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MM

RTW Race Team
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About MM

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  • Birthday 08/25/1948

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    Chapel Hill, NC, USA

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  1. Huts. An extra sight to see, if it works out easily enough. When we leave Interlaken and climb up alongside the Jungfrau, the Monch, and then the north face of the Eiger we shall be aiming for about 12,000 feet as we turn to the south (back) side of the ridge. If you have the altitude, probably on turning back to the southwest, you might fly along the Mittellegi Ridge of the Eiger to see the Middellegi Hutte (11,000ft). [If you have the addon installed, it will be marked as a helicopter site on LittleNavmap.] This was funded by a Japanese successful climber (1924) and is now run by the Grindelwald mountain guide association. You can stay here overnight and enjoy a hearty breakfast. Think of this as a possible AirBnB with a great view but a little off the beaten track. And we shall pass by the Monchsjoch Hut at the next waypoint. (Here is a visitor video of the Eiger inside-the-mountain railway, the Sphinx Observatory, and the cliffside Monchsjoch Hut.) These two Alpine huts will not add much time to our trip and might produce a smile on the way.
  2. Re: SR22T Mod. Gunter, I am now flying the MGouge425 realism mod v1.4.3. The author does extensive and careful work as you can see from his documentation. Of course, this is one man’s interpretation of how to tweak the flight model’s parameters. And of course MGouge425 has changed his combination of tweaks over time to make corrections and then corrections to his corrections. Given the complexity of MS flight modeling, this is the sort of iterative work that one can appreciate. My quick reaction is that the ground handling on takeoff/landing seems much better than the default. And the flight dynamics and performance seem fine and maybe more accurate than the default. (Though the limited elevator authority on a flare has caught me out...perhaps that is correct.) However, my views are merely a first impression - I have not done point-to-point comparative testing. Nor have I explored MGouge425’s simulation of objective performance numbers. That said, I would recommend that you give it a try. And I am very interested in your evaluations.
  3. Addendum. [06-26-24 1245UTC] I have just added the following small fix for the Alps (thanks to the author, it removes unrealistic trees). This is now in the downloadable package. (You can add the tiny file manually if you like.) Swiss Mountains Tree Fix. THEOLI4D
  4. High Adventure in the Alps For Saturday June 29, 2024 Michael MacKuen We revisit the highest Alps of Switzerland and France. From Lugano, we circle the castles of Bellinzona and fly up the Ticino Valley to transit the Gotthard and Furka Passes to Meiringen. Then we spend some time flying through the dramatic peaks of the Bernese and Pennine Alps. Finally, we climb over the Skyway of Mont-Blanc and descend to the comforts of Megève. The Sphinx Observatory is frequented by a few scientists and thousands of tourists We depart from Lugano [LSZA] in Italian-speaking southern Switzerland. We proceed north along the highways to Bellinzona and its historic castles: Castelgrande [GRAND], Montebello [BELLO], and Sasso Corbaro [SASSO] are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We land briefly at Lodrino [LSML], a small Swiss Air Force base, and then continue up to Ambri [LSPM] which once was a jet fighter base (with hangers under the mountains). It is now a regional GA facility. We climb up over the Gotthard Pass the historic and still important north-south trade route (nowadays mostly through tunnels). Then west over the Furka Pass (the famous drive is depicted in Goldfinger and more recently here). Turning north, we descend down the Aare Valley to pass Arthur Conan Doyle’s site of Sherlock Holmes’ apparent demise Reichenbach Falls. We land at the current Swiss Air Force base Meiringen [LSMM] which hosts F/A-18s in a large under-the-mountain cavern on the south side of the field. From here we engage in a bit of play by flying up to the high ridge site of the Axalp Fliegerschiessen, an annual “training” exercise by the Swiss Air Force to which the public is invited (film here). (We shall run a west-to-east “gunnery pass” at the targets before circling back to see the crowds of camera-wielding onlookers.) Then down over the beautiful Brienzersee to land at Interlaken [LSMI]. This is a former air base that is now closed but used by helicopter operators and occasionally by military contractors. In place of the roar of Hawker Hunters, the base is almost silent as it hosts a largely-failed amusement park that was centered on Erich von Däniken’s theories of ancient astronauts as explanations of the world’s mysteries. Next we ascend the Bernese Alps to see the iconic peaks of the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau (the “ogre”, “monk” and “virgin”). The prominent mountains dominate the vista for miles around. We climb (vigorously) along the mountainsides taking in the famous North Face of the Eiger. The sheer north face was long thought to be too dangerous for serious climbers before it was finally attempted (in 1935) and ascended (in 1938). Since 1935, at least 65 climbers have died attempting the north face. This is the Nordwand (“north wall”) and has earned the German nickname Mordwand (“murder wall”). After we ascend we curl back over the snow-packed southern sides of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Just southward lies the Aletsch Glacier, the largest in the Alps. Forward, on the saddle between the Monch and Jungfrau, we see the Sphinx Observatory perched on a sharp rocky summit. It operates a scientific astronomical observatory as well as a public observation deck with bars and restaurants. (It is served by an inside-the-mountain railroad line that carries a half-million visitors a year up to the spectacular observatory.) We continue along the “top of Europe” to the Daubensee and descend southward to the Rhone Valley to land at the small airport at Raron [LSTA]. After a moment we turn south up the Matter Valley to the Pennine Alps. We climb to Zermatt, the world famous mountaineering and skiing