The Official 4th Annual Mudspike Christmas Flight - 2018 Edition



Still amazed that Tom Cruise flew his own helicopter stunts in Mission Impossible…

Great report there @Cygon_Parrot - indeed, I’m always amazed by those reports of the helicopter crews that go out over the freezing ocean in their machines, to the limit of their fuel, and risk their lives to pluck people from certain death. An amazing job that must be simultaneously rewarding and terrifying. I’d lie awake at night think nightmarish thoughts…


Sometime later…

There I was at 11 thousand 500 feet and heading for the hard stuff below, flipping all of the switches and knobs, and trying not to panic. But, this was over partially obscured mountains without so much as a pot to ■■■■ in. OK, a Gatorade bottle. And then after losing about 2500 feet, so slowly the engines began to come back to life. Let’s call it ice, but I’m still not that convinced.

I slowly climb back to 12.5. With a sigh I lean back in my seat and the excess adrenaline gives me a shiver.

It takes me a while to relax. Actually, I didn’t completely regain sphincter control until sipping a Molson later that night at what might the only bar in the Bella Coola valley. It waaas served by a nice young lady in a camo T.

The rest of the flight is uneventful, if flying over mountains in a vintage aircraft in marginal weather to places unknown can be considered as such :slight_smile:

We pass over the VORTAC at Port Hardy.

That West coast thing.

My original route had us making a right pivot off of the Bella Bella NDB and working our way up the valleys to give a little more relaxed descent. But silly me forgot to lean the mixture after our engine out incident, and we burned a bit more fuel than planned. Wanting to leave enough for our “alternate” at Ocean Falls (CAH2), I mash the big D and enter CYBD.

I began a shallow descent to 9K, but held here until the GPS showed us over the South Bentinck Arm which in turn leads to the Bella Coola River. I couldn’t see Jack squat, but knew that it should be safe to descend over the rivers. Gently sloping valley walls keep us honest. The ceiling turned out to be about 1500 over, which gave me plenty of room to maneuver in the valley.

At last our destination appeared.

The old girl is incredibly stable on approach and flare.

As I prepare to pirouette the tail dragger, I see that not much has changed since the last visit. Maybe a fresh coat of paint on the sign?

Before we could lock her up, a few snowflakes sprinkle my ride. Welcome to Canada and the great Northwest.


Loving the golden brownish sepia tones of your shots. Very beautiful.


Thank you schurem. Adobe LightRoom gets all the credit though. An amazing program.


Some of those look like Christmas cards!


If Carenado ever releases that Beech 18 for X-Plane I’m going to have to buy it. Great AAR and screens Dan!


LEG 1 - Cessna 152 - Gastonia, NC (KAKH) - Mountain Air, NC (2NCO)
LEG 2 - Cessna 172 - Mountain Air, NC (2NC0) - Andrews-Murphy, NC (KRHP)
LEG 3 - Cessna 182 - Andrews-Murphy, NC (KRHP) - Tyndall AFB, FL (KPAM)
LEG 4 - T-34 Mentor - Tyndall AFB, FL (KPAM) - New Orleans, LA (KNEW)
LEG 5 - PA-28 Warrior - New Orleans, LA (KNEW) - Beaumont, TX (KBPT)
LEG 6 - PA-32 Lance - Beaumont, TX (KBPT) - Temple, TX (KTPL)
LEG 7 - Cessna 172RG - Temple, TX (KTPL) - Midland, TX (KMAF)
Intermission - Sub Orbital Flight
LEG 8 - A-36 Bonanza - Midland, TX (KMAF) - Albuquerque, NM (KABQ)
LEG 9 - Cessna 404 - Albuquerque, NM (KABQ) - Montrose, CO (KMTJ)
LEG 10 - Grumman AA-5B Tiger - Montrose, CO (KMTJ) - Salt Lake City, UT (KSLC)
LEG 11 - BE-58 Baron - Salt Lake City, UT (KSLC) - Johnson Creek, Idaho (3U2)
LEG 12 - Navion 205 - Johnson Creek, Idaho (3U2) - Mile Hi, Idaho (I97D)
LEG 13 - J-3 Cub - Mile Hi, Idaho (I97D) - Krassel, ID (24K)
LEG 14 - Mooney M20C - Krassel, ID (24K) - Enterprise, OR (8S4)
LEG 15 - Piper PA-44-180 Seminole - Enterprise, OR (8S4) - Hanel Field, OR (0OR9)
LEG 16 - BAC Jet Provost - Hanel Field, OR - S50 Auburn, WA
LEG 17 - Cessna 206 - Auburn, WA (S50) - Mears Field, WA (3W5)
LEG 18 - Beechcraft C-23 Sundowner - Mears Field, WA (3W5) - Squamish, Canada (CYSE)
LEG 19 - Citation II - Squamish, Canada (CYSE) - Chilko Lake (CAG3)

