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The Western Isles of Scotland

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The Western Isles
(Scheduled for July 11, 2020)

Starting with the Isle of Skye, we take a sightseeing flight over the Western Isles, passing over the Outer and Inner Hebrides, to land at Islay where we shall celebrate with a world-famous local beverage.


Over_Skye.jpg?dl=1

We begin at Plockton [UK10], just on the Scottish mainland. A quick hop over the hills takes us down to Eilean Donan Castle [DONAN] one of the most photographed of Scotland's castles and former home of the Mackenzie and Macrae clans. (As with many other parts of the region, the castle's history is chock full of intrigue, treachery, and bloody battles between the Highland clans as well as with the Norse and the English.) After buzzing the castle and tour busses, we head back out Loch Alsh to pass (under) the Skye Bridge [SKYEB] to land at Broadford [XBRO] on the island. (Opened in 1995, the private toll bridge eventually cost £11 per trip or ten times its original estimate. For the locals, the high price spurred a public protest and widespread non-payment and some prosecutions. Eventually, the movement led to the elimination of all tolls on Scotland's bridges. Not that Scots are thrifty, mind you.)

Next a tour over the dramatic Isle of Skye. We head for the dark granite volcanic mountains that constitute the Cuillen [CUILLEN], a climber's delight. Then we descend to the Talisker Distillery (TALISK], pass over the only town Portree, and take a look at The Storr [STORR] and its giant's fingers pointing to the sky. Up to Kilt Rock [KILT] (the sharp cliffside with its sharply striated cliffsides) where we turn to the west to land at Benbecula [EGPL].

South down Benbecula and South Uist to pass over the island Eriskay [ERSKY]. In early 1941, the SS Politician ran aground in a storm and the crew abandoned ship. Soon, the locals rescued part of the ship's cargo, fifty thousand cases of whisky, and put it to use. This was not entirely legal. The incident inspired a 1947 novel Whisky Galore! and a warmly regarded 1949 film of the same name.

We land at
Barra [EGPR] and take care to assess the uncertain weather, the blustery winds, the changing tides, and the sand runways. This airport is the only tidal beach commercial airport in the world. At high tide, the runways disappear under the sea. For emergency night landings, vehicle lights illuminate the runway and reflective strips are laid on the beach. The situation and weather often require experienced Twin Otter pilots to make multiple approaches before landing (or sometimes returning to base without landing).

We head southeast to land at
Tiree [EGPU] and hop over to Coll [EGEL]. A few Crofters and more sheep on both islands. (Breachacha Castle lies just south of Coll's airport.) And then onward to Mull and the grass strip at the Glenforsa Hotel [ULL]. On the Isle of Mull there is plenty of open country for walking and admiring the rugged scenery.  We complete our eastward routing to pass by Duart Castle [DUART] and Musdie Light [MUSDIE] on an island in the middle of the passage. We land at Oban's North Connel [EGEO], now "Oban and the Isles Airport," the busiest airport in the region. Here both island residents and tourists can catch a scheduled flight by Hebridean Air Services to Coll, Tiree, Colonsay, or Islay. A classic BN‑2B Islander.

When we leave toward the south, we jog over Dunstaffnage Castle and then into Oban Harbor. Oban is the "Gateway to the Isles" with ferry departures to both the Inner and Outer Hebrides. It is also the largest urban area in western Scotland and thus serves as a commercial center. Originally, this was the location of the Oban whisky distillery and the town grew up around that essential service. The Oban single malt remains one of Scotland's finest. We turn south at the waypoint marking McCaig's Tower (or McCaig's Folly) [MCAIG]. At the end of the nineteenth century, wealthy banker John Stuart McCaig decided to build an edifice, based on the Roman Coliseum, that would celebrate his family and also employ the local stonemasons who were in hard times. Construction halted at McCaig's death in 1902. The half-finished tower is now a public garden that dominates the Oban skyline and provides a fine view of the surrounding islands.

Southward, we pass over the "Bridge over the Atlantic" before heading back over the islands. Just between the islands of Scarba and Jura lies the narrow Strait of Corryvreckan [CVRECK]. Strong Atlantic currents and the underwater topography produce an intense trial race between the islands and the third largest whirlpool in the world. When conditions are right, the Corryvreckan has waves of more than 30 feet and a roar heard 10 miles away. The Admiralty calls it "very violent and dangerous" and not to be attempted without local knowledge.

