The official 3rd Annual Mudspike Christmas Flight - 2017 Edition


Nice job @keets ! The Aeroworx DC3 cockpit looks really great (significantly better than the VSkyLabs DC3 pit)…


LOL! I know, right? Six of one and half a dozen of another. I might have gone the alternate direction if I had found a persistent sim with this in it…

…which allowed me to rig a sail on it to save fuel over the (fewer) watery bits. Sounds like a good update for Arma, perhaps?

Next time I’ll do the trek with “Second Life”. :stuck_out_tongue:

PS: No, I don’t play that. Not yet, at any rate.


I wasn’t bothered, to start with. My DC-6 was in the hangar at Guayaquil. AOG. Someone had unwittingly run out of water/alcohol mix in one of the tanks doing a wet take off, and hadn’t noticed in time. Some omission of the Before Start C/L, no doubt. Consequently number 3 engine was shot. Really shot through, it had apparently sounded like a can of nails being shaken for a few minutes before it gave up the ghost. And spares were hard to find for the old bird, now. I got a phone call from Gary, our Operations Manager. They were trying to track down a good repair shop for the R-2800.

¨Listen, Parrot. The only one we can find that can do the work won’t have it finished and delivered until the 14 of December. I think we’re a bit tight on time, with that," he continued. “The Twin Otters are going to Antarctica again, so they are out.”

“Ah, something will turn up, or turn out right. There’s loads of time, yet.”

“Well, someone in a Dakota has already started, a little worried himself about the time reaching the destination is going to take. It is a long way.”

“A Dakota? Plenty of time if I take that. Where’s ours? I’ll take that.”

“It is in China, at Kunming, remember? You were going to get there in the DC-6 after recreating the Korean Airlift, and give flying the Hump another go.”

“Darn!” I wasn’t so unconcerned, anymore. “What have we got at Quito at the moment?”

“A Grob Twin Astir, by chance. You can fly them, right?”

“Not done so in a long time. You want me to get to Kunming in an Astir? No kidding?”

“Perhaps. Get to Salinas Air base ASAP.”

“Okay. Good grief! I don’t believe what you are asking me to do.”

He just chuckled on the other end. A muffled chuckle, rather humorless.

This was the 27 September, 2017.

I departed the next morning, after the sun had struck the ground in the valley and had warmed it up a bit. I would be needing some thermals to start off with, in order to connect with the ridge lift that might be available off the Andean range to the west. The real weather that day was actually quite favorable for the purposes of the trip, but XP11 will not automatically include thermals unless you put them in manually. So I “snap-shotted” the real weather, slightly tweaked it, and added them…

Believable thermals, nothing ridiculous, and only just high enough to get me to the mountains. I had another chat with Gary before leaving. He informed me of another, uhm, clause.

“There is a small cash prize for the Company being offered by the Ministry of Tourism if you can do this flight without using a chart. They are calling it ‘All You Need is Ecuador’. How well do you know the country?”

“I don’t see how that excludes a chart, but fair enough. Isn’t that plagiarizing the Beetles a bit?, Ha! Ha!”

“Doesn’t fit into the tune, either, Parrot. Three syllables for one,” Gary laughed. “But it is a substantial enough prize to put towards the R-2800 repair. If you can do it, then do it. They are going to use it as some form of propaganda, I believe.”

I had to ask something, before we hung up. It had been worrying me and had made my sleep rather uneasy.

“Uhh, Gary. I want to know what the alternative arrangement is. Why do I have to get to Salinas?”

“There are some performance issues with the alternate craft in departing from a 7,900 foot elevation runway in a mountain valley.”

“Eh? But we’re good with it, otherwise? Range and all?”

“Oh, sure! Sure thing. See you in Salinas. Bye, Parrot!”

