The official 3rd Annual Mudspike Christmas Flight - 2017 Edition



LPFG -> LIPZ (Venice Marco Polo Airport)

With little time this week, it was good to get on the move again.

Route across France, just south of Bern, across the alps then east towards Bergamo, Verona and finally in to Venice. A bit of a slog at 485 miles.

Departing Charles de Gaulle in bright sunshine

A nice afternoon for flying

I slowly climbed up to around 14,000ft as I knew I’d need some altitude to get over the alps. I’m getting comfortable with the radio Nav, the first couple of beacons had DME, I do like the comfort of watching the mileage countdown.

Eventually I saw the mountains in the distance and felt I’d like a bit more distance between the aircraft and the pointy stuff, so climbed another 4,000ft. Better to be safe than sorry.

Approaching the Alps

The default scenery is breathtaking and the sense of height is amazing. I started to run into a bit of cloud, which was unnerving with mountains everywhere. I would have to trusting my navigation.

I worked out I should be crossing an airport, so was quite chuffed to see it out of the port window. I’d like to say this was bang on time, but I was early and surprised to see it. This caused me some confusion and much checking of the route map and getting “From” readings on the VOR.

Raron airport (LSTA)

Just stunning


After crossing the alps, we crossed into Italy and turned east towards Bergamo, south of Lake Como. There was more haze in the sky now as the sun had begun to set.

Heading east

DC-3 sunset

I checked the approach chart for Venice airport and decided to come striaght in to runway 04R. I dialled in the runway beacon and set the bearing to 040, with the intention of intercepting the centreline and then turning onto the heading. This would leave me around 20 miles out with 3,000 ft left to lose.

As I was descending the haze became more dense as the evening sun settled.

By the time I crossed the city I couldn’t see a great deal, so just focussed on getting down.

On finals

Misty view from the tower


The landing was nice and smooth, I touched down just past the piano keys. As I taxied off the runway, they switched the lights on. I could have done with this 5 minutes before.

Another leg down, I’m hoping to get another couple in this week, but then may have to wait until RL quietens down after Christmas.


Nice screens…the Alps looked fantastic…!


This wasn’t you @Cygon_Parrot?


LOL! I plead not guilty! I wasn’t in command of a Mini Transat (not yet, at least).

That is correct, @Fsjoe . If “Performance” is mentioned in the title of a chart, especially in conjunction with any form of RNAV, it would normally mean navigation performance. I want to add the caveat, though, that as this is AR, the possibility that special climb performance figures might be included in the “refer to 10-1P” publication.

The bottom of your chart seems to be cut off, but usually aircraft climb performance is already considered on charts, usually there in that cut off bit, whether they are RNAV or not. You’ll find minimum climb gradients stated there (or maybe in this case, in the referred “see other”).

@PaulRix and @keets. The Intertropical DC-3 Convergence Race! :grin:

I’ve been at anchor at Kritimati for a while, now, (busy IRL, really) but new, long and potentially boring post is predicted later today. Stand by! LOL!


Kritimati Atoll is truly a fascinating place historically, both natural and political. I’m glad I chose to visit it, now. I was going to write a great deal more detail about it as part of my “adventure log”, as it would be wholly possible to do so. So many subjects of my own personal interest converge here. As it is, this is going to be long.

For starters, it is a bit of a shocking island to look at on a map, as it has a dreadfully “moth eaten”, alien appearance with dozens of little “lagoons” all over its surface. This is the result of it actually being an ancient coral reef that has been pushed up clear of sea level by tectonic activity on the Pacific Plate. There is no “land” formation there at all, so to speak; it was all alive, once. With an area 384.4 square kilometers, it is also the largest example of an exposed coral reef on the planet.

Kritimati is presently a possession of the Republic of Kiribati, which obtained its sovereignty in 1979, from the United Kingdom. Consisting of numerous scattered reef and atoll islands in the Central Pacific, 33 to be exact, Kiribati is the only country in the world that has territory in all four hemispheres. Here is its flag and national anthem (I was expecting something more “Pacific Tropical”, which would have been quite enchanting!).