Jura Island itself is large and sparsely inhabited. The infertile land is mountainous and covered by blanket bog or peatland. Is was on Jura in the late 1940s that George Orwell wrote his dystopian novel 1984. (During this time, he almost lost his life in a boating accident at Corryvreckan. Diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1947, he died a year after completing the iconic work.) We fly over the rugged island to land at the informal grass strip
Jura [X9JR] near the island's only settlement Craighouse. From the strip, we get a good view of the conical Paps of Jura (Norse for "breast"). And we get a better view when climbing out westward for Colonsay.

We fly to Colonsay [EGEY]. (In 2006, the airstrip was upgraded for scheduled air service, now Hebridean Air Services.) From a distance, the island looks barren but on arrival one sees several sandy beaches and unusually (for the Hebrides) heavy woodlands. Long owned by the McNeils, Colonsay is now the property of a British Baronial family. The Colonsay Brewery was opened in 2007, making this the smallest island in the world with its own brewery. (Two employees.)

Finally, we fly south to Islay [EGPI], the southernmost of the Hebrides and only 25 miles north of the Irish coast. To the outside world, Islay is known for its splendid whisky. It hosts nine distilleries, the most famous being the two peaty-flavored stars, Lagavulin and Laphroaig, near Port Ellen. After our flight, we might take the opportunity to sample from the island's finest establishments. We shall book rooms at the highly regarded Glenegedale Guest House (nicely depicted in the scenery across the A846 from the airport) and enjoy the evening.


Documentation
The flightplan can be found here. (Garmin users please note that the route begins at Plockton (UK10). Because UK10 is not in the Garmin database, the Garmin flight plan begins at Inverness (EGPE). Ignore that first leg and begin at Plockton. Note also that the updated Garmin flight plan, taking advantage of the Garmin database, substitutes EGEI for XBRO as the Broadford airport designation.)

Aircraft
The route is 295nm. For fun, let me suggest a sporty aircraft such as the Vans RV-7, SF.260, or Lancair Legacy. A Cessna 182 or Comanche or Bonanza will do nicely as well. As ever, fly what you like.

Scenery
The flight looks great with the payware Orbx Scotland scenery package and even better with Orbx True Earth Great Britain North. Orbx Europe Landclass does the job well enough. In order to have all the airports you will need to install a scenery package from Scotflight. (At Flightsim.com
here or search for scotisles_vol1.zip.) Watch your email inbox for details.

Time and Weather
For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 5:00pm local for July 11, 2020. We shall prefer to fly real weather.

Particulars
Date and time: July 11, 2020. 1800 UTC
Where: AVSIM RTWR Teamspeak - Casual Flights Channel
Teamspeak Server Address: ts.teamavsim.com
Cross-Platform Multiplayer: JoinFS. Latest version is
here. (FSX, FSX-SE, and P3D)

If you want to help others enjoy the multiplayer experience, don't forget to enter your aircraft details on the multiplayer spreadsheet (linked
 here). Your courtesy will save others a lot of time and effort. Thanks!

  • Like 3

--Mike MacKuen
MikeM_AVSIM.png?dl=1

 

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Great tour Mike! I just wanted to check your reading material - I spent the next two hours watching all kinds of videos, great stuff!

  • Like 1

Gunter.png?dl=1

Regards

Gunter Schneider

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Hey Mike & others,

Another one for the books - Great flight!
Whittled 111 screenies down to 79, shows how good it really was ))
You may take a peek here --> https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8qo78a1esmeil8b/AABqwlZoAqBUhQen42RU-MIia?dl=0

Y'all have a great week,
Stay Healthy!

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Roman_Full_combo_AVSIM_2.png?dl=1  FS RTWR   SHRS F-111   JoinFS Host/Client 

 

Yamaha CR 1000/JBL 2500, AMD 965 BE OC'd @ 3.88, RipJaw 2x4GB 1600 CL7, Gigabyte GTX-1070 OC 8GB, Asus M4A87TD EVO (AMD 870), Samsung 850 EVO 256GB & 1TB SSDs, WD 1T & 500G Black, 19" & 32" LCD, Win7 Pro 64bit, TMaster T-Flight HOTAS, FSX/FS9, FSUIPC / LUA, FSRealWX Pro, PlanG, JoinFS, LittleNavMap
Copilot - Samantha the "Hound"  RIP 😞        
       samantha.jpg?dl=1

 

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Great stuff, Roman. Lovely afternoon captured faithfully.

  • Like 1

--Mike MacKuen
MikeM_AVSIM.png?dl=1

 

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Very nice indeed, thanks Roman!


Gunter.png?dl=1

Regards

Gunter Schneider

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