I just wanted a fun flight this evening, nothing big, a few flights around the field maybe. I wanted to take up my old, beat up, yellow Alaskan paint schemed Tailwind W-8 model, humbly powered slow thing, and just take in the sights. Its so nice having a new sim and one that runs smooth.
So, I take off from 'On The Rocks' airfield East of San Diego, and there in my sights is a highway. With cars on it, even! I follow it, up into the mountains, some great alpine regions come up, I am having a blast. I find a mountain lake just beyond the tallest mountain ridges, still following the highway. I fly around the small lake and relocate the highway and continue my fun flight. Its time to turn around, as I am coming downhill back into desert, and I think.... ' no... I do not wish to turn around. I must have more!' So I continued following the highway. I come to a dirt strip by the Mexican border called Jacumba, land, take some snappies with the iPhone, no fuel pumps, so I climb back in, sweaty from the heat, and pull the door closed, start up the Old Yeller and soon I am back into the sky, following the highway again.
Soon, I am up to some green area's again. Water out here? I am nearing El Centro, where alot of America's produce comes from. (Well.... some... ). I land and take on a few gallons of fuel. They run my debit card and it goes through. (Thank you FS customers). I take off again, back into the sky. Ahead of me, past the green fields of El Centro lies the 'great expanse'. I think of the Sahara desert. You must say it correctly by the way. Sah..... Haaaaa... Rah! Note the milliseconds of 'hold' between the consonants. You must say it like an Arab camel driver, born in the cooking deserts of Arabia. Once you master that, you know the 'feeling' now of looking at that desert past El Centro, the region of dust, endless sea of dust, that lies between California and Arizona. Its a long drive in a car, and you had better have enough coolant and a nice radiator or you will wind up in one of the several gas stations for repair that line that entire area.
I calculate in my mind. 'Poor fuel mileage, poor high end speed, no AC, its hot out.. But, I have an ice chest with two subs and 4 cold bottles of water. The sim is running smooth, and the W-8 as well. I go for it. Point of no return. Off I go. I point my bird into the Saah Hah Rahhhhh and on comes the yellow. Endless oceans of dust with some mild mountainous hills. One thing it reminds me of, Arakis, the Dune world. If only then to see a few Worms of enormous size, surface and reach into the sky as though to catch a Spice hopper, hovering overhead. But no, no hovering Hoppers over the border of California and Arizona, just dust and a lone, beat up, aged, dusty ole Type W-8 Wittman Tailwind. Into the expanse I go....
I set my course for 060 degrees by the small plastic ball compass. I maintain 4,000 feet, MP at about 25 LBs, I am doing about 125 to 130 MPH, just over 110 Knots. Slow for pilots of the virtual sim world, but its my own, beat up, yellow W-8, designed by the famed air racer, Walter Wittman, so this is cool. Kind of like being in an ancient MGB, doing 80 MPH, the doors shaking, ready to fly apart, and you are feeling the speed! There I am, in the old bird, resting back in the seat, scanning, scanning, relaxing, enjoying the 'non studdered' flight.
I come across a wave of mountains, smallish ones, a wall of them, and cross them easily, high above them. Soon another. I think I see a blue owasis! I take some snappies. Another on the far right, one to each side. I think, Team P3D have created Oasis' in FS! Brilliant! I take a swig of water from the ice chest, wipe my forhead, and notice the blue is connecting before me. Its the great Colorado River that separates the states, California and Arizona. I was mistaken. So, I come to the river and cross it at 4,000 feet, some green fields near the edges, farm land below. I check my fuel, about 2/3rds of a tank. I continue.
Now, I get to the middle, yellow to all directions. I am fighting with the direction of my little craft. She keeps pulling a bit to either side of her course. Its keeping me awake. The heat, the drone of the engine. I am scanning the sky, the panel, the cockpit, going through memories, making the trip happen with full attention. I note the exhaust gas gauge. Temps are very high, near the red. I had the Tach set at 25, and 29 is redline. I'll pull her back to 2,000 RPM I think to myself and see if she cools. I do and she keeps hot, climbing a bit actually. Rats. How can that be? Well... hmmm.. It is a Sim bird. I will not fry it, and the temp didnt drop, but gained, so I should give her more throttle and see what happens, and I raise the RPM to 2300 RPM and the temps do not move, and I think to myself, it will have to be.
The flight over the planet Arrakis continues.
Now, my tank is under 1/2 full. I have drifted over 4,000 feet to 4,600. I had been listening to the iPhone, making the time go by, and lost track of altitude, (I didnt want to run 'Auto'. I wanted to do this, like a small boat captain, doing things the very hardest way). I tap the keyboard trim, bringing her back to 4,000 feet, adjust throttle a tad to help. I grab another bottle of virtual icey bottled water, rub it across my forehead, and look about. No worms here. They must be on noon siesta, here on Arrakis. No Freman spotted either. I am either not yet hallucinating, or my normal self. (A scarey thought).
The journey over 'Sah Haaaaa Rah' continues.
Below, on the ground, on the hot desert floor, a lizard is resing, warming in the sun, its belly on the sand. He hears a faint sound overhead. A gigantic, yellow bug of large proportion is flying by, high in the heavens. He thinks to himself that surely the monster will not see him from way up there' and so he lays still, baking in the sonoran desert sun, his head tilted sideways, one eye on the yellow bird, he watches it go out of site.
I am nearing Gila Bend! I begin to recognize the mountains. South Mountain 'mountain range' is just ahead, home of PIR or Phoenix International Raceway. I check the map, Goodyear Airport should be near by. Soon I am over it, wondering to myself how Goodyear was once a training base for B-25 pilots in WWII. Acres and Acres of bombers used to sit around this airfield, there half way point between factory and their assigned war front airfields. I pass it and find the 101 highway and follow it. I follow the loop around and there in my sights is Deer Valley airport! My home airfield. I call the tower about 7 miles out and request a full stop landing. I sit up in the seat, pull the belts from my chest a bit, another swig of bottled water and I reach to the throttle and pull it back a bit, the faithful 4 cylinder humms down, the 'Tacho' lowering its needle. I begin a light descent. I am given permission to land, runway 7 left, straight in approach. Nice! I am lined up. I take some picks of the exterior area's around me in the 'sim' world, wanting to save the moment, thinking, 'I MADE IT!' and soon I am almost to the runway threshold. I pass over I-17 highway, the cars on it moving along. I drop flaps, adjust the yoke for the climb, drop another notch to full flaps, the speed going to below 80 MPH. I push the throttle in a bit and watch the speedo with one eye as I keep Yeller in line with 7 Left. Slowing, slowing, smooth, still in line with 7L, near stall, but in control, steady, steady... Then, right above the runway, right where I should be, my baby hesitates, hovering for a moment. I must be in ground effect! It lasts for a couple of seconds, and then gently the horizon moves again, upward, and the tires touch Earth, the tarmac skids a bit of skin off of them and soon the tail wheel as well.
I am down....
I slow to a turn and pull off the runway, the tower hands me off to Ground control. I throttle up and move out to the tie downs. Its a hot day, I still have water and fuel left, and I have flown from San Diego to Phoenix Deer Valley in a single sitting, (here at my desk).
I get to my parking spot, shut down the dusty old craft, and take some more pics of the occasion. Nice.....
Flight.... Such an adventure, the reality of what some 'actual' real world pilots must live through.