Apart from Polynesian traders, Kritimati was apparently first explored by Hernando de Grijalva Pacific expedition in 1537. It turns out this explorer is connected to a bit of Latin American history that I am rather familiar with. A Spaniard from Segovia, he accompanied Hernán Cortés during the blood thirsty “conquest” of Mexico, and was in fact responsible for employing the party’s first “translator”, taken from the native inhabitants of Mexico. After the Mexico ordeal, he set sail on the voyage that included the discovery of Kritimati, but was subsequently murdered by a mutinous crew.

Kritimati was later “rediscovered” by Captain James Cook in 1777, who by coincidence of the time of year when he visited it, named it Christmas Island. There is some mention of it in his journals. Despite having become somewhat cantankerous, probably as a result of an illness, towards the end of his third voyage of exploration during which he was eventually murdered in a native “political” issue of unrest on the island of Hawai’i, the man stands out in history (for me, at any rate) as one the the world’s greatest achievers in the development and perfection of global navigation, in theory and in practice.

Then, one of the strangest instruments of the United States for territorial annexation, The Guano Islands Act of 1856, laid claim to it for the mining of bird droppings. This instrument is still active, incidentally, and was invoked again as recently as 1997. This recent case is absurd to read about, as the attempt, not even used by the government but by an individual, fell apart (more or less) on the grounds that guano is no longer a very valid incentive for the annexation of a territory, which in this particular case, actually belonged to Haiti. So, citizens of the United States; want an island? Find one you like and say you are interested in the bird poop on it. You might get away with it.

Then comes a story similar to that of Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda on Lubang Island. A man by the name of Joe English, who had been left on Kritimati during World War I to look after a coconut plantation, initially refused to be “rescued” and was even prepared for belligerence when former commander in chief of the Royal Navy Grand Fleet at Jutland, John Jellicoe, arrived aboard (also a Jutland veteran) the battle cruiser HMS New Zealand to relieve him.

English, probably a bit touched by the solitude and climate, had believed that the vessel might have been German, and he was not prepared to surrender. More on that story in this delightful old newspaper clipping.

But the pièce de résistance of Kritimati is one subject that is only just short of obsession interest to me, and is the reason why I was already aware of the island, at least in existence and location, and instantly wondered which of the two “Christmas” Islands was to be our destination for this Mudspike Christmas Expedition…


Though I do not expect it to be common here on this site, where knowledge of weaponry abounds, I often find myself somewhat appalled at the dawning realization during conversations that many people (where I am, in the world, at least) fully believe that the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the only two nuclear weapons ever detonated. Some go as far as giving some credence to certain events in North Korea, more recently, and that is it. There have, of course, been over 2,000 successful nuclear tests, with a combined yield of over 500 megatons. That is the equivalent of 20 to 30 (sorry! I will get it right in a moment, having a brain fade day) very major, plinian volcanic eruptions. Not all that much, really, right? Nukes aren’t scary at all!.

(That’s a plundered, speeded up version of the original 14 minute long presentation on this site, with all credits to the creator).

The combined yield of the Fat Man and Little Boy, in fact, was less than the “fizzles” of some later, partially failed tests of more “capable” devices. Apart from the fact that tests were not dropped on major cities, we almost may as well have had World War III. LOL! No less than 30 of those tests, between Britain’s Operation Grapple and the United States Operation Dominic, were at Kritimati, between 1957 to 1962. Of course, devout fans of the movie Dr. Strangelove, will tell you that the amazing shot at 0:44 of this video is Grapple 2 (Orange Herald device), at Kritimati…

Here’s some more…

So, the best present for the inhabitants of Kritimati might be some Geiger counters. But wait, they are expensive gifts because they use low background steel. That has not been available since 1945, unless you can get some pre '45 scrap steel. Wonder why that is? :wink:

(Disclaimer: The written word is often fickle, and depends on the mood of the reader for its interpretation. To be clear, I am not making a vehement case for or against nuclear weapons with my commentary. As one of the many who grew up in the last half off it all, and at one time was even a bit scared of it, I’m now just interested.)