With my TPT Aviation interview and initial Citation flight on April 22, 1997, it would be a couple weeks later that I’d officially start the job. On May 14th, 1997 I had my second flight with TPT in their CitationCJ (the original CJ) N940SW. Our flight would be from Gastonia to Charlotte (12 miles!) to pick up executives and fly them down to Spalding, GA (6A2), then return them to Charlotte. The very few items I picked up on my first Citation flight three weeks earlier all went out the window as I was now confronted with an entirely different type of Citation. The CJ series differ quite a bit from the II/V/Ultra/Bravo type planes. Oh well, a lost puppy in Chicago is essentially the same thing as a lost puppy in New York.

We’ll be taking our NextGen CJ4X from Chilko Lake all the way over to Ketchikan International, Alaska - definitely the longest leg of our journey thus far at around 355nm.

For realism, I would have been way better off going with the EagleSoft/Flight1 Citation 525A or the Carenado 525A as they were the exact type of model I used to fly, but at near $40 for both, that wasn’t a pill I wanted to swallow. I picked up the NexGen CJ4X for around $8 I think on sale…so it will fill in. It is not a great airplane model or avionics or flight model…but it will suffice. The CJ4 is quite a bit larger and has more range than the original CJ.

Not too many Citations will ever see a grass field…

Off we go…

Turning to join our course to PAKT and climbing to FL240…

Nice weather in the first portion of our flight…

The NextGen CJ4X seems quite a bit overpowered to me. I don’t know if that reflects how it is in real life. Typically in the mid 30s I would have expected near the mid-90s on power settings to be up around Mmo. Our CJ1 was an early model and the new Williams F44 engines were giving us fits. We would often hit max takeoff ITT before we would reach charted N1 takeoff percentage. That is a problem because now you have no idea what your takeoff distance is really going to be. Operating from a 3,800’ long runway at our home base…it was…concerning…

About fifteen minutes into the flight and a low overcast would be all we’d see for most of the rest of the flight…

Starting to descent into PAKT - putting the engine and wing anti-ice on…

Looking kinda gnarly down there…

On the transition from Annette Island VOR to go do the ILS 11 with the full procedure turn. Definitely pay attention to those transition altitudes!

Procedure turn outbound…

Established inbound on the ILS - hey…my TCAS didn’t notify me of this guy!

Again, a reminder of why you stick to the black line on the charts and adhere to those charted altitudes. A mistake here will kill you…

PAKT coming into view through the murk…

No reversers on the CJ series. Saves weight and complexity, but jet pilots do like to have em’ for the additional margins they give…

The interesting sloped taxiway leading to the lower ramp at Ketchikan - I have no idea how they get planes up and down that when it gets snowy or icy out…

I’ve flown all those types! Hey…what’s that King Air doing there?

I hope to pick up the Carenado 525A CJ when it goes on sale. It wasn’t included in the most recent sale. I’d also rather have an X-Plane version, but that probably won’t happen anytime soon.

I really enjoyed flying the CJ in real life. It had a slightly more swept wing than the II and the V, making for a slightly better ride in turbulence, but at the cost of being a bit more active around Vref in gusty conditions. Our CJ had some teething problems as it was early in the production line. The aforementioned ITT problem, and twice the gear decided to extend on its own at near Vmo, ripping the gear doors off. The CJ had the Mickey Mouse ear thrust attenuators that I can’t say were worth the hassle of the mechanics of it. They disappeared on later models. It was also slow even by Citation standards with an Mmo of .71. Carrying 3,000 lbs. of fuel, you could only put two pilots and one passenger in the thing to reach MTOW, but somehow we managed to put four pax in ours and fly it to Mexico City without refueling. From a 3,800’ runway. In the summer. With ITTs on the red line. I apologize to all the cars and trucks on the airport perimeter that we scared as we skimmed over their rooftops at Vr+1…haha… Ah, the stupid things we did.


