Christmas period is full of quality time spent with family leaving little time for virtual flying. However I managed to squeeze a leg from Cleveland to Chicago on my way to a place where Sunshine spends the Winter.
Technically it was actually two legs but more on that later…
In the end I settled on Chicago as a destination instead of Milwaukee thus making my first deviation from the 1953 timetable. I just could not do without seeing and overflying the Chicago downtown
Now the question was Which airport? I know little about US in general and much less about its aviation history. My first thought was to go to O’Hare but then a second thought kicked in - Was United actually flying to O’Hare in the 50s? Well it was not. Its destination was Chicago Midway.
This airport was established in 1927 as Chicago Air Park (later renamed to Chicago Municipal Airport), and it served as Chicago’s primary airport until the opening of O’Hare International Airport in 1944. A new passenger terminal was opened in 1931 (according to my research it is long time gone) and shortly after it claimed to be the World’s Busiest. In 1941 it fully filled the square mile it is occupying until today and in 1949 it was renamed after the Battle of Midway. It’s importance suffered when in the end of 50s it was not able to handle larger jet traffic (707s and DC-8s) and with opening of new passenger terminal at O’Hare.
However, in late 50s it was still a VERY busy square mile!
Just looking at the United Airlines DC-6 bottom-right, I think I should update my livery accordingly.
Today, we are departing Cleveland at 11h05 ET with apparently no meal offered by the airline. Sorry!
As for navigation, I am also coming back in time and resort to Radio Range Navigation. Do you recall flying the beam with help of stations transmitting A and N morse signals which blend into a uniform tone when right on one of the four fixed beams? There we go.
Oh and I will go without a moving map as well. Just a map. No aircraft symbol or flight track.
Such trip requires a bit of planning and from Cleveland to Chicago I will use 4 or 5 RRN stations. This will depend on whether I fly Plan A or Plan B.
For Plan A (good visibility), I will need just four RRN stations to get to the south end of Lake Michigan from where I plan to fly along the shore towards Chicago downtown and then turn towards the field.
For Plan B (in case I do not break the clouds at 3500ft), I need a fifth station (whose beam I need to intercept on the way) which should guide me to the overhead descending and then flying a traffic pattern.
In the end I flew Plan C.
Let’s get moving.
This time I decided to take over some duties from the automated flight engineer. Getting the ship ready until take off, to be precise. For that, I reduced the in-game checklist (courtesy of roskud from PMDG forum) from some 179 items down to 72 items in total. Still safe? I hear you asking? Yes. I kept just the action items while makings sure clicking on Cold and Dark on the DC-6’s tablet relieves me from checking that some switches are in their cold and dark settings indeed.
For taxi, I should probably get rid of the ground power cart.
Departing on time and leaving Cleveland on my six.
After take off I heard a faint N signal. That was OK. If only I knew whether N was to the North or to the South of the beam
Quick check of the RRN maps, correction to north and voila.
The RRN maps… They are actually great that they exist in pdf form. They plot all the stations with associated frequencies, beams and such (good). The headings are magnetic (good). But the magnetic variation is from 1944 (not good). Fortunately the RRN addon for MSFS converts the headings to true headings (good) so that the beams are still aligned. I just need to convert these back to magnetic headings (thus apply magnetic variation used by MSFS; not good)… which with help of some plotting in LittleNavMap is not such a big deal in the end (so GOOD!).
Here I was looking at the city of Toledo.
Not this one, though.
Is it the one referred to by Klinger in MASH?
And then on the map I saw that there was a town of Montpelier to my right.
Not this one, though.
The spelling is a bit different, I know
And then the sim crashed on me.
Quite ironically just about midway from Cleveland to Chicago.
As it was already 11h30 pm anyway. I headed to bed.
Resumed the following day. Climbing to FL095 with some clouds around.
Just beautiful. Or perhaps que bonito as they say in Toledo or que c’est beau as they say in Montpellier. Not those ones , though.
RRN is a good navigation method especially if you can cross check with land features if the weather permits. Which it did not as the flight progressed. A quick calculation made me start descending some 13 minutes outbound from Goshen station. While briefing the arrival I wondered whether I would break out of clouds by 3500 ft in order to fly the 10 nm finals as I planned under Plan A.
It did not look bad at all during the descend.
At 3500 ft I was not exactly clear of clouds. Just for a while and then again in the white. A bit like this joke goes:
Officer 1: Can you tell me whether our beacon works?
Officer 2: Yes. No! Yes. No! Yes. No! …
So naturally I executed Plan C - descend well below the clouds, intercept the beam towards Chicago station and proceed visually.
It worked like a charm Here I am turning outbound in order not to miss overflying Chicago downtown.
Who in the flight sim community (perhaps of our age to be precise) does not get nostalgic when seeing this:
Yeah… I feel a bit artistic today.
Finals. The weather is not so bad in the end. I made one of my better landings.
Greetings from Chicago!
If this flight had carried some 60 paying passengers (at 20 USD in 1953 prices each) from Cleveland to Chicago, it would have earned about 1200 USD in 1953 prices (14233 USD in today’s prices; not taking into consideration other incomes from cargo or mail). All that before cost and taxes. Not much, if you ask me.
It was quite a pleasant flight, minus the crash of course. Radio Range Navigation proved to be pretty precise especially when supported with stop watch and looking out of the window. The only disadvantage is that listening to beep-bip & bip-beep & beeeeeeee all the time makes you arrive like this:
For that very reason I am playing with the idea of checking CelNav for the next leg. Only Omaha with some 1h30 ETE is not very far for shooting hourly observations Will need to think about that!
See you hopefully soon.