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scandinavian13

[Beta Preview] A DC-6 Narrative - Part 2

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Sorry in advance for the lack of pictures, but I've been chastised before for keeping the flight deck lights extremely low when flying, so I opted not to take any. Plus, I forgot the X-Plane shortcut for screenshots anyway  :P  I'll try to grab some on upcoming flights. Even if the panel is dark, the X-Plane night lighting on the ground is a sight to see.
 
 
 
Last Friday, Boston (ZBW), New York (ZNY), and Washington (ZDC) all had an event for their respective major airports. At first I was going to take a 737 out of LGA or BOS, but I wanted a little more of a challenge. Seeing that the DC-6 is about the most complex aircraft that I have in my virtual hangar, I got to planning a quick flight from BDL to HEF (home of the future PMDG Sim Center, of course). Avoiding the major airports of the event kept me out of the way of the major traffic flows, and gave some of the usually lower-traffic sectors something to do.
 
I loaded up at the Signature ramp of BDL and got the aircraft situated. One of the things that still gets me is the essentially infinite combinations of lighting you can set up on the flight deck. That is, of course, if you can find the various knobs, as they're scattered all over the place. Luckily X-Plane comes with a default flashlight function for those cold and dark starts - not even kidding (both white and red). After I waited on catering (a pizza being delivered to my house) for a bit, I got the engines started and warming up. As the engines were begrudgingly coming back to life, despite the cold winter air, I re-adjusted all of the flight deck lighting to darken it slightly and verify that my flight plan matched my clearance.
 
Ground sent me to Runway 33, where I ran my final pre-takeoff checks and took the runway, asking tower for a transponder check to verify the XSquawkbox integration works (fully integrated, for those who are wondering). Lining up, I stood the throttles up to make sure everything was in order and then brought them up to takeoff power. After taking to the air, I threw the autopilot on admittedly early, but when doing the work of three people it's all but necessary. I brought the gear up, called departure, pulled the power back, pulled the props back to 2400, and then re-set the throttle to 165 BMEP. As the speed came up, I brought the flaps up, set the gear to OFF, and then bypassed the hydraulics.
 
The autopilot is pretty basic, but it gets the job done. When initially engaging it, it will hold current pitch and wings level, which is perfect for cleaning things up on departure. From there, I could've punched it off, but I continued to test the autopilot by using the turn mode (similar to the turn knob in the J41, if anyone has that), and adjusting the pitch with the autopilot's pitch wheel (similar to the pitch control on the same, but it doesn't set a vertical speed or speed, directly). As I got closer to 8000, I rolled the pitch out with the wheel and then engaged altitude hold.
 
This is where the cool part begins, though, which is odd since the top of climb isn't usually too interesting in the automagic planes of today. Reaching cruise, I glanced down at my CRUISE - 1100HP chart and began adjusting things accordingly. First, I rolled the throttle back slightly to be below my BMEP target - reducing RPM will increase BMEP - and then brought the RPM back to the cruise target. Once the RPM was set, I re-set the BMEP, set the mixture to AUTO LEAN, and then locked both the throttle and mixture levers to ensure that the vibration didn't nudge them out of place. Interestingly enough, despite being nearly 70 years old, the auto lean function is surprisingly effective. The cool part of all of this, though, is the incredible amount of feedback that you get from the aircraft itself. The pitch changes drastically as you reduce the RPMs, yet you can still hear the engines working to drive those props. Moreover, depending on the RPM, you can see the panel shake change due to the vibrations from those engines.
 
I know I mentioned those items in my last narrative, but with the newest beta build, the sound has been taken to a whole new level. Having spent a decent amount of time around radial engines, I've gotten used to how a radial should sound, and the sound being right really just immerses you in the whole experience.
 
Entering ZNY airspace, I was recleared through MXE direct LRP, and back onto my previously cleared route (lots of words to mean "was given a shortcut"). A few taps on the X-Plane GPS 430 and the flight plan was edited. I usually take the plane up and around using the GPS for situational awareness only, but I wanted to see how it flew using the GPS as guidance (coupled to the localizer/nav function of the AP). Flying it as /A instead of /G just adds to the challenge, but that's for another flight (where I'll take more screenshots, I promise).
 
