The Official 4th Annual Mudspike Christmas Flight - 2018 Edition



Sadly, the ACARS stuff was mostly just “flavor” for now. There are tools like Hoppie that allow you to simulate CPDLC and ADS over VATSIM, but very few controllers use them, and it’s mostly only on the NATs.


I have never flown using VATSIM. It sounds like it is more advanced than I thought.

Out of curiosity, do you have an aviation background? I see in your avatar that you are standing in front of a Cirrus.


VATSIM can be very realistic for planned events (,, when they stock up the controllers and have entire routes fully staffed. This is anything from simple narrowbody hops (ORD-CLE, for example), to epic Cross the Pond (CTP) events over the NATs. The controllers do a really good job of trying to work in as much real life procedure as possible. That being said, most controllers just use the VATSIM chat window to send down your PDC, which you can consider “ACARS” if you want.

Yes, I’m a commercial multi pilot and SR22 owner :slight_smile: I’m taking a hiatus from Silicon Valley right now but I was formerly a software engineer.


This shot summarizes my early days in aviation. Here I was, a mile above the earth, suspendended in air by thin sheets of aluminum riveted together decades before, and then suffered upon by countless student pilots for thousands of hours. And we placed our fate in its hands.


At some point I will have to give VATSIM a try. I have thought about trying out PilotEdge too, but the monthly subscription has deterred me from starting down that path (I don’t know why as I used to spend much more per month playing iEN’s Warbirds way back when).

The SR22 is on my list of airplanes I would like to fly someday. I’m ever so slightly jealous :sunglasses:.


**Hampton to Pago Pago **
Leg 12 - Cochin, India to Darwin, Australia

I needed a “big leap” to make the 1 January deadline and yesterday I got one. My flight plan to Darwin is 3,567 Nm. It is going to take several hours (it ended up being 9.1). As I mentioned, I was going with a Boeing Business Jet-3 (BBJ3). The BBJ3 is the long haul version of B737’s/BBJ’s. It is essentially a B737-900 ER. Two extra fuel tanks are installed, one each in the forward and aft cargo bays. I topped them all off.

My route:

So the good folks at MAD (not the magazine) had stripped out the luxurious furnishings from a BBJ3 and turned it into a long range cargo hauler. I’m going to designate it a B737-900F ER…a “Nine Hundred Fff-er”, as it were. Then they tasked me to get it to Pago Pago before the earlier arrivals drink all the virtual beer.

Start up, taxi and take off were nominal…OK I had a hard time getting the navigation system aligned…I always screw up the sequence…it took a couple tries…then we were ready to go. It is a pre-dawn start so I can (hopefully) land in daylight.

Take off was to the West so I took the ARONA-5 SID…
…to get onto the eastward flightpath coming back over the airport.

02 SID

Heading to TOC…dawn as Sri Lanka comes into view.

Over the Bay of Bengal…lots of water, not really worth a screen shot. So I went off to the yacht club to check on my real boat…and have a Guinness .

Back in the cockpit flying over Indonesia (Sumatra Island)…

…across the Strait of Malacca…


… some thunder storm activity in the strait…

…over Singapore…

and out over the Java Sea…hmmm…java…I think I’ll get a cup of coffee.

Sea Story:

When STENNIS was transiting the Java Sea in 2004, I went up to the Flag Bridge with a cup of coffee so I could honestly say that I had some java while looking at the Java Sea…its those little moments that make life wonderful.

Then back over Indonesia (Island of Kalimantan)…the last time I looked, the charts of this island include a few “uncharted” areas where terrain elevation is uncertain…the aviation equivalent of “Here there be Dragons”

Over the Java Sea again towards the Flores island…

…and then over Timor.

FMS Stuff

Fuel Management: While climbing I turned on the Main/Center Tank pumps and the Auxiliary fuel tank system. The way it works is that the Main tank empties out to a certain point, then fuel is pumped into the Main from both Auxiliary tanks. This “refills” the Main, at which point fuel is stoped pumping from the the Auxiliary tanks. When the Main tank level is again reduced to that level, the Auxiliaries fill it again. And so it goes. Interestingly enough, this is the same way the F-4E uses its external fuel tanks.

