Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A change of pace....

Man, things have been busy. I just got a note from my Eastern VA dispatcher to get my ass in gear and fly my last assignment. I had already flown it hough, so I just sent him the Pirep and all is good.

I've had limited time for flight simmin' recently, and Ive resigned as a pilot for one of the best VA's out there. Metro was good to me, and I hope to go back when I have the time....i know a coupl eof people from there read this page so, thanks guys, and i'll see you back there during quieter times....

In the limited time I have had, I've gone back to my roots. Seaplanes! yes, VFR'ing it around the Islands and around the Pacific NW, I've been splashing down in lakes, ponds and rivers, and flying lower than the peaks around me. Faaaantastic. sometimes all that flying around at 20'000 in the Connie can make you forget how much fun VFR free flight is in an old tail dragger or a float plane. But, I miss Connie, and It wont be long til I fly her again. Still got one sitting near Eygpt, and One int he Eastern hanger at Seattle.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sion....I'll be back!

Before we crossed the Alps, I happened to be looking around in free cam and spotted an airport nestled in a mountain valley, but looking long enough to land the Connie. I checked the GPS and the map. It has ILS! Man, I want to do an ILS approach into a valley. Hell yeah.

So, I googled the name of the airport.....

Thats a good sign.

Im definetly making my way back here just to make that approach before we head back to the States. Maybe I'll just turn the hell around after dropping the PAX off in Rome, And shoot a couple before dark. Hell, after dark.

It's gonna be a long night.

Mountain Flyin'

I've just crossed the Pennine Alps around the valley of the Rhone River to Lake Geneva. The view is amazing. Had to climb from my altitude of FL210 th 230, to clear the peaks. Awesome. Luckily, its VFR, as you will see. i took some pics below...

I've never taken the Connie this high before. It seems I cant find a comfortable setting at FL230 and up to make her move like she can. It's just plain slower at 230. 210 is perfect. You start cutting contrails and covering some serious ground in fast cruise configuration. So, I've headed back down to FL210 to pick the pace back up. 2 hours or so to Rome.


...That's "Not Quite Picture Perfect". Thats how I could describe our arrival to Paris, if I was feeling Generous. If losing 2 engines on the same wing about 20 miles from the airport is your idea of fun, you should have been there.

FSPassengers delivered a partial vacume failure, which cost us a couple of instruments I was confident I could do without in VFR for 20 miles to Orly. That was the easy part. It was the 2 engines on the right wing, just sitting there, doing nothing that gave me concern. Yes, a double engine failure. Geeeez.

All ended well after a very staggered and very slow approach and landing, but it was hairy for a second. The Connie is designed so well by FSDZigns that it acted just as one would expect, trying to pull in one direction. I played with individual power settings for the two remaining engines, and controlled them individually all the way to the ground. In the real world, im sure id still be lying in a dark room thinking it over and over, but eager to return....But here in simulator land, it was just a ton of fun. And, it makes for another flying story from our trip around the world...

$12 million in sim repairs to the Connie...(check is in the mail...)..and i've lifted off for Rome, our next stop, just 500 miles away. Some mountains to deal with enroute. Cloudy day, not much to see. i'll have to get down to, oh, 700 feet or so to buzz the Colliseum....

Sunday, August 13, 2006


From Aerostories....

On February 6 1946, a TWA Constellation that had originated in New York, with intermediate stops in Gander (New Foundland), and Shannon (Ireland), landed in Paris, after a flight of less than 20 hours. It was the first commercial Atlantic flight. That same evening, the airplane returned to New York. This flight had open the era of regularly scheduled transatlantic flights. Little by little, the "rich and famous" clientele would abandon the ocean liners for this new mean of intercontinental transportation, which was in harmony with their idea of modern luxury. Most certainly, the gracious line of the Constellation had something to do with it.

Next, Paris...

Crossing the Virtual Atlantic...

Finally got off across the pond.

..Shannon in 2 hours. 3 hours of fuel left. We're gonna bust minimums, but what the hell.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Home sweet home....

