Official 2019 Mudspike Christmas Flight - AAR thread

That’s about right. That system is supposed to really get wound up today…

Not to divert the thread (too much). That is an interesting point. I have found that most of the GPS in VR are “twitchy” - trying to “turn” the dials is pretty daunting. Fortunately if you click on the screen in VR, most will pull up a 2D window on the monitor and one can slide the VR hood back and use the regular mouse to make the changes. If this can do that, I’d be satisfied. What I’d like to do is get kit in my Carenado Do-228. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

OK…they might have changed something…it worked for me.

I got the GTN 750 and added it to my Do-228 (it as a spot already for it). Loaded everything up and I had a 2D popup Windows in the center of my vision in VR. Using the mouse (but not the controllers) I resized it and stuck it off to the side (like you can do with that mostly useless iPad map thing) thinking it will come in handy.

Then I noticed that I could click on there VR version in the cockpit…in fact you can do just about anything (except control the volume knob) - everything works. Its a bit hard to see since its on the copilot’s side of the center console but the quick zoom zoom helps.

I think I need to figure out how to get this installed in my 727. :grin:


Nice…! I knew I should have flown to Portland or Nantucket tonight!



Is it me or does the RXP GTN 750 slow FPS to a slide show in VR?

Friday Oct 11, 2019
Leg 2
previous report | teaser shot for this one | next report

The next leg on the way to Santa took me to another of the Nordic (but not Scandinavian!) countries: Iceland!
(Here’s some Icelandic music to listen to while you read this report)

I picked a destination airport in the northwest of the country, which probably carries the @BeachAV8R seal of approval: Ísafjörður Airport

Starting this leg in VR (with my new virtual nav charts tablet), I finally appreciate all the attention to detail that went into the cabin of this aircraft: I usually find this exorbitant and unnecessary. In VR, however, it really adds to the immersion.

Look at those prop spinners while we’re taking off from Vagar. For this leg, I dialed X-Plane time back from real-world time by one hour so I took off around 16:30. This leaves me with the required 480 nm / 220 knots =~ slightly over 2 hours needed until sunset.

Most of the route is over sea and clouds again, sticking to FL150 for the unpressurized cabin.
I did have one little mishap, where I was wondering why I hadn’t found any fuel boost pumps after switching on all of the electrical system, internal and external lights, and heating. Turns out they are on the separate fuel panel. I discovered this at cruise altitude, where I had enough energy to buy me the time needed for the fuel boost pumps to fill the feeder tanks.

The mountains of Iceland are coming into view.

The route from the Faroer Islands to northwest Iceland has me flying very close to Hvannadalshnúkur, Iceland’s highest peak, which itself is located on the largest ice cap in Europe, Vatnajökull. It is the largest both in volume and area, and there are about 30 outlet glaciers flowing from it.

I was happy to just get a glimpse of the peak in the dying light of the sun.

I was very lucky to leave behind all the cloud cover above the northwestern fjords of Iceland. I had carefully planned the approach and was setting everything up to fly it by radio, trying to ignore the GPS as much as possible. The easiest way to set the switches on the GPS to VLOC and check the frequencies is when still in 2D, using the pop-up panel.

The thing is that when I switched to VR, the pop-up panel was still on my monitor and thus is a part of all the screenshots I took during this wonderful sunset approach and landing into Ísafjörður.
There really are a lot of screenshots, and you can choose (I couldn’t) if you want to see the full picture (unedited) or the ones where I removed the parts of the image on the right, below the pop-up panel. They obviously look a lot better, but you are missing the right part of what I was seeing there, so that’s why I included both underneath the next spoiler tags.

Unedited approach screenshots

The typical Nordic red adorns the main hangar

Same but edited to remove the 2D G530 popup from the VR screenshots

The typical Nordic red adorns the main hangar

After landing, and shutting down the engines, I just sat there, enjoying the empty cabin that still smelled of the Vikings I had just brought up here, watching the last light slowly fade behind the mountains. Oh how I missed those mountains in ‘le plat pays’.

And how I love VR. I’ll drink an Icelandish whisky to @PaulRix tomorrow!

next report


Having failed with every long distance flight since the first one I took part in 3 years ago, I’m not going to plot my intended route, but just going to head in the rough direction and see how far I get.

Due to a house move (last years xmas flight failure excuse) my starting point will no longer be from Blackbushe airport (EGLK), but a very small farm strip (Lane Farm) labelled (XEG7LF) in XP11.

