cavaricooper

Homer to Yakutat in the DC-6A at 9000'

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As most in the FlightSim world, not living under a rock know, the PMDG DC-6 Beta for P3D & FSX is well under way.  I have lived in Florida for the past three decades, and am used to hot, and not so very hot.  Therefore, when I am not flying in the high FLs across Europe, I like spending time in the Orbx world, mostly in the Pacific North West and Alaska.  At least the glimpse of white, helps in the dead of Spring ;)….

I flew from Homer to Yakutat, and while doing so, was so entranced with the one-man-band, operational necessities of single pilot DC-6A flying, that I had to share. The last time I was at PAYA, I flew in another of Alex Metzger’s brilliant works- my beloved An-2.  This PMDG creation also benefits from his superlative ADE mastery.  Here too, one can feel the strain of wings against the air, the solid predictable levitation, and the streaming action of air against an airfoil.  The entire PMDG team has worked hard on this beauty (especially Henning, Chris and Alex) and Mr. Donald Douglas is no doubt smiling.

Take a look at the first photo- there are a thousand small things that it reflects.  I am doing a passable job on the glideslope and localizer, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I must preface all this with the mention that I do not use the GPS.  I have plunged headlong back into VOR & ADF navigation, with the sole modernization being use of the DME.  Not since my PPL days, with cross country solos looming, have I flight planned on a sectional!

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With meticulous attention to distance remaining I have done all of the following, preceding the moment I took this photo.  From a few miles short of the initial descent point I began pulling the props from 2100 to 2000, and began the slow process of reducing MAP from 34” to 30” to buy me a few knots of speed control.  In these chilly climes, engine management becomes even more challenging than in the tropics and the cowls were kept tightly shuttered.  While this was underway, I actioned the Main Boost Pumps, switched to Main Tanks, and then shut off the boost pumps.  At the descent point (note I did not say TOD) I clicked off the Altitude Hold switch on the center pedestal, and ran forward the Glide wheel, to start a gentle descent.  Pulling the MAP at 1” per every 2-3 minutes, and working the Glide wheel down kept me occupied.  Eventually I was at 30” and 2000rpm and my rise over run calculations allowed a moments respite.  But then carb and engine temps had to be looked over and cowls adjusted accordingly again.

Mixtures had to be unlocked, and returned to full rich. Hydraulics had to be turned on, and all the while a keen weather eye was kept on the carb and engine temps.  Alaska has lots of visible moisture, and the requisite external heat was already on.  If you note, Ocean Cape ADF was tuned along with the ILS and YAK VOR.  This coupled with the DME from YAK gave me excellent situational awareness, despite the lack of an ND map.  I continued my descent, playing with the Glide wheel and maintaining between a 500-700fpm descent.  With the MAP at 30” and the props at 2000, I was able to stay comfortably below Vne.  For the older crowd, the concept of dive and drive will be familiar.  For the younger generation, in this old gal, you may as well forget CDA approaches!  The level off was at 1800’ and reducing MAP to 20” during the short run to ADKUH (4.2 YAK) gave us the speeds to lower flap, and extend and turn on the landing lights.  We intercepted the GS and I kept extending flap as the speed decayed.  She flies the slope really well at 20” and 2000 and soon the shrill bell of the Autopilot Disconnect pierced the cockpit.

A glance at the short final pic shows us approaching minimums, MAP finally back to 20” with the props still at 2000.  Flaps are out, and these barn doors just hang out. No newfangled Fowler tracks here!  Speed is on target, and Rwy 11 at Yakutat stretches ahead in welcome.  Having spent most of the flight staring out into a white nothingness, I can tell you that there is a great measure of satisfaction in breaking out with reasonable navigational accuracy- and NOT relying on GPS or INS.  It felt good!

The landing is simply a love affair with aerodynamics.  Alex has worked his magic, and you can feel her weight as you nudge her onto the dead center and hold her off.  A gentle quartering headwind allowed me to cross controls, and it was sheer joy holding a wing low, with opposite rudder to keep the nose on center line.  The fence flashed under, and I pulled power full back, and held her off as long as I could.  The timing is important.  She weighed about 65,000lbs and the idea was to stop flying as the wheels stroked onto the Asphalt… not too much before!

The rollout is accompanied by a loud clack as reverse is selected, and then a gentle push forward to 20” MAP produced a very definite, but not harsh deceleration.  As we slowed, another loud clack restored the props to pulling, and I began steering with my left hand, for the right runway edge.  While doing so I had to reach up and move the cowls to full open.  Full left had us comfortably turned and trundling back to the apron.

