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scandinavian13

[Beta Preview] A DC-6 Narrative

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This has been sitting on my desktop for a little while, but with the latest "The DC-6!" thread, I figured I'd actually share it with everyone.

 

The past several times I've been in the sim, I've completely forgotten to grab screenshots, and haven't gotten any videos. That being said, there are some things that can't be conveyed via images, and I'm not good enough with video editing and camera applications to get it there, either. This is usually Carl's domain, so I apologize if my writing doesn't quite reach the bar he's set with the last few beta runs (seriously - the guy is a certifiable wordsmith: http://www.avsim.com/topic/460960-shadows-at-play-magic-at-work-and-a-smile-on-my-face/), but I figured I'd offer my own narrative in an effort to capture the items that aren't visible, with a little artistic flair thrown in.

 

 

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Dawn flights are always bittersweet. The bitterness of the required coffee aside, I find myself considering my luck in the fact that the sweetness of crisp, calm Washington D.C. mornings wins out over the difficulty of forcing yourself into consciousness and function before heading to the airport. The dreary October morning matches my disposition, just as the dew on the aircraft matches the sleepiness that clings to me. The muted, airy howl of APUs in the distance breaks the silence. A glance in that direction reveals an amber haze in the morning mist lit by the sodium lighting over the concourses, brightly contrasted against the dark sky.

 

The 6 sits in the corner of the ramp, seemingly off on its own as a sign of status, but its segregation is more a matter of its size. It is certainly a commanding aircraft, despite its somewhat diminuitive size compared to the beheamoths of today. Approaching from head on, the aircraft almost looks impatient as it sits, waiting for the opportunity to take flight again. The broad faced, clipped tip props add to the aggressive look. I imagine my walk around as a reacquaintance, but also as an effort to ensure that the agressive look is not a mischievous or angry one, hinting towards any potential airborne vindictive gestures for leaving her alone and flightless overnight. Luckily, everything looks to be in order.

 

Back inside, the flight deck is cluttered and indifferent. Compared to a modern flight deck, which is almost welcoming or at least ergonomical, the 6 evokes a sort of utilitarianism. If one escapes being overloaded by the amount of gauges, buttons, knobs, and switches, they will soon be faced with the possibility of being overloaded by the amount of information they provide. Over time, familiar gauge faces have become mixed with new faces as parts are replaced, and panels have become marred and worn from use. What character the flight deck has can be found in that wear. Running the preflight checklist is akin to navigating a moderately complex maze. Before the time of intense human factors studies, the idea of a "flow" was seemingly alien.

 

As the time for departure approaches, the engines are started in a complex a procedure that truly gives one an appreciation for the automation of today. As the engines are all brought on line, everything receives a breath of life. The panel shakes subtly, and the needles react accordingly, increasing and decreasing as the power is adjusted during the taxi to the runway. The cool temperatures with high humidity and low power necessitate a little carb heat to avoid carb icing, and to aid in fuel vaporization. This same procedure will likely still be necessary upon reaching our destination of Miami, or at least during the descent.

 

The sky becomes somewhat brighter as we hold short of the runway. The carb heaters and brought back to cold as we take the runway, and the throttles advanced when lined up with it. The panel shakes violently as harmonics shake the airframe, but this subsides as the props pass through that speed, and all that is left is the jolts from the joints in the concrete below. As the wings free us from earthly confinement to rise above it, the gear is brought up and the flaps retracted. The 6 is not an aggressive climber, nor is it a fast aircraft in the climb. ATC has a little trouble without much familiarity with the type, but turns us out of the way of the faster departures. Climbing through the clouds, some carb heat is added back in as a precaution, though the airfoil heaters will remain off. Despite it being October, it is still somehow 14 degrees at a time of year where it is normally 8. The cowl flaps are adjusted with that in mind, as well.

 

The controller instructs us to join Victor 223 and proceed on course. This task would be easier if I'd chosen to use the GPS, but I filed /A for the nostalgia. Still, with all of the airspace restrictions in the area, the GPS is nice for situational awareness. Established on Victor 223, and finally reaching the cruise altitude of 16,000 feet, the rudimentary autopilot is engaged. It's rather basic as far as an autopilot goes, but it will hold a radial and an altitude, so it gets the job done. The throttle is brought down slightly before the props are brought back, and if one has never spent much time in a 6, the props are brought back a lot further than one might assume. The throttle is re-set to the charted BMEP, and the gauges re-checked to ensure their readings are close to the expected values. Fuel management on this flight will be simple, as the engines will simply feed from each main tank. For those unfamiliar, fuel management in the 6 is somewhat like the 747, where on longer flights the fuel is burned from the inboard tanks first until their quantity matches the outboards.

 

Above the clouds and settling on our cruise speed, we continue south on a modern approximation of Airway 110. A few adjustments will be necessary here and there - navaid changes, cycling the superchargers, and minding the engine performance - but cruise is relatively simple. The rest of the flight will take another four hours, but those hours will be passed in style. After all, this is a DC-6. It's a reminder of how aviation once was, and the relative prestige that was associated with it.

 

 

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I'm planning on testing the endurance of the 6 by simulating a "delivery" flight as if I were picking the plane up from NCA in Namibia and bringing it back to the DC area. I'll be sure to capture as many screenshots with a narrative as I can while doing so.

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Kyle,

 

Excellent Narrative - delighted to read it!

 

I'm curious about, when manually flying the DC-6, how much rudder you need to coordinate your turns....

 

Is adverse yaw a factor in this aircraft / X-Plane 10 model ? Does the ball really ask for your foot work, or for shallower turns, can it be feet on floor ?

 

What about torque as you push the throttles fwd in your takeoff run, and while climbing to the first levelling alt, while getting clean... ?

 

José Monteiro

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I'm curious about, when manually flying the DC-6, how much rudder you need to coordinate your turns....

 

Is adverse yaw a factor in this aircraft / X-Plane 10 model ? Does the ball really ask for your foot work, or for shallower turns, can it be feet on floor ?

 

What about torque as you push the throttles fwd in your takeoff run, and while climbing to the first levelling alt, while getting clean... ?

 

The flight model continues to receive tweaks as we go, so I can't comment with too much concreteness. As it is now, after a few refinements, the aircraft is stable, but does require you to be in control. The ailerons are rather large, and do cause a bit of adverse yaw, depending on deflection. Takeoff power does require you to have rudder in for sure.

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Thanks Kyle.

 

Looks like I better get Xplane bought and downloaded soon!

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Thanks Kyle.

 

Looks like I better get Xplane bought and downloaded soon!

Although you can't access betas with it, the steam version is otherwise near-identicle and goes on 33 and 50% off sales a few times throughout the year.

 

Finlay Waller

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Interesting comment on bringing the props back. I flew the CL215 for some years(pretty much the same engines as the 6...(53.5" for take off) and from a takeoff at 2800rpm to a power 1 setting @ 2600(46") then a power 2 setting at 2400(37") to a final cruise at 2000 rpm(33" +/-)...well at cruise the first few times seemed way too low...that said at 2000rpm the engines seemed almost at peace if that makes any sense. It was a beautiful sound. Last time I flew the 215 was 2009. I really miss the sound of those engines.

Dave

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Thanks Kyle.

 

Looks like I better get Xplane bought and downloaded soon!

 

Welcome! See below as well.

 

 

Although you can't access betas with it, the steam version is otherwise near-identicle and goes on 33 and 50% off sales a few times throughout the year.

 

You can, actually. You just have to enable the option in Steam. It's not simple, but as Austin notes on his site, if you can't figure it out, you might not want to do beta versions of software. This is relatively new, though. They originally didn't support the SE as a beta platform.

 

Interesting comment on bringing the props back. I flew the CL215 for some years(pretty much the same engines as the 6...(53.5" for take off) and from a takeoff at 2800rpm to a power 1 setting @ 2600(46") then a power 2 setting at 2400(37") to a final cruise at 2000 rpm(33" +/-)...well at cruise the first few times seemed way too low...that said at 2000rpm the engines seemed almost at peace if that makes any sense. It was a beautiful sound. Last time I flew the 215 was 2009. I really miss the sound of those engines.

Dave

 

My chart (the one that comes with the plane) goes back to 1800, and I have one from an airline from back in the day (that does not come with the plane :P ) that goes back even further. I'm sure the airline chart is some of what Gann referred to in Fate is the Hunter where the whiz kids and their math came up with an ideal, super low RPM for longer range than Douglas had initially specified, and it didn't end up working as anticipated. I just bought a vintage airway map from the time period, too. I have a feeling I'll be sticking to that and the manual we have for the DC-6 more than the other one.

 

It's odd hearing the props come back to 1800 though. Feels like you just keep going and going and going...

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I've seen charts for extreme long range with rpm well below 2000rpm for example when ferrying across the Atlantic. About ten years ago Greece was experiencing significant fires and there was a possibility of going to help. I'm looking forward to seeing thePMDG DC6 and the manuals that will come with it. Have fun with it.....I'm envious.

Dave

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Hi Kyle,

 

Looking forward to it.

 

Quick question about an X-Plane quirk that some people ignore but drives others batty. Namely the ground-friction/tire-friction modeling.

 

Whereas Austin, Ben et al seem to have considered every last detail in flight dynamics, airplanes can turn into skidding, screechy pigs on rollout. Some of the better planemakers find ways of working around this. Just wondering if it was a challenge for your devs and, if so, have they thrown in a little secret sauce to address what for many is a real immersion-killing issue?

 

Marshall

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Quick question about an X-Plane quirk that some people ignore but drives others batty. Namely the ground-friction/tire-friction modeling.

 

Whereas Austin, Ben et al seem to have considered every last detail in flight dynamics, airplanes can turn into skidding, screechy pigs on rollout. Some of the better planemakers find ways of working around this. Just wondering if it was a challenge for your devs and, if so, have they thrown in a little secret sauce to address what for many is a real immersion-killing issue?

 

I haven't noticed anything weird, and given my propensity for needing to be "in the moment," I'm guessing the team has worked around it.

 

 

Very nice.

 

Thanks! Excited to see what you all think (and what people trip over, honestly - this plane is gonna be tough for a lot of the people used to the NGX and 777).

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Thanks for the write-up.

 

There was a recent live stream (or two actually) but the VODs for them have unfortunately both been taken down. Was something specific not up to par? 

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Kyle,

 

I'm looking forward to the DC-6.  I've been talking to a buddy of mine over coffee about it.  He instructed and flew it in the Andes and Bolivia.  Once you folks release it for sale I'll let you know what he says. :-))

 

I can't help much since my big radial time is all R-1830 as opposed to the R-2800. 

 

blaustern

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There was a recent live stream (or two actually) but the VODs for them have unfortunately both been taken down. Was something specific not up to par? 

 

Correct. My hardware/software wasn't cooperating as I had wished. I'll probably stream more over time (got a new hi-qual mic and a hard line into my router for better stream speeds), but unless they're stellar shows, I doubt I'll leave them up.

 

I'm looking forward to the DC-6.  I've been talking to a buddy of mine over coffee about it.  He instructed and flew it in the Andes and Bolivia.  Once you folks release it for sale I'll let you know what he says. :-))

 

I can't help much since my big radial time is all R-1830 as opposed to the R-2800. 

 

Nice! The only angle I had on this was some time sitting in the jump seat of a DC-3 on a few flights, and sitting right seat at cruise. Time with the 1830 will actually help a little, for sure. You'll have a leg up on everyone else: can't handle them like the GA aircraft of now, or like jets, or like turboprops (though time in the J41 will help a little when we say "you always want to be sure you have positive thrust off the prop").

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