McRoberston Air Race anyone?

So my recent Xmas flight leg in the dh.88 Comet got me thinking. I’m quite enjoying the Xmas flight and thought something similar for folks to engage in post holidays would be fun (if staff already have something planned, no toe stepping is intended).

For a full rundown on the McRoberston Ar Race of 1934 see here. The short version is that leaving from Mildenhall, the racers were required to stop in Baghdad, Allahabad, Singapore, Darwin (Aus), Charleville (AUS), and finally Melbourne (a distance of 9828.6 nm according to skyvector). Anywhere in between was entirely up to the pilot.

I’d like to propose something similar, with the usual Mudspike Gentleman’s/woman’s/person’s decorum. Yes it’s would be a race, but solely for bragging rights (and what proper gentlem/w/p brags?). Additionally I think it would be fun to add a little “around the world in 80 day’s” flare to it for people are actually interested in this crazy idea (and yes I have some ideas).

If folks are interested I’ll put together some “rules” for this.


Sounds like a great virtual adventure, especially if we are limited to flying period appropriate aircraft and use real world weather.

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I love this idea - I couldn’t participate in the Xmas challenge this year and having a goal like this for the new year that’s not season-specific would be great!

My question is re the year - are there enough good modules for pre-1934? If there are that’s great - I guess I just wanted to point out that if we want to include aircraft up to say 1938, nobody is stopping us :slight_smile: The nature of the challenge changes quite a bit depending on the era, of course - and I like the idea of pre-WW2 pilotage…but it would be nice to have a reasonably complete/detailed module or two to choose from.

Regardless of how the rules end up, this is a great idea and I hope it becomes a thing :grin:

That sounds like a fun idea…! I always like having a goal…!

Sounds great! I assume we keep our own times…i.e. add up all our logbook times, or whatever X-Plane uses, vice just starting on the start time and fly straight through. A few of us…OK, probably only me… are old and need our sleep :sleeping:

Teaching all day today (I swear the cadets get less smart every class), I’ll put up some draft rule ideas tonight after work.

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No GPS would be a good one. :sunglasses:

No VOR’s too. NDB’s should be appropriate for the period though.

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Alright the cadets have been educated, now back to the important stuff, simming!

Here was my general idea (which it looks like most of you guys are of the same vein)

1934 McMudspike Air Race

General overview: Pilots will select an aircraft (or series of aircraft) and complete the route from Mildenhall in the UK to Melbourne Australia, in the fastest time possible as governed by the rules. All pilots should compete in the Spirit of Fair Play (SoFP), taking no action that would intentionally garner them an unfair competitive advantage over their rivals.


Any simulator may be used provide it covers the land area being flown over (you want to take a Yak-52 across the Persian Gulf, totally good with it). Simulators can be changed at any time. Any scenery, land class, etc is allowed as the pilot prefers. Scenery choices should be made to increase the flying experience and not to confer an advantage.

Pre WW2 (Lets go 1939 and prior though we can adjust that a bit if necessary)
WW2 and post Non-Jet division
WW2 and post Jet & Etc. division
Halfway Around the World in 80 planes

I don’t want to discourage anyone from participating, and I get it, low and slow is not everyone’s favorite way to Sim. So beyond those classifications just to keep it a bit sorted, it’s pilots choice.

Pre WW2 - Any craft that travels primarily through the air and that was built and launched prior to 1939.

WW2 and post Non-Jet division - Any craft that travels primarily through the air that was built and launched after January 1, 1940. Any craft may not use rocket/jet/etc. propulsion. If there is any question, the craft in question will compete in the Jet Etc. Category

WW2 and post Jet & Etc. division - Any craft that travels primarily through the air that was built and launched after January 1, 1940, and that it is not eligible for another category. So if you want to do this in an SR-71 this your division.

Halfway Around the World in 80 Planes - This division has one unique requirement, and is designed to invoke the intrepid colonial explorer trope of Edwardian England. You are required to use a different aircraft for each major leg (at a minimum, the goal is to of course use 80 distinct aircraft). This division is all about the spirit of the rules so parasailing, experimental jet powered bi-planes, stolen Nazi super weapons, barely running vintage AC unearthed in the desert sands, etc. If you wear a leather flying helmet, have a collection of pagan idols, and want to roll with that here, this is your place! Yes you could gain a huge advantage by flying a B-1B on one leg, an SR-71 on another, etc. but that would be against the SoFP, so don’t do that.

If we have a lot of interest and need more division we can add them later.

Pilots must stay in their division for the duration of the race. Planes may only be changed after each major checkpoint. Halfway Around the World in 80 Planes division pilots may change AC at any time, and MUST change planes at least every major checkpoint.