I had to have a flight around this historic place. For that flight, I chose the ASH 25 glider (by Wolfgang Piper) in P3DV4, for this exercise, as I have read that thermal simulation is quite good in it, especially if used in conjunction with Active Sky. I set up some mild cumulus weather with a wide OAT/DP spread. I also found some add ons to enhance glider flying; CumulusX and WinchX. The former, despite several posts detailing how to get it to work in P3D, I was unsuccessful in configuring, but WinchX worked pretty well.

I’m a fan of the ASH 25. Over 25 meters of high aspect span of probably the most efficient, human carrying aerodyne ever made. It has everything it needs to be so, and does not have anything that it wouldn’t need for the purpose, meaning that theoretically, in still air at best L/D speed, it will fly 10 miles for every 1,000 ft height above the ground (assuming flat ground, that is).

Perfection like that, of course, does not come without a price. I never flew the ASH, but I did fly the similar Nimbus 3D, equally long span, high performance glass ship…

They make no concessions for docile or easy handling characteristics, and are downright challenging to fly properly. I was going to write a lot more about it, but I’ve already droned on enough. Suffice to say, you realize that the designer wasn’t thinking about your comfort, nor was he particularly bothered about you falling in love with any form of built in, joyously coordinated handling.

Active Sky did produce some good thermals, and combined with the performance of the ASH, I was able to accomplish the curcuit of Kritimati with no worrying issues, like running out of height. Here are some snaps, to close the post…

Getting away on a 4 knot thermal over Cassidy Intl (PLCH)…

Cook Island and Stanislas Bay…

The south western tip of the atoll, Poland…

Scooting along in a favorable streak of lift, some of that moth eaten appearance evident…

The south eastern end, where most of the bombs were detonated…

Flying back along the Bay of Wrecks, PLCH in sight again…


Back again, after a thrilling soaring flight…

Sorry about the massive post, guys. I just got really interested in this bit of coral and enjoy writing! LOL!


Very nice account! I enjoyed reading it.


No apology necessary. I thoroughly enjoy reading your reports CP. keep them coming please!


No apologies necessary…that was a fascinating read and made all the more with the links and screens. Fantastic bit of history and trip-making…!


Thanks, guys!

No time to waste. Departing Kritimati…

…with the catamaran “Bella Donacela”, and a flashy, sporty-spoiled boy’s paint job and sail artwork! :sunglasses: After clearing Cook Island and the reefs, set the genoa and main. Winds from the SE, 7 - 10 knots. Making way at 6 knots. It is not as nippy as the 50 ft cruiser.

Next stop, the Solomons, 2,530 nm to go. ETA, approximately 16 to 18 days.


I pondered long and hard, well at least 10 to 15 seconds, as to what Christmas gift might I offer to the good folks of Christmas Island. Ah, 1 keg each of our currently tapped beers. That is 160.5 lbs x 9 kegs of South Carolinian crafted nectar.

Hmmm. Keeping it refrigerated might be a challenge. But I digress.

What to haul it in you ask? As fate would have it, a former Air NZ line dog just became available from a broker who frequents the tap room. High time air frame and engines, but heck the paint looked good and the price was right ($34.95). A night in a hanger turned makeshift paint booth and behold, a chariot for the Gods!

Kissing the wives and children goodbye, we loaded up the repurposed Beech and took to the skies for our first leg, Chuck town up to Peachtree Dekalb airport on the Northeast corner of Atlanta.

The weather could not have been finer - to be leavin’ Carolina.

