Monday, September 14, 2009

Flight Sim Adventure #2

Boston/Logan International (KBOS)>Elmira, Regional (KELM)

Flight Description:

Today we are going to fly from Boston/Logan International (KBOS) to the city of Elmira, New York.

We'll be crossing the Hudson River and utilizing the Hancock and Binghamton VOR's which will take us over the Catskill Mountains.

But first, let me relate a little background about this flight sim destination. I got the idea to fly to Elmira after reading a fascinating article in the August issue of Plane and Pilot magazine.

The article, written by aviation expert James Lawrence, profiles U.S. Air Force Major General Mike Hall (Ret), and his Wings Of Discovery Center, which is located at Elmira/Corning Regional (KELM).

A long-time magnet for glider enthusiasts, Wings Of Eagles utilizes gliding techniques to teach young people the basics of aerodynamics as well as aviation history.

The theory is that learning to fly without the security of an engine goes a long way if the pilot ever experiences an engine-out situation. For this reason, Wings Of Eagles specializes in emergency landing under engine-out conditions.

There is also emphasis placed on rudder control of tail wheel craft, which is considered a lost art by some.

Wings Of Eagles has its own museum, complete with a C-47, Douglas B-26B, an F-14 Tom Cat, and an F-4B Phantom.

Unfortunately I doubt if we'll be seeing any sailplanes catching the thermals in my version of flight sim. I just thought it would be nice to take a summer flight from Boston to Elmira. New York State has some great views all year round.

After the typical walk-around inspection, we enjoy a steamy cup of bad coffee and perform the pre-flight checklists. Once we're cleared by Air Traffic Control, we takeoff in the early morning hours from Boston/Logan International airport, runway 27.

I've set flight sim for a visibility of only 3 miles with the ceiling at a low 2,866 feet. This matches the actual real weather for the 17th of August. I wonder if we'll be seeing much scenery under these conditions.

We'll level off at 6,000 feet and leave Boston airspace behind us.

Flight Sim does a good job of recreating the experience of flying blind on instruments. I can't see a thing through these thick, heavy clouds.

After about 40 minutes of flight, we've crossed the Hudson River into New York State. We're now entering the Catskill Escarpment. The clouds have broken up somewhat and the visibility has improved as well. Now we can see a little "flight sim" scenery.

Noted for their fabulous resorts and popular entertainment areas, the Catskill Mountains are located west of the Hudson River Valley and include Sullivan, Ulster, Greene, and Delaware counties.

In truth, the Catskills are not "real" mountains at all but rather a plateau that has been eroded by millions of years of weathering.

Compared to the Rockies and other famous ranges, elevation in the Catskills is low. But there are over thirty peaks which have elevations over 3,500 feet. Slide Mountain is the highest at 4,180 feet.

40% of Catskill Park is part of the New York Forest Preserve. The remaining 60% is privately owned. The area was a popular destination for the rich and famous during the 19th century. The Catskills inspired The Hudson River School of painting, which was renowned throughout the world.

In times past, the park was the home of Cougars, Wolves, Lynx and Elk. Today, these have been replaced by Whitetail Deer, Black Bear, Coyote, and Bobcat. Mink, Otters, and Porcupines are also found in the region.

Past the Hancock VOR, we begin a slow descent to 3,600 feet. We're leaving the Catskills and heading toward the Binghamton VOR.

Past Binghamton we turn right to intercept the ILS to runway 24. It is time to set up for the approach to the airport.

Now we'll turn and head towards Elmira Regional (KELM). Air Traffic Control has cleared us to land on runway 24.

I have reset flight sim's visibility to 5 miles and thicken the clouds a bit to make the approach a little more difficult. We can't see the runway from here yet. This is where we have to trust our instruments and fly the aircraft.

Now we can see the runway lights. Flight Sim is not showing any gliding enthusiasts this day!

And we have touchdown! Welcome to Elmira.


  • Hiking The Catskills by Lee McAllister and Myron Steven Ochman

  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • "The Accidental Glider", by James Lawrence (August 2009), Plane & Pilot Magazine

  • Wings Of Eagles Discovery Center and Elmira Soaring School

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Aviation News In The Real World

More Tragic Aviation News!

