Archive for April, 2011

Leg 9

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

FBLA Mbala – FZRZ Kalemie  Democratic republic of the Congo.

1:20 Flight Time.  Weather Neglible.  21Degrees C.

We landed on a long approach over the lake.  Very pretty it was.

Nothing to report.  I flew the flight with my usual perfect skills.   As I walked away I say Norm, Erci and the Co-pilot standing around a slowly flattening tyre on the DC-3.  I told Eric he should replace them before they wear out.   They just stood around.

The port at Kalemie was built to connect the Great Lakes rail line (from the Kabalo junction on the Lualaba River) to the Tanzanian lake port and railhead at Kigoma, from where the Tanzanian Central Railway Line runs to the seaport of Dar es Salaam. The port was built with a 130 m wharf and 3 mobile cranes, giving it a capacity of 500 tonnes per day with two shifts. However, the cranes are non functional, and vessels cannot reach the wharf due to silting up of the lake next to it. The buildings of the port also require rehabilitation.[1] Moreover, the railway line for 100 km west of Kalemie is ‘very degraded’ and not fully operational.

Leg 8

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

16:14 FWCT – Chitipa  to  17:04 FLBA – Mbala.

Weather Neglible.  28Degrees.

Flight time 50mins.

The flight was nice.  Pitty Mbala was in a dip, but that’s the problem with addon Scenery. No matter.  We are now on the southern edge of Lake Tanzania.  It’s part of the western side of the Rift Vally in Africa.  upto 6 miles deep.  Human’s have never been all that way down..

We had to spend a few days in Chitipa while Eric the Engineer did something to the aircraft.  Everytime I tried to talk to him he just growled and muttered something about “Pilots!”  It’s obviously complimentory, but he know’s I’m English to the core, and I get embarresed when people compliment my flying skills.   I don’t need complimenting.  I know how good I am.

Norm the Nav, and the Co-pilot (Must find out his name) have been bonding.  They’ve spend the few days with their heads together, and stop talking when I appear.   I’d assume they are planning something nice for me, but It’s not my birthday.

I was very happy with this landing.  Even Eric said it was good. “For you”.

I didn’t show you the paintwork that Eric organised.  I must one day tell him I like it.   I’ve ordered some graphics to be delivered enroute.  Not sure where yet.  I’m thinking at Suez.  That assumes that I don’t change my mind and go somewhere else.

JF DC-3 Modified paint.

Eric does some work!

I’m still deciding what to do with the Pacific crossing,  as you know it’s pushing the fuel envelope.  And Navigating is an issue.  I’ve been taking advice from the guys at and the feeling is split.  Some say use GPS, Some say don’t be bloody stupid.  Others are all for it and want to help navigate using a sextant.   I’m still not sure.   I’ll have a decision by Vietnam.    At this rate I’ll have a long time to decide?

I’m worried about the proposed pacific crossing.  On two points.  Norm the nav is not as good as a thought.  He had a problem with correct fueling, that he claims wasn’t his fault.  And we found a GPS reciever in his bag.  GPS is spawn of the devil!!  If GPS was that good why are their VOR’s and NDB’s around.   Every time I mention the Pacific crossing Norm goes pale and starts sweating.   Personally I don’t know what the problem is.  Just go East as fasr as I’m concerned.

Another problem is the fuel usage.  Eric the engineer says that the fuel burn at cruise is fine.  But it’s burning more then 90 gph per hour.  I’m the first person to admit that it’s an aricraft problem.  It’s certainly not me.  Eric thinks I should slow down by 10kts.  That’ll reduce the fuel per hour.  I don’t see the logic there.


Leg 7

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

FWUU – Mzuzu to FWCT – Chitipa. T/O: 11:22 local. Landing : 12:28.

Weather neglible. Winds Nill.

Flying from Mzuzu back out to Lake Malawi and north almost to the northern tip of The Lake to Lupembe then Westerly to Chitipa.

The flight was very good.  Norm the Nav planned things well and I flew the course perfectly.  As usual.  We did start the descent a little too late and due to the light load on board we didn’t descent as quickly as we though.  This resulted in us being too fast on the thresh hold (120kts) and a little to high.

