Friday, July 14, 2006

On the charts

I finally obtained some sectional charts for areas of Alaska over which I like to fly. The image above is a small part of the Juneau sectional. I spent a nice time last night flying from Juneau Int'l into more remote regions. It was pretty cool to see features on the chart, then look out the (virtual) window and seem them passing under me. My first stop was at Skagway. This is a neat approach, with mountains rising up on either side. This would make for an interesting challenge in something large, but easy in the Scout I was flying. From Skagway I planned to go to Atlin (CYSQ), in British Columbia. This required passing over some significant mountains, over 7000 feet. You can see my approximate route in the chart above.
I didn't read the contours very carefully, and I thought it wouldn't be too difficult going through this pass. Turned out it required a very steep ascent, and there were some white-knuckle moments. This would have been an incredibly stupid thing to do in real life. I would have been much better off if I had spent time gaining altitude before heading East into the mountains.

Once I cleared the highest peaks, it was lovely flying. As I was getting closer to Atlin, though, I saw thunderstorms ahead. Very interesting whether, especially since I had chose a prefab whether theme (freeware addon) of some sort of cirrus cloud setup, which did not mention the T-storms! It was great, though, to have some unexpected wx to keep me on my toes. I did have to alter may path a little to avoid the storms, but otherwise they did not endanger me. Sorry, I did not snap any good pictures of this part of the flight.

I had to fight a pretty strong crosswind at Atlin. This picture does not do full justice to the challenge. My touchdown point was pretty much where I wanted it to be, in spite of the crosswind, and I kicked the rudder to straighten out (mostly) before touchdown. I know that in the real world the most dangerous things about a crosswind landing are the possibility of laterally overstressing the landing gear, and of having the upwind wing lift up, possibly flipping you over, and, for taildraggers, ground looping. None of these things happened to me, but I wonder how well they are modeled in the sim, and whether I would have been as satisfied with the landing had it been the real thing.

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