The Official 4th Annual Mudspike Christmas Flight - 2018 Edition



Actually, it was from a picture first published in Wingspan magazine, in England. I forget the issue, though, as I left all the magazines there. :slight_smile:

I can, but don’t anymore. They were mostly portraits of cats and dogs, for people who requested them, in the '90s.


Leg08 Bella Coola to Juneau (CYBD - PAJN)

P3Dv4 mods used for this leg:
JustFlight DH.98 Mosquito FB Mk VI
Orbx: all layers plus PAJN and CYBD
Active Sky P3Dv4 and Cloud Art
Sound set from this freeware Mosquito.


I imagine like a few of you MUDSPIKE members, since a young boy, few WW2 aircraft captured my imagination like the de Havilland Mosquito. While the Mossie’s missions were endless, the FB (fighter bomber) Mk VI type, which sported four 20mm Hispano cannons and four .303 Browning machine guns in the nose is arguably the most popular. Surely, it is what I invision when de Havilland Mosquito is mentioned.

My mission would be to relocate this fine example from Bella Coola, BC to Juneau, Alaska. While the details were somewhat cloudy, the rumor was that due to the recent passing of its wealthy owner, the Mossie was being being spirited away to prevent its being divided among the inheritors of the estate.

My recent acquaintance, who I will refer to as “camo T”, not only was an incredibly adept tour guide of the Bella Coola valley, but also seemed to have her hooks deep into the soul of aviation. In other words, she had a lot of pilot friends. One of them took a liking to my arrival in the old Beech, and felt that I’d be a good candidate for the Mosquito sortie. A fee was offered and hastily accepted. Little did he know that I would have paid for the privilege.

Fortunately, I was given and hour of dual instruction prior to my departure, which included a single approach and landing, my “instructor” riding slightly behind me in the navigator’s seat. Although the checklist he provided stated that the Mossie could be brought over the fence at 105 kts with full flaps, he warned me not to let her get slow, lest she do the original version of the Saber dance.

Had to post so that I could relocate. The story will continue here.

My contact shook hands while wishing me god luck with a wink and a shrug. I topped her off and made sure that the beer barrels were secure in the bomb bay. Returning to the cabin, pulling up the ladder, and closing the hatch, I had a look around. Some sane individual had installed a few “modern” radios in the electronics bay. Still, this would be mostly an NDB trip, my first of the journey. Not completely understanding how the nav radios would be presented in the panel, I would maintain a modicum of sanity and verify my position on my tablet EFB’s moving map.

I’m not sure who restored the Merlins, but they certainly seemed eager to the task. Both rumbled to life and brought me to the line with confidence. But damm, the checklist sure is lacking manifold and rpm guidance. Will need to fly this one with an ear to the cylinder block. I should probably refer to a Spit manual!

Before launching, I consider removing the gunsight. It sure gets in the way of some necessary reading.

Even near MTOW, the Mossie accelerates briskly and we break ground early. As I enter the scattered overcast, I turn my head for a last look at a fading Bella Coola.

With a 4000 + feet per minute climb, there is little fear of hitting the hard stuff. This thing is a rocket.

Soon enough we break out on top of both mountain and clouds.

IMHO, life does NOT get better than this.

I might as well look the part.

After a while, I begin to feel at home with the Merlins. This is the engine that took many a Mustang to Berlin and back, is it not.

Happy as a clam at 200 kts indicated, or a nice calculated 300 true.

Hmm, that so called NDB instrument is looking like chopsticks to me. I hope that it gathers the signal soon. And the fuel gauge doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy. Even though I have the outer tanks selected, only the starboard central shows consumption. A knuckle tap doesn’t have noticeable effect.

Author’s note: as I would find later, some of the switches in the cockpit had little or no effect on aircraft performance. Like the radiator covers. No change in engine temps on or off. Still, I kept to the schedule for them and the fuel valves. With more time, I’d map the fuel valves to consumption. But the props kept turnin’, so I’m saving that for a later date. Sadly, the manual is lacking some key information and there is not a dedicated forum for this aircraft. I replaced the sound pack with one from a freeware Mossie. Will link it ASAP.
I absolutely love flying her regardless.