Rainy conditions may have lead to tragedy when a Bangkok Airways ATR72 turboprop skidded off the runway while attempting a landing. The twin-engine plane crashed into an ATC tower, killing the pilot, and sending seven others, including the first officer, to the hospital.

The accident occurred at Samui Airport in Thailand. Airline spokesmen say the pilot had 19 years of experience.

Source: Tom Johansmeyer, of

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Aviation News In The Real World

Plane Crash Kills 16 In Iran

An Iranian plane caught fire and crashed upon landing, killing 16 and injuring 29 in the city of Mashad.

The plane landed, caught fire, and crashed into a wall near the airport runway. This is the second Iranian passenger plane to crash in as many weeks. Just two weeks ago, a flight from Tehran to Armenia crashed, killing all onboard.

U.S. Coast Guard's First Black Aviator Dies

Captain Bobby C. Wilks, formerly of the United States Coast Guard and that service's first Afro-American aviator has died from complications due to Parkinsons. He was 78 years old.

Captain Wilks also had the distinction of being the first Black American to attain the rank of Captain in the Coast Guard and the first to become commander of a Coast Guard Station.

5 Hurt In Single-Engine Crash In Oklahoma

Two men and three women were seriously injured when their Beechcraft Bonanza crashed near a bank in Oklahoma City. The plane was headed for Enid, Oklahoma when the pilot reported engine trouble. The pilot attempted to return to Wiley Post Airport but crashed in the highly congested area.

Oshkosh Fly-In

If you're an aviation fan then you'd have to be living under a rock not to know that the largest annual fly-in event begins this week at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Crowds are expected to reach as high as 500,000 visitors. The event officially begins on Monday (7/27/09) with the first air show starting at approximately 3:30pm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aviation News In The Real World

Amelia Earhart: Has The Mystery Been Solved At Last?

As part of their on-going investigation into the strange disappearance of aviator Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, the International Group Of Historic Aircraft Recovery (Tighar) is recovering DNA evidence that they hope will prove that Earhart may have been stranded on Nikumaroro Island where she allegedly died.

Tighar has been exploring the island since 2001. They plan to launch a new expedition at a cost of $500,000 sometime in late spring or early summer of 2010.

Source:Christina Caron, of ABC News 7/28/09

Flight Sim Adventure #1

Teterboro, NJ (KTEB)>Boston/Logan International (KBOS)

Flight Description:

Today we're going to take a flight from my home base in Teterboro, NJ, to Boston, Mass. We'll roughly be following the New York to Boston shuttle route established some 60 years ago by civilian transport and cargo flights.

We will be utilizing the Bridgeport, Norwich, and Providence VOR's for our navigation fixes. And, for a backup, we'll also plug the route into our GPS unit as well.

Upon checking the weather, we can see that flying conditions today are going to be great, with a 10 mile visibility, light winds, and virtually cloudless skies. It's a perfect summer afternoon for flying a small plane like the Cessna 182S.

After a typical preflight inspection (walk-around), and engine start up, we're ready to get moving. And so, with the New York City skyline at our back, we're cleared by ATC for takeoff.

We've turned, and are now heading toward our first waypoint which will be Bridgeport VOR. The VOR is located on Silorsky Memorial Airport, near Bridgeport, Connecticut.

There's the world famous George Washington Bridge down below, with the New York Skyline in the background.

We're leveling off and cruising at 5,000ft. Microsoft Flight Simulator certainly does reproduce that New York summer haze pretty accrately.

There's our first waypoint of the day, Silorsky Memorial Airport. This airport was named after Igor Sikorsky, Russian-American immigrant (1889-19720, who was an early pioneer of aircraft design.

He was responsible for the first multi-engine fixed-wing aircraft. Sikorsky also developed the first over-the-ocean flying boat for Pan American Airways. In 1925, he started the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, which is one of the leading helicopter manufacturers today.

Past Sikorsky Memorial, we'll make a slight left turn to about 078 degrees and head for the Madison VOR which is only about 22nm from Bridgeport. En route, we'll be passing the towns of West Haven, New Haven, and the Outer Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Unfortunately, Flight Simulator does not seem to show any of these interesting features very clearly in the default scenery. Therefore, we'll have to explore online sources such as and Flightsim.comfor add-ons.