FYI - for those of you that might be heading off the west coast of the United States or via the Aleutians (like I’m going to have to) here is a link to the NOAA GOES WEST imagery. The page also includes links to the Japanese Hiwamari-8 imagery…

And a reminder that oceanic winds aloft can be found here:


Hampton to Pago Pago Leg 8 - Antalya, Turkey to Aqaba, Jordan

As I mentioned above, my current strategy is to choose an aircraft registered in, or belonging to the military of the country where the leg originates. “OCD much Hangar200?”, I hear you say. Maybe…a little bit.

Starting in Antalya, Turkey I decided on a Turkish Air Force F-4E. (Later I found I had two more Turkish registered planes, but I had already taken a day to set up my TM Warthog HOTAS so…F-4E it is.)

This is the Milviz F-4E. It is a pretty good visual replica, outside and in, and the flight model “feels right”, like a heavy fighter when you get slow but a nimble rocket at high speed. I decided to use TACPACK with this flight, not because I wanted to shoot somebody down or drop bombs, but because I’m not sure if stores jettison works without TACPACK started. …and truth be told, if I’m low on gas and there is a Piper cub ahead of me to land, he’s going to eat a Winder.

Also as mentioned, I took about a day to go over the Milviz YouTube tutorial videos, then shoot a couple of approaches. For @Troll ‘s edification, evidently Viggens aren’t the only fighter I put into the dirt during pattern work.

A word about my route for this leg, and how I worked the navigation. As initially planned, the flight / mission was to be a high-low-high profile. I thought it would be fun to scorch down Lebanon’s Bakka valley at low level. I would fly over Turkey, drop down to skim the Syrian coast, to northern Lebanon, then shoot over to the Bakka Valley. When I got to the Sea of Galilee, I’d climb back up for the trip down the Jordan river valley and the Dead Sea, before descending for the approach to Aqaba (OJAQ). To navigate this route I used the INS and TACANs. In my iGMapHD, I edited the flight plan to substitute the TACAN channel instead of the VOR three letter ICAO code, so I would have to look it up from the frequency while airborne.

The morning of the flight I wake my new WSO. Crew rest is important but he can catch a few cat naps along the way.

The start up was going fine until I accidentally dumped the INS alignment. Whether a sim-ism or real, once dumped, you pretty much need to go shut down and start again…which I did. With a good INS, and everything else working it as time to taxi out.

At the end of the HABs, there is a large apron. Military transient parking? There are a couple of Forest Firefighting planes there.

There is also a Mi-8 Hip. For a second I thought it might be my Hip from DCS, but I soon saw that it wasn’t…the tail was still attached…after I land my DCS Hip, the tail is rarely still attached.

My taxi clearance was to RWY 18C. I really didn’t feel like taxiing all over the airport, so I made my way over to RWY 36C. FSX controllers only care that you are at a hold short for the active, not which end you are at. Winds were 176° at 9 kts, so a bit of a tail wind. Nothing my two J79-GE-17s can’t overcome in a few seconds.

I got cleared to take off, pulled on to the runway, stood on the brakes, ran up the engines to 80%-gauges were good-off the brakes and selected AB. Airborne with plenty of room.

Once airborne and cleaned up, I pulled the throttles out of AB, and set 100% mil power for the climb.

My cruise altitude was supposed to be 30,000 ft MSL. I got to 26,900 ft and found I couldn’t go higher with out going back into burner. The economy cruise figures I had looked at were for a 30,000 ft cruise…that was not going to happen.
I decided to call it “TOC” and settled in at that altitude.


Takeoff had been about 800 lbs under max operational weight. The jet was evidently still heavy. I figured the decreased cruise efficiency difference from a 4,000 ft lower altitude was probably less than spending a minute or so in AB. In hind sight, I should have picked a lower initial crime altitude until I burned off some gas. Even at 95% power I was still just making 250 KIAS. True speed was 386-ish but the plane felt too heavy until it lightened up.

The flight over Turkey was scenic but uneventful. I took the oportuity to have my “wingman” take a close in of myself and WSO.

Off my right wing I could see the northern part of Cyprus, including its long, thin eastern peninsula.

The Turkish / Syrian coast came into view.

A few miles from WP3, I initiated my dive to about 5000 ft.

I went back over land near the Turkish town of Arsuz, with in the “corner” of the eastern Mediterranean.

After a quick hop over the coastal mountains…

I was back over the sea…

… paralleling the Syrian coast.

I passed over Latakia, a major Syrian port.

Passing Tartus, I could see the Lebanese mountains up ahead.

Flying low over the foothills…

…the climate changed from lush mediterranean to arid semi-desert.

The road junction in the Lebanese town of El Qasr was my next waypoint. I needed to visually acquire it as I had already set my INS Nav Computer to the following waypoint, in order to have a reference heading from the turn. I hit it spot on and banked for a sharp turn.

I first was introduced to Lebanon’s Bekka Valley (or just “the Bekka”) way back in 1987, during a deployment with VF-32 on USS John F Kennedy (CV-67). At the time a few Americans, and a British “negotiator” named Terry Waite had been kidnapped by extremist groups in Lebanon. It was decided that the US needed a presence in the East Med. So off we went to “Bagel Station”, centered on 34N 34E, about 70 Nm from Beirut, and I did a month or so looking at bad guys and looking for air defenses in the Bekka Valley. Fun!

Here I am, over 30 years later, skimming over a much different Bekka Valley. (The default FSX scenery is way too sparse and too arid.)

At the end of the valley, I pop up to a higher altitude, but not too high.

At issue is fuel. Just before I got to Syria, my external wing tanks went dry. Now my center external is just about out. Given the distance I still have to travel, I am pretty sure that 10,000 lbs will suffice. So I head in over northern Israel at about 2,000 AGL, settling into about 5,000 ft MSL.

My WSO locked up a bogey ahead…

…looking…looking…I don’t see it.

Approaching the Dead Sea, I want to try something over the water…

…roll inverted and pull towards the deck…

…pull out at about 200 ft AGL…

…and sure enough, I’m flying below sea level!

OK, not that hard to do considering that the Dead Sea is 1412 ft below sea level. Still I have always wanted to do this, in a way recreating something I saw in 1993. During a port visit to Haifa aboard USS Guam, I took a USO tour to Masada (near the Red Sea). While there, I saw a couple pairs of IAF F-16s flying a similar low-level over the sea. They were approximately at eye-level to me on a hill so 200-500 ft AGL over the water. (Years later–2008–I had a moment of deja vu when in England. While visiting Hadrian’s Wall, I spotted two USAF F-16s flying a low-level in the valley to the north, again just about at my eye level as I stood at the wall.)

The south end of the Dead Sea comes up pretty fast at 350 kts. I pulled back up to a more modest altitude.

And ran into haze. OJAQ has an ILS but I’m not on an IFR flight plan (necessary in FSX to get clearance to fly an ILS approach). I take a quick look and my divert, the IAF’s Ovda air base which is at 1492 ft elevation and should be out of the haze. I change my TACAN from The Aqabar VOR to the Ovda VOR, CH 88X. I keep the Nav Computer on the Aqabar Waypoint. Of curse just after I do this…

The haze is gone. OJAQ is evidently VFR. The only other thing is the air traffic on radar.

I never see this bogey either. After a while, it is time tor shut down the radar in preparation for landing. The Master Caution light has come on for low fuel (under 4,000 lbs…I need to see if that can be adjusted). Still, rather use the fuel for a normal pattern approach, I decide to shoot a strait in visual for RWY 19.

Slow down. At 250 Kts , Gear and Flaps. Looking for “5 Doughnuts” Check. Landing Light. Slowing to 180 kts. Setting AOA and using power for glide slope.

I often forget to take screen shots during landing…I need to map it to a button. Regardless, the landing was good–AOA and on speed. Touched down, put the nose wheel on the asphalt and popped the drag chute.

The obligatory F-4E cool screen shot.

So as the drag chute goes flaccid so does my…um…“excitement” from flying the landing. I turn off the active…

…and taxi to parking.

The airport scenery is by Mahmoud Fadli and the VATSIM Jordanian FIR. It a fair mix of default and custom buildings that gets the job done.

