Clearance Delivery for Summer Sim Season ’18

In approximately 68 days, as the Earth reaches that point in orbit where its axial tilt points the North pole directly towards the sun, should fortune and perseverance align like the great megaliths of Stonehenge, I may once again find myself strapped into the Captain’s seat of a virtual jetliner in the maiden flight of Summer Sim Season ’18.

It has been a busy year in the Farmer household full of twists and turns that, as I review my notes, blog posts, and log entries from last summer, make me wonder if not one but five years have transpired since last we found the Earth at its present location in its majestic orbit around the sun.  Yet, through bumps and bruises and the wisdom of another year’s mistakes, we all did in fact make it here and summer plans have now taken tentative shape which may again allow me to indulge in my solitary annual ritual.

For various reasons it appeared at times doubtful that the stage would be set.  One particular concern growing of late is that as the kids get older, so too do their grandparents, and though their patience seems inexhaustible, their agility is most certainly not what it was.  Our humble intentions to allow our children as much time as possible with their grandparents in the country of their heritage is now gradually being assailed by the reality that at some point the welcoming caregivers will themselves be in need of care, and will not for much longer be able to host the holy terror that is unleashed upon their quiet household every summer when the kids come to visit.  What used to be a three month holiday became two, and this year we have pared it down to six weeks, which despite their protestations we feel is about as much as we can safely extract from them.  And so on the day of the Solstice, if as I continue to remind myself, the next ten weeks unfold without any further unplanned disasters, the Fam will depart from Sea-Tac en route to Heathrow and I will be left to my already highly anticipated devices.

The mis-adventures of the past year since the last season have so dominated my care and attention that, thankfully I suppose, I have had no time to grow wistful for my long-dormant hobby, nor even to peruse the usual channels to see what it is I’ve been missing out on.  In this lengthy off-season, flight simulation was always in the back of my mind, but I dared not let the seeds of longing grow, lest I set myself up for great disappointment.  Even the very act of returning to this blog at this time may be premature.  There are still so many things that could go wrong, the trip could very easily be cancelled, and I may find myself staring at another year before having the opportunity again.  But let’s not be so terribly negative—though the year’s events as you’ll read more about below have quite conditioned my mind to expect the worst, we have after all made the plans and so achieved a very promising first step towards making any flight:  Clearance Delivery has been granted.

But before I can truly free my mind enough to get excited about the propects of another sim season, as an act of therapeutic rehabilitation I feel I must recount the various highlights of the past year so as perhaps to convince myself that after navigating such troubled skies, I do in fact deserve to grant myself a bit of repose.

The first misfortune to literally befall our house was the sudden decision by a very large pine, originally located at what I had miscalculated to be a safe distance down the property to redecorate our living room in a decidedly woodland theme.  This was during one of those storms we frequently see here in the Pacific Northwest that makes Cliff Mass so excited.  Needles, twigs, branches, lots of mud, and to top it off a nice sparkling glaze of broken glass strewn everywhere.  Surprisingly the financial cost was not nearly as dire as was expected given the scope of the damage, but it was four full months before a semblance of normality was restored and we were once again able to use our living room for its intended purpose.

Then there was the incident in which my daughter, taking after the more mischevious and unflattering chapters of her father’s childhood, engaged in some artistic redecorating of her own upon an unassuming wall on the grounds of her school with a certain can of spray paint whose origins to this day remain a mystery.  From this event I learned two important lessons:  first, that perhaps there are some events from one’s childhood that one shouldn’t necessarily faithfully recount to one’s children.  And second, that my single-minded devotion to work for the ostensible purpose of providing for my children was in fact ironically robbing me of the proper amounts of time to actually provide genuine parentage.  The school was intending to be much more forgiving than I was.  I insisted they expel her and in the bargain I agreed to ground myself for a month in order to redirect her adolescent energies towards more positive efforts.  Through some quality time, I attempted to explain that some lessons of my youth were not meant to be emulated and she would be the better person for listening to and learning from her father’s stupid mistakes.  On the whole it appears to have been a successful experiment, at least for another year.