So, no chart. Not really a problem. Ecuador, in the Andean region at least, is full of recognizable features. Very high features, formed around 1.5 million years ago and back. I knew them pretty well. Heck, I’d climbed a good number of them, when I was younger. This part was not as big a challenge as they might think. No time to waste, however. It was going to be a long flight…

Released the tow 2,000 ft above the airfield elevation, and found a thermal within a couple of minutes. Time 11:37 HL…

I made it to 12,000 ft off that climb, ending at 11:48 HL, and headed west toward the Casitagua volcano, north of Quito city. On the way, at 11:55, I picked up another thermal, did a second climb and boosted the altitude up again to 12,800 ft. I made Casitagua by 11:58 HL, and found my first bit of ridge lift. It was time to turn south, now, and start the flight proper. Casitagua blends nicely into the Pichincha volcano, and wherever the slope had a favorable angle to the wind, there was reliable ridge lift. The city passed by my left…

By 12:15, I had made it to 15,200 feet overhead the community of LLoa, south of Pichincha. In 1998, this community had resisted an evacuation order by the government, when Pichincha was behaving “threateningly”, and LLoa was in the path of any possible pyroclastic flows if it did “erupt”. A secluded town, either they had some traditional faith in the goodness of the volcano gods, or they were better volcanologists than those who worked for the government. Either way, there was no catastrophic eruption. In all truth, Pichincha has already had a major sector collapse towards the west, and is in a state of “boiling down”, unlikely to ever have another plinian event. There was some political strife going on in the country at the time, however, and probability was that the evacuation order was a deviation tactic of some form. It is incomprehensible otherwise that trained volcanologists would profess disaster from an extinguishing volcano…

I stayed on the eastern side of the range at all times, making the most of the ridge lift, considering the wind direction. The next “lift stop” would be Atacazo, after about a 12 mile sprint across a pass where there would predictably be no lift at all, and incidentally where the road from Quito to Santo Domingo was built. I made Atacazo by 12:21, and picked up the ridge lift without breaking a sweat…

Another shorter sprint south to Corazon, which I arrived at by 12:35. I made it to 15,400 feet off the lift available on this one…

And continued south to the Illinizas pair of peaks, off which I made it to 16,000 feet off the northern peak, and 17,200 feet off the southern one, by 12:44…

Then a problem presented itself, for no good reason I can think of, except Murphy’s Law. After the Illinizas, there is a long, 40 mile-ish stretch of pretty non-descript ruggedness southwards, west of the Inter-Andean valley, before reaching the next probable lift producing prominence, Carihuarazo. None of it would be conducive to any good ridge lift, in between, and is the very last place along the route where you would want any issues with unnecessary loss of precious altitude in a glider. This section, particularly, is the whole reason I had used the previous elevations to maximize my altitude. I duly set off, making a bee line for Carihuarazo, and noticed some reasonably rapid loss of altitude. I concluded that the sink was a little worse than I anticipated, but the L/D of the Twin Astir would certainly handle the distance, and the section of sink should stabilize soon. I thought. The altitude loss continued, and was getting alarmingly low by the time I was abeam Saquisili, only halfway along the track. Something was definitely not right, here…

I was mystified, and flipped to the outside view at one point. I noticed with some horror that the spoilers had been out, most likely all the way along this last sprint (sorry I didn’t screen shot that, I suddenly had my hands full with another task upon realizing what had happened). They are linked to the throttle control on the joystick in XP11, and at all times the throttle had been forward, for spoilers closed. Somewhere along the line, while soaring off the southern Illinizas, I must have hit a key that over-rode the throttle and extended the darn things. Typical. Now I was in a fix, a real tight corner that would probably end with a field landing. The time was 12:53, and I was down to 11,300 feet…



I’m interested in what the water mod is. I was going to put a lovely picture as I crossed the channel, but the repetitive texture ruined it.


You’re not wrong. I’m amazed it’s freeware. It still has rough ages, but you can’t complain at the price.


I agree…c’mon @PaulRix - dish the dirt…!


