Depart: Ibn Batouta Airport, Tangier, Morocco (GMTT)
Arrive: Rabat-Salé Airport, Rabat, Morocco (GMME)
Aircraft: Stampe et Vertongen SV.4C (XPFR)
Flight Plan: GMMT GMME
Distance: 108.7 nm
Well, things got busy again and, to be perfectly honest, I was also growing frustrated with the sometimes-glacial pace of X-Plane development: too few promised bug-fixes and improvements, too many limitations of the SDK, which resulted in too little progress with add-ons, so on and so forth. However, after hearing some good things I decided to update to 10.30b6 and give it a whirl. I was very pleased to find that my framerate had doubled from about 30 fps to a solid 60 fps! I went out for a few brief test flights and decided that I can overlook, or at least cope with, some of the other remaining bugs and limitations of X-Plane now that it runs so well. Seriously, the smoothness and responsiveness of flight at 60 fps makes the whole sim feel so much more alive--it's a game changer for me! This was the kick in the pants that I needed to continue The Big Tour!
Please note that some things may look different for the time being. I've uninstalled SkyMaxx Pro since it doesn't seem to represent real-world weather conditions very well; since I prefer to use real-world weather, I'll be using the default clouds, which have undergone considerable improvements both in their appearance and performance thanks to the recent beta builds.
Today's flight will be straightforward enough. We'll be departing Tangier at around 1100 Zulu and from there simply follow the north-western coast of Morocco all the way down to Rabat to the south-west. The landscape here isn't the most interesting, but there are a few landmarks along the way that I'll point out.
I've chosen today to revisit the SV.4C. Since it's been a while since I've taken to the skies, I wanted to fly something unencumbered by complex equipment. Just a humble, single-engine biplane to get things started! Ibn Battouta Airport in Tangier has gotten a facelift while I was away, thanks to the efforts of tdg at the.ORG. This guy has been a prolific scenery author over the past few months and has populated many airports in the Mediterranean basin while also pushing the limits of what's possible with the Lego Brick system. Definitely keep an eye on this member of the community.
There's a gentle breeze out of the north-west and I'm reminded of the tendency for planes to weather-vane harshly in X-Plane and the issue is exacerbated by the Stampe's free-castoring tailwheel. Perhaps I overlooked this important caveat when selecting my "simple" plane; alternatively, I'm just garbage at taxiing tail-draggers! After a few minutes, I swerve my way onto the runway and open the throttle for takeoff. Away we go!
If taxiing the Stampe was a bit janky, flying her is as smooth as can be. I climb steadily and begin the turn south-west as I pass over the Moroccan coast. As we leave Ibn Battouta Airport behind, it's worth mentioning that the airport's namesake was one of the most widely traveled individuals of history. It seems most fitting that we begin the first real chapter of this world tour and our first proper flight in Africa from the airport which bears his name. We can also catch a final view of Tangier itself, which lies on the cove off the plane's 7-o'clock.
The first major landmark is the River Loukos and the town of Larache, whose appearance off our left wing indicates that we're about one third of the way to Rabat. It's worth noting that Larache is home to the Roman ruins of Lixus, which stand on the isthmus created by the river immediately north of the city; it's a shame such details aren't represented in X-Plane!
At about the half-way point of this leg, we fly past Merja Zerga, a tidal lagoon and nature reserve. Further off in the distance to the south-east you can see what appears to be the boundary between the relatively green coastal areas of Morocco and its more arid inland regions. I expect we'll be seeing a lot of desert before too long.
The rest of the trip to Rabat is, unfortunately, undocumented. After landing in Rabat, I completely forgot to bring up the replay and exited X-Plane without taking any final screenshots. Chalk it up to that long hiatus! The final minutes of the flight weren't too eventful, though: I approached the airport by flying along the coast and banking around onto final for runway 03. As I'm a little out of practice, I came in a touch too fast and bounced down the runway before being able to exit safely. All in all, it was a beautiful day for flying and the recent performance improvements to X-Plane introduced by the 10.30 beta versions have made me eager for more!
Next leg: Rabat-Salé Airport, Rabat, Morocco (GMME) to Mohammad V International Airport, Casablanca, Morocco (GMMN)