Once over Madison, we make a slight right to 080 degrees and head for our next waypoint which is Norwich VOR. You'll notice that we're slowly moving away from the Connecticut shoreline and heading inland.

This is one of the many smaller airfields that dot the southern Connecticut coast.

And this is the Connecticut River which leads to Hartford and points north.

Norwich is just to the northwest of New London, Connecticut. Founded in 1658, and currently having a population of over 36,000 people, Norwich can boast of having the AA baseball team Connecticut Defenders, which is a farm team of The San Francisco Giants.

The first European (English)settlers came to the New London area in 1646. The city was named after London, England in 1658. It is a beautiful seaport town located at the mouth of the Thames River. New London can claim playwright Eugene O'Neill as one of its notable residents.

This is the mouth of the Thames River. We're over the Norwich VOR station. Now, we'll make a slight right bank and leave Connecticut. We're heading toward Providence, Rhode Island which is our next waypoint.

Providence is the capital and the most populous city in Rhode Island at just over 173,000 people. The city, which sits at the head of Narragansett Bay, was founded by Roger Williams in 1636. An exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Williams dubbed the area "God's merciful Providence".

Today, Providence host seven institutions of higher learning, including world-famous Brown University.

This is Narragansett Bay, just south of Providence.

Over Providence, we make a left, descending turn north and level off at 4,000ft. It's time to think about our approach to Boston/Logan.

And here we are, over Providence, making that turn and heading to Boston airspace.

After contacting Air Traffic Control to request landing clearance, we need to slow down to approach speed. And since this is such a busy airspace, with Providence now to the south, and Boston to the north, we definitely want to keep an eye out for traffic.

And so we Look for traffic, like the great flight sim pilots we are.

Now, let's make a left turn to final approach, then intercept the ILS which will line up up with runway 4R

And this looks about as good a final as it gets.

Boston is such a pretty sight from this vantage point. It's skyline can rival New York's.

Touchdown! We have arrived! Now, let's park this buggy at the General Aviation terminal, grab a cab, and hit the nearest Holiday Inn.

Information SourcesI certainly couldn't have written this up without a little help from the internet's own encyclopedia Wikipedia. You didn't really think I got all these fact out of my own head, did you?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Aviation News In The Real World

I read an interesting article recently in the New York Daily News yesterday. It seems that someone has come up with the bright idea of creating a "pets only" airline.

On Pet Airways, your pampered pal has his or her own crate plus a climate-controlled cabin and a variety of free treats. It seems like the customer service is a cut above that of some airlines catering to humans.

Pet Airways is the brain-child of CEO Dan Wiesel, of Delaney, Florida. It seems that Mr. Wiesel didn't appreciate the stress level his pet terrier was forced to endure while stuffed in a cargo hold during a cross-country flight.

The airline grew from one Beech 1900 flying once a week from Farmingdale, Long Island to such destinations as Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, and L.A.

Although the airline currently caters to dogs and cats, it expects to upgrade to exotic types of animals in the future.

The Pet Airways hub is located at Republic Airport on Long Island. For more information, check out their website here

The original article was written by Zac Failla and Dave Goldiner for the New York Daily News.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why Another Microsoft Flight Simulator Blog

After 10+ years and 3 versions of flying Microsoft Flight Simulator, I've decided to keep a journal. I'm thinking that it only makes sense to keep a record of something that has given me such pleasure and a sense of adventure.

And so, at the risk of boring the reader, I will attempt to write a little something about the training, flights, and destinations that I take in FS2004.

Like many pilots, my home base is at a different from the hub that I am assigned to. Therefore, in order to get to my training/assignment facility, I must commute (virtually, that is). So every week I fire up Flight Simulator and fly from Teterboro, NJ (homebase), to Boston/Logan International Airport. This virual journey is usually made in the default Cessna 172 or Cessna 182S. Note: The Screenshot above is not the Cessna's but the default Beechcraft Baron 58 which I'm currently training in. That's a shot of a takeoff I made from Boston/Logan, Runway 27.