Hmm, I’m having stability issues with XP11. Think I need to put it on an SSD


@keets, @BeachAV8R

Here you go. I went with the “More Waves” file. Of course, you all might want to wait for the org to get their hacking situation sorted out.

It isn’t perfect, but I think it is better than the default water…


Wikipedia’s entry for the DC-3/C-47 is a good read, I didn’t realise Gooney bird was another name for an Albatross and why it was attributed to the DC3/C-47/Dakota* *Delete as applicable. Has any aircraft ever had so many designations? DC-3, C-47, Skytrain, Dakota…

Lockable tail wheel, yes it does indeed. A dirty great lever (pronounced “leeeee-ver” in proper English) down by the right leg, but has no effect once the tail is up. :frowning:

This has to be the top quote of the thread so far… Genius. :laughing:


The present situation…

Two and a half days out, now, some 200 leagues left to the first Christmas Island! It is overtaking even my intentions of documenting and commenting on the voyage while I catch up on the beginning. Here’s an update (I get these e-mails every two days, telling me how my vessel is doing. Handy, when I’m not at home for a stretch)…

Dear Cygon_Parrot,

Here’s an update of your boat’s progress and current sailing information for the trip to Tabwakea Village, Kiribati, N2°6.87’ W157°28.63’

UTC time: Fri Oct 20 18:55:18 2017
Time since last update: 2d 0h
Distance travelled since last update: 468.3 nm.

Position: N1°55.62’ W147°15.02’
Heading: 274° (+2)
True wind directon: 115° (+7)
True wind angle: 159°
True wind speed: 17.2 kn. (+3)
Speed in water: 10.1 kn. (+0.6)
Course over ground: 275° (+2)
Speed over ground: 10.1 kn. (+0.6)

Next destination: N2°6.87’ W157°28.63’
Bearing to destination: 271°
Velocity made good to course: 10.1 kn.
Distance to destination: 614 nm.
Time to destination: 2d 12h

Happy sailing,
Team Sailaway

A nice gentle Pacific swell, bit of a following sea. (:nauseated_face: not for land lubbers)…


I am seriously tempted to buy SailAway. I am never likely to own a boat of any description that is bigger than a Kayak, but the romance of sailing is appealing to me. I took a Hobie Cat out once while I was on a layover in Turks and Caicos. I sailed it around for about an hour and was able to get it back on the beach at the point where I started, so I consider that a win :wink: .


OH MY GOD what an adventure! Sweaty palms, heart racing… I just need to tell you guys about it.

So… my first leg is from CYUL (Montreal) to KBFI (Boeing Field). I picked KSEA as my alternate. It’s an almost 2000 miles trip.

I planned my fuel load at 35000 lbs… at least, that’s what “onlineflightplanner” tells me. My ride of choice for this leg is a magnificent A320 with a superb Air Canada skin. However, I decided to do the challenge “live”, which means real weather and real time. This meant starting at 22:00 local time, at night. Keep in mind that I never flew at night before in this aircraft and I never planned such a long route. This can only go well, right?

I spawn at Pierre-Elliott Trudeau airport. I run into some troubles entering my flight plan (surprisingly, I didn’t know what “DTC” stood for or why I needed to delete a manual waypoint in order to get rid of discontinuities), but after some tinkering I get something that looks ok. I taxi to the runway and fly into the night.

Au revoir, Montreal!

I climb up to FL250 and engage the autopilot. It’s gonna be a looong night. I skim through my own A320 guide, hoping to find something useful. Eventually, I decide to climb to a cruising altitude of 30,000 ft. The plane tries, but loaded with gifts and 35000 lbs of fuel, it straight up struggles to climb a few hundred foot more. Bah, we’ll stick at 25,000 for now.