resort. Continuing the climb along the cog-railway line, we see the hotel/ski/observatory complex Gornergrat (10,500) and note the railway station and its waiting rail cars. We then proceed to glance at the Gant-Hohtsälli aerial tramway station (11,000). Continuing eastward past the Stockhorn peak, we encounter the stunning view over the Swiss-Italian border. Some pilots may choose to go direct to the Gorner Glacier. Others may continue climbing (to about 15,100) before turning around over the Monte Rosa massif to see the Dufourspitze (15,203), the highest peak in Switzerland. We continue west over the Gorner Glacier (Grenzgletscher), the second largest glacial system in the Alps. And flying further we get a good look at the Matterhorn, perhaps the most famous peak of the Swiss Alps. We continue at altitude over the high Pennine Alps to enjoy the peaks, glaciers and lakes. At the Grand Combin massif we turn south and descend into Italy to land at Aosta [LIMW]. Our final exercise lies to the west. We depart and climb along the Aosta Valley toward Mont Blanc. We shall trace the Mont Blanc Skyway (Skyway Monte Bianco) which begins at Courmayeur alongside the Italian entrance to the busy Mont Blanc Tunnel. The cablecar system rises up the mountainside to Pointe Helbronner (and the nearby legendary Refugio Torino) and then to the Aiguille du Midi peak at the top. On a steep descent we turn at the Plan de l’Aiguille station to see the French entrance to the Mont Blanc Tunnel. We then proceed to our final destination Megève [LFHM]. The altiport hosts the Megève Flying Club (for mountain pilots) as well as a “convivial restaurant and terrasse.” We’ll gather at the Coucou Café to swap tales of our derring-do. Documentation The flightplan can be found here. Aircraft This is a flight of about 249nm with 7 landings. Some climbing is involved. A reasonably powerful GA aircraft will be able to climb to altitude and then move smartly along. We want something that will cruise at about 150kts and climb to and operate at 13,000-14,000 feet. Most of our favorite fast singles will do the job. I’ll try the WT-enhanced default Cirrus SR22T in the handsome Swiss livery HB-KHR by etan. Additional Scenery Almost all of the airports are in the default simulator. That said, several addons will enhance the scenery appreciably. Thanks to these talented addon creators. Lugano-Agno [LSZA]. tchax95 Lodrino [LSML]. Heli30 Airbase Meiringen [LSMM]. unglajo10 Fliegerschiessen Axalp. ChrisPiAviation Interlaken [LSMI]. FxM42 Jungfraupark Interlaken. Bruchpilot80 Swiss Huts Mittellegihutte & Monchsjochhutte. topgunsi Aosta [LIMW]. WonderOfficial Skyway Mont Blanc. mamudesign Swiss Mountains Tree Fix. THEOLI4D Temporarily, you can obtain the package here (965MB). For those economizing on downloads and willing to do without models of Lodrino [LSML] or the Junfraupark, a “light package” is here (432MB). (If you have them, you probably want to activate the mamudesign power lines and especially the ski lifts.) Time and Weather For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 8:00am local for June 29, 2024. We typically prefer real weather but today I will recommend the default “High Clouds” or “Clear Skies” preset. Real weather will cover much of the terrain in snow – far beyond what we might expect in mid-Summer. For our high altitude sightseeing, we want high clouds or clear skies rather other cloud mixes. Multiplayer Particulars Date and time: Wednesday, June 29, 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!
  5. Caution for pilots using the Orbx payware PNG Bush Strips. (If you are not using the payware packages, then ignore this message.) In my setup (that has lots of PNG freeware active), I had conflicts for AYBC, AYNM, AYYW, AYDN, AYIS, AYTP, AYNA and AYNH. You may have a lean scenery setup. Or you may have already checked and handled any conflicts. Otherwise, you might consider taking a look.
  6. Something to tempt those with a taste for detailed scenery. Note that the two Orbx Idaho Bush Strip Packs, The Deadly Three and The Not So Deadly 3, have just now gone on sale. Also on sale are 85U Soldier Bar Airstrip and KMYL McCall Municipal. The recently-released Idaho Fire Lookouts and 3U2 Johnson Creek Airport remain at normal prices. (And looking ahead, the older PNG Highland Bush Strips Pack 1 is also on sale. Pack 2 remains at the normal price.)
  7. Kiwi Coast Sport Flying For Wednesday, June 5, 2024 Michael MacKuen We do a little sport flying on the east and west coasts of New Zealand’s North Island. Great day for flying Our day begins at Tauranga [NZTG] on the Bay of Plenty. The airport has an active flying club and a three-hangar air museum. We might take a couple minutes to circle around the city, the busy container/cruise ship port, volcanic Mount Maunganui, the beachfront suburbs, and the outlying avocado orchards. We turn south to Rotorua [NZRO] for the geothermal section of the flight. From the 1880s, Rotorua has been a tourist destination for its geysers, hot mud baths, and eerie post-volcanic scene. Near the airport, we can get low to see the erupting geysers at Kakahi Falls and Hell’s Gate Geothermal Reserve. (We pass over the Pohutu Geyser, the largest in the southern hemisphere. It erupts 20 times-a-day...but not in MSFS.) From here to Taupo [NZAP] we see a very active area with hot water springs and geysers spouting up all along (not depicted). Just before the town of Taupo, we can get down low on the Waikato River to see the Wairakei Thermal Valley and the Huka Falls (one of the world’s fastest water flows). Then west over Lake Taupo and then across undulating hills and a bit of rough country to land at Te Kuiti [NZTT], the self-proclaimed sheep shearing capital of New Zealand. Once a year thousands of sheep run down the middle of main street during the Great New Zealand Muster. Turning north we pass the volcanic landscape just west of Mount Pirongia (now extinct) to land on the Tasman Sea coast at the lively surf town Raglan [NZRA]. The long left-hand break at Manu Bay was featured in Bruce Brown’s 1966 classic Endless Summer. (See the Raglan segment here. The NZA addon depicts the beach, not the wave.) Raglan Aerodrome is a popular sport flying destination for New Zealand enthusiasts. If you have the NZA scenery, you can admire the intricate detail surrounding what is a simple grass field. Turning north up the coast brings us