Before I could congratulate myself on being such a great dad, I was then waylaid by an illness that kept me fully indisposed for the better part of a month.  Ever since the austere number ‘5’ violently overthrew its lesser predecessor and came to occupy the first digit of my age, and I now find that movies depicting historical events from my own time are becoming more populous than movies depicting historical events from before my time, and I begin to pay attention to things like actuarial tables, illnesses have assumed a greater weight than they did in more spirited times.  Although the doctors assured me this one was not a grave concern, it did knock me around a good deal both physically and psychologically, forced me to pull back from my work even more, and made me to reassess whether my frantic schedule was working for anyone’s benefit.

On the work front, business this past year was more difficult to come by and there were several extended periods of time when I anxiously found myself with no clients at all.  While my employees didn’t much mind having several weeks of downtime to spend in the office playing pinochle all day, I grew ever more anxious watching the dwindling of the accounts and redoubling my efforts at winning new clients.  Naturally these downtimes didn’t coincide with the forced vacations the above events led me to take, so right when I was back in the game and ready to get things moving again was when I began to panic over the viability of the enterprise.

I came to realize why so many industries build in a bit of ineptitude, or planned obsolescence, into their business models.  My stubborn integrity which leads me to get the job done right the first time, while providing a certain satisfaction upon completion as well as tremendous value for the customer, doesn’t bode well when it comes to ensuring a steady flow of new jobs.  As Chief, I’ve got to spend most of my time marketing my services, shaking hands, and grooming a team whose skills and work ethic I can trust.  For a business that spreads entirely from word of mouth, this means lots of travel and lots of pre-sales efforts that can take months to pan out, if at all.  I had already begun preparing the “it’s been a wonderful time for us but that time is nearing an end” speech, when at last some promising contracts finally came through and breathed a bit of reassurance into the old company coffers.

So as you can see, it has been as the old proverb goes, ‘interesting’ times.  Am I a fool, Dear Conscience, for allowing my mind to drift back to the purely self-induglent territory of flight simulation?  Should I chuck this childish nonsense and concentrate only on work and family and health?  You may be right, but then again, how else can one measure one’s progress without introducing a short recess in which to clear the mind, soothe the body, and mend the spirit?  Every racer needs a pit stop now and again, and this is precisely what flight simming serves for me.

“Foolish rationalizations!” the Conscience insists, “you’re a lazy man, Farmer, and you must admit that this is no time to play! Your family not to mention the good people  whose livelihoods depend on you should be ashamed by these escapist fantasies!  Put down your toys and get back to work!”  Ah, Conscience! Legacy of Bedouin warriors mixed with British Imperial fortitude and Midwestern salt of the earth work ethic, stuff it off already and let this man play with his joystick once and again!

Crossing a football field in the early morning twilight I allow myself a Zen-like moment to close my eyes and mutter “become one with the autogen.”  Then glancing skyward as the sun’s rays dazzle and dance among the wispy clouds I say aloud but only to myself, “I’ve got to get back up there.”

Shutdown Checklist complete for Summer Sim Season ’17

Note: I originally drafted this post on 24 July 2017 but owing to the circumstances of needing to prepare for a real transatlantic flight, I never got around to publishing it.  With Summer Sim Season ’18 just around the corner (more on that in a future post!), I have finally returned to close the loop on last year’s season.

The season has now come to a close.  Last night I packed up the sim rig and carted it off to our storage facility where it will remain out of the way of both harm and temptation for what will most likely be another full year.  In two days I’ll be on a flight to London to spend the remainder of the summer with The Fam, after which we’ll return to the States for another year of work, school, and all the usual family stuff.  A lot can happen in a year.  I’ll be another year older, my sim hardware will be another year closer to obsolescence, and my piloting skills will once again wane beneath the accumulation of a year’s worth of memories.  Perhaps I’ll finally grow tired of this solitary and expensive hobby (though I said the same thing last year).  Or perhaps my children will become interested in flight simulation and I’ll pass it along to the next generation.  But, most likely, I’ll forget about flying for about 6 months before the itch resurfaces and I once again begin to long for the virtual skies, awaiting the moment the Fam goes on holiday again so I can have another go at this silly fantasy.  But let’s leave the philosophical ponderings aside and recap what has been overall a mainly satisfying sim season.

Looking back on my earlier post Gear up for Summer Sim Season 2017! I didn’t quite hit the mark I had planned.  In my exuberance, I was aiming for 100 hours of block time and the final tally as of last night brings me just shy of 62 hours.  Among the ten ideas I had for flight plans, I managed six of them while the others will have to hit the backlog and wait for next season.

The following table catalogues all the formal flights I made.  A total great circle distance of 20,122 nm, 61:51 block time, and 505,458 kg of virtual Jet A consumed.

Date Flight No. From To Equip ZFW (t) Payload (t) G/C Dist (nm) Block time Fuel Used (kg)
23 Jun UAL256 KSFO KLAX B739 61.3 20.0 331 01:24 3,398
01 Jul CLX099 KDEN KDEN B74F 177.0 12.6 02:00 13,500
02 Jul CLX830 KDEN KSFO B74F 261.2 96.8 838 02:31 21,868
03 Jul CLX831 KSFO YSYY B74F 209.6 45.2 6452 14:23 139,974
04 Jul CLX985 YSSY YPPH B74F 199.9 35.5 1770 04:53 40,584
05 Jul AF429 YPPH YPPH B738 51.0 9.5 08:26 18,026
08 Jul ??? EKRN EKCH CM.170 2.7 0.0 79 00:45 43
08 Jul CLX870 EKCH EHAM B74F 271.5 107.1 342 01:31 15,468
15 Jul CLX462 YSSY VOBL B74F 240.6 76.2 5051 11:06 115,620
16 Jul CLX856 VOBL EHAM B74F 272.7 108.3 4154 09:37 104,990
21 Jul KLM1139 EHAM EKCH B74F 200.9 36.5 342 01:26 9,870
22 Jul CLX776 EKCH EHAM B74F 183.1 18.7 342 01:30 9,171
22 Jul CLX775 EHAM EKCH B74F 211.4 47.0 342 01:25 11,157
22 Jul SAS4411 EKCH EKRN B738 51.6 10.1 79 00:54 1,790

While it appears rather weak for a pilot who had been planning to jam a year’s worth of simming into a single month, the paucity of formal flights is not in any way a sign that I wasn’t enjoying the season.  As you’ll notice, quite a few of these were in the Boeing 747-400.  PMDG’s release of the P3D version of their fantastic simulation of the Queen of the Skies was the highlight of the season beyond a doubt.  Since the original PMDG Queen was quite an old model and vastly surpassed in enjoyment by the NGX and the 777, the latter two had been dominating my sim sessions for the past several years.  The new version was an immediate purchase, which relegated the first half of my sim season primarily to training flights.  Though they are not catalogued here, I may very well have accumulated as many hours doing visual circuits in the 747 as I did on the fourteen flights listed above.

So while my formal hours are not as impressive as I had anticipated, I quickly became very comfortable with the 747.  Comfortable enough to de-crab on the centerline in a 15 knot crosswind after a fully manual pattern.  What delicious fun!  I’ve got to get back up there.

Another slight technical impediment to my lofty ambitions was the sudden release of P3D version 4.  Naturally it too was an immediate purchase, but you’ll note that my sim season was only a month after the release, and there were still many issues with third party scenery and other add-ons which took quite a bit of research and troubleshooting, as well as some inevitable falling back to P3D v3 for some flights.  Alas, as this season is now done and the rig boxed up and silent for another year, I am hoping that in the interim we get some stability with the scene so that when next I’m on the flight deck I can think about flying instead of installing updates.

Addendum: So there it is, the final wrap on Summer Sim Season ’17 that I never put the finishing touches on and has been bothering me ever since.  But it’s been a busy year and I’ve had no time to think of this transient hobby of mine—until now.

Biz Rides Again

Last year I told you the story of how my chance meeting with Biz Gutierrez in Bangalore got me to see my Dad on his birthday, an annual ritual I’ve kept up ever since my first year out of the Air Force.  But I didn’t tell the story of what happened after that most unconventional trip.

I had just about given up hope of making the trip when I spotted Biz landing a shiny new 777 his company had just acquired and for whom he was breaking it in with some practice runs.  We picked up a pair of willing compatriots at the bar and together the four of us—Biz, myself, Clausen, and Col. Babyface—set out for IND.

We had a grand old time on the 16 hour flight and yes, I annoyed Biz silly with an endless series of my awful jokes.  Biz and I have known each other for over 20 years but I still seem to learn something new from him every time we fly together.  He is undoubtedly the best pilot I’ve ever met.   And like most of the best pilots, he has a nasty habit of insubordination.  That piloting skill and disregard of authority go hand in hand is what makes the aviation world so damn interesting.

It also makes for a constant source of tension with management.  There’s a segment of airline management who are themselves former pilots and they tend to be more tolerant of the shenanigans of their pilot staff.  They tend to be more common in the cargo airlines, one of the main contributing factors for why I have spent most of my civilian career flying freighters.

And then there are people like Franco, the universally detested Managing Director of Operations at TAP.  Franco got himself a PPL but subsequently washed out of flight school.  So he got an MBA instead and proceeded to spend his career annoying the heck out of good pilots like Biz.  Why Biz has stuck around under Franco for so long is a running joke among jet jockeys.  Some say he enjoys sticking it to Franco at every turn, but others say he’s just lazy and doesn’t care about career advancement so long as they let him keep flying.  In my opinion it’s a combination of the two, but heavily weighted towards the latter.

Franco caught up with Biz and Clausen when they landed at Anchorage, and he promptly pulled Biz from the roster.  I had no idea this had happened because as soon as I paid Dad a visit in Carbondale, I set out for Frankfurt where I was to begin a few rotations with Lufthansa that Clausen hooked me up with.  Little did I know, Franco had put my name on The List.  Bad news.  The List is what every airport security guard carries with them at all times.  It means “Stop, Detain, Confiscate Passport”.  So as soon as I deboarded in Frankfurt, the Chief of Security was waiting for me with a very stern look on his face.

“I’m sorry to have to do this Major Farmer, but you’ll need to come with us.”  I had recognized him immediately and was about to ask about his kids but this turn of events caught me off guard.

“Et tu?” I stumbled, “and to think I was at your bar-mitzfah.”

“Yes, but you were not at my wedding and my mother was very sad about that.”  He had me there, but it wasn’t my fault he decided to get married during my year in Patagonia.

The Chief escorted me to a room at the Frankfurt Hilton where I waited for four solid days until Franco himself showed up with an entourage of goons.  Now of course I knew that Biz would never rat me out, but somehow Franco knew I was behind the whole thing.

“Grand Theft doesn’t even begin to top the list of charges I can bring you up,” Franco began, he was salivating badly having waited so long for this moment he could barely get the words out.  “You stole my airplane, commandeered my crew, allowed unapproved crew members and procedures onto my flight deck.  You illegally transported cargo, you forged my approval on invoices and clearances, and you spilled what appears to be a liter of soda on the crew bunks.”  I sat quietly and let Franco rip into me, since he clearly had some pent up anger he needed to release.  For about fifteen minutes he paced back and forth and rattled off the list of my crimes.  “You owe me 17 000 € in jet fuel, 5 200 € in landing clearances and handling fees, and finally Mr. Farmer, 2 450 000 € to my insurance company for breach of contract.  Let these numbers sink in, Farmer, because you are not leaving this room until we decide exactly how you are going to pay me back.”

Franco always had a flair for the dramatic, and he also had a way of padding numbers to make him and his company look better (or worse, depending on the audience) than the actual situation presented itself.  I still hadn’t said a word and Franco was clearly waiting for my trademark sarcasm so he could whip himself into a frenzy for part two of his tirade, so I decided to disappoint him.

“My deepest apologies, Sir, and I can assure you that the Royal Air Force will fully reimburse you for the inconveniences attached to my expedition.” I could have handed him the Crown Jewels and it wouldn’t have made a dent in his resolution to continue chewing me out.  Tirade Part Deux ensued for another twenty minutes while I sat patiently as the morning light streamed through the window.

Throughout the tirade I began to feel I was being played for a pawn in a game I didn’t quite understand.  Surely Franco knew I wouldn’t be intimidated by his threats of locking me up for stealing a 777.  My attorneys would laugh themselves silly.  And besides I knew far too many of Franco’s secrets which he wouldn’t dare allow to be aired in a courtroom.  And the money?  Besides the obviously made up insurance claim, the jet fuel I owed him was a rounding error.  If anything, I did him a favor by giving his new plane the necessary intercontinental test run it needed for EU airworthiness certs.  No, there was some subtext here that I missed and he was engaging in a classic gambit of misdirection.

“And I can make certain that your friend Captain Gutierrez will never fly again.” At this I leapt up from my chair in righteous indignation, clearly betraying my poker face.  Franco smiled in satisfaction, knowing he had pushed exactly the right button.

“Punish me all you want, Franco, but Biz is the best pilot you’ve got and you know this.”  I felt exactly like Luke Skywalker in the Emporer’s chamber.  Beneath his smug smile I could even hear Franco thinking “your faith in your friends is your weakness”.  So this was the gambit, Franco was going to use my loyalty to Biz to get what he wanted.  Now the only thing was to figure out exactly what he did want.

“In two weeks,” Franco began as I recomposed myself and sat down again, “TAP will be participating in an invited conference with the European Commission.”  Invited conference?  What he really meant was that he was being investigated and was in danger of losing his certifications.

“Your word, Major, can carry a great deal of, shall we say, weight with the commission.  I may have every intention of keeping Mr. Gutierrez on my payroll, but if we lose our certification there won’t be any payroll on which to keep him or anyone.”

“I’m sorry Franco, but I have other obligations…”

“Relax Mr. Farmer, the Commission will be meeting here in Frankfurt.  Your rotations with Lufthansa will end the very same day as the Commission begins.”  I was out of excuses. Despite how gross it all felt, I was going to have to go to bat for Franco in order to get Biz flying again.

Suddenly a light bulb went off in my brain.  Franco, the cunning little weasel, had engineered the whole thing!  He sent Biz to Bangalore to intercept me, and Clausen was a plant to ensure I’d get to Frankfurt.  Had I really underestimated him all these years? Was he really that smart, that conniving?

“One last question, Mr. Franco, how did you know I was working for Lufthansa.”  Franco just chuckled and shook his head.

“Ah, Mr. Farmer, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

 

Technical Report 17

The team has been hard at work completing the analysis for the Optimal Location of the Airside Cargo Facility in the planning phase of the new London Thames airport.  Our final report is now published and available for your perusal in the following document:

London Thames Airport Planning Commission: Technical Report 17 [pdf]

Highlights:

We hereby recommend relocating the cargo center from its originally proposed location to the west of the runway and passenger terminal complex to a new location between the two runway pairs toward the east edge of the platform.

This move is estimated to save £133mn in annual fuel costs, reduce taxi time for cargo aircraft by 119 hours per day, and reduce the carbon emissions of the airport by 37%.

An airport for Britain’s next thousand years

In 2014, Foster+Partners released Inner Thames Hub Estuary Feasibility Studies, their bold, innovative, and comprehensive plan for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary.  The question of whether this airport will be built is a certainty; the only question is when will London’s leaders acquire the political will to ensure London’s place on the world stage for the next thousand years.  For more about this project, visit the Thames Hub project page.

From a cargo pilot’s perspective, I quickly noticed a glaring flaw in the architect’s original proposal.  The cargo facility is relegated to the far southwest corner of the airport platform.  Not only will this location result in excessive taxi times for heavy cargo aircraft, it will also present congestion issues as the only taxiway access passes through a busy intersection leading to the passenger terminals.  I decided to solve this problem by relocating the cargo facility to the eastern edge of the platform equidistant from the twin runway pairs.  In exchange, we relocate the maintenance hangars, which do not see nearly as much traffic frequency as the airside cargo stands.

Based on expected winds, traffic patterns, and runway allocation, taxi time from the original cargo location would average 18.3 minutes outbound and 15.8 minutes on arrival.  In the new location, taxi out would average just 6.6 minutes and taxi in 13.5 minutes.  Since departing aircraft are laden with jet fuel, reducing taxi out times is crucial in lowering fuel costs.  Relocating the cargo facility to the eastern end of the platform, nearer to the departing runway thresholds during typical west flows, is a much more efficient location.

 

 

 

 

Gear up for Summer Sim Season 2017!

Checking in after 9 long months.  That’s how long it has been since I’ve been on the flight deck, or even thought about anything flight sim related.   I’m still 2 months away from breaking out the sim rig but can at least start making some plans for my eagerly awaited return to the virtual skies.

For two primary reasons (The Family & The Job), I only have one or two sim opportunities per year.  But when those opportunities present themselves, I make the best of them.  Owing to a multitude of circumstances, neither of these obstacles was cleared over the winter holidays, so the rig — along with my skyward dreams — remained shelved and Winter Sim Season 2016 did not come to pass.  After months of deliberations, the Fam has decided to return to Mother England for the summer.  I will be joining them in August but July is all mine.  I’m now hastily arranging my work obligations such that I can take a few weeks of guiltless indulgence, hence Summer Sim Season 2017!  Being a self-employed business owner gives me a little more latitude than the average bear, but also makes it far more difficult to enjoy my time off knowing that being away from work also means being away from incoming cheques.

Since last July I’ve purposely avoided reading anything or even thinking about simming; no avsim, no youtube channels, and I deleted the FCOMs from my hard drive.  I knew it would be a long break and having that stuff around would just make my anxious longing grow unbearable.  At some point in February I saw that the new PMDG 747 had been released and I nearly chucked my computer out the window, knowing it would be half a year before I’d be able to jump back into the Queen.  On the bright side, it might be worth the wait because hopefully a new FS2Crew will be available for the 747 by summertime.

Last week I finally broke down and opened up the AVSIM forums to catch up on what I’ve been missing out on.  I see I’ll need to upgrade P3D to 3.4, but fortunately Poppet and Rob both have good guides and forum topics to make that look fairly painless.  I’m sure I’ll have a bunch of scenery updates to take care of as well (not to mention a year’s worth of Windows 10 updates!)  [Reminder: pickup a spare CMOS battery for the motherboard in case it’s DOA when I pull it out of storage].

Despite the long runway ahead of me, I’ve begun to mentally catalogue all the fun flights I’m going to pack into SSS ’17.  The goal is no less than 100 hours of block time.  I’m going to keep a formal logbook of all flights, including fuel consumption, and will post everything here when the season is over.  For starters, here’s what I’m looking at:

  • 744 RTW.  Without a doubt, the new PMDG 747 will be one of the highlights of Summer Sim Season 2017.  Since moving to P3D as of last summer, I spent most of my time in the NGX and 777.  For long hauls, the 777 is a very nice airplane, but it’s not the Queen.  As a freight dog, nothing beats the commanding view from the deck of a 744.  I spent many hours in the original PMDG 747 back in FSX, but this was early in my sim career before I really got serious about it.  It will be a joy to re-learn this airplane from a disciplined perspective and be able to appreciate the exacting detail for which PMDG is renowned.  After what I’m sure will be several days spent reading the documentation, I’ll take her up for a few touch and goes at Edwards AFB, a nice long and wide runway to get in some good practice.  Then, I’ll plan a RTW trek in 5 or 6 hops, the requirements being a) start and end at the same airport, b) must visit the Northern and Southern hemispheres, c) must cross the Atlantic and Pacific.  I’ll fill in the other details later.
  • From the bottom to the top.  This is a trip idea I’ve had for some time but haven’t actually made yet.  Start at an extreme Southern airport, say Punta Arenas or Ushuaia, make your way up the Americas and over Greenland, Iceland, and then to an extreme Northern airport like Tromsø.  This will be a nice casual flight for the NGX.
  • Buzzing Everest.  I’ve been reading about crazy people who climb mountains in the Himalayas and thought it would be surreal to be at FL300 and only a couple thousand feet above ground.  I’m not sure there are any actual airways over the Himalayas, and haven’t picked the airports yet, but this is sure to be a visual treat.
  • Search for MH370.  The questions surrounding the disappearance of this flight remain one of the great unsolved aviation mysteries of our time.  I still check the avherald article for any updates.  I read about search flights over the southern Indian Ocean and have always wanted to simulate one.  Depart from Perth on a heading of two zero something, fly 2 hours out, descend to 1000 feet and scan the surface of the ocean at 200 knots in a search pattern.  A perfect fit for the Poseidan repaint of the NGX 738.  This flight will be reserved for a day when I’m in a very somber mood.  My deepest sympathies to all involved.
  • SFO-LAX circuits.  Ok, now that the more fanciful flights are out of the way, I’ll turn to the more pedestrian, mundane, day-to-day, but still incredibly fun ordinary revenue flights.  I know both these airports very well, and usually fly into one or both of them every month out of SEA.  It’s a perfect city pair for flight simming. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, and nice big airports with a lot of procedures.  And on popular days you might get full ATC staffing on VATSIM.  You get about 30 minutes from TOC to TOD so not nearly enough time to get bored.  I try to get 3 round trips in one session, using a real world schedule and trying to stay on schedule!
  • EU pax ops.  Outside of the US, I love flying in the EU, especially Northern Europe.  My first VATSIM flight was ESSA to EKCH and that’s one route I could never tire of.  Apart from Stockholm and Copenhagen, my favorite Euro-hubs also include Oslo, Bergen, Stansted, and Prestwick.  A little further south and we’ve got Vienna, Geneva, Zurich, and Malpensa.  I love flying a nice Scandinavian 737-700 for such jaunts.
  • EU cargo ops.  When I tire of putting on the suit and tie to impress passengers, I’ll switch to the T-shirt and jeans and make some cargo runs around these same airports.  In the 77F I fly Lufthansa Cargo and in the 747-400F my loveliest livery is a Cargolux.
  • Tour of the American Southwest.  While Orbx doesn’t usually make airports suitable for iron, the newly released KSAN opens up some new possibilities in SoCal.  Obviously this new destination will make an interesting addition to my SFO and LAX routes.  It will also give me another stop on the way to PHX.
  • VATSIM Events.  Since I’m still a VATSIM noob, and have been out of practice for nearly a year, it will take me some time to get back in the groove before attempting another VATSIM flight.  But once I’m ready I’ll be eager to jump right back online and have some real fun!  It’s still too early to know what events will be happening during SSS ’17, but I’m sure there will be several that strike my fancy.  For events that involve new routes, I’ll be sure to practice offline first to acquaint myself with the procedures.
  • Recapturing my lost winter.  Since it will be full on summer by the time I’m simming again, I will surely get tired of all the sun and beautiful weather.  So for at least some of my offline flights, I plan to dial back the clock so I can get some cold dark snowy conditions to add a little extra flavor.

And that’s where things stand so far.  Sorry I’ve been away for so long but these things are what they are.  I take work and family life very seriously, so that when the time comes I can take my hobby seriously too.  See you at FL380!