Step Climb: I also worked the Step Climb feature of the FMS. Fairly simple. You tell it the next flight level you want to go to, it counts down the time and distance and literally tells you “Now” when it is time to climb.

Traffic! FSX ATC did its usual “stellar” job of de-conflicting air traffic. This B737 was at the same flight level and evidently on the same airway. Fortunately my TCAS caught it in time for me to climb…and way before ATC caught the conflict.

I had two other sightings not at co-altitude.
An Airbus…

…and a 777.

Australia was in view as I hit TOD and started down hill.
Winds Aloft were mostly favorable util I hit the Java Sea, then I hit some headwinds, up to 15 knots…not too bad, but now I had a nice tail wind. My fuel looked good. Initially the FMS said around 14 K lbs at YPDN. As the flight went on, the calculations went up to 20 K lbs…I guess that Step Climb stuff really works…

As I got closer, and lower, the weather started looking worse. But Darwin Intl (YPDN) was VFR so it couldn’t be too bad.

I used the DOYNA 2 STAR and got set for a RNAV RWY 11 approach. A bit of rain but visibility is good.

I settled in on glide slope and switched off the AP. Using the vertical view I was able to (mostly) maintain the glide slope.

The landing was smooth but off center to the left…still this is Australia and that is the side of the road they drive on…so….

Auto Brake, Spoilers and Reverse Thrust all worked as advertised.

Taxi off the active and head for the stand. (I forgot to load the enhanced scenery! Doh!)

Shut down and open the door…and evidently jump to the ground.

So with only 3,701 Nm to go and 3 days to do it in…I may just take one more, shorter, scenic hop before wrapping it all up.


It’s a blast. If you’re ever in the Bay Area I’m always up to giving rides and handing off the controls.


Sounds like the same type of weather I went through a few days ago…in the same area…

Fantastic flight and great look at all the hard work and procedures that make one of those long transoceanic flights happen. Superb!


A quick beforehand note:

This flight was flown on the 23 December, 2018. Sorry about the delay posting it. As can be seen, there was a lot to write and I have not had all that much time.

I used free Orbiter Space Flight Simulator 2010. I also used the stock Atlantis Space Shuttle that comes with the base download. There is a much better one available as a community developed add on, Space Shuttle Ultra. I opted for the basic one for several reasons. The most important of these is that it needs to be flown manually all the way, from launch to landing, whereas SSU has some automated programs for ascent, and is more complex system wise. It is new, at least in terms of when I stopped playing Orbiter regularly, and I did not have the time now to delve into it.

Now, purists may look at the shots of the reentry and notice that I did not pitch up like the real thing. The simple retort is; you cannot. The stock Atlantis can only be reentered flying at a low AoA. This issue has apparently been sorted out on SSU. Still, I opt for the stock Atlantis because I used to fly it quite often about 8 years ago, and would no doubt remember a thing or two. The only recent Orbiter flights I did before starting this one were a couple of “already in orbit” scenarios, with a different vessel (the stock Delta Glider) for a comparative purpose with a newer space sim; Reentry. I did absolutely zero practice for this particular flight beforehand, as I wanted to see how well the numbers I had played with would work. No one would be more surprised than myself if they did work, despite some diligent effort to recall all but forgotten formulas, and investigate known, but unpracticed new ones. Suffice to say, there was a lot of reading, and my scientific calculator needs new batteries.

The lack of recent practice had its consequences during the launch, and to a greater degree, right at the end

This is going to be a very long post. There will be collapsible DATA and MATH segments that will contain further information that is outside the scope of the published “adventure”, but were critical for attempting to accomplish it. There was no getting away from this, unfortunately.

It is, after all (in the words of the creator of Orbiter), “only rocket science”!

23 December 2018

Mission Profile:


Lift set off for 16:00:00 UTC. Launch to circular 250 x 250 km orbit on 50º inclination. Perform deployment mission for MAD. Remain four orbits for orbital track alignment with Cape Canaveral. Recover to Cape Canaveral.

Mission Log:

Start Time UTC: 15:58:30

T -00:01:30: Pilot sets HUD mode Orbit Ref, RCS and Aero Surfaces off, Surf Ref MFD 1, Orbit Ref MFD 2.

