After spending several more weeks designing some new airports it was time to hop back in the cockpit and actually fly to them. I've been pretty productive since my last flight, and now have 37 airports up on AVSIM - that means I only have about 100 more to go, hahaha. Oh boy, I wish I were joking I spent the night of Thanksgiving plotting out the various airports I had added and ended up with 17 spread from south Jersey to north Jersey and ending back in central Jersey. This was going to be quite a trip! The majority of them were also turf airstrips which meant I got to practice soft-field landings. Although this time of year the ground is pretty solid thanks to the cold temperatures.
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As with last time, I created a Flight Log to use as reference to get me from airport to airport. I also changed around a couple of things in the format of the log to get even more information included:
- I now list the frequencies of CTAF/ATC and ATIS/ASOS for the airport (although I still use AutoTune to set Com radios). "NA" is used for some CTAF/ATC because they are private airfields in real life, but do have CTAF in FSX. "NA" is also used for some ATIS/ASOS frequencies because the airfields either don't have one or are too close together to bother re-checking the weather.I now list the available runways for the airport, their length and width, and their surface type. The "L" and "R" after the runway number tell me the pattern direction for that runway.
- I now list any fuel that is available.
- I noticed that SkyVector lists in the airport's information page several nearby navaids you can use to get to an airport - it also lists the radial to travel on and the distance from the navaid. This I now include with my navaid info on the leg and has helped me determine distance from the airport.
- I now say "To" or "From" a navaid to give me a better sense of direction and make sure I am setting to the proper radial when I tune my instruments. "Via" is used to indicate that I will first be tracking to the navaid on whichever radial I choose, and then tracking from the navaid on the radial given.
I might devise a spreadsheet to better format all this and actually start tracking my flight hours.
Leg 1: 26N - 28N
My first leg of the trip was from Ocean City Municipal Airport (26N), where I last left off, to Vineland-Downstown Airport (28N). I originally planned to take off at sunrise the day after Thanksgiving so I could get full use of the short daylight hours this time of year since the majority of the airports on this trip have inadequate or no night lighting - however weather did not cooperate and so I stayed on the ground and monitored. Finally at around 10am things cleared up enough for VFR conditions to return and I was able to depart 26N. However while the clouds lifted and the rain went away and the visibility increased, the wind stayed at around 15kts with gusts up to 20kts out of the WNW. Wicked! Needless to say when I lined up for my approach to 28N Runway 20, I was coming in just a wee bit sideways! This was my first experience with crosswind landings in high wind, and I managed to get her down okay although staying on the runway was another matter. Luckily it's a grass field so plenty of room to muck around.
Looking at the flight log you'll notice a slightly different notation for the navaid listing: To VCN 115.2 > 330° - this means that I should track to the VCN VOR on a radial that is greater than 330°. This is so I stay out of KACY Class C airspace. The additional note "1000' until established on inbound VCN radial" is in case I had to depart to the north, staying at 1000 feet until I was sure I was out from under Class C airspace.
Leg 2: 28N - 29N
Taking off from 28N I chose to do so the way I came in, because having the crosswind coming at you from the right helps a lot when you're in a single-engine plane that by nature of its one propeller tends to want to yaw left on the takeoff roll, and at the same time a plane wants to yaw into a crosswind. So this effectively nullifies the left-yaw propeller tendency and helps reduce the right-yaw crosswind tendency - although the crosswind was strong enough that the airplane still wanted to yaw right. I was very very close to the maximum crosswind component for the Cessna.
The trip to Kroelinger Airport (29N) was only 4nm, so I didn't bother to switch off my fuel pump or turn off my landing lights after I cleaned up the aircraft. Since it's so close to 28N they share a CTAF, however I still need to dig through the ATC window to set the proper airport code for my traffic transmissions, so I'm doing that while trying to depart from 28N and almost immediately enter the pattern for 29N! Having destinations spaced so tightly together added yet another nice challenge to this flight. Coming down into 29N Runway 28 I was facing more into the wind and had an easier time setting down.
Leg 3: 29N - 00N
Another short hop, this time 7nm to Bucks Airfield (00N). The winds had picked up a bit more, flying over the airfield I spotted the windsock sticking straight out from its posts, which signals winds greater than 15kts. Coming down on final I found myself way too high and drifting towards some trees so I poured on the power, cleaned up the aircraft and called a go around. The second attempt was almost just as messy but I felt safe enough going for the landing and got her down in one piece. This is a public grass airfield that has a decent amount of traffic, but luckily the pattern remained clear as I shot my approaches.
Leg 4: 00N - 04NJ
I had some trouble finding my way to Emmanuel Airport (04NJ) for some reason, and had to track back to Bucks and try again, and finally found it. Wind continued to be a problem as I made my approach to Emmanuel Airport (04NJ). I had to call 2 go arounds and after the second one I just decided to continue on to the next airport, which was a decent 34nm away and hopefully had slightly better conditions.
Leg 5: 04NJ - 3NJ1
Turning east after aborting my landing attempt at Emmanuel I headed for McGuire airspace to put in at Pemberton Airport (3NJ1). I had down in the leg notes when I should contact McGuire Approach to let them know I was flying around their airspace. Conditions at Pemberton were indeed a bit better, and I was able to land without any problems. Still, en-route things were very bumpy, as they had been all morning.
Leg 6: 3NJ1 - 3NJ6
Next stop was a short hop west 7nm to Inductotherm Airport (3NJ6), where I was able to refuel, even though I was barely past 3/4 tank, it was the last fuel stop for a while. I did kind of get blown off the runway after landing, but thankfully didn't damage any gear since in this case I was getting blown off asphalt onto grass instead of just meandering about an open field. Going from hard surfaces to grass (soft) can really rip up your undercarriage. This isn't really simulated in FSX however. Still, it's not a good thing and if you have to do it, make sure you do it at an angle. Also having fixed gear helps and is less fragile.
Leg 7: 3NJ6 - 2N6
Departing Inductotherm (damn that's such a cool name) I immediately re-established communication with McGuire APP and traveled 7nm back west to land at Redwing Airport (2N6). Here I had a couple more options open to me in regards to runways and was able to choose one that was further into the wind than most I had been forced to land on so far.
Leg 8: 2N6 - 46NJ
Next leg kept me just within McGuire airspace and ended up with me at Perl Acres Airport (46NJ). Runway 34 was only slightly off the ~330° wind direction so landing was a cinch, without even any trees nearby the runway threshold to present a problem on final. Just set 'er down and taxi 'round.
Leg 9: 46NJ - 3N6
By now I was up in central Jersey and heading for Old Bridge Airport (3N6), which is right next to Raceway Park, where I take my car every now and then to drag race. Along the way I flew over the now-closed Marlboro Airport, and as I approached 3N6 a Maule called in he was 6 miles out. So I set up on downwind and just flew until I heard him announce he was only 2 miles out and then turned base and final to follow him down, although by this time I was about 11 miles out! The smarter thing probably would have been to calculate when the Maule would be past me and on final - but that takes math. In my head. Ouch.
Landing at 3N6 went so-so, it was perpendicular to the cross wind and I barely managed to stay on the runway after landing. Taking off was harrowing, however - I almost got blown into the trees along the left side of the runway!
Leg 10: 3N6 - 2NJ3
This airport was the one I was most worried about. Weidel (2NJ3) has a fence surrounding the runway that I modeled accurately, so although it's a grass strip I don't have the room to meander about upon landing that I had at pretty much all the other grass strips I had landed at so far. Plus the approach I had to fly, which was only about 45° into the wind, was over trees and power lines right at the runway threshold. And if I overshot the landing I would crash into a fence on the other end of the runway! So yea, no problem.
I was clenching my &@($* as I came in over the trees, remembering my last attempt at clearing trees on final in a previous flight, but I made it over okay and dropped her on the runway with room to spare. Turning around to taxi back to the runway for take off would have been tough if I had rolled to the end, but I was able to turn off into the pasture area that had a lot more room.
Other than clearing the fence at the other end of the runway, take off was no problem although I was worried about yawing into the fence on either side.
I was also within Trenton-Mercer (KTTN) Class D airspace at this time but forgot to plan for that. Ooops!
Leg 11: 2NJ3 - 39N
By now it was a little past 2pm as I departed Weidel and headed for my next stop, Princeton Airport (39N). After landing I taxied to a tie down spot and shut down the aircraft. Princeton is a helicopter field as well so I loaded up the Jet Ranger in the helicopter area and proceeded to practice a few landings and flying around the general area. I wasted a good half hour trying to manually start the Jet Ranger, and even Ctrl+E to have the simulator auto-start it for some reason refused to work. After shutting down FSX and reloading and still no luck, I just loaded the C172 back up, started it, and then switched to the Jet Ranger so it would be running.
After choppering about for only 30 minutes or so I grew tired and decided to call it a day and catch a nap before coaching early that evening.
Leg 12: 39N - 2NJ1
The next day (today) I once again woke up before dawn only this time the weather was perfect for flying - but I knew it was going to deteriorate fast as the morning went on in terms of wind conditions so I wanted to get up in the air ASAP. I took off from Princeton while it was still dark out and although I found Jugtown Mountain (2NJ1) okay, it was still too dark to really see the runway very well (it was unlit). So I continued on track but had to divert south to avoid Lehigh Valley Int'l (KABE) Class C airspace. I ended up just looping around in a wide arc to return to Jugtown when it was just light enough to make a safe approach. I had to clear some trees on final but I managed to do so okay and drop her down on the runway.
Leg 13: 2NJ1 - 2NJ5
The trip to Hartung (2NJ5) was another 7nm hop like several I had done the previous day. So while I cleaned up the aircraft after take off I left on my fuel pump and landing light. Hartung was a wide-open field so landing was easy, as was taking off again. It helped of course that the wind was still very light.
Leg 14: 2NJ5 - 2NJ6
This next leg was also 7nm and was flown pure VFR, all I had to do was follow the Deleware River north and the next airport, Markle (2NJ6), was right on it. While there were no trees on this approach, the end of the runway does sit on a pretty steep cliff, so coming in short wasn't an option. Also this was the only right-pattern I had to fly. In fact I almost didn't - I realized at this point I hadn't been paying full attention to my new "L"/"R" pattern notation. Luckily all the other runways where I just flew a left pattern out of habit actually were left-pattern runways.
Leg 15: 2NJ6 - 13N
After a longer 23nm trip to Trinca Airport (13N), I was descending over the mountains to land. The wind had started to pick up again and I had a slight crosswind component, but after the brutal breezes of yesterday this was a cakewalk.
Leg 16: 13N - 3N5
Newton Airport (3N5) was only 4nm from Trinca so it was a quick pattern entry pretty much right after take off. I was supposed to do a touch and go since this was an asphalt strip that was long enough (I didn't do it back at 3N6 because they do not allow TGO) but I was so used to calling out a full-stop landing when entering the pattern that's what I did. So I just did the full-stop landing. No biggie.
Leg 17: 3N5 - 47N
After taking back off, it was about 35nm back south to central Jersey and the aptly-named Central Jersey Regional Airport (47N). Unfortunately while I was on final for Runway 25 my anti virus popped up a status box saying it had been updated and then FSX hung up and crashed. I don't know if it was a direct result of the AV pop-up or not, but either way that was the end of my flight - so close to finishing!! At this point there was no real purpose behind reloading at the last airport and flying the leg over - I was practically on the ground when the sim crashed (better it than me!)
Back to airport design
Now that I've hit all the airports I've modeled, it's time to model some more! I'm glad this flight for the most part turned out okay. I got plenty of much-needed crosswind operations practice, having a lot of the airports so close to one another made things interesting as well, and I found myself getting better at remembering to carry out my pre- and post-landing checklist items.
This will most likely be my last flight of the year, but it was a good one!