or so flights and then it all just clicked.  Of course, one of the best things I decided to do was to truly learn a study level aircraft from top to bottom, complete with understanding both the initial setup of the FMC but just as importantly how to make changes (if necessary) enroute.  However, in addition to the FMC setup, it helps to also understand the workings of SID’s and STAR’s.  But I digress, as this article really isn’t going to be about how to fly online.  I covered some VATSIM Basics which you can read here

Flying Online – Pros

As Real As It Gets

At times, flying online is truly an “As Real As It Gets” experience.  When you participate in a large scale online event where the entire USA has fully staffed ATC including clearance delivery, ground, tower, departure/approach and center positions (see image below) the absolute level of immersion just can’t be beat.  However, these types of events only occur a few times a year. 

VATSIM Light Up America Event (June 2018)

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VATSIM Cross The Pond (west bound) Event (October 2014)

When these large scale events aren’t taking place, flying online is still much better (in my opinion) than flying offline and using AI generated ATC (or no ATC at all).  During the COVID-19 pandemic when most everyone is self-isolating at home, the amount of traffic on the VATSIM network has on most days been very high.  ATC positions across the country have been staffed and it’s been an enjoyable experience to fly and take my mind off the events impacting the world. 

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Snapshot of VATSIM Traffic over the USA on Wednesday 27 May 2020 (10:40 AM MT)

Flying Online – Cons

As with anything in life, there’s always going to be a few things which fall in the “cons”category.  Perhaps one of my biggest pet peeves when flying online are the times when no ATC is controlling the airport I’m flying out of or into.  If I’m the only aircraft around, it’s no big deal.  But 9 times out of 10 in this situation, I won’t be the only pilot. 

Please check FlightRadar24

There are many times when a METAR alone will not determine the exact direction an airport is operating in.  For example, while I’m writing this I’m also flying into KDFW (Dallas/Ft. Worth).  The winds are dead calm.  So in reality any runway is suitable for landing or departing and DFW has seven runways to choose from. In this situation, I always check the FlightRadar24 site to see how the airport is operating in the real world.  After all, I’m using real world weather…so I might as well simulate the exact landing configuration as is currently taking place. 

FlightRadar24 is super easy to use.  At a busy airport like KDFW, it’s fast and easy to determine which runways are in use.  As in the example below, AAL172 is landing on runway 35C. 

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By doing a little homework it helps to ensure that all other pilots around you (who have also done their homework) will not encounter an immersion blowing experience by you departing or landing in the opposite direction.

Final Thoughts

Some might argue all this really doesn’t matter.  Or some might say, “my weather depiction is different”.  In my opinion, these arguments are simply weak excuses.  The hobby of flight simulation is all about (or should be about) “As Real As It Gets”.  If you are truly serious about this hobby, then ensure either you are running real world weather or you comply with real world operations if ATC isn’t online. 

Until next time…Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Audio for VATSIM is LIVE!!!

Yes, it’s true!  The brand spankin new Audio for VATSIM is live.  Since I participated in the beta test last June, I bet I hadn’t logged more than 10 hours on VATSIM.  While life has been busy the past few months, to be honest I had very little desire to fly on VATSIM until the new audio was available. 

As I’ve stated before, I’ve been a VATSIM member since 2001 and over the past 18 years very little has been done to improve the audio.  As I’ve aged, my hearing is starting to pay me back for all those rock concerts I attended in my younger days and I just don’t hear as well as I did in my younger days. 

The new Audio for VATSIM is truly magnificent.  Now we wait for Microsoft to release Flight Simulator 2020 and the virtual aviation world might just be perfect. 

If you haven’t flown on VATSIM for a long time and if part of that reason was due to the poor audio, then you really should give this new audio a listen.  I’m absolutely loving it. 

Thank you VATSIM!

Until next time….

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

Audio For VATSIM Launch News

The wait is almost over…

For well over a year, we’ve been hearing the news about the new Audio for VATSIM project.  We’ve all watched and listened to videos covering this brand new audio system which promised to replace the very much outdated audio system currently in use.  Some of us have also been granted early access to experience it for ourselves.  I participated in one such beta test back in early June and couldn’t believe my ears.  You can read about my experience here.