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All the way to taxiway A and then a left and a right, with a 180 into the parking spot had us in position.  The Alaska Airlines 738 was just pushing, and the DC-3 which was slowly rusting away the last time I was here, was still tied down, and looking a bit sad.

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Cutting mixture and going through the myriad shut down flows kept me occupied, whilst the Loadmaster began his dialogue with the ground crew.  With everything open it was cold in what had been my warm cocoon moments before.  The Alaskan Sun was beginning to turn gold, and I could have almost felt its warmth, if my teeth weren’t beginning their chattering.

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I took one last lingering look back, before heading to the lodge.  She would wait for me, all buttoned up, until the next day.

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Take a moment to CLICK on each pic to get the full image.  The DC-6A in P3D is a lovely thing.  For those who have flown the flight levels and are unfamiliar with this sort of aeroplane..... she's TOTALLY DIFFERENT, and TOTALLY AMAZING!  Instead of your familiar Boeing flows, you will be immersed into sweat and confusion.  Somewhere around the first 100 hours, you will start to relax and realize what the Douglas Factory (and PMDG) have wrought.  There is SO MUCH to do to nurse this breathing, belching creature along, that I am reminded of the ceaseless toil of the Fireman and Engineer working the sooty and smoky cab of a Steamer, compared to the relaxed and quiet manipulation of throttle and air brake in the modern locomotive.  It is hard work getting up to speed on something this slow- but it is SO worth it- hand flying her is a thrilling affair with the past.

The PMDG DC-6A is a magical creation from an age long gone by, and I look forward you you all meeting her....soon (sorry RSR, I couldn't help myself).

;)

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Excellent all around, thank you for taking the time to put this post together.

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PAYA ILS 11 has a DME arc transition to get from the Victor airway to FAF... I've gone back again and again flying that approach honing my skills with just a single CDI and an RMI along side the DME.  My first attempt was with a 300 ft ceiling 1 1/2 nm visibility light snow... it was sensational.  There will be very few pilots who will be able to pass up a chance to experience this aircraft.

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Excellent pics and reading mate!  Really looking forward to this beast.  To think that last year we had one high level vintage liner in the 377, now we have 4.  377, Connie, MJ DC-3, and now the 'Six'.  Not to mention the fantastic AN-2 that Carl mentioned.  Then add in the T-6, Milviz Bobcat and eventual Beaver.  Quite a nice collection of Radial beauties and beasts

 

Now lets beg, bribe, or buy copious amounts of mind altering substances for any developer who will do a study sim level Beech 18 to round out the collection....:laugh:

 

You summed it up perfectly tho, there is nothing like successfully flying a vintage plane in in it's element.  The reward and sense of accomplishment is one of the most satisfying in all of FS IMHO.  

Those old planes will humble you in a hurry lol.  You might think you are Chuck Yeager material when you aced your FAA Written and Oral exam, but planes like that will expose your weak areas in short order. :biggrin:  If you want to master a beast like the DC-6 or T-6, the bar for aircraft mastery may be set higher than your common modern GA or Tubeliner, but don't let it discourage you, cause the reward is definitely worth it.  

I think it's like teaching your kids to drive.  You can either put your kid in a Prius with lots of automation, or you could put them in an old stickshift jeep.  Obviously its a good idea to start them out in the Prius so they can figure out a steering wheel, but if your kids want to master driving and develop good natural driving instinct, put them in the old stick shift jeep.

 

 

Cheers

TJ

 

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Hey, Carl, thanks much for the write up and the pics.  Have to say, though, you're making the wait difficult... :gaul:

If you don't mind... got a vintage avgeek question for you on your descent power settings.  A couple of months ago, when a bunch of us were trying to master the A2A Connie for the first time, an A2A forum member, CAPFlyer, who's got some hardcore piston airliner experience (Convairs, I think... or was it Martins?) suggested that the practice at the time was descend with cruise power squared, which in the Connie would be 20 inches and 2000 RPM, then level off at initial approach altitude and set climb power squared (for the Connie that's 23 inches and 2300 RPM).  Let speed bleed off on the level-off, help it with first notch of flaps and gear, then fly that down the approach, maybe coming back to 20 and 2300 on short final.  Seemed to work well on the Connie, though you do get speed building up to the yellow line on descent.  I've tried it on Manfred's C-47 as well, and it works there, too, though those are short descents and the C-47 isn't exactly slippery, so that's less of a test.  Question is - have you tried anything like that in the DC-6?  If so, how did it go?  Looks from your numbers like the DC-6 needs more power going downhill.  Interested to know if we're going to have to learn a new set of numbers - which, if so, will be part of the entertainment.  

