Beach Hopping

I’ve been alternating XPlane flights between PilotEdge, which covers southern California, and my home area, which is near the east coast. A bit of a revelation was that I could stream live ATC in my home area and use plugins like LiveTraffic, to up the level of immersion. It is really fun to fly around your local area while listening to live ATC. If you’re running with live weather and time, you can even hear pilots reacting to weather and getting vectored around it.

Usually I record my flights with a running commentary and post them to my Facebook page. The more interesting ones may get a blog post here.

This past week beach fever hit, and I realized how much I need a vacation. I hopped into my virtual planes and mapped some beach jaunts to some of my favorite locations. Like all of my flights, things don’t always go as planned.

My first hiccup was when the engine of my Piper Archer shut down at 4500 feet, forcing me to think on my feet. To my credit, time from propellor stopped to issue resolved was 23 seconds. I imagine in real life I would not have been as calm.

Afterwards, I went back and recreated the situation, seeing if I could have glided the plane the safety. I learned a lot about glide ratios from that exercise. Nearly straight ahead I could see an airport at 7.6 nm, which seemed ideal. Every time I tried I came up short and crashed into trees a half mile from the runway. The thing that messed up my mental arithmetic was that I was traveling so much more slowly than normal - 59 knots. So, while it seemed I could make it from my altitude, the plane just wasn’t moving forward enough. The winning solution was a small airstrip 4.5 nm behind me.

Later, I flew my Piper Navajo from Ocean City north along the coast, listening to Atlantic City traffic at sunset. This was much smoother and I really enjoyed flying the Navajo.

If you enjoy virtual flights, be sure to visit my Facebook page for more videos, or check out some of my other blog posts on this site. I suspect we’ve all got a little bit of James Hayden in us, and mine loves to get behind the yoke whenever he can.