I guess one of these days we’ll finish painting One Papa India Bravo, but that old paint is beginning to look sporting from some angles :slight_smile:

A simple flight plan was drawn up on the back of a beer menu and this how we started our journey of many legs. My brother and I decided that being middle-aged and rusty, we shoot instrument approaches time permitting. On this leg we would check in with Peachtree tower about 10 miles out and ask if we could vector for an ILS approach on 21L.

About the time we crossed the Savannah river near Augusta, home of the Masters, we picked up Interstate 20 and would parallel her most of the way to the ATL.

I did most of my flight training on the East side of Atlanta. Even though it could play games with your aircraft compass, the rock shepherded home many a student pilot who was temporarily disoriented with regards to the originally planned route. She was a welcome sight this day as well.

Now as you gaze out the window at our beloved Stone Mountain, please let your eyes drift a wee bit lower and observe our fuel state. “WTF brother. I thought that you checked the fuel during preflight?”

With about 10 minutes left, we decided to heck with the instrument approach practice, and request a long right base for 03R. The controller was accommodating.

I hate it when we do this.

The bird will sit at Epps for a few days while we have her checked out. Conditions permitting, I usually add 3 kts for each of my 3 kids on final. But even coming in a little hot, we completely ran out of elevator. I suspect the X-Plane 11 FM or foul play.

Time to catch up with mom.


Awesome paint scheme…! Great first leg…! And that is a damn fine looking brew… :beers:


From Schiphol Airport, my first hop would be a tiny but complete flight to Prague (LKPR), following SIDs and STARs and even airways.

Departing EHAM.

An absolutely charming cockpit, climbing through the murk…

At EDUPO we start following the UZ738 airway, however (as we save and reload the situation) the FMS flight plan is lost and the decision is made to go direct towards the LOMKI5S STAR.

I spot a river in a hole between the clouds, probably the Obere Saale

And we’re out of the clouds at the end of the descent, now to try and tune in to ILS24.
A lot of fiddling about with radios and autopilot/flight director modes followed, resulting in me overflying the runway at ~1000 ft AGL.
So I turned and flew a circuit by hand (still a bit too high)

Almost lost visual on the bright white PAPI lights when a cloud/mist moved between me and the runway


Next stop will be either in Turkey, the Middle East or the Caucasus.


@Freak you heading to Turkey (maybe), me leaving Turkey.

My plan is from LTAP Merzifon Turkey via OSPR Palmyra in Syria to (or ‘back to’) Baghdad.
Wanted to do some sightseeing :slight_smile:

My next ride not in size but in speed is the small nimble RV-7A

Again low failures caused my speedometer not to show anything. Strange, I thought it will be more low probability of failures and less low failure every flight :innocent:

Crossing the Turkey mountains to the South. Desert is more present down below

Last big peaks of Turkey are behind me and also last Turkish airports (LTCN Kharamanmaras in background), Syria in sight

If I wished sand before, than in Syria they have full stock of it

The flight from Palmyra to Baghdad was uneventful. The bad thing was that also without anything to sightsee. Palmyra was just autogen and Baghdad the same. I was vainly looking around to spot the great Victory Arch aka The Arc of Triumph aka Swords of Qādisīyah aka Hands of Victory… nothing…

But anyway looking forward to my next flight(s). I am finished with the small GAs now, next rides are Malibu Mirage, Twin Star and Seneca V. I dont know yet in which order. I am so looking forward to fly the Twin Star that I might store it for the final leg(s) :sunglasses:


Wow, looks amazing! Good Luck!


3rd leg with my DC-6 from LOWS (Salzburg) to LHBP (Budapest)…

I’m by far not progressing in they way I planned it. However there is still some time left to fly down to Christmas Island.

For the flight I had to prepare for icing. Not a big deal with the DC-6. For an airplane of this age, it however is pretty impressive how much technology was already built in: pretty much anything that is required for a proper airliner I would say. In regards to anti-icing this means:

  • Windshield anti-icing with hot air or alcohol
  • Carburetor de-icing with alcohol
  • Electric propeller de-icing
  • Airfoil thermal anti-icing system for the leading edges of the wing and tail using three combustion heaters
  • Heaters for pitots, scoops, etc.