14 October 2019

In less than two weeks, the wait WILL be over and the new Audio For VATSIM will be available to everyone.  You can watch this short video for more information and visit this webpage for full details on the planned launch.  In addition, this page also has some helpful information

After I experienced the new Audio For VATSIM first hand, I struggled to enjoy the old VATSIM audio.  While the last two months have been hectic and rarely left anytime for my hobbies, 14 October can’t come soon enough as I’m truly looking forward to spending some time flying on VATSIM and enjoying both the sights and SOUNDS. 

Until next time…

Happy Flying!!!

Jerry

A Pilot’s Life Storyteller Series–S1, E13

Episode 13 picks up where we left off with episode 12 and is the final leg of our trip.  As always, thank you so much for reading. 

Flight Details

Welcome to Southwest Airlines flight 1031 with service to Atlanta, Georgia.  We’re in the same B737.  Our block time for this flight is 1 hour, 55 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 27 minutes.  Our planned fuel is 14,842 lbs. and our take-off weight is 132,041 lbs.  Our cruise altitude is FL380.

Route:  ARKES4 ARKES SEAZY MATLK Q77 WASUL Q77 SHRKS LAIRI LARZZ JJEDI2

1

Headed Back To Atlanta

This the final leg of a three leg journey will have us back in Atlanta before sunset.  We seem to be running slightly ahead of these storms and that’s a good thing.  We’re hoping to get out of Fort Lauderdale before a ground stop ruins our day.  With all passengers/bags loaded, the aircraft is ready to pushback for another on-time departure. 

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Taxing out to 10L.

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Blasting out of FLL

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Making our left turn to join the departure. 

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The view off the starboard side.  The combination of REX SkyForce, REX Environment Force and ActiveSky is doing an amazing job of providing the eye candy for this trip.

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ATC vectoring us around the strongest of storm cells.  We’re keeping the seatbelt signs on until we get above these clouds.  The turbulence is bouncing us around as we continue to climb up to 38,000 feet.

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Between cloud layers things have calmed down a bit.  Just a few more thousand feet and we should be in the clear. 

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Smooth skies at last.  We’ve turned off the seatbelt sign and released the cabin crew to begin cabin service. 

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I quite like the new Southwest livery.

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Beginning our descent into the Atlanta area. 

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Joining the approach for runway 27L

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Clear to land, runway 27L

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Touchdown imminent.

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Parking up at C6 at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. 

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Our day is done and what a day it’s truly been.  Once we turn the aircraft over, I have about 90 minutes to grab something to eat and head to gate C14 to take a jump seat flight to Chicago Midway.  Tomorrow I will serve as Sr. First Officer for a flight out of MDW to Detroit and back.  Then I jump seat out to Oakland where I’ll have three days off before another full day of flights on the west coast.  Fun times ahead. 

Before I close out this report, let me just show my APL progress thus far.  As you can tell from the image below, my total XP is 395.66 and climbing.  I have just over 254 XP to go before my promotion to the rank of Captain and the move over to the left seat.  As previously discussed, I’m earning $40.25 per hour at Southwest as a Sr. First Officer and now that I’m getting the hours I need, I’m content to stay at SWA for the near future. 

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With the last payday, I purchased a headset which along with the mobile phone and flight bag is earning me an additional 25% XP on each completed flight.  While I really don’t think there is any right or wrong way to build your APL career, in my opinion (at this time) earning extra XP is more important than earning additional money bonuses.  So all my salary earnings has been going to building up the XP bonuses. 

4

See you next time.

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 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KFLL FSDreamTeam, KATL Imaginsim
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
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, E12

Episode 12 picks up right where we left off with episode 11.  After a quick turnaround, we’re set to fly the second of three legs today.  Thanks for reading…

Flight Details

Welcome to Southwest Airlines flight 2098 with service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  We’re in the same B737 we arrived in from Atlanta.  Our block time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 43 minutes.  Our block fuel is 15,480 lbs. and our take-off weight is 133,369. 

Route: DCT BLVNS Y290 BAGGS JINGL6

1

Let’s Go

I mentioned last time how quickly the MSY ground crew unloaded bags, they are equally as fast in getting them loaded. 

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With bags loaded, the catering crew is quickly dropping off drinks, ice and some of those wonderful Southwest FREE snacks.  Yum

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Push back underway.  We’ll be in the air again shortly. 

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We’re not wasting any time…..on-time departure? Check!

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Making our turn with the Mississippi River off the left wing. 

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We look to be running from another approaching storm.

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Climbing up to FL370.

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Leaving Louisiana direct Gulf of Mexico. 

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Watching and monitoring a storm over the Gulf. 

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Land ho…That’s Florida down below.

