Depart: Es Senia Airport, Oran, Algeria (DAOO)
Arrive: Chlef International Airport, Chlef, Algeria (DAOI)
Aircraft: de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk (Khamsin Studio) *
Flight Plan: DAOO DAOI
Distance: 101.4 nm
Today's flight will take us up the northwestern coast of Algeria to the city of Chlef. The plotted course is a straight line between Oran and Chlef, but in actuality I'm planning on flying over to the Arzew Gulf before turning inland and flying along the river valley to our destination. Visibility this afternoon isn't the greatest and we'll have a 12 kt crosswind from the Mediterranean to deal with during takeoff.
Although I've had to consign the Hurricane to the hanger after the last flight, I've still got an itch to take up another warbird; therefore, today's aircraft is the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk. Introduced just after the Second World War, the "Chippie" was used extensively as a training aircraft by the RAF and RCAF and many restored examples are flown by pilots today. Khamsin's virtual replica of the Chimpmunk is modeled after the British-built T.10 variant with its 4 cylinder, 145 HP Gipsy Major 8 engine; compared to the speeds attainable with the Hurricane's V12 Merlin, today's flight will be rather leisurely.
As I expected, the crosswind pushes us around a bit on the takeoff roll, but the winds feel less noticeable once we a few thousand feet up.
The hazy weather over the Algerian coast makes identifying landmarks a bit more difficult. After a few minutes of flying, however, the Arzew Gulf comes into view. I fly along the curvature of the gulf before turning inland toward Chlef.
Well, what do you know? Algeria is fond of artificial lakes too! After following the river valley below into the haze for what feels like ages, I'm finally able to make out the lakes Merdja Sidi Abed and Gargar which lie near the town Oued Rhiou. Chlef should come into view any minute now.
I descend between Chlef and the airport to the north. The field is reporting 8 kt crosswinds from over the mountains. Hmm, I'm detecting a trend here.
(Also, just look at that lovely cockpit. Khamsin is, in my opinion, one of, if not the best texture artist working with X-Plane today. If I'm not mistaken, Khamsin is responsible for the textures in the virtual cockpit of Flight Factor's 757 and the reason that many consider that aircraft's interior to be much more beautiful than the earlier 777.)
I circle around and line up with the runway. It very quickly becomes apparent that this landing will be no simple task. In the slight frame of the Chipmunk, those 8 kt crosswinds feel much more like twice that. I hold my speed fairly high to keep from being blown south of the airfield as I crab my way toward the runway. I cross the threshold with a rather large angle of deflection, but I hope I can straighten out just in time.
Kicking left with the rudder, I point the nose of the Chippie down the centerline. Unfortunately, my speed is too high and I float in the ground effect as the wind pushes me over the edge of the runway. Going around!
This time I turn wide of the airfield as I line myself up for final approach, hoping that I can get my speed down as the wind puts the aircraft inline with the runway so that I can crab my in the last few hundred feet.*
* I have since learned that this is not necessarily a "good idea." I've also learned of the wing-down method, which I hope to try at my next opportunity.
It mostly works. As I straighten the craft out, my right wing gets lifted up and I touch down with the left wheel before I can get the rest of the undercarriage on the tarmac. It's a squirrely landing, but at least the Chipmunk is all in one piece!
Welcome to Chlef! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to study up on crosswind takeoffs and landings!
Next leg: Chlef International Airport, Chlef, Algeria (DAOI) to Houari Boumediene Airport, Algiers, Algeria (DAAG)