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AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

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  • AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

    After Action Report: FSX Southwest Tour



    Not too long ago, I decided to re-install FSX after a long haitus. I reacquainted myself by flying some of Rod Machiado's helpful lessons on VFR and instrument flight, approaches, etc... Then, I was ready to go!

    After much contemplation, I decided to take my first journey in FSX in the southwest United States. It would be a three leg journey, starting at Phoenix Sky Harbor Int'l flying to Page Municipal Airport. From there, I'd do a visual flight through the Grand Canyon, following the Colorado River to Las Vegas. The final trip is a night flight from Vegas back to Phoenix. All of this will be done in just over a day!

    The two obvious main attractions here are, 1) the Grand Canyon, and 2.) Las Vegas. I decided I would start off from Phoenix Sky Harbor Int'l. to emulate a situation where I may have flown commercial into PHX and rented a general aviation aircraft for the trip. My aircraft is a Cessna Skyhawk 172, as I am still a novice pilot, and it is the aircraft I am most familiar with.

    The first leg of the flight will be pretty much uneventful. It's a VOR navigation flight going north through Flagstaff, on to Page Municipal Airport (KPGA). I embark at around 7:30 a.m. to make the most of my day.



    The takeoff from Phoenix is uneventful, and it isn't long before I'm approaching Flagstaff.



    It's the last bit of green I'll see for quite a while. I fly over quite flat and barren desert until I approach Page Municipal Airport. I know I'm getting close when I start to see the canyon containing the Colorado River to my left, which opens up ahead of me into Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border. It's a very scenic approach, in my opinion.



    On the ground at KPGA, I refuel and prepare for the next leg of my trip, which I will embark on immediately. Page Municipal is a common starting point for aerial tours of the canyon.



    After a quick lunch, I am back in the air by 12:30 p.m., departing north over Powell Lake and making nearly a 180-degree turn back toward the Colorado River and over the Glen Canyon Dam.



    On this leg of the trip, I won't use any navigational aids aside from what's out the window. I plan to simply follow the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon until it opens back up to Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border, which I know is almost due east of Las Vegas.

    I will also try to get a glimpse of the Hoover Dam, located on the southwest side of Lake Mead, if I can spot it. Shouldn't be too hard, though.

    The river narrows immediately after the dam. It's still not to hard to follow, as the canyon is the largest natural feature for miles. The tough part will be when the canyon widens, but I don't anticipate any trouble.

    One point of note, it is against FAA regulation to fly below the rim of the canyon. I am going to try to abide by this rule, so no stunt flying here.



    As the canyon widens, the vista gets more spectacular.



    Finally, the canyon widens to it's largest expanse.





    The scenery through the canyon is beautiful. I follow this on for quite some time, and eventually, the river starts to widen again. I know I'm getting close to Lake Mead, and start to cut corners off of the river to get some time back.



    Lake Mead opens up before me, and I can finally see Las Vegas in the distance. Only shortly after I realize what I'm seeing, I'm contacted by Las Vegas approach.



    I request a flight following, though I won't be landing there. My destination will instead be Henderson Executive Airfield (KHND), just a few miles south of Las Vegas McCarran Int'l Airport.

    Before I make a beeline to Henderson, I jog around to the south of Lake Mead. Sure enough, I can vaguely make out a man-made structure in the river flowing south from the lake. A closer inspection shows I've spotted Hoover Dam.



    With that fun side trip out of the way, I proceed to Henderson. Las Vegas becomes a huge expanse beneath me, and I can see the strip and McCrarran in the distance.



    Pleasant little neighborhoods end abruptly into barren desert in FSX... a feature similar to the city as it exists in reality.



    I tune Henderson tower and request a full stop landing. I turn heading south into the downwind leg, turn west to base, then north to final approach to runway 35R, as instructed by the tower. The Vegas skyline and traffic heading into McCarran can be seen in the distance.





    I park it, and it's off to the strip for gambling. No drinks though, as I'll be back in the left seat after sundown to make the return trip to Phoenix.

    I hear there's a spectacular fireworks show over the strip at around 10:00. I taxi from parking and get clearance for takeoff departing north from runway 35L. I'm airborne by 10:01.

    I can see the fireworks show has already started. They're going off near the beam of light shooting into the sky from the Luxor hotel and casino.



    Why not get a little closer for a better view? Of course, that did involve getting browbeaten by Las Vegas Approach while I was dodging outbound commercial traffic heading west out runway 25 at McCarran. The view is worth it, though.





    After passing the strip, I turn back to the east heading out of town, passing by Nellis Air Force Base, then southeast once I'm clear of the airline traffic approaching McCarran.

    The flight back is long, and uneventful. Navigational aids are sparse here, so I track the long way home between VOR's. I do happen to catch a glimpse of Lake Havasu.



    The rest of the trip is quite boring. I hold 7,500 feet in accordance with the East-West Rule. (Eastbound traffic must hold altitude in intervals of X,500 feet while above 3,000 above ground level. Alternately, if I were heading westbound, I'd be flying at 7,000 or 8,000 feet.)



    One of my final VORs puts me over Luke Air Force Base. I wasn't sure if I could enter their airspace, but I was granted permission by Luke approach, so I went ahead.



    From there, I turn east toward Phoenix Sky Harbor. Boy, this town sure gets dark at night.



    At least they leave all the lights on at Chase Field.



    I pass over Sky Harbor and enter a right downwind pattern to land on runway 7R, the shortest of Sky Harbor's three parallel runways. It runs next to the general aviation hangars, which is where I'll park it for good. I descend smoothly to the runway on a visual approach, and touch down safely.

    It's about 1:30 a.m. by the time I park. Quite an adventure for a day's work.



    I hope you enjoyed this AAR as much as I did flying this mission!
    "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
    He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

    - Attributed to General George Patton, Jr.

  • #2
    Re: AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

    Ha I was like way cool. Then I thought this must have taken him about 3 hours....Then I looked at your xfire tag and there it was.

    Great AAR! Now I have to get back in the saddle so we can get a gaggle of us flying around.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

      I think all the flying took me more like 6 or 7 hours, but I don't have Xfire on all the time. Obviously there was some saving and resuming during flights.
      "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
      He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

      - Attributed to General George Patton, Jr.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

        Nice job Evo. I've really been enjoying FSX since I upgraded my system and can actually play it in high settings.

        I'm curious, have you checked out Tile Proxy? It's a hog on your system and high-res tiles only last so long on the landscape, but it definitely gave me one of those milestone feelings in flight simming and gaming in general.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

          Originally posted by AMosely View Post
          I'm curious, have you checked out Tile Proxy? It's a hog on your system and high-res tiles only last so long on the landscape, but it definitely gave me one of those milestone feelings in flight simming and gaming in general.
          That's quite the endorsement. I'm thinking about checking it out. After all, it is free. I saw some of the scenery from the Grand Canyon in Tile Proxy, and it looks amazing. Makes me wish I would have installed it before making the flight.

          I did install some photo scenery for Phoenix, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference from the default, which is why I didn't do many screenies of the city. It also had a terrible transition from the photo scenery to the default scenery at the edge, which I had to stare at for a couple of miles until I was past it. There are pros and cons to this stuff, I guess.

          While we're on the subject of add ons, I am heavily considering picking up A2A's new P-47. It looks unbelievable, but I'm not sure I want to drop $60 bucks on a single aircraft. I might pick it up without the Accu-Sim features, which drops the price to $35.
          "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
          He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

          - Attributed to General George Patton, Jr.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

            Originally posted by Evo<^|SiNz|^> View Post
            That's quite the endorsement. I'm thinking about checking it out. After all, it is free. I saw some of the scenery from the Grand Canyon in Tile Proxy, and it looks amazing. Makes me wish I would have installed it before making the flight.
            The thing is, tile proxy has update issues. With high settings, it'll download high-res images within about a 10-mile radius of your plane. Beyond that, it'll use lesser resolutions, which is perfectly fine. Just this first loading takes about 4-5 minutes on my core2 duo 3.2G 4GB machine (as opposed to about 30 seconds without tile proxy). This isn't really a big deal, because once loaded in it looks absolutely astounding (like the grand canyon images).

            The problem is (at least for me) when your plane leaves that initial radius of high-res tiles. It doesn't ever seem to update the high-res tiles in time enough for your plane to reach them. In other words, if your plane travels slow enough, or circles, it can keep things updated. But if you travel at a normal clip (100-200 knots or more), you'll mostly see blurry tiles. This too isn't all bad, in fact from enough altitude it looks much better than the normal FSX scenery. But for sightseeing flights, it's kindof frustrating. There's also some general limitations, like the lack of seasons (yahoo maps seems summer only) no night flying (night lights are part of tiles, which are replaced), and perhaps most odd-looking of all, no dynamic scenery outside of airports, making the entire world look flat.

            Regardless of all this, it is definitely worth loading just to gawk at how amazing it can be. I just don't load it most of the time because of the above issues. I am hoping it continues to be updated over time, because the concept of using satellite images as ground tiles is spot-on for flight simming!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

              My god, I'm not even patient enough to climb a B-29 carrying 20,000 lbs of ordinance to 5000 meters in IL2 let alone fly a Cessna for 6 hours.


              Comment


              • #8
                Re: AAR: FSX Southwest Tour

                nice shots mate..
                If you show your head then your dead....

                Comment

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