Although the winds were pretty rough today, I decided it was otherwise to beautiful to past up a chance to get some flight time in. Thanks to a Nor'easter that just passed through the previous day, winds were pretty wicked - we're receiving gusts of up to 40mph - sometimes even 50! I'm looking out my window right now and watching trees bending over when the stronger gusts rip through. Even without the gusts we're still talking sustained winds of around 15-20mph out of the northwest. So there was a little trepidation in deciding to fly today, I wasn't sure if the conditions would put me into a building or something.
<object width="500" height="375" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&lang=en-us&page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fgaiiden%2Fsets%2F72157625050772187%2Fshow%2F&page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fgaiiden%2Fsets%2F72157625050772187%2F&set_id=72157625050772187&jump_to=" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><param name="src" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=104087" /><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><embed width="500" height="375" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=104087" flashvars="offsite=true&lang=en-us&page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fgaiiden%2Fsets%2F72157625050772187%2Fshow%2F&page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fgaiiden%2Fsets%2F72157625050772187%2F&set_id=72157625050772187&jump_to=" allowFullScreen="true" allowfullscreen="true" /></object>
So I hopped into the Bell I had left parked at Haverstraw (H43) and fired her up. Even just sitting on the pad I could see the wind's effect as I was pushed ever so slightly to the right. The helicopter acts like a wind vane basically, so my nose will always want to turn into the wind. On takeoff I was immediately counteracting the wind effects to make sure I didn't drift into any trees. Soon though I was clear and over the river heading south. It really wasn't that bad. I leveled off at 1,000 feet and every so often I would get pushed around a little bit, but it was just gusty, it wasn't turbulent. So I would be shoved aside a bit but never really had to fight to maintain my altitude or anything like that.
It was like this the whole trip down to Manhattan - as I approached the city the gusts started getting a bit stronger it felt like, but still only occasionally. When I crossed the river to land at West 30th St (KJRA) I made sure to turn into the wind as much as possible as I made my approach. There was a bit of futzing around in my hover as usual, but I eventually set down between two pads. Not the best positioning, but at least I didn't compress my landing skids. I considered hitting KJRB next, but realized a better approach would be to travel back up the Hudson a little ways and cross over Central Park to head down the East River for an easy approach to 6n5. I made a great approach and landing at 6N5, zooming down the East River and descending and rotating to face into the wind just off the pad over the water. I didn't sink below the dock level and instead held my hover and nudged over the pad and set her down facing the dreaded elevated highway. At no point during the approach did I feel like I was about to ram it. I'm also getting a better feel for how close I can approach things when viewed from the cockpit.
Departing 6N5, it was a short flight to the Downtown Heliport of KJRB. Another spot-on landing and I was looping south of Governor's Island to head up the East River and try a new route out to KFRG. Referencing the NY Heli chart, I was planning to take Williamsburg to Track, which would then put me on Meadowbrook for a short time and the transition to Republic. Willamsburg is easy since you're starting from a prominent bridge landmark and heading towards another visible landmark, the Ridgewood Reservoir. But then I got a little lost trying to pick out the railroad tracks I would follow. I circled and hovered a bit before finally picking them out, although not before mistaking Aqueduct Racetrack for Belmont Racetrack and following the wrong train tracks for a little bit. Once established on the proper route though it was easy, and I had already flown Meadowbrook and Republic before so once I spotted the Nassau Colosseum I was home free.
Another thing that definitely helped was that I spent several hours earlier this week further tweaking FSX to boost my framerates to the point where I was getting 11-15FPS anywhere around Manhattan. This is very important because it is near impossible to fly the helicopter at less than 10-12 FPS. While I got a slight boost from overclocking my graphics card, overclocking my processor didn't really do squat. Still, cruising around areas without the huge mass of scenery Manhattan puts out, I now have silky-smooth 30FPS. I'd probably drop back down to ~15FPS if I enabled autogen scenery, but I'm content to leave it off.
So I'm back at Republic. I guess I'll be taking the Cessna out again next time, maybe hit some of the small fields I've been remaking to properly align with the satellite ground textures. I have a few more up now on the AVSIM file library - if you're using MegaScenery Earth you should be using these scenery files too!!