Things would have gone well, but the runway was short, so a go-around was required.  My first of the tour.

I’m still getting used to the obvious ground speed increase when at altitude.  I don’t think this helped.

Turning back to finals after the go around resulted in us loosing the runway (DC-3’s are not great for visibility) and turning not just 180 degrees back onto the runway heading, but 540 degrees.  This resulted in a low and slow configuration.  Not good.  Low and slow can result in a unintentional landing.

As per usual my perfect flying and experience resulted in me realizing the potential for a problem and correcting before it became dangerous.

After landing my Co-pilot made straight for the bar looking a little wide eyed.  I guess he was stunned by my flying.   Eric complained about stress to the airframe, and a DC-3 not being a fighter.

We’ve burnt just over 1 ton of Avgas. Adding to the shortage of oil in the word.

Burning Fuel = forward motion

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Go and search the interwaits for “How much fuel can a DC-3 carry”  or a similar search and you’ll get as many answers as you can be bothered to read.  You get even more answers if you search for “DC-3 Range”.

It’s worth noting that there are more versions of the DC-3 then almost all other aircraft.

General concensus averages 1500NM.  The Just flight DC-3 carrys 4800lbs usable.  = 797.34 gallons of avgas.

Flying a few test flights by the numbers (as all good DC-3 pilots do) gives a range of  1246nm.  Assuming the Gallons per hour below :

Stock JF DC-3
4800lbs of AvGas = 797Gallons
Warm up and stuff = 10 gallons.
Takeoff 320GPH for 2 mins. = 10.6 Gallons
Initial Climb = 255gph for 5 mins = 21.25 Gallons.
Normal Climb = 120gph for 30 mins = 65 Gallons.
Cruise = 100gph for 6:40 =675 gph.
Approx total Fuel Used = 771.25 by my reconong, but 797 actually used.
797 Gallons Give a range of 1246 with a scalar of 1.19 (original) = 1.56 Miles per Gallon.

the numbers above are accurate enough (within 2%), but not accurate to a real DC-3. That would burn 90 in a normal cruise. And generally 10% Less for each cycle of the flight.

To be able to increase the range I took a 2 pronged approach. From spending some time in Excel I’ve summised that the FSX DC-3 burn around 10% more fuel then the should as per the real aircraft. It’s worth noting that differant RW aircraft will burn slightly less or more per hour, but the 10% is worked out from an average the RW pilots give.

To bring the FSX DC-3’s into line I’ve increased the available fuel from from 4800lbs to a more accurate (aircraft version dependant)

Modified DC-3 (just flight DC-3 with Fuel scalar and fuel amounts changed)

Total = 6000lbs fuel = 996.7 Gallons
996 Gallons give approx 1557 with scalar of 1.19 (Originial Scalar) = 1.56 Miles per Gallon.
996 Gallons give approx 1611 with scalar of 1.15 = 1.66 Miles Per gallon.

This may need looking at again,  but it seems good for a start.

Eric returned to the hunting lodge we have retired to smelling of paint thinners and looking smug.   I asked him to look at the fuel usage as I think it’s too high per hour.  He mentioned that 50year old engines are not going to burn what the book says.   Since the engines were rebuilt by the company he used to work for I suggested it was in his interest to consider my request.

There is an opinion that I’m working Eric too hard,  espically when we take his age into account.   In response he can rest when we are in the air..

Just Flight DC-3

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Comment on my  fix to JF dc-3 and repaint..  And how good I am!!

I’ve changed to the Just flight DC-3.  Finally.  I have previously touched upon I had issues with the VOR needle (Now fixed to my embarresment) and the Autopilot attitude hold.

Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve fixed the Autopilot.  I added ‘default_pitch_mode=0′ to the aircraft.cfg.  This disables the pitch hold totally.  So I only have heading hold.  This is more then acceptable as flying by the numbers the DC-3 is very easy to settle into a speed and pitch at any height you wish.

The JF DC-3 is a nice bird, the VC is a little clean for what is a 75 year old aircraft, but guess it’s just had a refurb.  The flight model and sound is much better then the standard DC-3 as well.