The biggest challenge in the DC-6, though, is the descent. Similar to the positive thrust requirement of the J41, positive thrust should always be maintained in old radials to ensure proper lubrication. As such, this isn't a plane you want to simply chop the throttle and hope for the best, at least if you don't want to be buying engines all the time. This means that the plane generally doesn't like slowing down (or going down, to a certain degree). Luckily, approach didn't want to keep me high, and allowed a descent at my discretion once I'd passed over IAD. Since I've been flying it, I've gotten a better handle on how far I need to go to kill altitude and it all worked out (I was slightly low, in fact).
 
After landing, I cleaned the plane up, parked it on the east ramp, shut down, gave it one last check, and walked inside to debrief and crunch numbers.
 
The flight overview can be found here, thanks to VATAWARE:
 
 
 
EDIT
I just grabbed a video of some of the sound changes during the cruise setup:
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Thanks for the narrative...  certainly keeps the appetite up!!!

 

Ready and waiting for this one...

 

[Jim Stewart]

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Excellent narrative, Kyle, and I can just hear the roar of the radials as you describe them. Looking forward to release day. Also, did the plane actually cruise that low back in the day, or was it because the flight you took was short? I mean, I can't imagine doing a trans-Atlantic flight at 8000 AGL, sounds a bit scary...

 

Sharadh Rajaraman

 

P.S. Just in case: here's how to take a screenshot. That manual in general has been very useful, I've found... Or you could just do it the Windows way, and use Alt + Print Screen.

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 I can't wait to turn the speaker up and hear the engines for my self. Thanks for the write up, Kyle!

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Excellent narrative, Kyle, and I can just hear the roar of the radials as you describe them. Looking forward to release day. Also, did the plane actually cruise that low back in the day, or was it because the flight you took was short? I mean, I can't imagine doing a trans-Atlantic flight at 8000 AGL, sounds a bit scary...

 

Sharadh Rajaraman

 

P.S. Just in case: here's how to take a screenshot. That manual in general has been very useful, I've found... Or you could just do it the Windows way, and use Alt + Print Screen.

 

A much easier way to take screenshots is using "Snapper"...google it...all you do is press the "Print Screen" key and it takes a JPG snapshot of the active screen, very easy to use.

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Also, did the plane actually cruise that low back in the day, or was it because the flight you took was short? I mean, I can't imagine doing a trans-Atlantic flight at 8000 AGL, sounds a bit scary...

 

In number crunching the cruise data about 7000 is pretty close to the optimum cruise altitude at heavier weights, increasing to about 10000 when lighter, based on fuel burn per nautical mile alone. It'll get up to FL240 (realistically, when light), but you end up eating some of your fuel burn per nautical mile higher up, unless you're up there taking advantage of wind. This, being a supercharged prop, is going to have a lot of different quirks when compared to the turboprops and jets we're used to.

 

In this case, though, I was really just trying to keep myself below most of the NY - DC traffic that goes at about 160-220ish. The 6 isn't necessarily slow, but it's not fast, either.

 

As far as the crossing goes, if I'm recalling my Gann readings (namely Fate is the Hunter), lower cruise altitudes were pretty routine. Additionally, they usually flew a lot more northerly or southerly to take advantage of intermediate fields. The Blue Spruce routes of today (I'll have a write up on these since I work with the NAT Region at the day job), that take you over CYYR; the lower tip of Greenland, where you have strips on the West coast, but also a couple in-dire-cases gravel strips on the East; Iceland; and finally the UK. Back then, celestial nav was today's GPS, but it was still nice to be in radio range of somewhere (eventually navaid ships were send out into the Atlantic for those willing to take more direct routes).

 

It was also more dependent on weather back then, along with pseudoscience. Gann has an anecdote in Fate is the Hunter where some "scientists" at the airline worked out some insanely low RPM setting for cruise for the 6 that would "save fuel," when in fact, the manual's values ended up serving them better. Flying was coming into its own, and it was very different. Reading a few books of that day definitely help to paint that picture. ILS wasn't a thing, icing wasn't really ever "known" as much as assumed in spots (Fate is the Hunter hits that point pretty early on), and navigation was very basic.