I barely see anything outside. Just a dark, gloomy sky with medium cloud cover. As I cross Manitoba and Saskatchewan, I encounter wind drafts and minor turbulence. By then, the aircraft feels much lighter; I’ve almost gone through half my fuel. I start climbing to FL300 without much problem.

Eventually, as I reach the J7 airway (no idea if it still exists today, but at least it did in AIRAC 1609… and being a cheap bastard I don’t feel like buying for a Navigraph update), a powerful wind throws my aircraft left and right. The turbulence is so sudden and so strong that my autopilot disconnects. I freak out and catch back the controls, following the flight director while toying with the throttle to fix my autothrottle that went haywire. I start a 20-minute long struggle to keep my aircraft on course while being thrown left and right by the wind.

Things eventually calm down. Whew! That was cool. Now, how am I doing on fuel?

3000 lbs. What?!? Where did it all go? Oh, that’s right… the CRUISE page says that I’ve chugged 32000 lbs of fuel already. Oh boy. That’s not good, eh? Curse you,!!! I’m never trusting you again!

I reach my top of descent… but I’m so low on fuel! Ack! What am I doing? As I reach the vicinity of Seattle, the tower hails me and gives me a priority to land. The fuel goes dangerously low. I start my approach…

And as I’m just about to engage the Autoland, the aircraft just bypasses the ILS localizer as if it wasn’t even there. Uh oh… I must’ve missed something! Now I’m really mad. I’ve been sitting for hours in that chair, in pitch dark… screw that. I’m landing this thing manually. I’m 2000 ft high with 400 lbs of fuel. I’ve got one shot at this.

I gently bank left and do a full 360 to catch the runway. I hear the SPEED voice telling me I’m dangerously close to stall speed. I know that, but if I throttle up too much, then I burn my fuel and get an engine flameout before I touch the ground. I’m feeling tense. REALLY tense. I can’t mess this up. Not after such a long flight.



I don’t even want to look at the fuel indication. My hand is squeezing my joystick like my life is on the line.

My wheels touch the ground surprisingly gently given the fact that I rarely practice manual landings in the Bus. As the autobrake engages, my left engine flames out, and I start getting assymetric thrust. I kick the rudder and maintain control of the aircraft… and it rapidly slows down to a stop.

I can now start breathing again. Just when I’m done vacating the runway, the other engine flames out. No more fuel. WOW. That was a bit too close for comfort, eh?

So there I am, in Boeing Field with my Airbus. First leg to Christmas Island complete.



Awesome AAR!


Well seeing this entry I have decided Silent Hunter 5 will be my vehicle for this years event. Best make a start.
Er which way is it from Kiel docks ?


Damnation I can’t go through the Suez canal as it has not been made yet :worried:

Off to the Azores for provisions before heading for the Cape of Good Hope


May I try to inspire you, then? :grin:

And this is the home construction of a skiff (or flint, as they’re calling it) of the same design…

I’m tempting myself, in fact. It is not unlike the thing I was (initially) “force taught” how to sail on, many, many years ago, but ideally would need a little jib, for me. :smiley:

I’d certainly say so! Mini catamarans look scary when they heel up on one hull.

It was under enemy control. :smiley: You’re actually doing an historic sail there. U-boats quite regularly took that direction to harass British shipping in the Indian Ocean. Monsoon Gruppe.


So…I’ve heard long distance sailors often parade around the deck naked.


Haha…great read…! Like Fate is the Hunter…LOL… Yeah, that A320 should be able to get up to FL360 or so for that kind of transcontinental journey. When you say you were going slow…were you reading indicated or Mach number? As you climb, that indicated will definitely fall away and make it look like you are going slow, but you’ll notice the Mach number will gradually increase. I don’t know Airbus numbers…but I’d imagine something like M.76 to .79 would probably work for long distances. You’ll save a ton of fuel…

Great report…glad you made it…!


Oh…I see a dual coming between @Cygon_Parrot and @Cib in the Indian Ocean…! This year’s event is shaping up to be epic…