Checkpoints and Route:
RAF Mildenhall (EGUN) - Start
Melbourne - Finish

Beginning at Mildenhall (EGUN) pilots will record a SUCCESSFUL landing (ie the aircraft must be safe to operate immediately afterwards, so no missing props, engines, wings, gasbags, etc please) at an airport of their choice located in the city of the next major checkpoint. It is also permissible to make a rough field landing at the city of the next major checkpoint if so desired. For seaplanes, flying boats, etc. if the city in question has a harbor or port, landing in that body of water is acceptable too. If I can track down the airports that were open at the time, and they are still available, I’ll add those.

Any intermediate stops are solely at the discretion of the pilot. Failure to make a successful landing will result in a time penalty (see the Penalties section). Route selection besides reaching the listed major checkpoints is entirely up to the pilot.


As we are somewhat simulating a 1930’s airspace environment, GPS, SatNav, Radar Nav, etc didn’t exist. Pilots are PROHIBITED (with the emergency section listed below) from using any map, gauge, etc that displays their position without requiring manual calculation by the user except as listed below for Radio Navigation. For example the default FSX GPS gauge and flight tracking map are a no go. Using a Sextant gauge, taking a star shot, plotting it on google maps, etc. is totally good. Addon GPS or nav systems, inertial, doppler, etc, are prohibited as well. In short in the SoFP if something is automatically doing navigation for you, it’s prohibited. Remember we’re trying to capture the spirit of the 1930’s when even accurate paper maps could be a rarity. Getting lost is half the fun!

Radio Navigation was a thing back then, but to be honest, I’m am not terribly familiar with what was available back then. Early RF options basically could fix and locate radio signals similar to an NBD, including local AM stations. For our purposes the closest capability we have to that is NBD’s. NBD’s may be used for navigation purposes, provided this does not run afoul of the preceding paragraph.

Emergency Navigation Assistance: We are all probably going to get lost (well I am at least). To simulate the real world capability to land and simply ask “Where the heck am I?!” safely landing your craft will allow for the use of a real time/exact location system (default FSX map or GPS for instance). If this is an unplanned emergency fix there are time penalties for this, see the Penalties section for details. If this is a planned part of your trip (we’ll pass the Euphrates and stop at the first town we find to get a heading for Baghdad…) then no additional time penalty is assessed besides what landing and taking off again cost you.



Pilots should strive to complete their flight without resorting to “Slewing” (or any similar mechanic available in their chosen simulator). In the event slewing is required for the safe completion of their flight, they must report it in their flight report, and should expect to be mocked mercilessly by everyone else who chose not to slew and rather crashed. Additionally a time penalty is charged (see the Penalties section for details).


Any pre-WW2 craft that was equipped with some manner of “autopilot” may use it during any portion of flight, provide it behaves in a reasonably similar fashion as it did historically. If you have a full three axis autopilot in your Tiger Moth for some reason, that is not usable in all phases. All other divisions may use any equipped autopilot (with no LNAV like features enabled) during NON-time accelerated flight. During time accelerated flight autopilot use is not allowed. Any kind of “auto landing” system that actually takes control of the aircraft during any portion of the landing is not allowed. Autothrottle, descent mode throttles, etc. are allowed so long as they are not coupled to the flight controls. The goal of this is to encourage hand flying, and if you’re flying pilotage and NBD’s you probably won’t be traveling in a straight line for hours and hours on end.

Time acceleration

Is allowed for all divisions, and may be used at any acceleration setting desired.


Real world weather should be used at all times, except if in True Explorer Spirit™ the pilot elects to have more difficult weather. If real world weather is not available for that area, default seasonal weather (if your sim has that) is allowed, or if that is not available, cloudy (but VFR) weather as determined to be in the SoFP by the pilot will be used.


ATC will not be used in a manner so as to gain an unfair advantage. So no IFR flight plan, where you don’t have to do any navigation, etc.


If your craft requires some kind of esoteric ground equipment, or is not able to take off again on it’s own (so say you’re first leg in the Post WW2 Jet&Etc category is an atmospheric reentry to Baghdad, or you’re flying the X-15 after being dropped off over RAF Mildenhall) see the Penalty section for launch equipment staging.


Failure to Successfully land - 24 hours added to your time as you wire your machine back together with wire, biscuit tins, and recover your wings in tea bag silk.

Emergency Navigation Assistance - If you land at an airport add 1 hour to your time as you have to explain to everyone WHY you are flying to Australia and need directions. If you land near an urban area or town, add 5 hours as you have to trudge into town and back to get your information. If you land in middle of nowhere, add 12 hours to your time, as you hunt for a local to tell you where the heck you are, and ride a foul smelling creature back to your plane.

Crashing - Controlled flight into terrain adds 4 days to you time. Try to avoid this one.

Launch Equipment staging - 24 hours are added to your time as UPS madly scrambles to overnight deliver all the gear to the near airport.