So to, kick off, here’s leg 1 of my “heading west towards where everyone else is headed, but I might not get there” flight which happens to have an ending time of Christmas.

Leg 1: Lane Farm (XEG7LF) → Cardiff International airport (EGFF)

Leg 1 - middle of nowhere to Cardiff

Takeoff was scheduled for earlier in the day, but driving rain across most of the west of the UK all day and with the weather forecast to improve made a later start more appealing.

Sure enough by the time I started at 5:45pm, the sun was out and the skies clear.

I picked the Aerobask Robin to get me to Cardiff because it seemed in keeping with the rural nature of the grass strip. It’s also free. :slight_smile:

Off we go.

Its a fairly direct VFR flight planned. Turning south after the climb out.

Levelling out at around 2-3000ft to clear the Brecon Beacons and the wind farms in the area.

Cardiff in sight off the left. The airport is dead ahead.

I overflew the airport out to sea to approach over the Bristol Channel.

Turning on to finals

Just about bang on


Leg 1 complete. A nice short 30 minutes to check my install and all the updates I needed to install. I really enjoyed the Aerobask Robin, a nice aircraft to fly short hops like this and you can’t argue with the price.

Now what to choose… something with longer legs.

Its unsupported, far too complicated for my meager aircraftsmanship. I’m likely to crash it and/or mismanage the fuel.

Its going to be perfect. :slight_smile:


Whoosh. If only DCS looked like that at night!


Last year was New Year’s Eve…which I got to a day early by heading east and crossing the international data line. :grin:

1 Like

Another leg in the books! It gets dark early so high up north, but I managed to land in daylight again! This time using real-world time!

Report to follow (hopefully not a week late again)


Hilarious! Oh man what a riot! too soon?


Man, what a conversation! :smiley:


Just another reason why I detest Google

1 Like

Monday 21 October - Leg 1: KPHF to KCHA

Technically…this was my second attempt at Leg 1 - there were some flight model issues with the first attempt…see the non-AAR thread if you want to be really bored by the details.

Anyway, with (hopefully) enough fuel on board I was ready to try again…as you can see I had all the essentials…killer computer rig, Rift-S headset, yoke, throttles, pedals, a real airliner pilot’s seat, a real 727 manual (Eastern airlines) and of course a Mudspike mug full of java!

…OK, first problem. Somebody has not been making the required manual updates for quite a while! :open_mouth:

…moving on…

All the pre start and start up procedures went well enough. Got the route entered in the FMS. Double checked the fuel on board and “lit the fires”…and closed the door.

This version of KPHF for XP11 does not have a tug at the gate so I had to do a self pushback with reverse thrust…always fun.
Taxi to RWY 2, TO and initial climb through the overcast were uneventful and soon I was breaking out on top…

…and before I knew it was established at FL310…a bit less economical but I knew that I’d need to get down in a hurry.

A bit of a break in the mostly solid cloud decks on the way.

This was interesting…a spiraling down contrail/smoke trail? Some AI was not having a good virtual day.

With the winds from the south, and not-so-good weather at CHA, I decided on the ILS RWY20 CAT2 approach.

The XP11 FMS does not like the GQO transition (why the heck can it not do a procedure turn???) so I went with the DUBBS transition, which meant a bit of flying just under the overcast.

It’s only a few miles from the CQN NDB to the threshold so I dirtied up and went to flaps 20
… before the turn to final.

Short final from the flight deck.

…down, reverse thrust and spoilers…and how did I get that far left of CL?

Taxied to the ramp and shut down

…and was a bit surprised to see a German Wings DC-9/MD-80/B717 in Chattanooga … @Aginor? Is that you?


Saturday Oct 19, 2019
Leg 3
previous report | teaser shot | next report

Where to go next? I need to get up north as far as possible, and the most northerly airport known is Alert. But flying straight there is not an option: apart from the terrible weather forecasts that I found and the lack of approach charts or ILS info, it is a bit too far. There is no airport on the direct route either as far as I can find, so I will have to go around. I am not anticipating taking many passengers for this hop, it will have to be cargo only, filling the compartments to the full 330 kg limit and then maybe a single passenger in the cabin or some more cargo stuffed between the seats. This means I can stretch the range a bit.