While on top, we enjoy warming rays from the west. Hope the sunshine follows me to Juneau, but the TAF says otherwise.

I bet that this vintage kit on the right is worth a king’s ransom. For me it’s a boat anchor at the moment.

At last the needles confirm that the radio is working and that we are pointed in the right direction.

We trade one NDB for another and motor on. I bet that there are some hungry bears down there just waiting for me to screw up my fuel management.

But you little cubbies go hungry. We are getting it on like we are going to take out a radio station in Berlin.

As long as I can see the fjords, I am not too worried about the approach. Doesn’t usually work out that way though IME.

Like I was saying…

We held on a little late, then began a 2k fpm descent, appreciating a break when we had one and cross referencing FltPlan Go on the way down.

I can hear myself now, “The engines ran like Shimano Dura Ace, right up to the point that they quit.”

In we go.

And out we come about 800 over.

I add 2 kts for each kid, 1 for Claudia, and the Mossie rewards me with a beautiful landing and rollout. Of course as soon as the wheels touch, a light rain begins to fall. At 2C this will most likely be snow if a couple of hours.

Ha, bet you don’t see one of these every day, I think looking at a shocked line boy.

Wondering if they have direct service to Pago Pago.

Of course initially I taxi to the wrong building. But not seeing a hangar door for the Mossie’s safe keeping, I refer to my iPad which directs us to the right ramp. Not much of a bush pilot am I.

Tinkering with some of the switches that I was afraid to throw during flight, lest I bomb bears with beer, I find one that lights the fluorescents. Cool.

OK, one day to go. I obviously need something with longer legs faster.


Dura Ace, really?! Campagnolo Super Record if we’re going classic (though I am a SRAM Red man myself).

You appear to be flying a bunch of birds I’ve had an eye on, the Just Flight Mossie has been in and out of my basket several times lately. It sounds like a solid buy?


I’d say while it’s on sale and for lack of a better offering, yes. If you are looking for Carenado level 3D art and A2A systems accuracy, definitely pass. In other words, if you like the screens and don’t mind a few things inoperable, it’s a lot of fun.

PS: new bike has SRAM. Circa 2004 Trek has Dura Ace with a gazilion miles, been up all of the major TdF Alps climbs multiple times, had worn out wheels replaced 3 times, I can’t kill the damn thing. Never seen such a bulletproof groupo.


I picked up a freeware Mossie from here. It’s the bomber version, and graphically it’s not quite as pretty. Then again it’s freeware. I was looking at the Just Flight one, hoping for good system modeling, though it sounds like it’s a bit lacking there, so I may wait for it to end up on sale.

We run Shimano on our patrol mountain bikes at work, and they have been pretty bullet proof (I was an instructor for a couple of years). I will definitely say that Shimano’s stuff is rugged. Far as SRAM once I went double tap I could never go back.


Hampton to Pago Pago Leg 14 - Darwin to Cairns
"Aus-pocalypse Now"

“Darwin…dang it! I’m still in Darwin”, I said out loud…and then wondered where I had heard that before.

The clock was ticking. I needed to get on with the trip. I was so close. Actually, that wasn’t true, I was still pretty far from Pago Pago…but it felt like I was close.

As if they had read my mind, the “MAD men” called with my next assignment. I was to meet them in a dark alley over in an isolated part of the aerodrome at dawn. I wasn’t thrilled about meeting them in a dark alley…and who says “aerodrome” any more.

I was early. As I entered the alley between two old hangars I caught a glimpse of my new ride. I knew that flying the 737-900-F-ER was too good to last. But still this was ridiculous.

A commuter turboprop for a 900 Nm trip? Were they serious? They were. I sighed and began preparing for the flight.