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More lightning down below.  Shouldn’t be an issue on the arrival.  However, this storm might be a consideration for our third leg up to Atlanta.  Time will tell….

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On final approach

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Short final for runway 10L

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On the ground in Ft. Lauderdale. 

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As was the case in New Orleans, we’re on a tight schedule to deboard our passengers and get the aircraft turned around and headed back to Atlanta.  Tune in next time for the 3rd leg of this journey.

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 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KMSY LatinVFR, KFLL FSDreamTeam
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
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, E11

As a beta tester for A Pilot’s Life, I needed to change airlines to test new features which debuted with version 1.33 which was released in late June.  These new features (including multi-hub and multi-leg routes is a very nice addition to an already wonderful add-on application.  If you’re not a user of A Pilot’s Life, I encourage you to check it out.  You won’t be disappointed.  Links can be found below.

Present Day

I hit the breaking point with Alaska Airlines.  While I truly enjoyed my time both in Seattle and San Francisco, I just wasn’t getting enough flight hours.  I’m hoping to eventually make Captain and  of course I still need to earn a living.  After arriving back to SFO from Palm Springs, I was told my next flight wouldn’t be for another week.  So I went home and called the recruiter which had contacted me with an offer from Southwest Airlines. 

At this point I was getting pretty desperate.  While each of my career moves have been working my way up both the career ladder as well as the salary scale.  I just wanted to work and fly.  Southwest Airlines wanted to meet with me and they flew me down to Dallas.  Things just clicked and soon I was offered a position as Sr. First Officer and they even bumped by pay rate up to over $40.00 per hour.  WOW. 

While I still hope to land a job with American Airlines (at some point), I’m willing to wait until I reach Captain if necessary.  Southwest has assured me that if I’m willing to work, they’ll certainly keep me busy.  The other exciting them I’m looking forward to with SWA is their multi-leg route structure.  I’ll be honest, after a while of flying hub/spoke flights, one gets a little bored.  While some SWA flights are hub/spoke, the majority are multi-leg routes and I’m really looking forward to this.  So for now, I’m going to keep my apartment in San Fran and see how things unfold over the coming weeks. 

Flight Details

Today we’re operating the first of three flights out of Hotlanta (Atlanta).  Yes, it is HOT, HOT, HOT today.  Our first leg will have us flying down to the Big Easy (KMSY) then over to Fort Lauderdale (KFLL) then back to Atlanta.  I guess when Southwest said they could keep me busy, they actually meant it. 

For the first leg, we’re operating Southwest Airlines flight 5716 with service to New Orleans, Louisiana in the Boeing 737-700.  Our block time today is 1 hour, 45 minutes with a flight time of 1 hour, 10 minutes at a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet.  Our block fuel is 12,736 lbs with take-off weight of 126,715 lbs.

Route: ATL5 POUNC DCT GRGIA DCT SJI SLIDD2

1

It’s Time to Feel the Love

I’ve gotta say, I enjoyed my time with Sun Country (gosh that feels like ages ago) and I did enjoy most of my time with Alaska.  But I must admit that the folks at Southwest are some of the friendliest I’ve met. 

After a quick walk-around inspection, we’re all buttoned up and ready to roll out of here.  I think the captain knows what might happen with these storm clouds and he’s not wanting to waste anytime. 

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The Atlanta airport is HUGE and a very busy place.  Usually….

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Taxing out to our active runway 27R. 

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Cleared for take-off, 27R

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Wheels up, my inaugural flight with Southwest Airlines is underway. 

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Making our left turn direct POUNC and climbing up to 10,000.

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Cleared up to FL380

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After a relatively short cruise, we’ve started our descent.  The Gulf of Mexico is just in the distance. 

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The Gulf of Mexico is normally not this blue. 

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Nice clouds

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The Huey P. Long Bridge which spans the Mississippi River and the New Orleans skyline. 

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Lake Pontchartrain just off the right wing.

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Clear the visual for runway 29.

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Seconds from touchdown

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The ground crew and baggage handlers working hard to get us turned around quickly. 

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This was a wonderful first leg of what I’m sure will be a fantastic trip.  I’m really excited about the opportunity fly for Southwest and build my career. 

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 737-700
Airline: Southwest Airlines (SWA)
ATC:  VATSIM
Airport Scenery: KATL Imaginsim, KMSY LatinVFR
Terrain Scenery: Orbx Global Base, Orbx Vector, Orbx openLC North America
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, 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.

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