After spending some time pondering this question, I had a dream, or vision, one night:

I woke up covered in sweat, with an existential fear that I had been living, working and flying my whole life in a fake, pixelated ‘Matrix’. I had had another of those terrible pixelated dreams. But while I was having this panic attack, I was murmuring the thing that had made an even bigger impression: “Ice Landing Strip, seventy-five-o-five-fifty-nine north, forty-two-eighteen-fifty-nine west, Ice Landing Strip, seventy-five-o-five-fifty-nine north, forty-two-eighteen-fifty-nine west, Ice …” I immediately turned on the lights and grabbed the pencil and hotel folder to scribble it down before I forgot.
As I was falling back asleep, I thought I heard a jingle, as from many brass bells, and it caused me to laugh softly, but heartily, as I fell back asleep. I am coming to Santa Claus’ town.

The morning after this jingly experience I filed a flight plan to BGTL, secretly hoping to find a sign from the great giver around the halfway point. I plugged in the coordinates into the FMS as a pilot-defined waypoint: seventy-five-o-five-fifty-nine north, forty-two-eighteen-fifty-nine west, name: ICEST

The plane was filled with 400 kg of cargo, and the fuel tanks were filled to the brim, with 1886.5 kg of fuel on board. I started the plane at 10:51 local time, and moments later I took off.

Goodbye Isafjordur!

The last I would see of the Icelandic mountains for quite a while. After this followed a short oceanic crossing, which was uneventful, and then the mountainous coast of Greenland appeared:

I was lucky to go feet dry above a multitude of glaciers:

Above Greenland, the clouds were intially low in the valleys…

But as I neared ICEST, the low clouds were gone and replaced by a high layer of overcast.
Until the moment when I got within visual range of the waypoint and started flying a search pattern. It was right around those coordinates that I encountered another strange weather phenomenon:

And no sign of a landing strip or settlement. Maybe it was all just a fever dream, and maybe it was obscured by this weird cloud screen… I will never know for sure.

Anyways, I continued on to BGTL: Thule Air Base / Pituffik Airport

I followed the MARTIN approach, with a nice DME Arc. I used the actual DME for this of course, GPS is for losers. And people who get too close to the magnetic north pole.

I was very glad to be able to land still in the sunlight, 1040 nmi from the departure airport, well within the pole circle now.

Approaching the hangars, I saw some of @Victork2 's crushes, and decided to park appropriately next to the other high-winged STOL turboprop beast.

next report




Got my first leg down. KPDK (about 15nm north of KATL) to NC06. I did it with fseconomy assignments, and stopped at 4A4, which is 44nm west to Atlanta, to pick up a few passengers heading North Carolina. I took off at 16:30, thinking that would leave me enough time to get to Elk River while there’s still light…

Leaving Atlanta area. Downtown buildings were still visible.

Down below should be I-75, just north of Lake Allatoona. In Georgia, there’s no natural large lakes. The ones we have, such as Allatoona, are all by dams.

The Appalachian mountain range starts to rise.

I had envied those who lived in the West of US because of the grandeur nature landscapes. But I found myself missing the rolling lush green of East while visiting places like Colorado and Arizona. Although unquestionably splendid, the terrains felt bleak and barren. Probably because I am getting older.

Passing a few lakes. I believe they are Blue Ridge lake, Nottely, and Chatuge. The last one is at the border of Georgia and North Carolina.

Passing Asheville to its left. KAVL can be seen to the far right. How I wish I could land on a well-lit airport like that now.

Less than 10nm from NC06 but way too high. The Autopilot in this L-410 is finicky. Maybe I didn’t do everything right. I’d had it oscillate up and down wildly when ALT was set. The VS didn’t seem to work at all this time. When the VS was set to -10, the plane tried to maintain altitude instead.

Sun was setting. I installed Extended Lighting from the .org. Maybe a bit overdone compared to real life? It surely looked nice, especially in VR.

I flew northwest to lose altitude and turned back to approach the airport. On both east and west sides of the runway, there are hills blocking the direct approaching line. Chris mentioned the valley opening at the west side should be used and the road entering the valley should be followed. That’s my plan.

I was still too high When turned back. Had to circle a couple of times to descend more. See my ridiculous course in the map in the last screenshot.

The left engine just chose to quit at this very moment. The terrain couldn’t be seen anymore. Either could the roads. I just approached the runway at a general southeast direction. At some point the runway threshold lights were blocked by the west side hill right at the valley opening. I had to go further north to avoid it, and make sharper turns after passing it to get to the runway. Who built this airport at such a location?

Too close to that Hill! Lucky. Stall horn sounded a couple of times. I understand smaller twin prop planes like B58 have an airborne minimum control speed when one engine fails. When slower than that, the drag on the failed engine side becomes too high to compensate by rudder /aileron. Do bigger planes like L-410 not have such limitation, or the turbine engine is powerful enough? I was surprised I could still manipulate the plane at such low speed.