Relocation - If you have to land to avoid crashing, or have to have an emergency nav fix, but find you are unable to take off again (Sure the 747 managed to land there, but what about taking back off?) add 1 day per 25 miles you are from the NEAREST suitable takeoff spot, as the natives laboriously haul your aircraft there.


Pilots will be responsible for tracking their own time and mileage. They should post a running total of both with their reports, though this can be amalgamated if several legs are flown and reported in one post.


Pilots should, in their best 1930’s news writer impression, report their travels along the race route.

Time Limit

The race will run for the start date of XXXXX to the finishing date of XXXXX. Any pilot who successfully makes it to Melbourne in that time frame will receive a ranking.

Possible Awards

Just some ideas off the top of my head

Hardcore Authentic
Completes the race in a Pre-WW2 plane, all in real time.

Master Navigator
Flies less than 10,000 nm (this less than 200 nm off the straight line routes Sky Vector put together).

Completes the race in the same airplane with a flight time over 70 hours.

So there’s a lot of stuff here, maybe too much who knows. I tried to make this a open as possible. If you guys want to real it in some (no jets etc) let me know. I’m totally open to suggestions, and I’m sure there are plenty of good ones out there, so make them!

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Something to think about might be to add AM radio stations…at the checkpoint cities? At major cities along the general route?

Adding them to FSX is fairly simple. I don’t know about adding them to X-Plane…anyone?

…so no loading up TACPACK and bombing potential en route airfields…got it! :yum:

That could be workable, but I’m pretty sure they have NBD’s currently. I’ll pull up Plan G and check on that. I’ll do a route sheet that has that info for people.

Also one thing I forgot (and an important one!)

Component Failures
Assuming your sim of choice allows for it, random component failures should be enabled, somewhere in the neighborhood of a 1/500 or so chance.

Just did some checking, all the cities have at least NBD, but they are a bit sparse on the ground around a lot places. So even with radar navigation it’s gonna taken some good maps skills to make it.

The plan at the moment (but I am totally open to suggestions here) was to just have folks self report. Just have a virtual map that gets updated daily or so, showing everyone’s most recent location. If there is any easy way to automate that I’m all for it. I do think having a big map showing where everyone is the critical part.

I’m thinking give it at least a month after the holidays, so the earliest would be February. The original races last finishing contestant took 36 days. So to make things a nice round time frame I’m thinking 7 weeks, putting it into mid march for a closing date.

Those are tentative though.

If people are interested, and particularly in using vintage craft (I don’t want to shut down the airship people), I’d like to have a few articles/threads on navigation to help people out (myself included). Pilotage and NBD’s aren’t exactly bread and butter flying anymore. If that goes well, that might bump things back a bit too.

There were plenty of looooooooonnnnng distance air races back in that era (UK to New Zeland and back anyone?), so if this one does well, this might turn into a sem-regular thing.

This all sounds excellent! I am wondering if we need some kind of handicap system (without wanting to complicate things too much). Aircraft changed a lot in the early years performance wise. For example, a DC3 was far superior to a Ford Trimotor but they were both cutting edge when they came online, and separated by only by a matter of 10 years. Maybe I am over thinking this though…

I had considered that, but as this is for bragging rights, I think this will serve as an endless pool of excuses. “Well of course you beat me, you had a constant speed prop!” Etc.

If people want to take this a bit more seriously, then I’d suggest actually capping it at a certain year, and then anything goes (which were the original rules).

I’ll have to catch up on this fascinating idea. By the way…for tracking people with regards to just keeping everyone informed, perhaps Zeemap might work. At one time I was using it for Epoch VA to keep track of people. It has probably evolved some since then, but you might be able to show the route on the map and I think individual users can put an icon or something on there and then update it with their progress. I should have done something similar for the Christmas Flight.

I’m thinking that at the end of the day, the journey is more important than finishing first.


I could never partecipate but… yeah, Mr.Paul Rix above here really hit it on the head.

LOL! :rofl::rofl: You are too much! That was hysterical! “…more important than finishing first.” That’s rich! That’s…oh…you were serious…um…my bad.



I think the journey is indeed more important than the placement in the race with something like this, especially when the time commitment may be significant.

It would be cool to have a launch date to make it a bit of a party at the start but in terms of the time window and the race finish date, I think this should be quite loose so that people who will have less time in their hands can still plod along at their pace and feel like it doesn’t matter too much.

Agreed re preparation chats / threads, so much to learn about this stuff.

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I haven’t figured out a start date yet, but I definitely agree that having a hard start date would be great. The plan at the moment as far as running time will be 7-8 weeks. That works out to ~200 nm a day or so, which even in real time would be an hour to an hour and a half roughly.

I looked at Zeemap, it might be workable but it doesn’t seem particularly friendly for what I’ll need to it to do currently. I’ll play with it some more though and see if I’m just missing something with it (I only spend about 15 mins the other night).

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