And to top it off, I’m modifying a DC-3 paintjob (Cambrian) with my own modifications.  More on that later.


We’ve landed in Malawi, and we are going to stay a few days sightseeing.  There are a plethoria of Birds, animals, and of course the stunning lake Malawi it’s self.  It’s very hard water and clean as your bath water (before you’ve washed in it) The fish are stunning.  I’ll post some pictures some time.   Eric has disapeared after taking $200 from the repairs kitty.  He mentioned some work that the aircraft needed.  I asked for reciepts, but he just laughed.

I also had him disconnect the autopilot’s pitch hold as I wasn’t able to change the pitch.  It just held the current pitch and wasn’t adjustable.  I was surprised how quickly Eric disconnected it.  And with a phillips screwdriver and a large pair of cutters.   The ‘fix’ seems to have worked when testing in on the ground.

The truth about RMI Needles.

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

You may remember my issues with the VOR needle not working.   Well, thanks to the members of the CIX VFR Club,  I’ve been corrected.

The gauge and radio panels

The problem I has was that the gauge when in VOR tracking mode pointed in a seemingly random direction.  Where as the ADF pointed at the NDB station as expected.  It was pointed out to me that the RMI when tracking VOR’s points at the direction the aircraft needs to fly to fly towards the VOR.

To summarise :

The needle when set to ADF mode points towards the NDB relative to the aircraft.

The needle when set to VOR mode points towards the VOR relative to magnetic north.

Kinda embarrassing, but it’s illogical.  Depending on VOR or NDB tracking the needle acts in different ways.

Ohh, well we live and learn 🙂

Leg 6

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Tundara – Mzuzu in Malawi.

Flight time 1:27 Fuel used : 834lbs.

This is a place I’m personally interested in.  One of those places I’d like to see one day.  And it doesn’t have to be by aircraft.  The flight was painless and short.  Passing over Lake Malawi gave some great views.

The landing was interesting as I seemed to be coming in faster then normal even though I passed the threshhold at 80kts.  I didn’t take the 4114feet MSL elevation into account.  All the previous flights were ar or near sea level.

Eric was heard to comment that the landing was very good, but he was worried about me possibly damaging the flaps when I dropped the first stage at 140kts, instead of their normal 131 max.  Meh no matter I have great trust in his abilities.

Lake Malawi


Lake Malawi

Crossing Lake Malawi in to the country of Malawi from Tanzania


Lake Malawi (also known as Lake Nyasa in most countries, or Lake Nyassa, Lake Niassa, or Lago Niassa in Mozambique), is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the Great Rift Valley system of East Africa. This lake, the third largest in Africa and the eighth largest lake in the world, is located between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is the second deepest lake in Africa, although its placid northern shore gives no hint of its depth. This great lake’s tropical waters are reportedly the habitat of more species of fish than those of any other body of water on Earth.

Lake Malawi or Lake Nyaza is between 560 and 580 kilometres long, and about 75 kilometres wide at its widest point. The total surface area of this lake is about 29,600 square kilometres (11,429 square miles).[1] This lake has shorelines on western Mozambique, eastern Malawi, and southern Tanzania. The largest river flowing into this lake is the Ruhuhu River. This large freshwater lake has an outlet, which is the Shire River, a tributary that flows into the very large Zambezi River.[2]

Lake Malawi lies in the Great Rift Valley that was formed by the opening of the East African Rift, where the African tectonic plate is being split into two pieces. This is called a divergent plate tectonics boundary. Lake Malawi or Nyaza itself is variously estimated at about 40,000 years old.[1] or about one to two million years.[5]



Satellite View of Lake Malawi

Adult Male Livingstone Cichlid

One of the many Cichlids that like in Lake Malawi

Fish from Lake Malawi are tropical freshwater fish.  They are unusual in that they like water close to the ‘hardness’ of sea water.   This is the opposite of American freshwater fish that prefer softwater.  They are often very colorful, and can be aggressive.  They can be kept in fishtanks if the water requirements are met, and enough space is supplied.  Even though the picture above show’s plant life many of the Cichlids prefer Rocks and other non-organic places to hide and live.  (Ref: Simon)

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