Got a Hard Landing rating from the “Landing Rate” plugin. I was quite happy it didn’t say “wasted”, but pretty sure the FSEconomy passengers were all traumatized by the flight.

I shall try this airport again in daytime. It’s fun… in simulation. Who built the airport at this location?


My initial thoughts about what aircraft to take on the “Keets heads toward where everyone else is headed, roughtly west” were tempered a bit by reading here that the DC-6 is unsupported in XP11. I bought this aircraft in 2017, having moved from FSX during the Xmas flight to Antarctica and was flying back to the UK. I think I used it for the final leg.

It was far too complicated at that time and it took me a few months after the event before I flew it again. Like most people, I have too little spare time, so prefer to fly things in the few hours I have that I can just get in and fire up/fly DCS I still prefer the A-10 as I can cold start it. I’d love to have the time to learn the Hornet and/or the Harrier for example. Fortunately @Sine_Nomine put my mind at rest with his due diligence of checking things. There may be something not right in numbers, but I’m never going to notice.

Choice made, on to leg 2.

Leg 2: EGFF (Cardiff International) - EGAA (Belfast International, Aldergrove)

Relatively short hop from Cardiff to Belfast

The first thing I’ve noticed compared to XP10 with this module is that my co-pilot, lets call him George, is a bit moody. Sometimes he happily tells me about the tasks he’s performing within the Auto flight engineer, other times he sulks and says nothing and just performs his tasks. I have no idea why he’s co-pilot with attitude, but I prefer him to talk to me.

Firing up the engines, I looked at George and asked him what was going on with the balloon hands? He reminds me of the autopilot in airplane.

Moody George or Balloon hands

Having started the engines in silence, a quick load of the flight plan into the Garmin and we’re off…

ORBX Cardiff airport… as real as it gets.

Cleaning up the aircraft, everything seems ok and I engage the Sperry autopilot.

Somewhere over Wales, isnit

The flight north was pretty uneventful. I kept checking things, but we happily cruised along at 12,000ft. Descending over Dublin, the weather started to deteriorate.

Running in from the north, the weather is filthy.

As we’re approaching the airport and I’m thinking the weather is “filthy” so it is, I can’t help myself and run through some Father Ted for George… He’s not impressed.

Happy to see the runway lights.

Getting closer I switch the Sperry to approach and we begin to descend, hitting the glideslope its all looking good.

Top Piloting, to be sure

Safely down, silent George shuts down the engines in silence.

After the doubts I had about the DC-6 and whether it would be ok, it seems to work ok so far, even with the co-pilot not doing things verbally. I’ll dig around and see if I can find out why, though its not a biggy. Having purchased this module on XP10, I’d still buy it in its current state.


Well then.

I guess I am doing this event as well? I mean, it should be easier, right? Just across Canada and up the west coast through Alaska … piece of cake.

Step 1: Scenery

First thing that I want to do is try to improve my scenery choices. I was disappointed by the default India and Australia scenery, so for this event I am going to try and prepare ahead of time for scenery in places where I might want a little more umpfh.

For that I dug into @fearlessfrog’s Ortho4XP thread, figured out the bits and bobs. I plotted a course, for the first half of the trip, that would take me through most of the major cities in Canada and into Victoria on the West coast: Fredericton to Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary ending the first half in Victoria. I can rely on the OrbX Washington scenery for the middle stop on my journey to our chosen ‘Holiday Island’ for 2019 but for the others it is off to Ortho4Xp to generate some detail around the airports.

Its going to look something like this:

Step 2: What Aircraft?

I want to get there this year and unless I take a bunch of time off of work, I can rule out helicopters. I enjoyed the Carenado Beachcraft Bonanza F33A w/ SimCoders Reality Expansion Pack from the Air Race, but I want something with a little more range and a little bit better speed - to make those jumps between cities a little easier.

I also want to stick with prop aircraft, and not graduate to jets just yet. And I want to choose wisely, so that as I go up the coast from Victoria, through Alaska, I can take advantage of some smaller airfields as necessary.

I was hoping to find a X-Plane module that would be a little 11.40+ future proof, one that is relatively new so that I can, hopefully, rely on it later.

In the end I chose the Aerobask Velocity V-Twin. The Aerobask Diamond DA-62 was in the running, as were the various Pilatus PC-12 (and similar) aircraft. I am a little hesitant of the Carenados - though good, they leave a little to be desired with the fit and finish and I had licensing issues the Bonanza . There is a pretty sweet SOCATA TBM module but it is $65 USD and that’s a little much for me right now.