Most of the DC-6 anti-icing equipment is good at preventing icing but not necessarily at removing it. Therefore they must be turned on early in order to anticipate any ice accumulation. As all those systems are properly simulated in the DC-6 and thus are of course a critical component of the takeoff preparation while I taxiing to the runway.

The departure and climb went well and I established cruise speed above the cloud layer. Somewhere close to the border between Austria and Hungary the cloud layer dissolved and the four big radials did as always a wonderful job.

After now having done more than half of the trip a quick check on the fuel gages confirms that we have plenty of fuel left. I decided to switch to the alternate tanks.

In case the DC-6 systems are interesting to you guys let me know and I will try to explain one or the other in my following flights. Yes, the fuel system is also properly simulated and with 8 tanks, 4 tank selector and two cross-feed selector levers, there is lots of manual work required, especially on longer flights (and there is even more in case of emergencies!).

Before my last turn before arrival, I switch back to the main tanks, check the engine gauges. Note the low carb air temperature. It’s fine if its cold, however is only acceptable when there is not humidity. When we flew through potential icing, such a low carb temperature would have been a little problem and you would have had to play with the carb heat levers or even the carb anti icing system.

I configure the airplane for the landing, capture the localizer and follow the glide slope. The crosswind significant but constant and allows a smooth approach and landing.

Here we are at Budapest…

Now I need to go back and read all the exiting stories in this forumI failed to follow during the last days…


@NEVO I say it again. I don’t know if it is the “effect” of it being a screenie or not, but the scenery (I´m assuming it is stock?) looks so much better than P3D in your shots. For example, in my flight around Kritimati, there was that feeling of “sameness with the rest of the world” for an atoll that should have looked totally bizarre from the air. Just as a comparison, here is a shot from XP11 on a separate flight I did there, using Ortho4XP. Even from the not-so-good source images available, the strange “feel” of the place is certainly heightened…

Just wondering what it looks like in FSW, now (?).

Ah! Sorry I omitted this. Yes, even though I am a fan of as close as possible to first hand scribes on history subjects, and not a great fan of revisionist history, I would go as far as recommending Tom Holland’s "Persian Fire" as a great background, outline history on the subject. He points you to the source references in that publication, himself, foremost among them "The Histories", by Herdotus (I, unfortunately, did this backwards and had to refer back to Herodotus to see where Mr. Holland had extracted his thesis).

In my opinion, Herodotus was the probably world’s first “professional journalist”, a mix of ancient political correspondent, naturalist, and universal theorist. The stories are entertaining, and, with scientific hindsight now being 20/20, some are even comical. You can find “The Histories” online. That’s how I read them.

@Fsjoe Love the shot of the crosswind approach!

@chipwich Speaking of Ortho4XP, I think I detect it there, too. Great screenies!

Dovetail's Flight Sim World

Thanks CP. It’s an ortho photo overlay, but I used the prebuilt US Orthophotos from this link:


LIPZ -> LDSP (Split Airport)

A dirty rainstorm was present over Venice, not something I’d expected. Takeoff had a slight crosswind to add to the excitement.

Up into the rain

The weather report showed the cloud was likely to be up beyond 10,000ft. Climbing slowly through the murk, we eventually pop out into the evening sunshine at 13,000ft.

Autopilot engaged, we headed down the Dalmation coast towards Pula. A small break in the cloud showed I was slightly off track as we crossed just north of the runway.

Pula down below

Sun setting below the clouds

As the sun began to set, the cloud began to thin and the weather below improved.

XPlane really does night well.

As we arrived at Split, it was pretty much full dark. I crossed over the airfield around 5,000ft and flew a nice timed right hand circuit. Turning in slightly late, I was just off the centreline.