Naming the J41 “Jetstream” is more than a little misleading since its max altitude is FL250-at least 10,000 feet below the real jet stream, and with max speed at altitude 211 KIAS…you get the picture. This trip was going to take longer than I had anticipated.

I was given a flight plan. It was simple enough.

Preflight included doing fuel calculations by hand. In the J41, with trips over a couple of hours, you have to start trading payload for fuel. I figured the Christmas gifts at 1200 lbs in the cargo hold and another 340 lbs in the belly pod, plus 10 PAX. My rough-very rough-fuel calculations…an average 250 knot GS…1200 lbs the first hour and 1000 lbs every hour afterwards…carry the three…gave me 4900 lbs…I was under max takeoff weight…which was a good thing.

Next, I needed to look up the takeoff V speeds…I turned on the map light,…it gave the Speed Reference cards an ethereal glow…somewhere off in the distance I heard a dingo howl…

Next came the weather. I looked out the window. It was dark and rainy. Good enough.

The FMS is not like those found on Boeing’s or Airbuses. It took a bit of “experimentation” (and cracking a manual) to get the flight plan set with VNAV and fuel calculations. I got all the numbers entered where they were supposed to be, so it was time to go. I taxied out…

Takeoff is always fun…and often a bit challenging, if you do not want to melt an engine or two going down the runway. The plane is actually pretty powerful but a bit finicky. On cold days, you will hit the torque limits before 100% power. On hot days, you will hit max EGT temperature before 100% power. This morning it is warm. I hit max EGT and leave the throttles there. The plane practically jumps off the ground at Vr…

…and climbs smartly.

One thing about the Ausie Bureau of MAD, they sure like their tail livery.

As we settled in at FL220, the north coast was off the left wing.

This aircraft was named “Viggen Avenger”…what an odd monicker…

After working the power and prop condition levers, I got both engines exactly the same…

…which was nice, until I realized that my RPM was too low – needed to be at least 96%.

The Gulf of Carpentaria came into view. (That’s the big bite taken out of northern Australia.)

Crossing over Groote Eylandt…

…and the creatively named Groote Eylandt airport.

(Looks like Ant has reworked the airfield. I’ll have to check it out sometime)

Then its out over the wide, wide gulf.

Making landfall on the eastern shore of the gulf.

Doing some aviation crosschecking as I near Kowanyama…the FMS/GPS is keeping’s on the route…and we have a little tailwind to help things go a bit faster

The turn over the KOW NDB onto W364.

It is looking a bit cloudy at several altitudes up ahead as we cruise over Queensland.

The northern spur of the Great Dividing Range come into in the distance…

…and pretty soon it is all mountains and scattered clouds below.

It looks like I’ve got a bit of icing…on go the deicing boots and prop heat.

As the coast comes into view, I begin descending…

…working my way through the cloud layers…

…until I break out with good visibility below the clouds.

(YBCS is just over the coastal hills.)

A final navigation check as I fly the CODIE 5 STAR to an RNAV RWY 11 approach.

Turning final.

On final but i’m high and fast…one thing the J41 does not like to do is come down and slow down at the same time…but I’ll give it a try. (The clouds blocking the VASI are not helping.)

I manage to lose the “extra altitude” and shed speed down to Vref (Dang, I forgot to enter it)…left for line up…

…on the ground…

…and rolling out.

Taxiing in.

Parked and unloading. Thus ends the penultimate leg of this great Xmas adventure.

The MAD agent in Cairns meets me on the tarmac.

“You are late.”, he says.

I was actually a few minutes early but I don’t want to argue, so I just shrug sardonically.

“Follow me.”, he barks and heads towards a company vehicle.

It seems like we drive all over the airport to get to another cargo ramp. We get out of the vehicle and start to walk towards a HEAVY LIFT L-100.

“Your next aircraft is up ahead.” the MAD agent says, “You need to get wheels up as soon as you can. It is at least a five hour flight to Pago Pago.”