Shut down, climb out and button up.

From here I’ve got two choices for my next flight but both are Royal Jordanian Airlines wide bodies…hmmm…what to do…:thinking:


Well…yes, I can see as it might be difficult to get them up that steep ramp in sow and ice…but I think getting them down the ramp in those conditions would be fairly strait forward…even easy, one might say…unless of course you mean to get them down safely and not crunch into the planes at the bottom…yeah…in that case it might be challenging. :slightly_smiling_face:


That is a pretty cool detail. I remember some flying show a few years ago where they delivered that model of aircraft to someplace in the Middle East. Can’t remember if it was Turkey or Greece though…

I remember they were training the crews in how to use them and…uh…this happened…(it was Turkey!)


Some nice flat-hatting you did there! Nice leg…


Actually, I’ve got a simNovel mission where an amphibian lands on snow/glacier on its belly, then puts down the gear. I give some semi-plausible reason for it in the novel. I cut it from the latest story line but will try to get it into the next one.


That was Ice Pilots IIRC.


Helps as well with keeping your maintenance bill down a bit!


LEG 1 - Cessna 152 - Gastonia, NC (KAKH) - Mountain Air, NC (2NCO)
LEG 2 - Cessna 172 - Mountain Air, NC (2NC0) - Andrews-Murphy, NC (KRHP)
LEG 3 - Cessna 182 - Andrews-Murphy, NC (KRHP) - Tyndall AFB, FL (KPAM)
LEG 4 - T-34 Mentor - Tyndall AFB, FL (KPAM) - New Orleans, LA (KNEW)
LEG 5 - PA-28 Warrior - New Orleans, LA (KNEW) - Beaumont, TX (KBPT)
LEG 6 - PA-32 Lance - Beaumont, TX (KBPT) - Temple, TX (KTPL)
LEG 7 - Cessna 172RG - Temple, TX (KTPL) - Midland, TX (KMAF)
Intermission - Sub Orbital Flight
LEG 8 - A-36 Bonanza - Midland, TX (KMAF) - Albuquerque, NM (KABQ)
LEG 9 - Cessna 404 - Albuquerque, NM (KABQ) - Montrose, CO (KMTJ)
LEG 10 - Grumman AA-5B Tiger - Montrose, CO (KMTJ) - Salt Lake City, UT (KSLC)
LEG 11 - BE-58 Baron - Salt Lake City, UT (KSLC) - Johnson Creek, Idaho (3U2)
LEG 12 - Navion 205 - Johnson Creek, Idaho (3U2) - Mile Hi, Idaho (I97D)
LEG 13 - J-3 Cub - Mile Hi, Idaho (I97D) - Krassel, ID (24K)
LEG 14 - Mooney M20C - Krassel, ID (24K) - Enterprise, OR (8S4)
LEG 15 - Piper PA-44-180 Seminole - Enterprise, OR (8S4) - Hanel Field, OR (0OR9)
LEG 16 - BAC Jet Provost - Hanel Field, OR - S50 Auburn, WA
LEG 17 - Cessna 206 - Auburn, WA (S50) - Mears Field, WA (3W5)
LEG 18 - Beechcraft C-23 Sundowner - Mears Field, WA (3W5) - Squamish, Canada (CYSE)
LEG 19 - Citation II - Squamish, Canada (CYSE) - Chilko Lake (CAG3)
LEG 20 - Citation CJ - Chilko Lake (CAG3) - Ketchikan, AK (PAKT)

Hired at TPT on May 14th, 1997 I’d find myself on the way to the quintessential corporate destination of Teterboro, NJ the next day on May 15th in the CitationJet, and then on to Palwaukee, IL, the Teterboro of the Midwest. Talk about full immersion. I probably would have been most useful as a wheel chock or gust lock on those trips.

On May 21, I was introduced to TPT’s third type of jet, the Citation V N920PM. That would make essentially three different airplane types within seven days (with more to come!). My head was spinning. The Citation V shared a lot of commonality with the Citation II, but it did have a 3-tube EFIS and an FMS. The II had a panel mounted Trimble 2000.