The Velocity V-Twin is a kit-built plane with twin Lycoming IO-260s, the Dynon Skyview screens and the Garmin 750/650 devices. It boasts a 1400nm range (probably under good conditions (I will be a bit conservative) and a 170knot cruise speed (again, probably under good conditions). It lacks an ADF (I think) but t does have 2 NAV Radios, allowing me to make use of those VOR navigation sources with a GPS backup.

The First Leg

I flew the first leg on Tuesday evening. One of the benefits of heading West instead of East is that I can often fly real-world weather and time without having to adjust much to avoid fly in the evening. It is not as much of an issue with the current event technology limitations (there are none I believe) but the Air Race had me hunting for good weather days :slight_smile:

The first leg sees me flying out of CYFC at 1532 local (19.32 UTC) on 22 October 2019. Here is the flight plan (with wind barbs at FL150 - which is above my FL120 plan):

That is some … heavy wind. I was not expecting that bit, I have the time and I feel confident in the plane and instruments and such. I mean I shouldn’t feel confident in the plane as I have not flown it more than a lap around the airfield the day before but this is a simulation. What can go wrong?

Weather looks ok. No insane turbulence or thunderstorms and such to deal with, just a weather system moving through from Ontario to the Maritimes (I will deal with that rain on Wednesday :slight_smile:). There is a ‘clear’ landing window at Billy Bishop airfield, also knows as Toronto Center Airport (CYZT).

I wish I had purchased the scenery for Billy Bishop airfield during one of those shoe sales but I didn’t and now I regret it. Oh well.

Winds aloft are looking … interesting. Head winds from roughly 10/11 o’clock at between 17 and 54 knots. That will certainly slow me down. The filed flight plan is for 567 nm, so I am going to take a large balance of contingency fuel just to be safe.

Take off is uneventful. I taxi out to runway 09 behind a large people mover, wait my turn and take the active. I gently pulling back on the stick at 70-80 knots to get the nose up, let the speed pick up and let the wings fly her off the surface. Don’t want to pull too far back and strike those props. I am trying to use the X-Plane IFR ATC and it does a decent job so far.

Up off the airfield and turning toward my course and the scenery generated with Ortho4XP is absolutely amazing!

I recognize all of the areas. Next one is Fredericton off to the right:

I am pretty happy with the results! In the next one you can see the glacial features that are characteristic of New Brunswick’s geological past:

Nice! I posted these in the Ortho4XP thread as well.

Anyhoo. Back to the flight!

The weather was good on the way over Maine, toward Montreal and Toronto. I think that I am still in Ortho coverage at this point.

I encountered the TCAS system as well. A bit of a surprise, I pulled up the X-Plane map up to see if it was accurate and, yup, all the aircraft around me show up as diamonds on the Skyview display and on the map display (where there is also a number (ex: -10) that represents the delta in altitude in hundreds of feet).

Here, I am back over X-Plane default terrain. At this altitude, I am not missing too much. ActiveSky XP and UltraWeather XP are doing their job nicely!

Looking back, you can see the start of the Ortho scenery in the distance.

Weather started to deteriorate and soon I was cloud surfing.

And, shortly after, I was under the weather, so to speak.

I started to run into a weather related event shortly after this screenshot. You may notice above that my nose has crept up somewhat. I was experiencing a loss of lift among the clouds and the autopilot was struggling to maintain my altitude without sacrificing speed and nose position. After some monitoring, when the airpeed dropped to 80 knots (and the stall speed is around 70ish), I decided to take over. I cleared my IFR following, so the ATC wouldn’t keep bothering me to get back to my planned FL120, and dropped down to FL100 to see if that would help. It kinda did. I was able to get the speed back to around 120/130 knots IAS, though I had to increase the manifold pressure and set the throttles to 100%. It was a longer flight at that speed with that 30 knot headwind! :slight_smile:

Soon enough I was approaching CYZT. I set up the ILS frequencies but was unsure if I had ‘enabled’ it, so I augmented my approach with a GPS approach to runway 26.

My speed was back up as I exited the major weather and began to hit the clearer air over Toronto. Descending down, I was able to make out Billy Bishop airfield in the distance.

Somewhat lined up with runway 26, the wind kept pushing me off to the right.

And that is the end of Leg 1!. Each leg after this will mean more time in daylight as I move farther West but remain flying from an Eastern time zone :-)!


That’s a really nice plane!

1 Like