Archive for March, 2011

Leg 5

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Mtwara – Tundara.  A nice flight using John C’s method of navigation.  Yes, John I know it’s not yours, but you introduced it to me 🙂

Sorry I cannot remember the winds and weather since, as I said a while back I flew this a few days ago.  I’ve been busy with work and narative.  Ohh and fixing the JF Dc-3.

Current legs flown and location

I'm in Tundara, Tanzania!..

John’s methof of navigation is a nautical method.  Since us flyers are sailing thru the air, it’s an apt method.   While it’s not designed for navigation over land it worked surprisingly well.  The theory (forgive me if I explain is poorly) is to not aim for the destination.  This is particularly useful if you are sailing (evidently).   In this case Mtwara to Tundara is 87nm away at 258°  now dead reckoning (following roads and rivers) is not ideal for this flight, and I need to practice my navigation.

So, I intend to fly at 270° until I pass a longtitude of 38° 45′ 45.04 (not that accuratly,  but close).  Once I’m on that Long I turn left on a heading of 180°.  I should pass over head Tundara.   Advantages here are that I don’t have to bee too accurate on the waypoint ETA’s and when in the Pacific aiming for tiny islands in the sea this method is much more accurate.  DI’s and the like being much more accurate.   The only thing I need to consider is magnetic variance.  More on that riving subject later 🙂

The reason behind this method :  If I fly directly to the target once I get there (by ETA) I don’t know where to look for the target.  It may be ahead, left, right, or behind.  With John’s Method I know It’s in front.

Well,  I used this method getting to Tundara and I could have thrown a rock onto the runway as I passed overhead! not bad for a 90 minute flight.   Some more practice and I should be good to go.

John states :

My basic worry is still the legs over the Pacific.  I find it hard to imagine how one could fly Dead Reckoning for well over 1500nm,  which will take somewhere between 10 and 11 hours, without any visual reference, and have any hope of getting within range of the NDB at destination.  Winds can vary but there is no way of knowing how – a crosswind varying by 5 knots from the calculated  figure puts you fifty miles off track after ten hours.  Even Magnetic variation can change over that distance.  TAS can vary with altitude, and with changes in QNH.

Your’s and mine both John.  Yours and mine both.  I will remind you, dear reader, of the rules underwhich I fly No GPS, No Plan-G crutch, just DR, NDB, and VOR.   I’m still planning the long pacific legs.  And dreaming of ditching in unknown locations.  It will be very tempting to not look at a modern aid.    I shall have to be strong and have a very big fuel tank.

Anyway, enough of that :  The flight there to Tundara was good fun, after having to return with a small issue with potential lack of fuel.  Rather then chance it we went back to Mtwara.  Norm the Nav has been replaced.  Orbiting Tundara


Wednesday, March 30th, 2011


Sorted.  The next guy up the chain turns up in ancient Morris Minor.

Not sure on the flags though.   Turns out my new nemesis was a man of action.  He stood there in a Panama hat and a wrinckled suit and told me to jump in, we would ‘sort’ the problem.  I wasn’t sure that was a good think or not :).    We arrive at the field and Eric is looking smug while asleep leaning on a main wheel.

It turns out that the issue with the lack of a registration number has mysteriourly resolved it’s self.

The next problem is that while the registration is resolved,  “There is much paperwork that needs fixing Sir”.  I immediatly reach for the wallet, but it turns our our Mr Bossman is a DC-3 fan.  His father used to fly DC-3’s for a local airline.    An hour in the air and all is sorted.   We leave on the next leg at 1st light.  I also made the promise to land at a strip next lake Malawi.  This is where his father lives.

After all that I’m happy.  But I know as I get further along the route I’ll need to make the registration look less Heath Robinson.   A quick phone call to the Uk and things are being sorted.

Problems with local law enforcment

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

An Offical in Tundara, with lots of shouting, that our nice shiny Dc-3 (read: bare aliminum) should have the correct markings upon it.   While technically he’s correct before I could assure him that we would fix the problem and that he should accept our payment of a ‘spot fine’  he got louder and louder until a local policeman that was asleep in his car woke up.

Things went from bad to worse and I ended up in the local police station explaining why my aircraft was unmarked to a large chap with a problem with the heat.  I’m now stuck here waiting for the next guy up the food chain to turn up.