For our leg today, we will be once again using the Carenado Citation II to emulate the V with a slightly different paint scheme…

Our route will take us out of Ketchikan and up the coast Alaska to the nifty and always fun Valdez, Alaska (PAVD)…

The RealityXP GTN 750 is probably the coolest piece of avionics I’ve seen in a flight sim add-on…

Coming out of the lower ramp we have to zig zag our way up the switchbacks to get to the main runway…

Off we go…!

Pretty good weather in Ketchikan…

The Carenado Citation has probably become my favorite airplane to fly in X-Plane. Despite its systems being wrong in some areas, it does provide a good Citation experience. And I do love the pop-up 2D panels, the pop-up flight director and autopilot panels, and the GTN integration (though it is not fully integrated in that you have to use the pop-up window to manipulate it).

I can’t recall offhand what the climb profile of the II is, so I just backed off the V/Ultra profile slightly and used 250 knots until Mach .58 and held that on the way up. The V/Ultra is 250 to .62.

The modeling on the Carenado II is really nice…

Hitting the first fix and heading up the coast…

Still pretty happy with the Global Ortho…

While on the way I check the Valdez weather and determine they are doing the LDA/DME to 11 and plug that in the GTN (again, an amazing box)…

The coastal plains jack up to some impressive mountains in very short order…

Approaching Johnstone Point, the VOR that provides the feeder to the LDA…

Valdez it tucked back inland in a deep fjord…

On the 35 mile transition to the LDA…

Check the altitudes on the plate and double check them…

Intercepting the LDA out over Valdez Arm…

You’ll notice there is a slight difference between the localizer course and the localizer on the GTN - I noticed the GTN has slightly different waypoints than the X-Plane database, so the charted procedure has obviously changed…

On the LDA and making the stepdown fixes…you become aware of the masses of mountains lurking on each side, definitely a spooky feeling (it is in real life too as you can imagine)…

The airport comes out of the haze and we get good visual at about nine miles out…

It is readily apparent why the missed approach point on the approach is so far out (about 5 miles) and so high (4,339’ AGL) - you need to start high to make sure you can outclimb the terrain if your missed approach turn isn’t tight enough…

On with the reversers and speedbrakes…

I think we are in VALDEZ…whew…

Love the cockpit modeling in the Carenado Citation…

Get the fishing gear out and prepare the plane for the overnight…

The real life Citation V is a really nice airplane. Simple systems, easy to fly, forgiving, and great short field performance at the expense of a low top end speed of Mach .755. It is just the right range for this guy (about three hours of flying you should be looking for a spot to land) and it has been superbly reliable. The Citation V and Ultra I ended up flying at my current job is also modded with a clamshell door which makes loading patients a breeze. The V/Ultra is getting a bit old now, parts aren’t as easy to find, and the ones that are have been remanufactured a few times. I’ve been flying the type for twenty-two years now and I love the plane.


I wasn’t sure what that was, and was going to ask. I assumed it is what we are all doing here on this thread, flying fantasy adventures. I looked it up first and got a load of stuff like this…

…which apart from the matrices on the chalk board, is not really a subject I am nuts about.

So I have to ask what it is. Is it a thing?

@BeachAV8R How time flies! It was that long ago that the Military Geographic Institute here in Ecuador got one of that exact type with cameras installed and map-archived the whole country in some high resolution detail. It was flying all the time almost every day for quite some time out of old Quito airport. Don’t know why it still seems recent to me…

Versatile, it would appear, for a biz-jet!


Yes, it is a thing. (The next bit is about my “commercial enterprise”…if you can call 2 people and a cat an enterprise; standard Mudspike cautionary advisories germane)

A simNovel is a novel where you read a chapter or two and then “fly” a chapter (in this case, in FSX) as one of the protagonists. My first simNovel was “Pilate’s Ghost”, a description of which can be found here.

BeachAV8R’s Mudspike review can be found here.

Two more are in the works. Well, one has turned more into a documentary…a simDocmentary? …need to work on that. :slightly_smiling_face:


Great AAR! I have both airports from ORBX plus the Pacific Fjords and Southern Alaska scenery areas. I’ve always meant to fly this route…I think I have a Citation somewhere in my virtual hangar. :slightly_smiling_face:

BTW, I really like the mix of personal history with sim soliloquy…you have a real talent for that kind of writing.


How about that, LOL! I’ll have to reinstall FSX… :slight_smile: