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