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Dominican Diagonal

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Dominican Diagonal
For Saturday, April 20, 2024

Today we shall take a look at part of the Dominican Republic. Starting with an aerial tour of Santo Domingo, we shall fly northwest over the Cordillera Central to the Haitian border. We take a quick look at the sights of the Cap-Haïtien area and then return along the northern coast of the Dominican to Puerto Plata and south to Santiago, the country’s “second city.”

High over the Cordillera Central

We begin at Santo Domingo’s Las Américas [MDSD], located just southeast of the capital city. This airport is the country’s second-busiest (after the tourist-oriented Punta Cana) and the country’s and the Caribbean’s busiest cargo hub. After departure we circle sharply over the east to see the numerous newish Baseball Academies sponsored by US Major League teams and by local entrepreneurs and scouts, the buscones, who recruit and train young Dominicans for a potential professional career. While a tough uncertain business, for many teenagers this is a way out of poverty and a chance to earn millions. For the country, this is a lucrative export industry (that returns hundreds of millions to the national economy). For the population, this is a manifestation of the national sporting identity. In 2023, 11 percent of Major League players were Dominicans!

We turn back to Santo Domingo itself which, at about 4 million, is the largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean and comprises about a third of the country’s population. It is the nation’s political, economic, financial, and cultural center. And while it includes some very poor neighborhoods, it has a large prosperous middle class. Dating from 1493, Santo Domingo is the hemisphere’s oldest European city. Our first point-of-interest is the Faro a Colón (Columbus Light) which was completed in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ “Discovery of the Americas.” This large facility can produce a light-show visible from as far away as Puerto Rico. We cross the Ozama River to the Colonial District (la Ciudad Colonial), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its 16th century buildings, palatial houses, majestic churches and splendid museums – as well as night life and trendy restaurants. The Church and Convent of los Dominicos is the oldest Catholic structure and the site of the first university in the Americas. (Just to the north is the modeled San Francisco Monastery, the hemisphere’s oldest.)

Turn Northwest to pass the grand National Palace (the Presidency’s offices). And then swing around the Olympic center with good models of its Olympic Stadium and indoor Sports Palace. Further on is the new Mormon Temple. And go down to the coastal Avenida George Washington at the high rise Malecón Center. (This modern coastal promenade is home to shops, casinos, theaters, and luxury apartments and hotels.) We fly to the Supreme Court (modeled) and National Congress (not-modeled). And westward, passing the Torre Caney (tallest in the Caribbean) to the Plaza de la Bandera, a 20th-century-built national public square around which are sited government ministries, including the headquarters for the Defense Ministry. The Plaza hosts patriotic events  and other occasions. (Pope John Paul spoke here; over the years, some anti-government demonstrations have gathered here.) We turn north to land at La Isabela International [MDJB] (also El Higero or Dr. Joaquin Balaguer) which serves as a hub for scheduled and charter flights to destinations in the D.R. and on other Caribbean islands. It the base for small Dominican carriers and general aviation.

We depart to the northwest climbing into the Cordillera Central (the highest mountain range on  Hispaniola) to Constanza [MDCZ]. The mountain town may be the coolest settlement in the Caribbean. But it has no freezing temperatures – which are common in the nearby and higher Valle Nuevo National Park. (In 1959 Fidel Castro airlifted 40 Cuban-trained rebels into Constanza to kill the brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo and start a Communist revolution. It took two months of mountain warfare for the Dominican army to prevail. Two years later, Trujillo was assassinated by the Dominican opposition.) We take off to climb over the rising mountains to pass Pico Duarte (at 3,101 meters, 10,174 ft, the highest peak in the Caribbean) and near its twin Loma La Pelona (at 3,097 meters). We land at the long grass strip at Dajabon [MDDJ]. This has been a military field and is now shared with private pilots (who use the strip as an interesting destination).

From here we take a little excursion into Haiti. This could be a little dangerous due to the armed violence now raging in the country. In the late eighteenth century, while the French Revolution was under way, the French colony’s enslaved and free people of color launched their own revolution and eventually defeated Napoleon’s troops in 1804. This was the first, and only, country established by a successful slave revolt. The third general of the revolutionary army made himself Henri I of the Kingdom of Haiti and (using forced labor) built a grand palace Sans-Souci that gathered international attention for its extravagantly beautiful design. In 1842 it was destroyed by an earthquake and was never rebuilt. Flying overhead, we can see the extensive ruins. (Take care: the palace is located in a dead-end canyon.) Henri Christophe also built the Citadelle Laferrière about 3 miles southwest – again using forced labor (perhaps costing up to 20,000 lives). This 3,000 foot-high mountaintop fortress, armed with 365 cannons, was the key to the planned defenses against a potential French incursion. The palace and citadel have since become symbols of national independence and are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Both, but especially the fortress, are worth a closer look.