Definitely ready to climb into that sooty, smoky cab at some near-future point!

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1 hour ago, pilottj said:

put them in the old stick shift jeep.

Agree... my first driving lessons were in a 1948 Willy's Jeepster column shift.  Dad started me on a hill and I couldn't get off that hill until I mastered it.  I didn't even see an autopilot until I started my commercial training, but I only got to look at it until that course was done.

 

1 minute ago, Alan_A said:

Question is - have you tried anything like that in the DC-6?  If so, how did it go?  Looks from your numbers like the DC-6 needs more power going downhill.

The technique will be similar but the numbers will vary with every pilot you talk to and even one pilot may have several different answers.  There are two constraints first being not letting the propeller turn the engine (geared engines hate that) and this accounts for the 2000/20 rule of thumb. The other constraint is not cooling the engines too quickly and that leads to the 1 inHg MP per minute guideline.  You are not going to change from 1100HP 2000/35 to 2000/20 quickly and not damage the engines (which the PMDG simulation does keep track of).  Descent planning is based on not more than 500 fpm,  300 fpm is fine, so there is not hurry to pull power.  Approach may work well at 20/2400 down to short final when dial up 50 flaps then you either add power or drop like a rock..., I wait until about 200 AGL before I go to 50 flap but every pilot will be a little different in the details.

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After reading these comments, I'm really getting psyched for the DC-6.

I enjoy the super modern aircraft and all the fancy quality of flight features. But I especially enjoy old aircraft since that is where my flying was done. Never flew with the autopilot on per company regs with the aircraft which had them.

Flying the hands-on aircraft can be super satisfying indeed.

I just flew a short flight in the A2A Connie to check-out the new update. It is much easier to hand fly now with the tweaks to trim (and I think longitudinal axis moment) and I flew the entire time without the autopilot. Much joy was had by all.

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3 hours ago, downscc said:

The technique will be similar but the numbers will vary with every pilot you talk to and even one pilot may have several different answers. 

That all makes sense, including the slow rate of descent.  Am glad now that I started to learn propliners with the Stratocruiser, where there's the added issue that you've got to keep the turbos up or risk losing pressurization.  So no chop and drop.  The odd thing is that I'm a lot more comfortable on this territory than on FMC-equipped jets - the DC-6 sounds like it's going to be more familiar to me than the rest of the PMDG line, at least to start.

 

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1 hour ago, RichieFly said:

I just flew a short flight in the A2A Connie to check-out the new update. It is much easier to hand fly now with the tweaks to trim (and I think longitudinal axis moment) and I flew the entire time without the autopilot. Much joy was had by all.

I'll have to check that out.  I've been pretty much away from simming for the past two months - big work project - so I haven't tried the update yet.  Found the first release of the Connie was surprisingly twitchy - especially pitch.  Looking forward to hand-flying the new version.

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Alan... I begin descent aiming for 30" and 2000RPM, but then all throughout the descent I am working for final at 20" and 2000RPM. As Dan, I wait until landing is assured, and select full flap and advance props to 2400RPM in case of a GA.  The manual has comprehensive power charts, but as with most things, real world operational insight tailors sterile laboratory data. Throw in fast changing Alaskan Wx and winds, and there are some interesting diversions from planned power schedules.

The steam locomotive Vs. the modern diesel electric comparison really is an apt metaphor in my view. Modern airliners are fantastic, but the old -6 has her individual charms as well. Sometimes, it's good to need an oil rag!

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4 hours ago, lasnubes said:

I begin descent aiming for 30" and 2000RPM, but then all throughout the descent I am working for final at 20" and 2000RPM.

Ah, that makes sense - wasn't picking up on the time factor (gradual reduction of manifold pressure).

Am going to wring out the oil rag I've been using on the C-47 and have it ready to go for the DC-6.

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Man, these "teasers" are driving me nuts.

Can't wait to get my hands on this beauty

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Manfred-

So good to see you here!  I believe this will be the penultimate complex radial transport category aircraft for the FS world when she makes her debut.  The team is working hard at creating perfection, and I do believe the wait will be worth it.  She WILL satisfy!

 

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