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The Big Tour




A Ridiculously Ambitious Trip Around the World

Flight Plan by Lew Doh at X-Plane.org

Welcome one and all to my AVSIM blog, The Big Tour! I've been on a months' long hiatus from flight simming owing to some recent professional and educational changes that have kept me from the hobby. However, what with my schedule settling down and the recent release of updated versions of X-Plane, now's a great time to get back into flying!


Rather than fly about aimlessly, I've chosen to follow Lew Doh's "The Big Tour," a massive, meandering flight plan that circumnavigates the globe in over 700 individual legs and over 100,000 nautical miles. The reasons for this decision are as follows. First, it's absolutely insane. With a distance nearly five times the circumference of the earth to be covered, I would have to be crazy to even attempt it. For some reason, this appeals to me. Perhaps that makes me crazy? Second, the individual legs are bite-sized bits of the whole, colossal pie; Lew Doh has done his best to make sure each leg falls within the 1-2 hour range, meaning that I won't have to dedicate 6-plus hours at a time to fly a North Atlantic track. The brevity of the individual flights is definitely an advantage considering my hectic schedule these days. Third, the flight plan is very well structured and organized, allowing me to set aside the project should I need to and then easily return to it later. Fourth, in keeping with the intended spirit, the Tour will provide me the opportunity to fly a variety of different aircraft and use a variety of techniques to navigate unfamiliar terrain. Practice makes perfect! Lastly, I've always been interested in geography, so this will be a great chance to learn and share what I can about the places I'm flying over.


I originally shared the first eleven legs of this blog elsewhere, but I have since decided that my journey would perhaps better suit the AVSIM community, and that the new blog system here would make organizing content much easier than a simple message board thread. There may be very little "action" in the bomb-dropping, missile-launching, SAM-dodging sense; however, I do have a mission--to circumnavigate the earth--that I'd like to document and share with the fine simmers here. But that's not to say that this journey will be dull! Following the flight plan will take us to some of the most scenic and dangerous airports on the planet; hopefully I can keep things interesting and return home in one piece too!








"The Big Tour" comes with a number of .PDFs providing all the basic airport and navigation information necessary for the voyage. Among the files is an introductory document by the author, outlining the Tour's scope and historical context. I have included his remarks below for those interested.



Introduction to the Tour



There are so many ways to take advantage of the capabilities of a flight simulator like X-Plane that everybody has his or her own 'philosophy' about it : leisurely flying with some general aviation aircraft above one's own favourite region or a beautiful landscape, carefully planning and carrying out a commercial flight from a busy international airport to another one, enjoying an adrenaline-rich jet fighter mission (perhaps including a flight deck and some arrestor cables), mastering those rotorcrafts, tuning the piston engines of an old WW II bomber while dead reckoning, flying together with others over the network… whatever floats your boat.

Here's still another (it's one of mine, as you rightfully guessed) :


1. X-Plane comes with gigabytes and gigabytes of terrain data for the whole Earth to be flown over, and thousands of airports to go to. It would be such a pity not to try to make the most of it !


2. Also, X-Plane comes with lots of planes, and the community that has grown around X-Plane has produced many other great aircrafts and add-ons of all kinds : again, not to put them to use would be a shame...


3. Piloting a wide variety of birds in lots of places would better fit into a common framework or some long-term, wider purpose.


Obviously, a world tour comes to mind.


Such a world tour is by no means incompatible with the 'philosophies' as stated above : spectacular landscapes abound, careful flight planning and following procedures add to the challenge, the right choice of the right aircraft with the right conditions provides the right level of adrenaline, giving up some modern navigation technologies makes it even better and cruising with one or more partners takes it to the nth power. It's all yours !


Thus, this world tour has only one purpose : to suggest you to go from point A to point B, then to point C, etc..., until you're back to point A – you decide before each leg what to make of it. Take your time : there are 704 of them..., yes : seven hundred and four... and 100,000 NM to fly..., yes : one hundred thousand nautical miles. Admittedly, there was another purpose : to design one of the most ambitious tour ever for X-Plane !



Such a tour could, of course, be devised from scratch – with the risk of some personal bias. Some preliminary canvas was to be preferred.


Oddly, that canvas I found in an old collection of french books (published around 1930) titled “L'Oiseau de France – Voyage d'une famille française autour du globe”, by R.A. Hédoin (“The Bird of France – Travel of a french family around the globe”). As the title implies, a french family (presumably wealthy !) hires a plane to make a year-long travel around the five continents. These books, today deliciously outdated, were clearly written as a pedagogic tool for the young boys and girls of France of that time, to teach them geography and give them an idea of the place of their country (and its colonies) in the world – with some self-esteem, but no arrogance... . These books remain a pleasure to read.


This choice as a canvas was factually motivated by the incredible coverage of the world the itinerary of the Oiseau de France provided from the outset, and was technically exciting – and challenging – from a 'translation' point of view into basic flight plans for flight simulation. More subjectively, the reenactement of these 'flight plans' of the thirties, for a simulation tool that was not even dreamt of by that time, added to the charm. Each of the five books of this collection covers a continent : Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Americas and Europe. Per the book, the travel begins at Le Bourget, the historical airport of Paris...

So, as you can see, this is a massive undertaking. I'm not sure when--or even if--I'll finish, but let no one say that I didn't try! Time to spool up the engines and embark on The Big Tour!








Standing Add-ons:

Payware add-ons are marked with an asterisk ("*"); unmarked add-ons are freeware.

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Thank you for posting this. I am going to be embarking on this wonderful journey myself, although using FSX.

All the best in your tour.


Sam Mustafa

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