T -00:01:15: Pilot confirms MFD 2 references set, Equatorial Projection, Ship Plan, Distance Altitude.

T -00:01:00: Pilot reports ready for launch.

T -00:00:30: Existing Orbital Speed (OS) component 408 m/s. Pilot reports ready for lift off.

MET 00:00:00: Lift off at 16:00:00 UTC: Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) & Solid Rocket Boosters (SRB) 100%.

MET 00:00:04: Pilot makes meaningless exclamation.

MET 00:00:30: Roll manuever complete. Alt 2.19 km.

MET 00:00:37: SSME throttle back to 70%.

MET 00:00:49: Through Mach 1. Alt 7.0 km.

MET 00:00:54: SSME to 100%.

MET 00:01:00: Pitch 75º. Heading established 047º. OS 679 m/s. VS 402 m/s. Alt 10.3 km.


Why 47 degrees heading? An orbital inclination of 50 degrees with reference to the equator (ie; at the nodes) was desired. Geodesically the angle of the trajectory to the parallels will change with respect to its inclination at the nodes, depending on the latitude you are currently at along the orbit. To calculate that value, the following formula resolves it…

Cos(inclination) = Cos(latitude) x Sin(heading)

This rearranges to…

Heading = Asin(Cos(inclination) / Cos(latitude))

MET 00:01:08: Pilot expresses concern about pitching back late.

MET 00:01:30: Pitch 56º. OS 1,145 m/s. VS 797 m/s. Alt 27.8 km.

MET 00:02:00: Pitch 32º. OS 1,882 m/s. VS 1,180 m/s. Alt 58.3 km.

MET 00:02:06: SRB auto cut off and separation complete.

MET 00:02:12: Pilot informs that apogee of SRBs will be 140 km, twice the nominal. Reiterates that pitch back was late.

MET 00:02:25: MAD CNTL informs no problem. SRB recovery will not exceed the safety range limits.

MET 00:02:30: Pitch 25º. OS 2,011 m/s. VS 1,112 m/s. Alt 92.6 km. External Tank (ET) fuel 75%.p

MET 00:03:00: Pitch 13º. OS 2,141 m/s. VS 1,002 m/s. Alt 124.4 km.

MET 00:03:07: SSME throttle back to 90%.

MET 00:03:30: Pitch 11º. OS 2,316 m/s. VS 863 m/s. Alt 152.3 km.

MET 00:04:00: Pitch -1º. OS 2,514 m/s. VS 693 m/s.

MET 00:04:30: Pitch 6º. OS 2,753 m/s. VS 526 m/s. Alt 194.1 km. ET fuel 50%.

MET 00:04:48: SSME throttle back to 70%.

MET 00:05:00: Pitch 13º. OS 3,018 m/s. VS 422 m/s. Alt 208.3 km.

MET 00:05:27: Pilot: Cape Hatteras, I believe. Kind of all started around here. Successfully, that is.

MET 00:05:38: MAD CNTL: Affirmative.

MET 00:06:00: Pitch 14º. OS 3,533 m/s. VS 220 m/s. Alt 227.5 km.

MET 00:07:00: Pitch 29º. OS 3,965 m/s. VS 144 m/s. Alt 237.5 km. Apogee (ApA) 239 km. Eccentricity (Ecc) 0.7397.

MET 00:07:18: SSME throttle back to 55%.

MET 00:08:00: Pitch 29º. OS 4,408 m/s. VS 115 m/s. Alt 245.5 km. ApA 246.6 km. ET fuel 25%.

MET 00:08:22: SSME throttle back to 50%.

MET 00:09:00: Pitch -11º. OS 4,836 m/s. Alt 250.6 km. ApA 250.8 km. Ecc 0.6126. Inc 49.5º. ApA orbit insertion alt within tolerance.

MET 00:10:00: Pitch 18º. OS 5,323 m/s. Alt 250.0 km. ApA 250.1 km. Ecc 0.5306. Inc 49.8º.

MET 00:10:02: Pilot: New York, New York. Furthest I have ever gone in 10 minutes, no doubt about it.

MET 00:11:00: Pitch 5º. OS 5,960 m/s. Alt 250.4 km. ApA 250.4 km. Ecc 0.4100. Inc 49.9º.