P.S. Just in case: here's how to take a screenshot. That manual in general has been very useful, I've found... Or you could just do it the Windows way, and use Alt + Print Screen.

 

I was just being lazy. Windows has the Snipping Tool built right into it to take screenshots and print to BMP PNG or JPG. I also had a second monitor that I could've pulled google up on. I was too busy stuffing my face with "catering."

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Just added a video to the original post, if anyone is interested in hearing some of the engine sounds that have been added over the builds.

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Thanks for the update post and video, Kyle. Looks like things are coming together! 

 

Any particular areas of the plane that still need some major work? (if you're willing and able to share that is..) 

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Thanks Kyle! I really enjoyed that. Photos and videos are wonderful, but I remain smitten with the power and possibilities of the written word. BZ.

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Thanks Kyle! I really enjoyed that. Photos and videos are wonderful, but I remain smitten with the power and possibilities of the written word. BZ.

 

haha - yeah, because you're quite good with said written word  :P 

 

For me, I assemble words like I code: is the syntax correct? Yes? Okay, word goes here.

 

If you didn't catch my last narrative, it was actually an attempt to mimic your style and flair for detail: http://www.avsim.com/topic/477829-beta-preview-a-dc-6-narrative/

 

Glad you enjoyed this one!

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Looking forward to this one, Zantop flew DC-6's along with Convairs, Electra's out KYIP for many years and I was based next door with Trans Continental on a C-46.The crew van would drop you off at your aircraft as it was too hazardous to walk out on the ramp with so many turning prop's and moving aircraft in the dark of the night. Auto freight was a big deal back then and there were run out of time DC-8's parked for scrap while old radial work horses kept on chugging.The skill of the crews was remarkable considering the lack of any automation ,all performance and flight planning was done by hand.

 

No autopilots, no weather radar, basic deice systems, you get very proficient on instruments when it is all hand flown.Hand signals were used to communicate V speeds at takeoff and power reduction after gear up as it was too loud to speak commands.The glow in clouds from the exhaust stacks at night was priceless.I would never trade the experience gained during that time, a completely different world from today.

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No autopilots, no weather radar, basic deice systems, you get very proficient on instruments when it is all hand flown.Hand signals were used to communicate V speeds at takeoff and power reduction after gear up as it was too loud to speak commands.The glow in clouds from the exhaust stacks at night was priceless.I would never trade the experience gained during that time, a completely different world from today.

 

Yeah, it really was. To a certain degree, I liken it to GA flying where you're a little more self-reliant (no fancy flight planning tools and so on), but also isolated. I think I got a little lucky in my pilot training as I started just before GPS became common in a lot of the mom-and-pop FBOs. Because of that, I got a lot of (paper) chart reading experience, with the occasional VOR (and NDB) checks for position verification. I really didn't use a plane with a moving map GPS until well after I got my certificate (though, admittedly, GPS is very nice to have around the "want a Blackhawk as a wingman?" airspace around DC).

 

With all aircraft getting the GPS treatment in the flight sims of today, and the jet liners we simulate with NDs, I don't think a lot of the younger pilots (who now start on glass), or simmers quite understand the feeling of "well, we're here...ish...kinda..."  Even I don't fully comprehend that, as, even though I didn't have GPS, I was still over land with decent landmarks for visual references, along with a host of navaids to use. With today's avionics, you really don't need to experience that, similar to how most people truly don't need to know what it's like to go pull cold prop blades through on a windy ramp in the winter, but still...I think it gives a base appreciation for things, and some skills when things hit the fan.

 

Sounds like you had quite the experience!

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Man, that sound...even on a you tube video, that was exhilirating...I will look forward to the day I can turn up the volume on the sim and watch and hear it cruise, though I don't believe I can exactly be twiddling my thumbs.

 

Kyle, you may have to go GoPro on this bird soon man, you won't have time to capture or set anything up ;)

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I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* buy X-Plane. Dang it... Seriously, though, I foresee a massive pain in the wallet if this aircraft is as good as it promises to be...