I am a bit puzzled. While I like flying the L-100 / C-130, I hadn’t know MAD to ever lease another freight hauling company’s aircraft for one of our runs. Heck, I seem to recall them assigning a MAD pilot to fly some sort of ancient Tri-Motor rather than lease a competitor’s jet. Something is not right, so I decide to find out.

“So, why are we are using this L-100 for the final leg?” , I ask nonchalantly, trying to hide my confusion.

“What?!”, the agent barks back, then in an annoyed tone, “No, not the HEAVY LIFT plane…our…your plane is just behind it.”

He quickens his pace and I have to practically jog to catch up, so it takes me a moment to notice…

“Oh no…they can’t…they wouldn’t…”, I think.

But I know, they would. I’ll be taking an old 707 converted cargo jet for the last leg…flying outer the vast Pacific with only the old INS and Doppler navigation systems to keep me on course…the same kind of aircraft that I had to leave in Norway due to its cantankerous nav systems and “difficult to accurately calculate” fuel system.

The clock is ticking…


Great report…love the JetStream. They always struck me as not having enough wing for the fuselage. I fly with a bunch of guys that used to fly the CCAir JetStream 31/32s. No autopilot. Good times.

Oooh…and a 707… :popcorn:


I’m using the sound set from that Mossie. The JustFlight one sounds better at idle, with some very nice initial rough running and backfire sounds. But they continue at cruise, which is annoying. The sound from that freeware Mossie at cruise sound more like that from this video IMO.


I’m just catching up with all the reports. Great flying and thanks for sharing all.

My own flight… I failed in the timeframe for the second year running. Moving house and having your PC in storage really hampered things, then after the move was getting ready for a skiing trip. First world problems. :weary:

Now back up and running, I’m going to get there over the next couple of weeks, assuming its ok to be late, I’ll post up the legs. As penance, I’ll take all the party streamers and empty beer cans to the re-cycling plant. :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks all again for posting up your legs, its been great reading whilst I’ve been grounded.


Haha…I think if I went to Pago Pago in real life I might never come back…so yeah, late is fine, I’ll still be there… :wink:


The only rule is that there are no rules… Just try to get there before we start the 2019 Christmas run :wink: .


I’m starting today…!


So where are we headed this time? :grin:


Roi Namur in Kwajalein?

A secondary benefit for the minuscule number of history buffs among us is that you can fly over the wreck of the German cruiser Prinz Eugen.



After a fitful sleep, I managed to secure a Hornet ferry to Honolulu :grin: All I can say is that I’m underway and ready to stick my toes in some sand. It’s not the best weather in Juneau at the moment. Will update as possible (Wife is on a rampage to get us to some Chinese New Years festival.)

Continued HERE


Are those drop tanks full of replenishment beer? @Navynuke99 and @Hangar200 say the beer will still faintly taste of JP-4…


Wonder if the JP-4 leaves less of an aftertaste than the leaded gas used during ww2 when they did the same thing with their drop tanks??



:cry: Talk about a sore spot. I have flow into, and stayed, at the Army Air Field on the island just to the south east of the wreck. Unfortunately I was unaware of the wrecks existence at the time, and wouldn’t be until a number of years later.

That being said, Kwajalein sounds good to me. :grin:


Hampton to Pago Pago Leg 15 - Cairns to Pago Pago
The Return of the B707

Once again I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop with this ancient 707. Evidently MAD took the former TWA B707-300 that I left in Norway, refitted as a cargo 707C, registered in Norway and flew it to Cairns, in time for me to take it on this 2635 Nm last leg…even though at the time I left it in Norway I didn’t know what the acronym MAD staid for and had no idea that Cairns would be my last stop before Pago Pago.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…just hit the “I Believe” button and move on.

Now that the plot is sufficiently convoluted, lets move on…”Cairns, dang it I’m still in…”, nope, already did that…”A long time ago, in a galexy…”, makes no sense… lets try…

"Call me Hangar200”…

The MAD agent dropped me off at the 707C at 1123 local. I met my new crew…except it was my old crew, the one I left in Norway…(awkward!). I decided to ignore their glares and get right to work and assert my authority!