to Limestone Downs [NZLD], a hilltop sealed strip that should capture our attention. Then as we approach the Auckland area we turn to land at Ardmore [NZAR], the region’s busy General Aviation facility. (The Auckland Aero Club is very active. If the timing is right, we can stop for a coffee at the adjacent Ardmore Café.) Next, we fly east over the Firth of Thames to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula and the little town Coromandel [NZLX]. This peninsula is marked by a marvelous coastline and a rugged forested interior. It is sparsely populated with most people concentrated along beach communities on the Pacific coast. Once a magnet for counter-culture types, the area has more recently started to attract Aucklanders who are looking for a second home. We fly across the peninsula and land at Whitianga [NZWI], the largest town in the northern peninsula. On departure we skirt over Cathedral Cove before heading south along the coast to Pauanui Aerodrome [NZUN]. Pauanui Beach is world-ranked and a popular holiday destination for New Zealanders, especially for the elite and wealthy. (The airfield has an “honesty-box” for landing fees. It is a favorite spot for pilots flying in for a swim or lunch at the cafés.) And farther south, at end of the peninsula, is a private strip at Waihi Beach [NZWV]. Finally, we return over Matakana Island to Tauranga [NZTG]. Documentation The flightplan can be found here. Aircraft This is a flight of about 310nm with 12 landings. You will need a “fun to fly” aircraft capable of a “high cruise” of 150kts. Among our normal favorites might be the Vans RV-14, the Piaggio P.149, the Cessna 182T, the Piper Arrow and the Piper Comanche. (You could try a slower airplane such as a Cubcrafters Cub – with judicious use of warp drive on the longer legs.) Please fly whatever aircraft you like. Additional Scenery All of the airports are in the default simulator. That said, several addons will enhance the scenery appreciably. Thanks to these talented addon creators. Tauranga [NZTG]. CoolGunS Tauranga City Landmarks. ar1001 Rotorua [NZRO] (Addon for WU12). NZA Simulations Taupo [NZAP]. CoolGunS Te Kuiti [NZTT]. wolfmanslack Ardmore Aerodrome [NZAR]. LswainStudiosNZ (The Flightsim.to download is incomplete. Better: full download here.) Coromandel [NZCX]. STR1KEStudioz Pauanui Beach [NZUN]. STR1KEStudioz Waihi Beach [NZWV]. STR1KEStudioz Temporarily, you can obtain the package here (64MB). In addition, you might like this lovely detailed freeware Raglan Aerodrome [NZRA] from NZA Simulations. It includes the grass strip as well as the caravan camp, the town, the beach, and many atmospheric details. Note, however this this is a 1 GB download. Not for everybody. Orbx has an excellent NZA Simulations payware version of the NZTG Tauranga Region. (If you use this, please disable the freeware Tauranga airport and city scenery and also the freeware Waihi Beach airport.) Time and Weather For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 10:00am local for June 5, 2024. We typically prefer real weather and will follow form if the weather is good. If not, I recommend the default “Few Clouds” or “High Clouds” presets. Multiplayer Particulars Date and time: Wednesday, June 5, 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!
  8. The Turkish Black Sea Coast For Saturday, June 1, 2024 Michael MacKuen The Turkish Black Sea Coast, or Karadeniz, is beautiful, of historic interest, and little known to Westerners. This is about one fifth of Turkey, ranging between the cities of Rize and Zonguldak. The combination of damp northerly and westerly winds confronting an uninterrupted wall of mountains has created a rainy cool and green agricultural land. (Among Turkey’s main regions, only Karadeniz is – slightly – more rural than urban.) For Turkish city dwellers, this region is a popular escape to fresh mountain air, nature, and serenity. The coastal shelf is bordered by the Pontic Mountains with peaks up to 5,000 ft in the west and 12,000 ft in the east. These mountains are heavily forested and they thus provided a barrier that separated the coastal region from Turkey’s mainland high plains of Anatolia. Historically, the towns along the coast were extensions of the Greek and Byzantine trade networks and a component of the silk road connecting Europe and China. Partly isolated, the region developed a population of very successful Greek and Armenian minorities. This cultural mix came to an end during World War I and its aftermath when the Turkish government deported (and exterminated) two million Armenians and then executed a population swap sending long-established Greek families to resettle in Greece and bringing displaced Turkish families to the north and east of Turkey. In the twenty-first century, with increased investment in education, medicine, roads and airports, the region has regained its momentum. Trade and tourism are on the rise. This is an adventure suggested by Frank. Thanks. Rugged Terrain Above the Coast We begin our flight out of Batumi [UGSB] in the southwestern corner of Georgia. Batumi, the country’s second-largest city, has received considerable international investment during the last fifteen years, once Russian troops left and the region became integrated with Georgia. New hotels and casinos have attracted tourism and the port has been renewed. We depart and almost immediately enter Turkish airspace. We climb into the Kaçkar Mountains, the easternmost and highest part of the Pontic Mountains, to see Mount Kaçkar [Kaçkar Dagi], the highest peak in the range at 12,917 ft. Then a descent to the Black Sea coast to Trabzon [LTCG]. Historically known as Trebizond, this legendary city sat on the Silk Road and it accumulated wealth as a trade connection between east and west. Its position attracted outsiders and made it a melting pot of religions and cultures. Originally part of the Byzantine Empire, it became an independent power after the Sack of Constantinople. (In early European literature, it was used as a fanciful symbol of eastern wealth, power, and mystery.) After later being conquered by the Ottoman Empire, it nevertheless remained a major center for world trade. Only the nineteenth century rise of the Suez Canal diminished its standing. And of course the 1915-1923 forced removal of its Armenian and Greek populations proved a setback. Yet, even today it remains important as a regional