MET 00:12:00: Pitch -3º. OS 6,727 m/s. Alt 250.3 km. ApA 250.3 km. Ecc 0.2511. Inc 50.0º - Inclination alignment complete.

MET 00:13:00: Pitch -11. OS 7,606 m/s. Alt 250.3 km. ApA 250.3 km. Ecc 0.0395. Roll to ET separation attitude.

MET 00:13:05: Main Engine Cut Off (MECO).

MET 00:13:07: Pilot confirms MECO.

MET 00:13:10: Alt 250.2 km. ApA 250.3 km. Ecc 0.0235. Perigee (PeA) -48.3 km. ET fuel < 1%.

Geographic Position 42.953N 057.715W. True Anomaly (TA) 312º for surface intersect. Surface intersect position 42.9S 74.3E (Southern Indian Ocean). Parameter good for ET jettison. Proceeding with ET Jettison.



Custom Deorbit Calculator used to determine intersection of ET trajectory with planet surface, based on angle of True Anomaly from Mean Anomaly. Here, the Mean Anomaly is the local angle, considered zero, at which the perigee occurs, as from the focus of the orbit. The True Anomaly is the angle of any particular radius from the focus other than the Mean Anomaly, counter clockwise from the Mean Anomaly. What is being assessed here is at which angle the True Anomaly’s radius length is equal to the radius of the planet (that is, surface intersect), with an eccentricity of 0.02302, which in turn is caused by having a perigee 48 km beneath the surface at Mean Anomaly, and apogee of 250 above the surface at Mean Anomaly + 180º.

Formulae used in Excel calculator.

SMA Semi Major Axis = (Radius1 + Radius2) / 2

SMI Semi Minor Axis = SqRt(Radius1 x Radius2)

Ecc Eccentricity = SqRt(1 - (SMI^2 / SMA^2))

Radius at True Anomaly = (SMA x (1 - Ecc^2)) / (1 + (Ecc x Cos(TA angle)))

Orbital Speed at True Anomaly = SqRt(Planet Mass x Grav Const x (2 / RadiusTA - 1 / SMA))

This exact same solution is also useful for the Space Shuttle’s own deorbit later, with the difference that the Mean Anomaly is placed on the longitude of the destination by executing the deorbit burn on the antipodean longitude, from a circular orbit.

MET 00:13:22: ET separation executed.

MET 00:13:57: Roll to orbit insertion attitude complete. Orbital Manuevering System (OMS) engines 100% for final orbit insertion.

MET 00:14:00: OS 7,670 m/s. Alt 250.1 km. ApA 250.2 km. Ecc 0.0228.

MET 00:15:00: OS 7,682 m/s. Alt 249.9 km. ApA 250.0 km. Ecc 0.0191.

MET 00:16:00: OS 7,709 m/s. Alt 250.0 km. ApA 250.0 km. Ecc 0.0128.

MET 00:17:00: OS 7,735 m/s. Alt 250.0 km. ApA 250.0 km. Ecc 0.0064.

MET 00:18:00: OMS cut off. Alt 250.0 km. ApA 250.0 km. PeA 250.0 km. Ecc 0.0000. Inc 50.0º.

MET 00:18:05: Orbit insertion complete.

MET 00:18:37: Initiate payload bay doors opening. Maneuver to stable orbit orientation.

MET 00:22:17: Payload bay doors open. Initiate KU band antenna and radiator deployment.

MET 00:23:32: Orbital configuration complete.

MET 00:24:15: Preparation for mission objective.

MET 00:26:14: Pilot reports bad perspective on payload. Deployment will require EVA.

MET 00:26:30: Operation suspended due to entering night side of planet during RMS extension.

MET 00:32:30: Noting orbital perturbations effect on orbit. Within tolerance.

MET 00:35:00: Review of deorbit data.


The atmospheric calculator. I made this so that I could identify the altitudes at which certain speeds would give me desired negative accelerations, so that I could use Orbiter’s linear acceleration meter with a bit more intelligence than estimates.

Essentially, it is just a drag calculator, that turns momentum into an acceleration value, which is what I wanted for the next phase of planning.

Incidentally, the data the table pulls for the interpolations comes from these additional tables. The US Standard Atmosphere and an estimate of Cd vs. Mach based on a blunt bullet, of all things, and extrapolated beyond the supersonic peak. Strangely, it worked.


Finally, there was this…

It calculates for three phases of the reentry run, at different accelerations, averages orbital speed, identifies the speed you should be at beginning each phase, and pinpoints the true anomaly of the beginning of each phase. That is to say, distance. A further calculation (which I already talked about two years ago, so I won’t repeat) identified the longitudes that would be crossed and be usable as check points.

Once the distance was identified as from where reentry commenced, I could go to my deorbit calculator, already shown up above somewhere, input the altitude and distance of the burn run, and then positively identify the required eccentricity (that is to say, the perigee) I would need to achieve during the deorbit burn so as to coincidence the beginning of the reentry with the end of the deorbit.

I had fun with it, at least. :slight_smile:

MET 00:54:45: Entering daylight side of planet.

MET 00:56:01: Pilot engages and performs control surface check.

MET 00:57:13: Pilot inhibits control surfaces movement. Shuts down unrequired MFDs. Inhibits ship RCS for EVA safety.

MET 01:02:23: Resumed mission operations. Preparing for EVA.

MET 01:08:25: EVA executed to guide RMS.

MET 01:13:51: Time to deliver Mudspike’s present.

MET 01:23:58: Extending the RMS to position the satellite.

MET 01:25:24: Returning to the airlock.

MET 01:35:00: Stabilizing the orbit and orienting satellite. Release. Activation.

MET 01:37:00: Inspecting satellite.

Small note

I honestly thought about making at least a temporary internet radio station to simulate the satellite’s transmissions. :slight_smile: It is, however, a bit hard to get streaming licenses where I am (I should say, impossible), and I did not want to set up a pirate station by any means. But, if anyone knows more about the subject than my meager understanding of it… I’m listening!

For the moment, here is its first transmission…

_In the worst case scenario, we can just listen to the Mudspike Plays thread and pretend that is the satellite’s transmissions! LOL!

MET 01:42:37: Configuring for deorbit. KU band antenna retract. Radiators retract.

MET 01:44:37: Payload bay doors closed.

MET 01:46:34: Pilot announces intention of recovering to Pago Pago, American Samoa.

MET 01:46:43: MAD CNTL requests reason.

MET 01:46:52: Pilot requires it.

MET 01:47:03: MAD CNTL denies request.

MET 01:47:09: Pilot indicates there is no option. Recovery must be made this orbit to Pago Pago.

MET 01:47:57: MAD CNTL analysis of ships systems nominal.

MET 01:48:21: MAD CNTL indicates no problems with vessel. Continue for recovery to Cape Canaveral as programmed.

MET 01:48:32: Pilot replies negative. Important to recover to Pago Pago. Proceeding with alternate recovery.

MET 01:48:52: MAD CNTL indicates no solution possible in given time.

MET 01:49:07: Pilot indicates he has solution for deorbit and reentry to recovery at Pago Pago.

MET 01:51:28: Pilot indicates deorbit burn will take place over longitude 008º E.

MET 01:52:27: MAD CNTL informs they will coordinate rescue. Runway at Pago Pago is not suitable.

MET 01:52:36: Pilot confirms message.

MET 01:59:50: Deorbit burn initiated. OS 7,755 m/s. Alt 251.3 km. Internal fuel 75%.

MET 02:00:11: Pilot reports perigee dropping and eccentricity increasing satisfactorily. Some very minor loss of inclination.

MET 02:01:00: OS 7,726 m/s. Alt 251.5 km. ApA 251.5 km. PeA 144.4 km. Ecc 0.0082.

MET 02:02:00: OS 7,700 m/s. Alt 251.5 km. ApA 251.5 km. PeA 56.2 km. Ecc 0.0150.

MET 02:03:00: OS 7,674 m/s. Alt 251.2 km. ApA 251.4 km. PeA -30.2 km. Ecc 0.217.

MET 02:03:12: Deorbit burn complete. OMS cut off.

MET 02:03:17: Pilot reports OMS cut off. Perigree minus 47 km.

MET 02:03:27: MAD CNTL Informs pilot he has done it now. He is on his own. Good luck.

MET 02:03:30: OS 7,669 m/s. Alt 250.9 km. ApA 251.3 km. PeA -47.2 km. Ecc 0.0231. Internal fuel 53%.

MET 02:24:07: OS 7,828 m/s. Alt 127.3 km. VS -140 m/s. Pilot sets reentry attitude.

MET 02:34:26: Entering daylight side of planet second time. Pilot sets Radio Navs to Pago Pago.

MET 02:34:49: OS 7,703 m/s. Alt 63.3 km. VS -10 m/s. Holding off descent for first reentry check point.

MET 02:36:10: First signs of plasma entering significant atmosphere.

MET 02:36:50: Pilot initiates roll to north for Pago Pago alignment. Continues descent for first reentry check point.

MET 02:37:44: Reaches first check point longitude 150ºE. Alt 51.7 km. Accel -3.17 m/s^2.

MET 02:43:19: Crossing Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand.

MET 02:45:32: Through second check point longitude 178ºE. Alt 47.1 km. Accel -3.74 m/s^2.

MET 02:48:22: Pilot sets HSI in Second display. Alt 43.3 km. Accel -4.95 m/s^2.

MET 02:51:03: Lowers altitude for last check point. Alt 34.6 km. Accel (transitory) -10.39 m/s^2.

MET 02:54:22: Picks up Pago Pago VOR. Maneuver to intercept extended center line. Alt 20.8 km. Accel -6.56 m/s^2.

MET 02:56:00: Final glide. Speed brake deployed.

MET 02:57:00: Pilot concerned about lack of speed loss on MFD 1 (indicates 616 m/s).

MET 02:57:06: Looks at HUD, realizes he has goofed. MFD is still in Orbital Speed Mode. TAS is 209.9 m/s.

MET 02:57:08: Might not make the runway now. Speed brake set to retracted. Slow retraction.

MET 02:57:24: Pilot sets gear down. Looks like an undershoot is inevitable.

MET 02:57:25: Last ditch attempt. Flare for all it is worth and hope for the best.

MET 02:57:35: Wheels just about to touch. Unbelievable luck!

MET 02:58:36: Stopped. Some runway still available. Who said it was not suitable?

MET 02:58:37: Sweating pilot collapses at the controls.

MET 02:59:00: Mission terminated with alternate landing site recovery, December 23, 2018, UTC 18:59:00


All the time I was the guy sitting at the bar next to you, drinking a Red Bull / Gatorade mix with an effervescent Berocca dissolved in it, and calling them Boosted BetABS.

In case I did not make it, I had this all installed and ready…

I was going to have a bit more fun with it. But, unfortunately, I made it with the Shuttle. I might review it some other time, on a different thread!


They probably still told you to hold… :smile:

We have a satellite boys! That’s why we are shutting down the TeamSpeak…we are going into the satellite business…!


Houston…we have a problem…

I found video of @Cygon_Parrot talking to MAD CNTL:


Wow…me too! LOL…insane




That was a hack of a ride CG! Next year, maybe a slingshot around the moon before making a perfect splashdown at the 2019Christmas destination?


That’s a generous offer, thanks! I do occasionally drop into SFO, so maybe I’ll give you a shout sometime.


So I had some free time today. I had originally planned on making one additional stop, but since I could do it all in one go that’s what happened. The route:

Graciosa Bay to Pago Pago, with Rotuma as a checkpoint roughly halfway. I only had one other leg of more than 1000 NM, so I figured the last one wasn’t a bad place. The presents have been brought, the secondary beer has arrived, but I hadn’t heard anyone say anything about fireworks.

Got us covered.

Virtavia’s B-29. As with all Virtavia/Alphasim products the systems modeling is lacking, but they have some pretty nice models on their current releases.

A B-29 off a 2700’ coral runway you ask? If Cygon_Parrot can land a Space Shuttle in Pago Pago, the least I can do it try and take off in one of the heaviest, most prone to light on fire, long take off run aircraft of WW2. I mean what’s the worst that could go wrong? All that stands between glory, and firey incredibly explosive death is 2700 feet of crushed coral, some palm tree’s, and 8,800 shp not deciding to light itself on fire.