“The problem we had with this jet before was unpredictable fuel usage.”, I stated confidently.
“… a pilot that can’t do arithmetic …”, mumbled the FE.

I ignored him and continued, “We also had an issue with the CIVA system on the Leg to Norway which forced us to divert to Iceland.”

“…the pilot accidentally shut it off…”, said the copilot in a stage whisper.

I shook my head. This insubordination could not be allowed to continue. I had to think f something fast.

“Did I mention that I’m buying the first round when we get to Pay Pago?” I asked cheerfully.

“The best pilot ever”, they shouted in unison.

With crew morale issues settled we went to work. First was the route:

Next, I was going with a full bag of gas for this flight. That would be more than enough and Cairns’ 10510 ft runway would be more than long enough to handle the jet’s takeoff distance at that weight…weight…

“So how much cargo are we taking?” I asked to no one in particular. Not surprisingly, nobody answered, but soon found my answer as I watched the loading.

We took onboard six upper deck containers at 4,000 lbs each. That worked out to 24,000 lbs (“pilot that can’t do arithmetic” my foot!)

Add that to the base weight to get the ZFW …then fuel to get Gross Weight…subtract 500 lbs for taxi to get Take off weight and…actually it doesn’t matter since I can’t find the V-speed tables so we’ll set V1 to 150 KIAS and Vr to 155 KIAS.

Starting a 707 isn’t that hard and only takes a few minutes. (We are saving weight by leaving the checklists behind.) The part that takes the longest is aligning that @#%$ CIVA INS platform.

To save some time, I’ll be using the route card reader unit to populate the waypoints. There are 16 waypoints so that requires 2 “cards” (data files); one for the first 9 waypoints and one for the next 7 checkpoints. When going from WP 8 to WP 9, I’ll load the second card. I have just created these data cards…no time to double check. We’ve got Xmas gifts to deliver
(Note the foreshadowing)

While we are waiting, I start engines. when the INS is finally aligned we were set to taxi…so we did, behind an Air New Zealand Airbus.

As predicted the takeoff is a little bit longer than when I tried to take less fuel.

(I thought this was a no smoking flight?)

It was a nice clear day with little traffic, as I climbed I began an abridged SID, climbing to the west…

…before coming back towards the airport, crossing the CS VOR DME.

Then heading out to sea on G591.

Like the Cochin to Darwin leg, this was mostly over water.
The highlights:

New Caledonia:

I noticed here that the INS had drifted a couple of miles.

(I should have been directly above this airport)

I would have (read “should have”) done a DME update on the LTO VOR DME when approaching New Caledonia and then another on the NN VOR DME when approaching Fiji. However, at this point I was not too far off track and I could visually see the deviation.

“OK crew, I think we’ll skip the DME updates. As long as the data is is good, we’ll be fine.”, I said confidently. The crew just smiled back at me…I hoped they hadn’t gotten into the Akvavit. (More Foreshadowing)

OK, something was definitely wrong. We were heading for waypoint 9.

I was picking up the NN VORDME, but it was pointing off our course–it should have been strait ahead. We couldn’t be drifting that much…could we? (flash back to a memory saying “As long as the data is is good, we’ll be fine”).

I brought up individual waypoints and check them against the flight plan. Sure enough WP 9, the ALBAB fix was reading S 19º19.9’. It should be 18º19.9’. I was heading farther south. I recall from my midshipman days that 1 degree of latitude is 60 Nm of distance. However, over the course of a 326.3 Nm leg, it actually isn’t that bad…OK, its bad but it is not irretrievable. I only had a few miles to WP 9 I waited for the switch WP 9 to the new WP 1. The new heading and VOR needle to NN matched up.

When I got to NN, I was more than a couple of miles off course.

(Supposed to be directly above that airfield)

I could have done a DME update on one of the other DMEs in the area…but… I had checked the rest of the WPs and they were correct.

