Well, inspired by Guest Ed's latest tour - I decided it was time to hang up my Airliner wings for a few weeks and really get back to the heart of flying.
I decided on my tour first - to fly from Lands End (the south west tip of the UK), up to John O'Groats (the north eastern tip of the UK)..... First problem - although theres an Airport at Lands End, there isn't one at John O'Groats in Scotland, so I changed the destination to a nearby Airport - Wick.
I decided that the whole tour would be navigated using NDBs - so I therefore needed a plane with an ADF on board.
I wanted to fly one of the Historical planes is FS2004, so I chose the LOCKHEED VEGA as it has a very primitive (but functioning) ADF on board.
I planned one fuel stop (RAF Brize Norton).
- All VFR flying.
- All in Real Time (no speeding up simulation rate).
- Real Fuel Planning
- NDB / ADF the only permitted form of Navigation.
I used the excellent FS COMMANDER 7 flight planning software beforehand to plan the NDB ONLY route and to get the Frequencies and Headings for my plans.
I took off and flew to Brize Norton - the forward visibility in the Vega is terrible, and also it needs quite a long Runway due to having no flaps.
But things went well and I landed in Brize Norton 3 hours after taking off. (Averaging around 150mph IAS).
I have tonight just landed in Dundee - an unexpected stopover, due to unbalanced fuel in my tanks which has made the Vega hard to manouvre.
But I will shortly be taking off to reach my destination !
This is a great (short) tour, for anyone interested in the UK - it would be very boring under IFR, or in a modern plane, but it's fab in a low and slow old plane.
My challenge would be to do the same tour in the Piper Cub with NO navigation other than visual ground reference! So just taking off and heading for the East Coast then following it up to the very tip of Scotland.
Might try that next unless anyone beats me to it, and let's us know how they got on.
I'm a big, modern Airliner fan and I love to fly the complex planes like 737NG, A320 / A340 Pro, Concorde Pro, etc, etc.....
.... but theres nothing better than getting back to basics and just taking off in something basic and practicing your hand flying skills, and seeing where you end up !
That is a great tour. Only thing about flying the Vega, as you say, is the limited visibility. Not just out the front, you can't see much out the sides, and nothing out the back, either! You'd better enjoy looking at the instrument panel. That one requires liberal use of the "W" key, especially when taxing and landing. But it is one of the coolest looking planes ever built, isn't it?
I enjoy flying the old Cub on occasion, but I just don't have the patience to sit and watch the scenery roll by QUITE that slowly for very long-- I mean, that thing is seriously pokey. If you averaged 150 mpg in the Vega, the tour is going to take twice as long in the Cub. But it is nice and stable; once you get it trimmed it out, you can go out and make yourself a sandwich, have a beer, watch a little TV, when you come back it, it will still be on course-- it just starts to climb as it burns fuel.
Anyhow, I'm glad you're back to touring; I have enjoyed your write-ups of your prevous trips.
You're very right about the visibility - the Vega seems to have blinds placed on the side windows - great for keeping the sun out but not so great for visibility !
Well I finished the tour after work today - took off from Dundee (a surprisingly large airport), and headed towards 010 degrees for Wick.
As I got close I could make out Lands End and noticed that at the bottom of the cliffs, it has something of a beach....
Well I couldn't resist this so I abondoned the plan to end the journey at Wick, and instead flew north of Lands End, turned 180 degrees and landed smoothly on the beach / grass, alarmlingly close to trees on either side, but with no damage to the Vega.
I shut her down, enjoyed the view, took some photos (ie... screenprints) and ended the flight.
A really enjoyable, short seminal British tour !
I'm now about to start a new mini-tour (but slightly longer than the last), I am going to fly from the north coast of FRANCE (Calais) to the south coast (Cannes).
Despite the speed frustrations that you've highlighted Ed, I have chosen the PIPER CUB, and I will navigate using nothing but the compass.
After taking off from Calais, I will turn to Heading 155 degrees, and will try to maintain it, all the way down to the Frech Riviera !
Of course the Max 12 gallon fuel tank on the cub means I'll be stopping regularly !
You're very right about the CUB - it trims out very easily but it does tend to start creeping up as the fuel starts burning. It keeps it's heading really well though....... It's the only plane at all within FS2004 that I like to fly from the Virtual Cockpit.... it generally gives better visibility.
FS Commander 7 calculates that this tour will tak 6 hours to complete - and with the Cub's cruise speed of 75mph, I can believe it !