I let the speed get too high and had a flap overspeed warning come up.

Slightly off

I touched down around 1/4 of the way along the runway, but the landing speed is so slow we’re at taxying speed before we reach halway.

I couldn’t spot any taxi ways in the dark, even with the lights on, so pulled off the runway and shut everything down.


A relatively short hop today. This is the first time I’ve flown the release version of XP11 in the dark and its a big improvement over darkness in the beta. This is likely to be my last for a while unless I can get another leg in this week. I knew it was likely I’d be getting to Christmas Island beyond the deadline, but had hoped to be in India by now.

I’ll stick with the DC-3 still, but may have to charter something faster otherwise I could still be going at Easter. :slight_smile:


@keets you seem to have the same issue as I have: time… With my short flights I will hardly make it on time…let’s see there are still some weeks left and the SR-71 could always help up in the last minute to make a big step forward.


Disaster has struck U571.
The crew got blind drunk and then started fighting amongst themselves over the girls. I knew it was a mistake sailing on a Friday with women on board. The fighting broke out in the engineering department and spread throughout the ship. By the time it had quietened down, we had run hard aground on a sandbank off the coast of Northumberland.

Luckily I was in the boy scouts and was always prepared. I rushed to my cabin and quickly dressed in the uniform of a British flyer I had kept for just such an eventuality. Wading ashore with the Enigma machine tucked under my arm I bumped into a couple of Home Guardsmen, a wizened pair who reeked of rum. I managed to persuade them I was a British pilot and had been shot down, they gave me a slug of rum ushered me to an old truck and we set off for RAF Newcastle apparently the nearest place they knew of to return me.
The effects of the rum had me dozing in the front seat of the truck and through some rift in the time/space continuum I awoke in 2017. Still dressed the same as I was when I fell asleep but sitting in the back of a taxi with a large gentleman looking back at me from the front seat demanding his fare. A quick check of the old pockets produced some loose change and a crisp note with £20 written on it. That’ll do he snarled plucking the said note quickly from my fingers.

I exited the taxi is a state of bewilderment, confused alone and unable to mentally comprehend the massive changes I could see all around me. Great roars of sound came from behind the building to my front, a huge glass edifice filled with more people than I had ever seen in one place before in my life. I, amongst all this throng of humanity was wearing a heavy blue uniform which had started to itch. The majority where wearing a sort of pair of pyjamas with the ankles and wrists bloused and emblazoned on them such words as Nike and Puma. They where all wearing similar brilliant white shoes which looked as if they had all just been bought especially for this gathering. I asked the nearest person to me what was happening and he replied they where all off to Spain for the winter as it was cheaper than having to heat there homes. None the wiser I walked into the glass building trying to take in all the strange sights and sounds.

My musings where quickly interrupted by a shrill woman shouting at me and asking where I had been ? had I no sense of time ? of shame ?
It seems she thinks I am a pilot come to take part in a flyby of a new school opening and I am running late. A sense of panic rises and threatens to overwhelm then a calmness seeps in to my soul and I see the hatching of a plan develop, really how hard can it be to fly a plane, it can’t be harder than driving a submarine…right???

Well the sun is shining the birds are singing lets take this opportunity to try to escape this madness and return to my old life in 1942. These are my thoughts as I follow the shrill woman through a set of doors and out of the other side where the roar I heard earlier is given form. The biggest aeroplane I have ever seen is sat in front of me with strange engines on the wings with no visible propellers. My stomach lurched when I imagined trying to fly something as big as this, fortunately the woman had continued walking past the behemoth and pointed at a more reasonably sized plane and one which I recognised from our recognition charts. A DC3 sitting with engines started and door open waiting for its pilot.
“We had her started to save time” she announced “I hope thats ok with you”. I gave her a smile and walked trying to look as suave and debonair as my shaking legs would allow and climbed the ladder to meet my fate.