center. Continuing along the coast, we stop at Ordu-Geresan [LTCB] – the airport is built on an artificial island and opened in 2015. The Ordu region is famous for hazelnuts and produces 25% of the world supply (Turkey as a whole produces 70%). Then on to Samsun-Çarşamba [LTFH], a modest 1998 airport which provides passenger connections from Samsun to Turkish and German cities. With new high-rise buildings, a university, a regional hospital, indoor shopping malls, and a football stadium, Samsun is growing fast and is now the region’s largest city. (It was here that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the Turkish national movement and began the Turkish War of Independence in 1919.) We turn inland to Merzifon [LTAP] a combination Air Force Base and small commercial airport. Merzifon hosts three squadrons of F-16 fighters. (The Turkish Air Force is the largest in Europe.) Then back north to Sinop [LTCM]. The old city sits on an isthmus and peninsula which puts it on the northernmost edge of the Black Sea coast. Ancient Sinope was founded as a Greek colony in the 7th century BC. (It was the early home of Diogenes, the controversial 4th century Greek philosopher who promoted individual virtue over obedience to social norms and founded the philosophies of Cynicism and, indirectly, Stoicism.) The city was conquered by the Ottomans but persisted as a prosperous “Greek” city...until 1923 when its residents were deported in the population exchange between Turkey and Greece. To the southwest is Kastamonu Uzunazi [LTAL], a newish hilltop airport (2013) with flights to Istanbul. It was in Kastamonu, one of the most conservative towns in Anatolia, that Atatürk made the case (1925) for the wearing of hats and suits and neckties (rather than religion-based veils and turbans) as a step toward modernization. In that speech, he continued, “In the face of knowledge, science, and of the whole extent of radiant civilization, I cannot accept the presence in Turkey's civilized community of people primitive enough to seek material and spiritual benefits in the guidance of sheiks. The Turkish republic cannot be a country of sheiks, dervishes, and disciples. The best, the truest order is the order of civilization. To be a man it is enough to carry out the requirements of civilization.” Atatürk’s secularization and modernization campaign was successful for generations – but is seems to have been stalled (if not reversed) in recent years. And northwest to the coast where we fly over the picturesque little port town Amasra. It is much appreciated for its beaches, its classic city center, its fortress castle, and its natural setting on two islands. While certainly on the map for foreign tourists, Amasra is a special favorite for Turkish vacationers. Just a few miles on is Zonguldak Çaycuma [LTAS]. The westernmost of the Black Sea cities, Zonguldak was established in 1849 as a port for the nearby coal mines and the coal industry remains the main economic activity. Our last leg takes us west to Istanbul on the Bosporus Strait. We circle down and fly low over the great city to catch a glimpse of the sights. On the Bosporus we see the Sultan’s Dolmabahce Palace (the 19th century extravagance whose cost bankrupted the empire). We note the historic peninsula with the Hagia Sophia (the mosque and former church considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture) and the Blue Mosque (an iconic example of Ottoman architecture). We turn back to our final destination Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen International Airport [LTFJ]. This is the city’s second airport, located on the Asia Minor side of the city. Larger still is Istanbul [LTFM] which is located on the European side northwest of the city. (The older Atatürk Airport near downtown was replaced in 2019. The north-south runways are closed and to be replaced by a large urban green park. The remainder will serve select cargo and business jet traffic as well as Turkish Air Force operations.) Sabiha Gökçen is a busy, and growing busier, facility that now handles 39 million passengers a year. The just-completed second runway will double the capacity of the airport. Documentation The flightplan can be found here. Aircraft This is a flight of about 720nm with 8 landings. You will need an aircraft capable of “high cruise” of at least 375-400kts. The best choices are subsonic jets. Pilots who chose slower jets may occasionally ask Scottie for a burst of warp power. Pilots who choose faster jets will want to exercise their throttle control. We shall leave no one behind. I shall probably fly the IFE Tornado or F-35A in a stock livery. In any case, you should fly whatever aircraft you like. Additional Scenery All of the airports and the POIs are in the default simulator. That said, several addons will enhance the scenery appreciably. Thanks to these talented addon creators. Trabzon [LTCG]. armortas Ordu-Giresun [LTCB]. AG_Sim Samsun Carsamba [LTFH]. AG_Sim Amasya Merzifon AB [LTAP]. SimportTeam Sinop [LTCM]. SimportTeam Kastamonu Uzunyazi [LTAL]. Acar_Scenery Zonguldak Caycuma [LTAS]. AG_Sim Istanbul Sabiha Gokcan International [LTFJ]. malioguducu Temporarily, you can obtain the package here (724MB). Time and Weather For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 9:00am local for June 1, 2024. We typically prefer real weather and will follow form if the weather is good. If not, I recommend the default “Few Clouds” or “High Clouds” presets. Multiplayer Particulars Date and time: Saturday, June 1, 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!
  9. Thanks Josh. I did mess up and appreciate your help. The post is now corrected. Documentation The flightplan can be found here. And here is something else that I learned about one of the freeware sceneries. A minor matter. Harvey Field S43 Notam The freeware Harvey Field by FreakyD seems to be missing the southernmost three rows of hangars – there are three rows of flat “photographic images” instead of 3D objects. When asked, FreakyD responded “You need my KSNA scenery as the model assets reside in that package.” He refers to Santa Ana John Wayne Airport [KSNA] which is available from Flightsim.to. The extra scenery is 95MB. If you have it already, activate it to get the extra hangars. If not, then this is an additional download. (Surely not necessary to enjoy the airport. But nice to get some closure if you like.)
  10. Skyhawks over the San Juan Islands For Saturday, May 25, 2024 Michael MacKuen Today we enjoy an afternoon of low-and-slow flights over the San Juan Islands. We begin on the Olympic Peninsula, visit the countryside north of Seattle and then spend the rest of our day island hopping. We finish at our favorite PNW destination Orcas Island. Sightseeing over Lopez Island We initiate our flight from the private community airport at Diamond Point [2WA1]. We quickly jump over to Olympic Field [WA45] to enjoy an interesting approach into a beautiful setting. Then we turn eastward, skirting north of Puget Sound, to land at Whidbey Island’s Whidbey Airpark [W10] – a lovely public use field maintained by local aviation enthusiasts who style the operation as “the Community in the Woods.” We cross Possession Sound, passing quiet Hat Island and the very busy Everett Naval Station. We land at one of our old favorites Harvey Field [S43]. For eighty years, this family-owned business has served GA pilots from all over the Seattle area. After a few minutes, we depart north to the big busy GA airport at Arlington Municipal [KAWO]. The field hosts many different types of aircraft including modern jets and classic historic restorations. We continue to Skagit Regional [KBVS], another favorite (which unfortunately has received little MSFS attention). We turn over the tulip fields and nurseries to reach La Conner on the banks of the Swinomish Channel. We’ll inspect the Rainbow Bridge. A few minutes later, we get to the Deception Pass Bridge and Canoe Pass Bridge which offer a similar possibility for flying close to the edge of the air. We land at Anacortes [74S]. The town serves as the primary “gateway” to the San Juan Islands – with facilities for both aerial and seaborne transit. We begin our island excursion with a touch-and-go on the elevated Cypress Island Airstrip [SJI3]. And then a landing at the Sinclair Island Airstrip [SJI4]. Turning to the southwest, along Rosario Strait, we can keep an eye out for shipping in the busy channel. We land at Decatur Shores Airport [WN07], a private grass strip that serves the residents on the island. Next is the much larger Lopez Island [S31], with an airport that hosts daily commercial flights (in small Cessnas and the like). Residents also depend on the Washington State Ferries whose terminal is at the island’s extreme north end. Lopez Island is flatter and more rural than the other large islands. (By longstanding custom, people wave at every motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian encountered on the island’s roads.) We head south for the southern tip of San Juan Island and its Castle Point Lighthouse. The island is historically the most important and the most heavily-populated of the archipelago. Once a successful producer of tree fruit, it has since lost out to the big farms of eastern Washington. But new industries arrived in the form of tourism and retirements and the island has continued to prosper. Friday Harbor is the islands’ only incorporated place (population 2,000) and it works as a commercial and transport center. In addition, it houses the Nobel-prize-winning Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington. Flying up along the west coast, along the Haro Strait, we reach Lime Kiln Point and the associated state park. From the vantage points here, visitors can get a good look at traveling pods of Orcas who traverse the Haro Strait as they chase migrating salmon. It is unusual to see Orcas this close to land. We return to the fairly busy Friday Harbor Airport [KFHR] with its usual assortment of GA services. One special treat is Ernie’s Café which is located near the fuel pumps at the northwest part of the field. This popular café was closed during the pandemic and thought to be lost. But it has since reopened with new owners. The café also hosts a small air museum and a special section dedicated to Ernest K. Gann who spent his last 25 years on San Juan Island. The owners have offered to prepare a small set of sandwiches for us. If we’re lucky, we’ll get an order of their “to die for” PopOvers! Seven miles to the northwest lies Roche Harbor [WA09]. For about a century, until the 1950s, this was a company town that was a major producer of lime for the US west coast agricultural and construction industries. For the past seventy years, it has been developed as a year-round boating resort community with plenty of historic buildings serving as keystones for the town’s operations. The airport and harbor provide terminals for San Juan Airlines and Kenmore Air who fly landplanes and seaplanes to the resort. We proceed to Stuart Island whose rugged northwest cliffsides site the Turn Point Lighthouse – a key point for navigation along the channels separating the US and Canada. We circle the lighthouse and land on the comfortable grass field at Stuart Island Airpark [7WA5]. Continuing eastward we pass (on our left) the busy Deer Harbor marina that serves as one tourist hotspot for Orcas Island. We land at Crane Island [KCKR] whose development was centered on the gravel airstrip. The approach here can be tricky because the prevailing winds cross the runway – and those currents suddenly shift as the pilot descends out of free air into the canyon created by the tall trees that surround the airfield. (San Juan Airlines once flew C207s into the field until they had a serious incident due to “pilot error.”) We continue eastward along the Washington State Ferries route and keep a lookout at the Orcas Island Ferry Terminal and the Lopez Island Ferry Terminal to see if we can catch the ships in action. We land at Blakely Island Airport [38WA]. Located next to the Blakely Island Marina, the airstrip is the focal point for summer residents who visit their seasonal homes. We turn north and climb over Orcas Island to see Mount Constitution, the highest point (2,399 ft) in the San Juan Islands and the second highest mountain on a ocean island in the lower 48 states. It is worth a minute to circle over the observation tower designed by the legendary Pacific Northwest architect Ellsworth Story. It was built of stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 to resemble a medieval watch tower. We descend to our final destination at Eastsound on Orcas Island (KORS). This is the largest island and perhaps the most desirable vacation spot. Orcas has been described as “an island that so gracefully captures all that is glorious about summer.” It will be great to hear personal stories about what makes this place special. Documentation The flightplan can be found here. Aircraft This is a flight of about 175nm with lots of landings. The intent is that we fly the Asobo C172 (newly updated for SU15) to reacquaint ourselves with Asobo’s best default aircraft. (This is a tribute to Sebastian Wloch’s efforts to do a “first principles” version of a flight model.) For convenience, I’m including in the scenery download two collections of “twist” factory liveries for the C172 Skyhawk by Eaglepilot6, one ten-pack for the G1000 model and one ten-pack for the Classic model. (We might guess that If we pick from these or from the default liveries, we increase the mysterious chances of seeing each other.) I shall take the Eaglepilot6 “Blue and Silver” livery for the C172 Skyhawk G1000 model. Please do feel free to pick a completely different personal favorite livery if you prefer. Or stick with the default. (If you choose another livery, or version of the C172, please do indicate your choice in the spreadsheet.) And in any case, you should fly whatever aircraft you like. Additional Scenery Most of the airports and some of the POIs are in the default simulator. That said, you definitely need to download and install the San Juan Airstrips package by Wookie042. Several addon airports and POIs will enhance the scenery appreciably. Thanks to the talented addon creators. San Juan Islands Airstrips. Wookie042. Required. Diamond Point [2WA1] and Olympic Field [WA45]. quelcertoleo Diamond Point Corrections [2WA1]. walterbeech. (Be sure to place with higher priority than Diamond Point. Maybe a zzz prefix.) Whidbey Air Park [W10]. starflexthe2nd Harvey Field [S43]. FreakyD Arlington Municipal [KAWO]. ezwingman Rainbow Bridge. michelvp Anacortes [74S]. SaigonJinn Lopez Island Airport [S31]. Wolfmanslack Roche Harbor 9WA09]. themoononline Stuart Island Airpark [7WA5]. Deepfield Orcas Island Eastsound [KORS]. Aircake1 Temporarily, you can obtain the package here (637MB). You might also consider the special models for the Deception and Canoe Pass Bridges by DemoKen. These are photogrammetry and are better than the default renditions of two classic bridges. However, this is a 200MB download and generates a noticeable load on my feeble system. If you have a strong system, this improvement might be worthwhile. In addition, there are fine payware renditions for S43, 74S and KORS. (Not necessary.) Finally, we shall fly over a lot of coastal water. You might consider raising the percent of pleasure boats displayed. And if you have Hendrick’s AI Ships package, you might use it to see ships, sailing boats, and Washington State Ferries. Time and Weather For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 3:00pm local for May 25, 2024. We typically prefer real weather and will follow form if the weather is good. If not, I recommend the default “Few Clouds” or “High Clouds” presets. Multiplayer Particulars Date and time: Saturday, May 25, 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!
  11. This is great, Bert. Look forward to it. Again, for eye candy afficionados, here are some freeware. Not necessary at all. Orcas Island Eastsound [KORS]. Aircake1. (For those who do not have the payware Orbx scenery.) Port Angeles Fairchild [KCLM]. FreakyD Astoria Regional [KAST]. PianoMan (No longer available.) Kelso Southwest Washington Regional [KKLS]. Junglist
  12. Cuba Havana and the Sea For Saturday, May 11, 2024 Michael MacKuen For our second trip through Cuba, we see a bit more of the mainland before heading out to sea for two vacation islands and then circle back to visit the historic grand capital Havana. We finish at the tourist beaches of Varadero. Climbing out of Cayo Largo into the glow of the late afternoon sun We pick up from the western end of the Jardines del Rey at La Brujas on Cayo Santa Maria. We fly over the coastal islands (near the causeway) and then the mainland to land at Santa Clara [MUSC], a primary commercial center to the agricultural interior. Then south 5nm over the city to take a look at the Mausoleum for Che Guevara. By late 1958, Guevara had become a charismatic commander of the rebel army and won the decisive battle at Santa Clara. He went on to become Castro’s most capable and fiercest ally, spearheading efforts to spread the revolution until 1967 when he was killed spurring a revolt in Bolivia. In Cuba he remains a revered national hero. Continuing south we land at Cienfuegos [MUCF]. For many years a city of French and Spanish Europeans, Cienfuegos was a banking center and port for the interior. After the 1959 Revolution, it was transformed into a low-key industrial city while remaining an important port for sugarcane. On departure, we see the colonial-era Castillo de Jagua which was built to protect Cienfuegos Bay against pirates. We head south over the sea to Cayo Lago Vilo Acuña [MUCL]. Cayo Lago del Sur is a small island with a coral reef, lovely white sand beaches on the southwest, uncrowded rougher beaches on the northeast, and five all-inclusive resort hotels in between. By many accounts, this is a terrific getaway-resort destination for Canadians and Europeans. Into the air, we fly 70nm over many of the smaller uninhabited cays of the Canarreos Archipelago whose entire length is similar to the Florida Keys. With a pristine coral reef flanked by mangrove islands, it provides a habitat for many fish species and as a result it has become a magnet for saltwater fisherman. Special guided tours allow nature-loving visitors to enjoy the abundant wildlife (heron, hawks, flamingos, dolphins, crocodiles and sharks). We press on to the Isla de la Juventud and its small city Nueva Gerona [MUNG]. The large pine-covered island (called Isla de Pinos for most of its existence) was largely ignored by the colonial Spaniards. For 300 years it served as a supply base for pirates – and perhaps inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. By the twentieth century, there was a modest rise in forestry and tourism. With the Revolution not much changed here. (Except the name which Castro changed to glorify the role of Cuba’s youth in supporting the Revolution.) Today it retains a largely relaxed lifestyle with only small infusions of outside visitors. We return over the Gulf of Batabanó to the mainland and the country’s primary international airport Havana José Martí [MUHA]. Havana (Spanish La Habana) has for five centuries been the main city of Cuba. It is now the second largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean. While not photogrammetry, the rendition of Havana has lots of POIs which make for an interesting aerial tour. First north to the prestigious Miramar district which was once home to millionaires and now sites embassies, grand hotels, office towers, and public buildings. (We pass over the now-abandoned Ciudad Libertad airport.) Our first POI is the Iglesia de Jesús de Miramar, a 1948 church with acclaimed murals. And next is the architecturally imposing Russian Embassy (1987). Locals liken it to a sword plunged into the ground. It was jokingly called the “control tower,” a double entendre.[wiki] We head east to the Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva which hosts indoor sporting events. Next is the Plaza de la Revolución which was built in the 1950s as a civic square with a prominent monument to José Martí, the nineteenth century poet, philosopher, and journalist who was a driving force in Cuba’s anti-colonial revolution. Located on the south side of the plaza is the Palace of the Revolution, seat of the national government and Communist Party. To the north side are two government ministries with facades memorializing the 1959 heroes Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. Next is the Vedado neighborhood, the modern business district, where we see the commercial-residential FOSCA Building (1956), the tallest structure in Cuba. And then the Hotel Nacional de Cuba (1930) which is a grand hotel of a mixed Spanish colonial architecture. (Previous residents include a list of monarchs, heads-of-state, and an A-list of actors, artists and athletes.) The classic hotel operates today, though some guests suggest it needs refreshing. We swing past the National Capitol (1929) which housed the national legislature until 1959 after which it fell into disuse and deterioration. With the tourist-inspired renewal of Havana, the Capitol restoration was completed in 2019. Just to the east lies Old Havana (Spanish La Habana Vieja) which was the commercial and residential heart of the city well into the 20th century. Again as part of a tourism strategy, Old Havana has been targeted for renewal efforts which are now seen as a success by local residents. Perhaps ten percent of the city has been renovated and tourists have returned in great numbers. Of course, other parts remain in various stages of urban decay – to be realistic, urban renewal is a challenge everywhere. (For a first-hand view of Old Havana’s different sides, skim through this 2024 walk.) The next POI is the old Presidential Palace and now the Museum of the Revolution. We cross two fortresses on either side of the entrance to Havana harbor. The first, Castillo San Salvador de la Punta is not portrayed. On the east side we see nice models of the Spanish-built fortress Castillo del Morro and its associated lighthouse. From the 16th century, Spanish Havana was a target for pirates as well as the British and French because it held a strategic position in the Caribbean. Just south is the marble statue Cristo de La Habana which overlooks the city and bay. The sculptor has said that the statue’s facial features are intended to reflect the racial diversity of Cuba. Locals say that the statue depicts the figure holding an imaginary cigar in his right hand and a mojito in his left, honoring Cuban popular culture. [wiki] Flying east along the coast, we pass over the Estadio Panamericano, a multipurpose athletic stadium. This was the site for the 1991 Pan American Games. And moments later we pass over the picturesque town Cojímar, the home port of Ernest Hemmingway’s fictional fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea. (In the 1940s and 1950s, Hemmingway docked his customized yacht Pilar in Cojímar and spent many a day there with Gregorio Fuentes who served as her captain.) We continue along the coast to the internationally popular resort town Varadero on the Hicacos Peninsula. The area was uninhabited until the 1880s when a few rich families built summer homes partway up the peninsula. In the 1920s, the upper half was acquired by American millionaire Irénée Du Pont (who had ascended to lead the family chemical company). Du Pont built a getaway mansion Xanadu (not properly depicted) overlooking the beach and then added a private 9-hole golf course. The house and expanded golf course remain. Two generations later, with the government’s 1990s emphasis on tourism, the old Du Pont lands were transformed into miles of all-inclusive tourist hotels managed by Canadian and European firms. The old town of Varadero, once a quiet summer reserve, now serves a million tourists annually. One charming relic from the 1920s is the Du Pont Water Tower, built in the image of a Spanish castle tower. This is nicely depicted by Asobo...though the accompanying ironwork statue of Don Quixote did not make the cut. On the western side of the peninsula, the 20-kilometer-long Varadero Beach (also called Playa Azul) is typically ranked internationally among the top 50 in the world. Its strengths lie in its clear turquoise blue waters, palm trees, fine pink and white sands, and rich tropical colors. We land at Varadero Juan Gualberto Gómez [MUVR] which has replaced the small airport just at the base of town. Built in 1989 for the tourist trade, the airport now handles two-and-a-half million passengers a year with direct flights to the big cities of Canada and Western Europe. Once we finish our flight, we can go into Varadero for refreshments and a beautiful tropical sunset. Documentation The flightplan can be found here. Aircraft This is a flight of about 390nm. You want something that will “fast cruise” at 185kts. Popular options include among others the Beach Bonanza (the turbo), Beech Baron, Mooney Ovation, Cessna 310, and Cessna 414. Continuing from our earlier Cuba trip, I shall take the Flysimware C414AW in the handsome N110VE Livery by Ryan Butterworth. You should, of course, fly what you like. Additional Scenery All the airports and the POIs are in the default simulator. Several addon airports will enhance the scenery appreciably. Thanks to the talented addon creators. Las Brujas [MUBR]. cuba1962 Santa Clara Abel Santamaria [MUSC]. cuba1962 Cienfuegos Jaime Gonzalez [MUCF]. cuba1962 Nueva Gerona Rafael Abrera [MUNG]. cuba1962 Varadero Juan Gualberto Gomez [MUVR]. Chak991 Havana Plaza de la Revolucion. mv46 Temporarily, you can obtain the package here (46MB). Microsoft and mv46 have added a number of POIs in Havana. They will come fast and furious as we fly over the city. You might ask MSFS to mark the POIs for quick recognition. (From the options screen, pick Assistance|Points of Interest|Landmarks.) Time and Weather For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 4:00pm local for May 11, 2024. We typically prefer real weather and will follow form if the weather is good. If not, I recommend Josh’s ”NZ” or the default “High Clouds” preset. Multiplayer Particulars Date and time: Saturday, May 11, 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!
  13. Cuba Oriente For Saturday, May 4, 2024 Michael MacKuen We begin a quick tour of Cuba. For hundreds of years the island was divided administratively into a eastern and a western part. Today we visit the eastern half, Cuba Oriente. We begin in the mountains along the southeastern coast and then turn to fly over miles of agricultural heartland. And finally, we will reach the island beaches and coral reefs along the northern shore. Over the Jardines del Rey We begin at Moa Orestes Acosta [MUMO], the site of Cuba’s large deposits of nickel and cobalt. The nickel is mined and processed jointly by Cuban and Canadian companies. This nickel constitutes about 4% of the world’s supply and it represents one of the main exports of Cuba. (The nation’s main foreign-currency earnings come from nickel, sugarcane, tobacco (cigars), as well tourism and the provision of medical personnel abroad.) A short flight takes us to the old town Baracoa [MUBA] near the eastern tip of the island. Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492 and declared the bay surrounded by forested mountains as “the most beautiful place in the world.” It became the island’s first settlement and first capital. Over the years those high mountains isolated the town which was not connected to the rest of the country’s road network until the 1960s (and even now only by a single windy mountain road). That isolation made it attractive for pirates, for illegal traders, and for revolutionaries. We climb up over the mountains that are covered with the dense Cuban “moist forests” fed by steady year-round rainfall. Then a descent to the coast and the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay [MUGM]. Acquired during the Spanish American War, this has long been the main US Naval base in the Caribbean. And since the Gulf War (2002), it has hosted the detention facility that imprisons captured terrorists even today. We continue on to Santiago de Cuba (to note the Santiago Cathedral). Santiago is Cuba’s second city (about 500,000) and had traditionally been the capital of the eastern half of the country. It has its own culture and is remains the main city of the east. We land at Santiago de Cuba [MUCU]. Just west of the airport lies the Castillo of San Pedro de la Roca, built to protect the city from pirates and, later, from the English and French. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site as the “most complete, best-preserved example of Spanish-American military architecture”. We proceed along the coast and get a good view of the Sierra Maestra, the islands highest and most densely forested mountains. For four hundred years, this rugged country has been the haven for a number of insurgencies and rebellions – including the revolution led by Fidel Castro. The leaders had failed in a 1953 attempt to incite revolution in Santiago. But they returned in 1957 to the mountains where they received support from both urban and rural allies. By the end of 1958, they had gained support from all social classes, had mobilized thousands of fighters, and had captured large chunks of the island. The dictator Batista fled and the Castro insurgents prevailed. They eventually established the current communist-party-led authoritarian regime. Turning at Pico Turquino, Cuba’s highest peak, we land at the regional airport Manzanillo Sierra Maestra [MUMZ]. Note the very long runway. After a moment, we proceed over the Cauto River (Cuba’s longest) and its extensive delta to the small rural airstrip and its hamlet at El Domitorio [MULA]. With the low-lying wetlands nearby, this is real sugarcane-growing country. Again, quickly up into the air and on to the provincial capital Camagüey [MUCM]. As we head northwest, the countryside becomes a blend of sugar and cattle, with ranches, rodeos, and a Cuban-style cowboy culture becoming more prevalent. The city Camagüey was one of the original Spanish settlements. When English privateer Henry Morgan burned the town in 1668, it was redesigned like a maze so attackers would find it difficult to invade. The old city, with its colonial architecture and layout, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Camagüey is now the nation’s third largest city. The suburban airport serves the city as well as the vacation beaches to the east and north. We head north out to the coastal archipelago Jardines del Rey. These islands lie along the coral reef system that lines Cuba’s north shore. We go out to Cayo Cruz and turn over Cayo Romano and then on to Cayo Coco Jardines del Rey Airport [MUCC]. The airport receives 200,000 passengers a year, mainly Canadian tourists. (Cuba as a nation hosted about 2.3 million tourists in 2023. About 37 percent were Canadians, about the same from Western Europe, and about 6 and 5 percent were Russians and Americans.) These are “postcard” islands with turquoise blue waters and white sand beaches. Both Cayo Cruz and Cayo Coco (especially) host an array of resort hotels; uninhabited Cayo Romano is more of a bird watchers’ delight. The archipelago is a natural habitat for several species including the beautiful Caribbean flamingos. A good place to stop. The bar is likely filled with charmingly polite people from Halifax and Toronto. Documentation The flightplan can be found here. Aircraft This is a flight of about 360nm. You want something that will “fast cruise” at 175-180kts. Popular options include among others the Beach Bonanza (especially the turbo), Beech Baron, Mooney Ovation, Piper Seneca, Cessna 310, and Cessna 414. This time I shall take the Flysimware C414AW in the handsome N110VE Livery by Ryan Butterworth. You should, of course, fly what you like. Additional Scenery All the airports and the POIs are in the default simulator. Several addon airports will enhance the scenery appreciably. Thanks to the talented addon creators. Baracoa Gustavo Rizo [MUBA]. Cuba1962 Guantanmo Bay NS [MUGM]. Mountainair Manzanillo Sierra Maestra [MUMZ]. Jacques Botha (DangerousBanana) Camaguey International [MUCM]. AndyCYXU Cayo Coco Jardines del Rey [MUCC]. Cuba1962 Temporarily, you can obtain the package here (77MB). Time and Weather For takeoff on Saturday, set the simulator at 7:00am local for May 4, 2024. We typically prefer real weather and will follow form if the weather is good. If not, I recommend Josh’s ”NZ” or the default “High Clouds” preset. Multiplayer Particulars Date and time: Saturday, May 4, 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!
  14. Minor update. The originally posted flightplans (from Thursday) do not have the explicit names for the POIs. Those should be just fine as simple waypoints (WP1, etc). However, if you want one set of flightplans with the POIs explicitly named in the *.lnmpln and *.pln and the NONAMES version separately, then simply redownload the flightplans. The actual plan for flying is the same, but now you have the option of having a version that has the names explicitly marked – if you want to follow along.
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