Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Orleans - Atlanta / Boeing 767-300ER / IFR

Real-world pilots avoid bad weather, since storms are pilot-killers. But in the world of flight simulation, bad weather is like a red flag to a bull … sim pilots flock to the storm centers to test their mettle against thunderstorms, and even hurricanes.

Today I was contemplating flight in a hurricane, and I finally decided to duplicate a Delta flight, Flight 22 from New Orleans to Atlanta. When I went online, I was surprised to see quite a crowd gathering at the airport, with all sorts of flights preparing to depart. I guess everyone wants to get out of New Orleans. There were dozens of flights in the air in the local area (that's a lot for VATSIM), and half a dozen or so on the ground at KMSY.

The real Flight 22 was an MD-11, but I don't have an MD-11 and I don't like them, so I climbed into my 767 for the flight. We both pushed at the same time, and actually I think the real-world flight reached take-off first. But my aircraft was faster, even with the slowpoke real-world cost index that I had put into it, and I reached Atlanta about 15 minutes before the real Delta flight. There was a lot of traffic on the way, and when I taxied to my arrival gate, there were other aircraft milling about. It's always nice to see lots of traffic—that's another one of the things about simulation that is the opposite of the real world. Real-world traffic is just a headache; simulated traffic is fun.

I'm still getting used to the 767, and I had some issues with the automation on the way out of KMSY, mainly trying to stay in HDG SEL until I was vectored to PCU, and keeping an eye on the automatics for my climb with ATC constraints. Once I was in cruise I could relax a bit. There was no ATC for the arrival, so I managed that myself, and lo! … the aircraft actually met the altitude constraints in VNAV. Maybe it was because I was coasting along so slowly. I had nearly 3° of nose-up in cruise, and I was still beating the real-world flight—but perhaps because I just got a head start, because we both had the same ground speed. As I've said, though, I was in a 767 and the real thing was a MD-11, and also I was very lightly loaded, except for fuel (60K pounds on board, way more than I needed).

Anyway, the weather didn't look much like a hurricane, and I landed in Atlanta with no trouble, smoothly and on time.