The office for the next few hours. Compared to most other heavy bombers of the time (particularly American ones) was incredibly spacious and airy. The “greenhouse” cockpit was a first, and would carry over to the later B-36. For those who aren’t familiar with the B-29’s troubled operational beginnings, the Wright R-3350 Duplex Cyclones (later used in the Constellation) were prone to lighting themselves on fire. ALOT. For a variety of reasons the engines had tremendous trouble being kept cool. The second prototype built had to abort halfway through the first test flight due to an engine fire, and only 2 months later crashed due to an engine firing killing all on board, as well as 20 on the ground.

So with all that running through my head, there are a couple problems that I have to address with this takeoff. First runway length, this is WAY short for a B-29, usually operating off of 8,000’ or longer runways. It is reasonably warm, 78 degrees OAT, not sweltering but every degree counts. There are tree’s just past the end of the runway, so I need to be climbing as soon as I get the wheels unstuck. Climbing however is slow, which means less air going into the engines, which are already throttled all the way up for takeoff, which means hot engines getting litte cooling. Hmm.

In my favor, it’s about 1300 NM to Pago Pago, so roughly 1/4 of the B-29’s range, we can go very light on fuel. The plan, is to add some extra flap extension to help get us airborne, firewall the throttles, and as soon as we’re airborne and not going to hit terrain, back off from takeoff power, level off to let th engines cool down some. Open up the all the cooling flaps as much as I can for take off, and hopefully nothing lights off.

30 degrees flaps (normal is 15) and 47.5" manifold pressure did the trick (being something like 24,000 lbs of fuel lighter probably helped some too). This rendition of the B-29 has a massive yaw to the right on takeoff, and you’ll spend most of the flight fiddling with the rudder trim. I have no clue if that’s realistic or not. Also I’m pretty sure with Virtavias system modeling, there’s no way to actually torch an engine. Even with that limitation, I do my best to make sure to keep the engine temps under control.

We quickly accelerate to 190 MPH IAS (no clue why the B-29 uses MPH, but it does), which is climb speed, with no over temping. I set 43" and 2400 RPM and head skyward.

FL30, IAS of 240 MPH, per the GPS doing about 340 knots over the ground. Not bad for this old girl. It really is a pretty model. With some deeper systems modeling it could be an epic FS aircraft, but alas I doubt that’s ever going to happen.

Now for a tour, as we’re in the air for about 4 hours.

First up the flight engineers station. 90% of the knobs and switches have no practical effect sadly.

The bombardiers station Norden sight in view. Sadly it is not modeled in anyway shape or fashion.

Same with the nose gun-sighting head swung into position. The B-29 featured an incredibly advanced for it’s time (and today it’s still pretty impressive) system of centralized fire control. Using the sighting heads around the bomber 5 gunners controlled 4 turrets remotely. The gunners job was to simply track the target, range it correctly with the reticle in the sight, and the gunnery computer did the rest. The master gunner could assign from none to all turrets to a sight head, and the computer did all the calculations for lead, range, and parallax (as the sighting heads were well offset from the different gun locations). And all of this occured in pressurized temperature controlled comfort!

Between the seats view.

The autopilot panel, and the radio stack (Com 1, Nav 1, NBD) there is also the default FSX GPS.

Land spotted in the distance, that’s Rotuma, the halfway point roughly.

Real world B-29 missions could last for 12+ hours. As mentioned above the B-29 was fully pressurized and temperature controlled, making it much less fatiguing to sustain these missions. The forward section of the AC was connected to the aft section by a pressurized tunnel that ran through the bomb bays, and usually featured a small wheeled cart you pulled your self over on. The aft section had a galley and berths. The tail gunner, as tail gunners always do, was stuck by himself in the tail gun station. It was pressurized, but there was no pressurized connection to aft crew space. Barring injury or calamity, they were alone in the back from the time the climb started, until the time the AC got back under 10,000’.

I really should have come in from the other side, but that’s what flight simming is for right?*

A beautiful touch down, just about to put weight on the nose gear. I could have had a bit more flare to bleed more speed, but this worked out just fine.

And stopped. 20,000 lbs of New Years eve supplies delivered.