Kinda annoying really.  I could see eric the engineer,I wonder what his real name is, was wondering around the DC-3 with a can of black emulsion and a thoughtful look.   I guessed that the problem was about to go away when the policeman woke up,  and I wasn’t quick enough with the smokes and ‘spot fine’ payments.

Meh.   Once I get this sorted we off.   It’s a nice place and the people are nice,  but officaldom is officialdom the world over.

Current Location

Monday, March 28th, 2011

As of now I’m in a Town called Tunduru.  The airfield seems to be surrounded by the town.  A very green and verdant place it is.  But bleeding hot.

I’ve not really mentioned the heat.  We are around 650mn South of the Equator and it’s 28degrees as I write this.  Even at 8500 feet it’s around 20 degrees.   Thankfully the wind chill effect is cooling us and the engines.  The Engines are a worry,  the heat up so quickly even with the cowl’s fully open.

Taking off is a case of getting the locals (very helpful for a few smokes) to push/pull the Aircraft to the the end of the runway and complete as many checks as poss with the engines off.   Then a mad rush to get them started and the other checks done and go as soon as possible.

While they don’t get too hot, I don’t want to stress them by sitting there idle.  Better to get going and let the airflow cool them.

Landing is a similar affair.  The engineer watches the temps like a hawk and orders a shutdown if we get too hot while taxing.

Current legs flown and location

Not always up to date. Every 3-4 legs I guess


Now,  While I’m in Tundara I havn’t posted the flying report.  That’s mainly to do with a problem we had 20 mins out from Mtwara.   I glanced at the fuel gauge and had a ‘moment’ .  Returning to Mtwara and filling the tanks fixed that problem.  More later on what happened, and what I did to the old Navigator.  And it’s not my fault,  I’m too busy flying to do paperwork.  That’s why the gauge is infront of the co-pilot.

Navigator has been replaced by new Nav who I christened Norm(I cannot be bothered to remember these peoples names).  Eric the Engineer is still sleeping, but he was seen moving around the aircraft in the dark.  When we got to the aircraft after a fine breakfast of kippers and black coffee for the co-pilot (yuch) there was a smell of new oil.   I guess he’s servicing the aircraft in the dark.  He’s not very tidy though.  There were spots of oil on the ground.

Leg 4. Landing on Mainland Africa.

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Leg 4 : Prince Said Ibrahim  (FMCH) – (HTMT) Mtwara, Rep of Tansania.  202nm 86 Mins Estimated.

Weather : Winds 329@4kts. Temp 26C. Clouds Broken. 29.91 Inches pressure. No rain. 10miles visibility.  Flying at 8500ft. Actual blocks time 92 minutes. Takeoff 15.05 Local.

While the weather was not a problem, I’ve been testing the Just flight DC3.  It looks great and the model is more accurate then the FSX default.   Problem is that the VOR gauge doesn’t work (Later double checked.  But none of the FSX DC-3’s have a working VOR gauge), the Sperry AP is flakey both in pitch and heading.  Quite possibly an expensive mistake.

The Service patch Just flight released was supposed to fix the Sperry and sounds files.  Looks like the got the sound and the model right, but forgot the important stuff.   Anyway I’m quite attached to my viewmaster.

For some reason,

I view this leg as a mile stone.  This is the start of a journey.  I will be landing on mainland Africa.  All being well it’ll be close to the Tansania/Mozambique Border.   for the sake of international relations.  Meh,  who am I kidding.  In a effort to reduce the paper work we made land fall in Tanzania.

1st sighting of mainland Africa.  Mosambique (or should be)  We’ll take a right turn an follow the coast line until the MT NDB in Tansania.  Once it’s 90degrees to our left we can turn left towards it.  Our destination is in the same location.

Just a nice picture.   But can you spot the mistake?  Let’s just say this picture was taken at a different time.

Entering Tansania at 270degrees towards the MT NDB.  All being well our destination of Mtwara is ahead.

Ahh, there in the large dark green area.  I think.  Circling closer around the NDB We find a nice hard surfaced strip for us to make our first touchdown on mainland Africa.

“Welcome to the United Republic of Tanzania”

As I mentioned earlier none of the DC-3’s have a working VOR Gauge in either the VC or 2d panels.  While I’m flying around Africa it’s fine as there are very few of them, and enough NDB’s to get around.   It’s really annoying though.  I’ve searched several forums to no avail.  I guess I’l have to post one myself.

It’s annoying and a bit depressing though.  the JF Dc3 is a nice bird,  but the faulty sperry makes the aircraft unflyable for any reasonable ranges.  The flight model is good though.  Correct speeds and fuel burns.   I’ll have to see if I can copy the relavent bits from the JF Dc3 to the FSX dc3.

I must admit that these silly faults were not expected.  Let’s face it,  surely someone has noticed these?  JF were supposed to have fixed the Sperry autopilot with SP1.  Seem’s they failed.  I can cope with many problems,  but this is basic stuff guys.   I’m forming an email to JF.  “Angry of Ireland”.

Anyway,  I’m enjoying the flying.  John C from the CIX VFR Club has told me about a form of navigation that might make my time across the pacific easier.  There are many islands that I either need to refuel at, or to pass over as a navigation fix.   Many of them have no navigation aids at all.   John’s suggestion is to empoly a method navigation that deliberately aim’s to not hit the target.   I have the basics down, but John’s Away for a few well earned days so I’ll keep quiet about it until he returns.

I thought everything was fine with this flight,  I admit there were a few issues,  by my Co-Pilot has started muttering to himself.  There is  a distinct smell of strong alcohol around him.  Maybe it’s rubbing alcohol?   My ancient mechanic is muttering about the VOR gauge being faulty.  While we’ve passed VOR’s my superior navigation skills have not failed me yet.  They don’t call me the human pigeon for nothing

Change of Theme.

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I’ve changed the theme from what is was to this one. I liked the old one, but it was buggy from a admin point of view.

Soon to come : VOR? It’s broken or we are lost!

Legs 2 & 3

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Leg 2 : Pamandzi (FMCK) -Via AJ  – (FMCI) Moheli.  104nm 45 Mins Estimated.

Weather : Winds 329@4kts. Temp 26C. Clouds Broken. 29.91 Inches pressure. No rain. 10miles visibility. Thunderstorms to the north.
Flying at 8500ft. Actual blocks time 62 minutes. Takeoff 11.07 Local.

Leg 3 : Moheli (FMCI) – (FMCH) Prince Said Ibrahim. 54nm 23 mins Estimated.

Weather : Winds 329@4kts. Temp 26C. Clouds Broken. 29.91 Inches pressure. No rain. 10miles visibility. Thunderstorms to the north.
Flying at 6000ft. Actual blocks time 38 minutes. Takeoff 11.20 Local.


I passed a TZ on Leg 2.   That was quick.  I was some what confused what I worked out the flight was 2 minutes long 🙂  I guess I should be logging these in UTC.

I flew these 2 legs  back to back as you can see All the Islands I landed on are part of the Comoros Islands.

After playing with ASX I’ve calmed the Turbulance and windsheer down a little.  No more 90degree rolls.

RW Views of the Islands of Mayotte FMCK and Grande Comore FMCH.  There are no pictures available of Anjouan and Moheli Islands.

Moroni (in Arabic موروني Mūrūnī) is the largest city of the Comoros islands and since 1958 has served as its capital. In Cormorian, Moroni translates as “in the heart of the fire”, perhaps alluding to the city’s proximity to Mount Karthala.

All flights were easy with no problems.

The DC3 is performing well with the locally born Co-Pilot and engineer performing well.  I did have a worry about the Engineer being what appears to be about 80.  He sleeps constantly,  but does what needs doing when he’s awake.

Leg 1

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Andrakaka Navy Station (FMNK) – (KMCK) Pamandzi.  235.1nm 84 Mins estimated
Weather : Winds 329@6kts. Temp 28C. Clouds Broken. 29.8 Inches pressure. No rain. 10miles visibility. Thunderstorms to the north.
Flying at 8500ft. 269 Degrees true. 271 Corrected for winds. Actual blocks time 123 minutes. Takeoff 05:57 Local.
Starting off was fine,  Fuel was max for various reasons.  Climbing to 8500 I hit bad turbulance, really bad.  Things were not looking good. Climbing to 10,000 to 11,000 made some differance and the rest of the flight was better, but the KTAS was low across the whole flight as indicated by the differance in estimated V’s actual flight time.  I’m not sure if this is a miscalculation by me in Plan-G or The FSX DC3 model having a problem.  I don’t think it is a model issue as I’ve tested it a lot.  Time will tell.


The weather was closing in as I reached the 1/2 way point,  but I pushed on.


Dawn over the indian Ocean.
Unmarked DC3 Viewmaster.  VIP configuration.


Down and safe.


Landing  was 2 attempts.  There was a ton of windsheer that gave some large problems.   Finally I made a very ropey landing that was 20kts over the proper landing speed and bounced,  but a two hour flight where I was fighting the wind most of the way had taken it out of me.

FS Flight Keeper Report

“Round the world? In That? Are you mad?”

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

This is inspired by Mark, Peter, and a few other people from the CIX VFR Club. The final kick was Mark saying, just go and fly it.

WARNING: Very long and boring post.   I’m using this as a set of instructions to me and make them public so when times get bad I’ll have my peers watching.

History and plans: First, let me say, I have never flown around the world. Yes I’m a First timer. And I’ve been flying since the day’s of Aviator on the BBC B.

There are several ways to go around the world. You can take the minimum distance route. Or take the Scenic route. Heck I’m sure I could get around in a few days in Concorde even taking fuel stops into account. Or even a flight up to The North pole and fly around it a few times.

I’ve planned 3-4 trips over the years, but other things have caught my interest. The older I get the easier it is to distract me. New scenery, a new aircraft, children appearing on the scene to name a few.

But I’ve been thinking about actually doing a RTW trip for the last few months. I dug out what I’d previously planned and I have created a modified version of this flight in Plan-G.

Flight Rules:  based upon these.

The main rules being,

  1. No time acceleration
  2. AP is allowed, but only within the constraints of the Sperry unit (Heading, and Pitch)
  3. All flights from and to a airport. No saving in mid-flight. I reserve the right to break this rule for any flight over 3 hours.
  4. The Aircraft can only be fueled at an airport. No in-flight fuel.
  5. Crashes (Fatal) are ‘game over’ The journey Ends here.
  6. All flights (if technically possible) will be flown on VATSIM. No flying at strange times to avoid strange ATC.
  7. FS Keeper will log all flights.
  8. Navigation by dead reckoning, ADF and VOR. No GPS (removed from model), or FS MAP.
  9. Plan-G will be used for flight planning only. Not for moving map.
  10. Attention will be paid to ATC airspace and avoided if VFR is not allowed by Airspace Class or online ATC.
  11. Aircraft realism set to max, unlimited fuel off, Gyro drift is on, no rudder auto coordination.
  12. Real time weather (ASX) will be used. No modifying the Weather to get another leg in. One of the pacific legs will require a
  13. tailwind, or no wind at least to be able to make it with in fuel safety margins.
  14. Simulated time will be used.
  15. As I have a busy house hold with many distractions known as my loving children, I reserve the right to hit pause, or if the
  16. aircraft is in stable flight walk away (Max 15 mins). If pause is used, VATSIM will be disconnected.
  17. The Aircraft will be flown ‘as real as it gets’ IE using RW guidelines.

Aircraft: I’ve always planned to do this in a DC3, and as it’s the biggest aircraft I have to hand, and almost the fastest, that’s what I’m gonna use. If I was using FS9 I would fly the MAAM DC3 great payware that does work on FSX, but I’m used to VC now. The other option is the new Just flight DC3. While it looks good, the VC’s ASI is in MPH, the AP (Sperry) doesn’t seem to work on pitch hold (not a problem as such). And the sound on the demo package is not good. I like the idle sounds (rattles and creaks) but at any throttle setting above idle should pretty much drown out most other noises. SP1 of the JF DC3 has fixed (confirmed) all but the sound file. I’m trying to confirm this has also been changed.

So, as of now, I’m going to fly the stock FX DC3 with a modified CFG and Air file from the ‘awesome4some’. While this aircraft is not perfect, it does fix some fuel issues that affect range. Most flights are short enough (2-3 Hours max) for fuel quantities to be a negligible problem but there are 2-3 legs that are really pushing the range of a standard DC3 if there is such a thing. The model I’m using has 4 tanks giving a range of 1700mn. Just enough. But I reserve the right to send the flight engineer out on the wing with a jerry can.

As to any other modifications I’m intending to use the instruments that are fitted with the FSX DC3. No GPS, no modern gauges. Stick and rudder flying and flying by the numbers. Dead reckoning, ADF’s and VOR’s being the standard navigation method.