Enjoy this video of my landing back at KSEA, the hub, after our multi-leg trip in the great North....

Landing certainly wasnt my best. Pretty choppy winds all the way to threshhold, and the Connie sways around like a sail with full flaps down, but its always fun to do....

Thanks for the great ATC at KSEA as usual!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Up North.

I started a new job this week, and I am a groomsman in a wedding next week. therefore, my Atlantic crossing and contunued global flight have been put on a slight hold due to time constriants. (not time acceleration for this virtual cap'n...)

Lucky for me, I had some business of a shorter distance to attend to. Im a member of Eastern Virtual Airlines. I joined them solely because I could log Virtual Airline time while flying my connie, not to mention the great flights I get assigned, and the first class reputation they have in the VA world. This week, my dispatcher Ed has sent me from my chosen hub in Seattle on a multi leg trip that takes us from KSEA, to Prince Rupert, on to Juneau, Alaska, theeen over to Valdez, then hopping our way back to alaska via these same airports. As i type this ive just leveled off at 19k feet leaveing on our return leg from Juneau. Even in the simulated world, the terrain is breathtaking, and Juneau turned out to be one of the best trips ive taken yet. Low cloudes conceal mountain tops, and all my arrivals and departures here have been in the soup, IFR. fun stuff in this old Connie, without all the bells and whistles of a modern jet liner.

A breif stop in Prince Rupert, and we will push on to KSEA to finish our route and turn in our PIREP.

Hey Ed, ...whats next!?

Alaska from FL190

Flight Assignment For EV0824

EA8120 Seattle WA, KSEA Departing: 8:25 AM Arriving: 10:20 AM
To: Prince Rupert, CYPR Distance: 513 Miles
Aircraft: 24> L1049G Passengers: 39, 69% of Capacity

EA8120 Prince Rupert, CYPR Departing: 11:10 AM Arriving: 12:15 PM
To: Juneau AK, PAJN Distance: 280 Miles
Aircraft: 24> L1049G Passengers: 55, 99% of Capacity

EA8120 Juneau AK, PAJN Departing: 1:05 PM Arriving: 2:40 PM
To: Valdez AK, PAVD Distance: 391 Miles
Aircraft: 24> L1049G Passengers: 42, 75% of Capacity

EA8121 Valdez AK, PAVD Departing: 11:00 AM Arriving: 12:30 PM
To: Juneau AK, PAJN Distance: 391 Miles
Aircraft: 24> L1049G Passengers: 48, 86% of Capacity

EA8121 Juneau AK, PAJN Departing: 1:20 PM Arriving: 2:25 PM
To: Prince Rupert, CYPR Distance: 280 Miles
Aircraft: 24> L1049G Passengers: 36, 64% of Capacity

EA8121 Prince Rupert, CYPR Departing: 3:15 PM Arriving: 5:10 PM
To: Seattle WA, KSEA Distance: 513 Miles
Aircraft: 24> L1049G Passengers: 54, 96% of Capacity
Juneau should be fun with the Connie.



Sunday, August 06, 2006

....And we're off.


Flight Distance: 953 Nm Landing Speed: 91.94 kt
Time Airborne: 03h25:43 Landing Touchdown: -320.00 ft/m
Flight Time (block): 03h30:44 Landing Pitch: 5.68°
Time On Ground: 00h08:48 Landing Weight: 85468 lbs
Average Speed: 277.80 kt Total Fuel Used: 10981 lbs
Max. Altitude: FL 210 Fuel Not Used: 17158 lbs
Climb Time: 00h16:07 Climb Fuel Used: 1342 lbs
Cruise Time: 02h55:19 Cruise Fuel Used: 9424 lbs
Average Cruise Speed: 292.55 kt (M0.46) Cruise fuel/hour: 3225 lbs (calc)
Descent Time: 00h14:17 Descent Fuel Used: 213 lbs

Set off on the first leg to Paris last night, departing New York's KLGA, just as the first Connies to take passengers across the Atlantic did on Feb 6th, 1946, when TWA opened post-war commercial intercontinental air service. Mostly uneventful, and mostly 800 miles in a straight line to the last landfall before I cross the 1700 miles to our next stop, Shannon, Ireland. Seeing how much fuel remained on-board despite my making the entire leg in a fuel guzzling fast cruise configuration eased my mind about making the Atlantic crossing. We should arrive in Ireland with plenty of fuel to spare.

Beyond Shannon, it's just a few hundred miles to Paris. I think we will cross the Atlantic tomorrow morning.

Some interesting information about Gander airport from Wikipedia:

Construction of the airport began in 1936 and it was opened in 1938, with its first landing on January 11 of that year, by Captain Douglas Fraser flying a Fox Moth of Imperial Airways. Within a few years it had four runways and was the largest airport in the world. Its official name until 1941 was Newfoundland Airport.

Gander was a major airport during the Second World War due to the heavy transit traffic across the North Atlantic to the United Kingdom. Almost all the planes destined for the European front travelled through Gander. Its importance was largely a matter of geography, as Gander lies almost precisely on the great circle route between the major cities of the U.S. East Coast and London and was sufficiently close to Europe to allow the piston-engined planes of that day to make a non-refueled transatlantic crossing from there.

After the war, as transatlantic traffic increased, Gander retained its prominence due to the need for a refueling point. Airlines such as Trans-Canada Air Lines (later Air Canada), British Overseas Airways Corporation (later British Airways), and Pan American World Airways made Gander their main refueling point.

With the advent of jet aircraft with extended ranges in the late 1960s, the need for a refueling point ceased on most flights. Gander has steadily decreased in importance since then, but it remains the home of Gander Control, one of the two air traffic controls (the other being Shanwick Oceanic Control) which direct the high-level airways of the North Atlantic. Every plane travelling to and from Europe or North America must talk to either or both of these ATCs.

During the Cold War Gander was also notable for the number of persons from the former Warsaw Pact nations who defected there. It was one of the few refueling points where airplanes could stop en route from eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to Cuba.

On December 12, 1985 Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed on take-off from runway 21. The disaster claimed the lives of 8 crew and 248 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division who were returning home for Christmas from a peacekeeping deployment in the Middle East. The impact on the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway on the shore of Gander Lake left a charred clearing in the forest where a memorial now stands to those who lost their lives in Canada's most deadly air crash.

September 11

On September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed due to the terrorist attacks, Gander International played host to 39 airliners, totaling 6,122 passengers and 473 crew, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gander International received more flights than any other Canadian airport involved in the operation apart from Halifax (The airport that received the highest number of passengers was Vancouver). Much of this was because Transport Canada and NAV CANADA instructed pilots coming from Europe to avoid the airports in major urban centers of Central Canada, like Lester B. Pearson in Toronto and Montréal-Dorval. The reception these travellers received has been one of the most widely reported happy stories surrounding that day.

The airport was the site for Canada's memorial service to mark the first anniversary of the attack, which Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Transport Minister David Collenette, U.S. Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, and provincial and local officials presided over. 2,500 of the 6,600 people that were diverted there the year before also attended the ceremony.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Back in the saddle.

I'm brining this blog back to life. having become a rejuvinated VATSIM pilot, and once again loggin hundreds of hours for various VA's, and also beginning my hourney to become a virtual Air Traffic Controller, i'm going to have things to say. so, here we are. Back in the left seat of the blogosphere.

My latest infatuation has become the golden age of airline aviation. Ive been cruising all over the U.S and the Bahamas in a Beautiful Lockheed Constellation. I'll be taking this loveley, if not moody gal all ove the virtual world. And, in a fitting debut of this challenge, the flight will start with the real world route that took the first 4 engine airline full of passengers to Paris. New York, to newfoundland, to Shannon, Ireland, and then on to Paris. As the great bob buck and Howard Hughes have done before in some of commercial aviation's historic flights.

Of course, i'll be logging my travels here in a sort of on-line Captains log. If you are reading this, I hope you will check back to see my progress and perhaps share in some of my adventures.


Capt. Neil

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