We turn to the north a few miles and land at Cap-Haïtien [MTCH]. Due to the current security situation, flights from Cap-Haïtien to the US have been suspended – although the airport remains open. We have been asked to make a special pickup at the terminal building and continue on with our tourist flight. This is voluntary. If you do choose to land at the terminal at the north end of the runway, please keep your engine running so as to expedite an extremely fast turnaround. If we have the time, we shall take a look at Notre Dame of Cap-Haïtien Cathedral (1670) on whose steps slavery was declared abolished in 1793.

Flying east, we cross the border to land at Monte Cristi [MDMC]. Continuing along the northern Atlantic coast we pass over La Isabela. This was the site of the first stable Spanish settlement in the Americas in 1493 – though it was abandoned seven years later after Columbus chose what is now Santo Domingo as his new city. This is now an historic park and museum. We fly further along the beautiful coastline to Puerto Plata, the main commercial port city and now tourism center along the northern coast. A point of interest here is the Teleferico de Puerto Plata, a cable car that runs up to 3,500 ft to the top of Pico Isabel de Torres which provides a great view of the city below. As we turn toward the east we can see the fine beaches that are now a tourist magnet. We land at Puerto Plata Gregorio Luperón [MDPP]. This is a busy international airport with scheduled flights to major cities in North America and Europe. A handy spot for our special passengers ... if there were any special passengers.

Finally, we turn south over the mountains to Santiago de los Caballeros, the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic (and the sixth-largest in the Caribbean). It is located in the large fertile Cibao Valley, the country’s main agricultural region, and the city has become a major cultural, industrial, and financial center. The city has one of the highest incomes per capita and a large middle-class population. Historically it has been a political-economic counterweight to the larger Santo Domingo. (A symbolic example: over the last 70 years the country’s dominant baseball team has been Licey of Santo Domingo. The second best team has consistently been Aguilas Cibaeñas of Santiago.) As we fly over the city, we see the Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración which salutes those who fought in the bloody Restoration War of 1863 to regain independence from Spain. The center for that fight against Spain was Santiago – not Santo Domingo. If we have plenty of time, we can divert our approach to include seeing the Iglesia Sagrado Corazon in Moca just east of the airport. It is a pretty colonial-era church whose glass windows, depicting the crucifixion, were originally brought from Italy.

Our final destination is Santiago Cibao International [MDST], 9 miles southeast of Santiago’s city center. Opened in 2002, this is the nation’s third busiest airport. It serves as a domestic center as well as an international connection to the United States and Puerto Rico. Since 2008, the airport has eliminated fees for private planes – to encourage regional tourism. Why not accept that offer?

The flightplan can be found

This is a (mostly) tourist flight of about 320nm. You want something that will “fast cruise” at 160-165kts (including among others the Comanche, Bonanza, Caravan, Mooney, and light twins). I shall choose the Black Square Bonanza. You should, of course, fly what you like.

Additional Scenery
All the airports and most of the POIs are in the default simulator. A few of the POIs are in the addons below. And several of the addon airports will enhance the scenery appreciably. Thanks to the talented addon creators.

Santo Domingo Las Americas [MDSD]. lcristea
Dajabon [MDDJ]. davidabelr1
Cap-Haitien [MTCH]. Mountainair
Santiago Cibao [MDST]. lcristea
Santo Domingo Landmarks. KingJ02
Temporarily, you can obtain the package
here (29MB). (If you have the Mamudesign Project Lifts, you might want to activate it.)

Time and Weather
For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 2:00pm local for April 20, 2024.
We typically prefer real weather and will follow form if the weather is good. If not, I recommend the ”High Clouds” preset.

Multiplayer Particulars
Date and time: Saturday, April 20, 2024. 1800 UTC

RTWR Multiplayer Discord Channel
Microsoft Flight Simulator Multiplayer: United States East server.

If you want to help others enjoy the multiplayer experience, don't forget to enter your aircraft details on the multiplayer spreadsheet (linked 
here). Please be kind enough to enter the title exactly as it stands in the title=”xxx” line of the aircraft.cfg file. Your courtesy will save others a lot of time and effort. Thanks!

  • Like 1

--Mike MacKuen


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