Route :Click the picture to see a larger version.


As an idea of a rough route : Starting at Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Suez, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, Samoa, American Samoa, Niue, French Polynesia, Pitcairn Islands (Overfly), Easter Island, Robinson Crusoe Island, Chillie, Bolivia (Possible Detour), Brazil, Venezuela, From Trinidad and Tobago to The Bahamas Via Haiti, USA, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, END.

While the Flight plan is more of a guide line then a definite route, Plan-G reports 36650.4nm, over 261 Hours at 140 kts. Personally I expect more like 40000nm and 300 hours or more for detours. I’m currently considering spending more time in the US (Grand Canyon, Rockies, Niagara Falls etc)

The shortest leg is 25mn, Longest 1616. Total Legs : 242.

I know it’s not the usual route, but I’ve always wanted to visit the pacific islands.

FSX Changes are worth looking at. I will look at AVSIM and Flight sim for basic’s such as mesh and large area scenery. Apart from the unusual and landmark airports the standard FSX scenery will suffice. I don’t want to spend all my time looking for scenery. Often a good mesh can make a big difference. I have considered tile proxy, but I have a poor internet connection (3G’s wireless broadband).

Possible detours to avoid a unintentional and unexpected coming together of airframe and earth this possibility taken into account, but not on the map. There are a few mountain ranges that I’m ready to avoid, Mt Kilimanjaro being the first of many. I’m hoping to visit La Paz, but I need more experience in hot and high operations.

Other possible detours are for RW security reasons. For instance I’ve purposefully avoided countries such as Somalia, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, and a few others. China for one. Not that I have a personal issue with them, but it’s easy to plan a route around, and people would avoid them RW given a choice.

Other concerns that come to mind. The Pacific crossing. I’m spending a lot of time over the water in a radial twin. The chance for a navigation, mechanical or weather incident increase with the more time over water and no chance of a visual fix. Many of the legs are to airstrips with no navigation aids. This is a challenge that’s I’ve intentionally set myself.

Why do this via a hard and unusual route in an old and slow aircraft, with very basic navigation. A good question. I few years ago I was an active member of another flying club. This was a very active group, with many online activities, much like the CIX VFR Club. But I always felt that I didn’t really fit there. 90% of the members flew heavy tin using every modern nav aid and feature available. I got involved in this but never really enjoyed it.

I’m a computer engineer by profession. I didn’t enjoy, and still don’t, flying a computer. I always liked the occasional VFR flight that the club held, but I was always last to land. Even though these were VFR flights people were using all sorts of aircraft that would rarely see VFR. 737’s and bigger were often seen.

About 6 months before I joined the CIX VFR Club they had a Round the world challenge. The first leg was held online and everyone was invited. When I saw booking lists that included the aircraft they intended to fly I knew I needed a new home. Some people did the RTW trip in 3-4 days. I wasn’t even 800mn from the start point. That’s when I started looking for a new home. I wanted to fly GA aircraft with people that didn’t look down their noses.

So to why? : I want to see the world. I can get around it in a jet in a few days. I could pack up and go home then. But with little sense of achievement. I want to experience the journey. to Paraphrase: Take the journey for the sake of the journey.

I have a list of places I want to see RW. It’s long and extensive. To be able to visit even a fraction of these places I’d need a really big cheque book. And I’d have to wait for the kids to grow up before I can kick them out of house and home at 18. Problem is that keeping money while having a family doesn’t seem to work. So I fly around the world in FS. My wife is very understanding.

I want to see the great barrier reef, and many places I’ve only seen on TV, or never heard of before. La Paz, The grand Canyon, Machu Picchu, Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls, Puket Island. Much like Mark, I plan to do basic research on my way around and report this back with a view to making the whole journey more memorable. Even though I’m still in the route planning stage I’ve learnt a lot about the world. I hope to see many more sights.

I know I’m not making it easy for myself. The aircraft, it’s navigation systems, the route, human performance, and so on is a worry. Personally the navigation in areas of the world I’ve never flown in and lack of charts are my biggest concern. Apart from northern Europe and Nepal, I’ve not really explored the rest of the world.

Conclusion: If you’re read this far down you really are an insomniac? As I said at the start this is a set of guidelines that I make public for scrutiny. Please comment with suggestions for places to see on the route. Please feel free to comment as you see fit. But please remember this is something I’ve been thinking of for years.