Besides, it was a bright mostly clear sunny day with visibility out to maybe 50 Nm at altitude. How could I get into a situation where I was not be able to see an island or two as references?

I pressed on without a DME update.

About a 45 minutes later the sun went down in a spectacular sunset.

There was no moon. It got very dark…and very difficult to see any islands. (sigh)

Checking on fuel…

Each engine s burning 3,000 lbh x 4 = 12000 lbh. At NN I was 717.6 Nm from NSTU. My GS is 490 knots. I have 95,000 lbs of fuel on board. I use a slower average GS and calculate I’ll need 18,100 lbs for the rest of the flight. That makes it a 76,600 lb reserve. That should be a conformable margin fora couple of MA/GAs

Did I mention it had gotten pretty dark.

I start using the Doppler to back up the CIVA. What?Me worry?

(Ooh! I can see the Milky Way!)

I finally pick up the Pago Pago (TUT) VOR DME. I’m done rolling the dice with the INS. I switch to VOR tracking on the autopilot.

I was hoping for NSTU RWY 5 so I could fly the ILS. But the tower gave me a right traffic to RWY 23. Fortunately there were no low lying clouds but I never like right traffic approaches if I am sitting in the left seat…too hard to pick up the runway.

I went too far left on the base leg and needed to come back…then too high and not aligned close in. I threw away the approach and went missed. This time I use the left traffic pattern and get lined up OK.

Short final.

Clearing the runway.

And finally parked at the terminal - Mission Complete…almost.

After opening the main cargo door I checked my watch. It is 20:30. I had mad it to Pago Pago with 3 ½ hours to spare. It wasn’t even close. I relaxed as I waited for the MAD agent to arrive with a cargo loader…and I waited…and I waited…

I was more frustrated than worried. My copilot had called MAD World HQ to report “Safe on Deck” and they would notify the Pago Pago agent. Still it was unusual for MAD operations to miss an arrival.

When the agent finally arrived he looked disheveled.

“”You are early!”, he declared, “We weren’t expecting you until tomorrow!”
"Very funny”, I quipped back as I give him my paper work. I taped on one sheet, saying,”See, right here. Departed Cairns at 1123 local time, 31 December 2018. A 6.8 hour flight. We arrived at the gate here at 2050 Pago Pago local time.”

“Yes”, replied the agent as he looked over the paper work, “You left on 31 December and crossed the international date line. Today is 30 December.”

I stood and just stared at him for something like a minute before saying, “I need a drink.”

They did the unloading the next morning.


Thus ends my 2018 Mudspike Christmas whatever adventure.

I flew approximately 17,232 Nm in 15 legs heading east from Hampton Virginia. Yes, it would have been much shorter if I had gone west.

The originally planed Leg 2 CYQX to ENVA was broken into two legs due to a divert into BIKF for fuel and lack of navigation INS platform (the time I accidentally turned it off.).

The originally planned Leg 4 from ENVA to EDXH had a couple of diverts. I diverted to ENGA due to a fuel imbalance. Then after three attempts at EDXH, in a gnarly crosswind, I diverted (backtracked) to EDXW. Since that “mission” was all flown in the same day, I counted it as a single leg.

Starting at LSMA, I started flying aircraft that were either registered, or in the military of the country of origin for the leg. This resulted in a Swiss AW-109 helicopter and Piper Cheyenne, a Croatian DASH-8, a TAF F-4E, a Jordanian B707, A Kuwaiti A300, and a Maldives DHC-6 Float version. After that point I switched to MAD liveries.

I mostly used GA and COMAIR aircraft, but flew military planes three times–a RoNAF C-130, a USAF C-130 and the aforementioned F-4E. My longest flight was the non-stop VOCI to YPDN (9.1 hrs) my shortest flight in distance was the helicopter flight between LSMA and LSGS.

So what is next? I’m taking an extended vacation to fly around American Samoa (ORBX scenery) in my “Company Plane” :sunglasses:


Yes…in the bug juice in the wardroom. :slightly_smiling_face: