Flight of the Vin Fiz 2006

Guest Ed Guest

Hi all,

I just finished a trip across the USA, recreating the 1911 flight by Calbraith Rodgers, the first successful flight all the way across the US. Rodgers did it in a Wright EX biplane, but lacking that, I flew it in a Piper Cub. This is one of the FS09 Century of Flight trips, titled "Flight of the Vin Fiz."

The trip required 10 days of flying in sim time, although the trip began on November 5th and ended on December 27th on the sim calendar.

Obviously much of the time was on the ground, because of multiple crashes-- I learned the hard way that crosswind landings and takeoffs are very tricky in a small, underpowered taildragger. I groundlooped at least five times (I kind of lost track), three or more times on landing, once on takeoff, and once while taxiing after landing. Each time I crashed, I added a week to the sim calendar for repairs.

Besides the crashes, I experienced several other failures that delayed the trip-- since it is winter, I encountered heavy snow across much of the northern US (New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana) and was forced to land because the pitot system iced up-- the Cub has no pitot heat.

I had two engine failures which forced landings in fields, but since I was out in the Plains states, that was no problem.

In Missouri, I discovered the mysterious 12,000 foot deep hole (an FS09 bug), and just for the fun of it, landed at the bottom.

I encountered the worst thunderstorms I've ever seen in FS09 across Oklahoma and Texas-- near zero visibility and winds so strong that they would turn the Cub around in mid-air, and I'd end flying the opposite direction.

The sky finally cleared a bit near Sweetwater, Texas, so I put down there to wait out the weather-- that was where I groundlooped while taxiing to parking. The wind got under the tail and flipped it right over!

New Mexico was very scenic, but I had to fly at 9,500' to clear the mountains, which is not easy to reach in a Cub. It took about an hour to reach that altitude, and with a headwind I was making a ground speed of less than 40 knots. Even my old '58 VW Beetle would do better than that!

I chose a route across the Rocky Mountains based on an article I found on-line, written by a pilot who makes the trip every two years in his own Cub. He flies from his home in California to the place where the Cub was built in Pennsylvania for a Cub-owner fly-in. He described his route, and said that his maximum altitude was 9,500', so I flew his route in reverse. Basically, I went from Sweetwater, Texas, to Deming, New Mexico, to Tucson, Az, and then into California at Blythe, using low-altitude airways.

I intended to land at Chino, CA, for fuel, but I actually ran out a couple of miles short of the runway (OOPS!). Fortunately, there was a long, straight road nearby, so I landed on that. I bought a couple of gallons from a guy in a pickup truck (he had a lawnmower and edger in the back; I guess he was a gardener 😂 ). Then I taxied along the roads, across a field, and onto the airport where I refueled. The ground controller seemed a bit rattled when I requested taxi to parking, though. 😉

Since the 1911 Vin Fiz flight ended at Pasadena, I chose to end my trip at Pasadena-Glendale-Burbank Airport (KBUR) rather than at Los Angeles as suggested in FS09. I don't know how many hours I actually flew, but it was all done in real time, no sim-rate speedups at all. And it was all done in flights of one or two hours, because two hours is about as much fuel as a Cub can carry and that's about as long as I can sit and fly without getting up to stretch! And it was all done during sim daylight hours, because the Cub has no electrical system, therefore, no lights!

I did use the handheld GPS for navigation, because the FS09 maps are pretty useless, the Cub has no NAV radios, and its magnetic compass is nearly impossible to read.

I only saved a flight in mid-air once, because of something that needed to be taken care of in the house, other than that I only saved flights on the ground. I think that at the end of the trip, I saved segment #26.

It was a fun trip. I wouldn't want to do it again in an aircraft as slow as the Cub, but it was an adventure. Flying the Cub is real seat-of-the-pants flying-- no autopilot, no flaps, just an engine and wings.

Now I want to go someplace in a jet!


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Pro Member Chief Captain
RadarMan Chief Captain

Sounds great Ed, I'm looking forward to your next report.


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