So my overall route covered approximately 12,300 NM and probably ~55 hours of flight time. I flew 19 different AC, ranging from large widebody jets (the VC10) on down to a light GA plane with the SIAI-Marchetti SF.260. Overall it was a great bit of fun, flying a bunch of AC I hadn’t wheeled out of the hanger in a long time, or that I had my eye on for a while. It turned out different than I had planned, but that’s half the fun right?


Congrat’s!! That was an epic journey! You arrived at Pago Pago just a little before me!


Last leg for me too! Christmas Island to Pago Pago…

I decided to swap airplanes for the final hop. So, I give you (drum roll please), the awesome Avro Vulcan.

She slips the surly bonds and we are on our way.

The view from the cockpit isn’t the greatest, but look at the main panel! You can see that despite the futuristic shape of the Vulcan, it really wasn’t all that far removed from the Lancaster in some ways. The first flight of the Lancaster was in January 1941. Just 11 years later, the Vulcan prototype took to the air for the first time.

Cruising along at FL430.

I stayed high until I picked up the Pago Pago NDB. That meant that I had to hussle down once I picked up the beacon. Boards out and down we go…

Once I descended through the cloud layer, Pago Pago was right below me. I figured a flyby would warn my fellow Mudspikers that I had finally arrived. Hopefully there will be a beer waiting for me when I get to the bar :wink: .

After the flyby, I just made a teardrop pattern to line me up with Runway 04.

After touchdown, I popped the Chute…

Taxiing up the second runway, towards the parking area.

Finally shut down at Pago Pago!! :sunglasses:

It has been a fun trek once again! Happy New Year everyone!


The Vulcan, I’ve been thinking about picking that one up. This whole thing has not been good for my wallet lol.


In that cockpit screen shot it looked like your heading bug was off…a problem with X-Plane? :wink:


As they were refueling the jet, I took a look around YPDN…wandered over to the military side…and saw this. Some bloke, named “Bogus…something”, wanted me to fly it on the last legs of the Mudspike Christmas Flight. :roll_eyes:


Reading and catching up on all the flights as from before Christmas. :slight_smile:

@jenrick Very fitting, the B-29 quite at home flying around the Pacific. Ending the flights with the golden crown! :+1:

@PaulRix That is the XP Vulcan, is it not? It looks very nice, in the shots.

Now that is a tall order! I will start the planning now. Might just finish it in time! LOL!

ROFL! The problem this time being who they chose to send, without a doubt! :slight_smile: There was an epilogue story-line to the flight, but I will leave it at what it is, for this one. By the time I had made it through rerunning the replay and compiling that Mission Log, a lot of time had passed!


Ha! Ha! The odds were predicated on some reasonably calculable numbers, actually. Picking up Pago Pago VOR was not such a surprise because I knew it would be in the vicinity, by that time. What I wanted to see work were the calculations for loosing all that orbital speed by the time I got there (or, conversely, not loosing too much, as was nearly the case because of that speed reference goof right at the end).

Orbiter does have some add on MFDs that could have helped and made it easier, developed by the community, but I did not obtain them and restricted myself to basic instrumentation. However, at the end of the day, this has been the most planned flight I have ever done for any of the three Christmas Voyages I have participated in. The ratio of time applied planning versus time flying was indeed probably around 19:1. One of the references…

AKA: Space Shuttle Orbital Navigation Handbook. I got it for myself years ago to help with some programming “challenges”. I had forgotten about it, but it turned up while looking for some of my physics references for review. The last chapter was immense help in creating the orbital position calculator Excel program.

There was a small discovery, a poignant after note that I stumbled upon while looking up shuttle data and mission logs for this flight. Inevitably, searches for shuttle information bring up in its history its two tragedies. Related information included that Grace Corrigan, mother of Christa McAuliffe, passed away early November, 2018. Rest in peace, a strong woman.

Indeed, the Christmas flight is about the participation. The opportunity to share our simulator experience with online friends, and what we learn along the way, I perceive not as our gift to Mudspike upon reaching the destination (as the general rule story goes), but the community’s gift to those of us who are enthusiasts. My thanks for this opportunity, and my thanks for putting up with my flights along the way!

To all, once again, have a great year 2019!


In this case, your wallet can breathe easy… :sunglasses:

@BeachAV8R found it on Evidently it was originally payware, but now it is available for free…