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Thanks for the video and narrative. Curious, did PMDG  record the sound of the actual plane in flight to reproduce what was heard on the video?  Sounds great. When my sim died about a year ago I never replaced it and haven't been simming since. This model might win me over to get back into it once released.

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I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* not buy X-Plane. I *will* buy X-Plane. Dang it... Seriously, though, I foresee a massive pain in the wallet if this aircraft is as good as it promises to be...

 

They run sales on Steam for it, and a lot of really nice stuff for XPL is surprisingly free, like this:

http://www.alpilotx.net/downloads/x-plane-10-hd-mesh-scenery-v3/

 

I'm not huge fan of the platform, but it does have its merits!

 

 

Thanks for the video and narrative. Curious, did PMDG  record the sound of the actual plane in flight to reproduce what was heard on the video?  Sounds great. When my sim died about a year ago I never replaced it and haven't been simming since. This model might win me over to get back into it once released.

 

This is Henning. He spent a little bit of time with the pictured DC-6 (which, if you find pictures of it online, you'll see some very obvious parallels for our house livery). More here.

 

dc6_driver.jpg

 

I'll let you draw some conclusions from there.

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I'll let you draw some conclusions from there.

 

Hmmm - must be a recording of the real plane. Looks like Henning got the royal treatment and was given liberty's and the tools he would need to replicate the DC-6 the best it could be. At any rate- the model.sounds very real.

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What a great read! 

I seriously need this thing in FSX - the 777 and upcoming 747 are/will be nice but after all they are flown like any other modern airliner. Just imagine flying and navigating the DC-6 through the swiss alps (with the GPS turned off of course.  :wink:

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What a great read! 

I seriously need this thing in FSX - the 777 and upcoming 747 are/will be nice but after all they are flown like any other modern airliner. Just imagine flying and navigating the DC-6 through the swiss alps (with the GPS turned off of course.  :wink:

 

Thanks!

 

I usually leave the GPS on the initial page where it doesn't give you much info (none if you don't have a flight plan set), just so I get the feeling of isolation that I wrote about earlier. You can see it on the moving map in the video, though, just because I'd gone blasting out of HEF for the video alone and didn't want to fuss with too much nav complication. I don't turn it off, though, since COM 1 and NAV 1 are both run through the GPS.

 

Took it through the Austrian Alps on a cloudy/hazy day into LOWI. Reminded me of the first time I drove through that valley between München and Niederdorf. I'll have to actually stop in the city one of these days.

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Thanks!

 

I usually leave the GPS on the initial page where it doesn't give you much info (none if you don't have a flight plan set), just so I get the feeling of isolation that I wrote about earlier. You can see it on the moving map in the video, though, just because I'd gone blasting out of HEF for the video alone and didn't want to fuss with too much nav complication. I don't turn it off, though, since COM 1 and NAV 1 are both run through the GPS.

 

Took it through the Austrian Alps on a cloudy/hazy day into LOWI. Reminded me of the first time I drove through that valley between München and Niederdorf. I'll have to actually stop in the city one of these days.

 

Will the GPS be the stock FSX/X-Plane/P3D/[iNSERT RANDOM FUTURE SIM] one or will it be updatable and RNAV capable? Would be quite interesting to have something more advanced as an option. Not that I'd use it... :ph34r:

 

And yes, I can only Imagine flying the LOC/DME into INN with the 6! I hope Austria West HD comes out soon...

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Will the GPS be the stock FSX/X-Plane/P3D/[iNSERT RANDOM FUTURE SIM] one [?]

 

The one in XPL is the default one. I can't answer for the others.

 

 

 


or will it be updatable and RNAV capable?

 

Looks like you can update the XPL database through Aerosoft's service (according to the XPL site). Any GPS is technically RNAV capable. RNAV is the ability to go from point to point without having to rely on ground-based navaid radials. RNP is a different story, but that depends on the level, or if you're considering WAAS implemented or not. To my knowledge, the GPS in a/the sim is "perfectly accurate," so WAAS isn't really necessary, and as such could be considered "modeled." I haven't fooled around with it enough to see if it has LPV in it.

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