Flight plan

......My flight plan....

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Up for a Spin in the Sim

My son posing in front of the B777 sim

Well after seeing my son and my visiting nephew glued to an X-box and the computer during the Christmas holidays, I figured it was time to take them to the "sim" for a real video game. Policy has changed requiring lots of paperwork, but we still have opportunity to take the "sim for a spin."

It's not easy running a simulator. We did get a brief explanation from one technician. But three of the flight computers were acting up requiring another call from the simulator. A quick response from the "techies" fixed it. It's not similar to getting into the real airplane. You must tell the simulator what you want to do.

The drawbridge goes up, the motion is on and it's time to go flying. We took off 24 left in Toronto, flew a rectangular circuit for an ILS back on 24L. My son, nephew and daughter had a crack at it. Their landings weren't bad. Actually a couple of them may have opened the overhead bins, but they landed on the first third and NEAR the center of the runway and on the "mains."

Of course the two gamers (son and nephew) wanted to pump things up a little i.e thunderstorms, icing and moderate turbulence. We ran into sim glitches so I couldn't get the Expressway visual to runway 31 into La Guardia to work.

Somehow we had LLWS (low level wind shear), plus an aircraft on final during departure programmed into the sim.

The "sim" building was very quiet. I guess in anticipation of the Christmas holidays.

P.S I just received this unsolicited link. Seems like quite a guy! Another young aviator.



JohnN said...

My level of jealousy at this is off the charts! Lucky kids. There are starting to be 'real' sims (non motion) available to rent, but not in the US?

From the Flight Deck said...

JohnN. I think they are lucky kids..too!
But it took a little convincing. :)

Where are these sims (non motion) available?

Captain Doug

Daniel said...

It is something they will remember for the rest of their lives, at least I know I will.

Does he have any interest in becoming a pilot? You should pick him up a nice 3 grand computer, buy Flightsim, get some addons and you could have a virtual A320 pilot also in your family . Hehe.

fche said...

That Jonathan fellow is an impressive chap. On the other hand, it's kind of odd to make a big fuss ("six world records ...") about his genetics in this day & age.

Edwin said...

I agree with JohnN, you can't watch someone else get to do this without feeling jealous! :P Although flying the actual plane must be a lot more fun!

I think the FAA is a bit more strict about getting civilians in to simulator, but in Europe there are quite a few companies offering "Flight Simulator Experiences".

I know VirtualAviation in the UK is. Might try it out someday! =)

WILLO2D said...

Hi Doug,

Green with envy over here in the UK - B773 sim? Yes please, sir. Nothing like a bit of moderate chop to sort things out - or select "autoland" ;))

For Edwin: VirtualAviation are a really, really good outfit. I cannot recommend them highly enough - expensive? yes, but they look after you. If you get the chance, and are able to persuade the bank manager, go for an exclusive deal: just you and the instructor(s) - and have a plan for what you would like to do.

Kind regards / IanH

Ed said...

Lucky lucky kids! Wish that was me, it's a shame that my university budget can't stretch for some sim time!

Blake said...

Best Dad Ever!

whywhyzed said...

When a friend of mine was training on the 767, he invited me to run that panel that is located behind the left hand seat -- my job was to cut an engine at my discretion..... was a fun afternoon to be sure!!

(and I'm glad I had my seat belt on!)

whywhyzed said...
This post has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Sounds amazing! What an experience!! I'm a tad jealous but they are truly lucky!


Edwin said...

Thanks IanH.

Do they put you in the 737NG or which one are they currently using for the civilian rides. I'd love to try out the A340 if they are available. I'm traveling to Gatwick next year anyway, so I if my budget allows I'll be sure to pay them a visit! Thanks for the info!

Doug, a question: The simulator is for the 777-300ER, but could it not be for the other 777s as well, I mean, isn't that just a change in software needed or are the flight decks that different? Same for the A340s, Virtual aviation appears to have a separate simulator for the -600. Does the A320 sim work for A319s and A321s as well?

Chris Gardner said...

Lucky dogs next time try to land in YYT at a CAT III aproach lol. the only sim I did use was flying a F16 on a Google Earth ap.

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Daniel. Actually, all three of my kids are not showing signs of pursuing aviation.
Funny many children of the pilots I know can't be bothered as well.

Having said that, my eldest hinted she wanted to get her private pilot license.

I should get flight sim because my son spends WAY too much time on X-Box.

How much is it?

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

fche. I agree....very impressive! I was thinking when reading his story...this guy has some good financial backing. Helicopter lessons ain't cheap!

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin. I agree, I haven't flown in over two weeks. I am getting antsy. It was the first time I visited the 'sim" building without feeling intrepidation. :)

Yes, "home security" is somewhat apprehensive as to who visits simulators.

I won't say anymore.... :)

From the Flight Deck said...

IanH We did do an autoland in Category one limits in the A320 sim. My son just posed in front of the B777 sim. It sat idle as well.

Thanks for the "virtualaviation" advice Ian.
I guess we North Americans don't have that option. Well none that I am aware of.

I see Heathrow is up to a balmy plus 2C. :)



From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Ed. I guess you have to prioritize. :) Rent, food, tuition or an hour in the "sim?" Decisions. lol

Good luck with the studies!

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Blake. I think so. But now and again, I DO have to remind them. lol

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...


WOW, you ran the panel? I still can't figure that thing out! It's all touch screen and sometimes you didn't know if it got the message or not. :)

You were giving engine cuts? A fun day for sure!
I didn't get that far on my maiden voyage with the sim. :)

Captain Doug

Daniel said...

Well, the sim itself isn't expensive. It's the computer which decides if your going to have fun and enjoy which is expensive. The version I run, FS2004 is about 20 bucks? Probably less now. There is a lot of addons and such to it so it has more eye candy and enjoyable.

If you/your son is interested, email me and I can get him/you set up with what would be good.

Edwin said...

Daniel, I've always wondered:
Why do some people run FS2004 instead of FSX? Is it more realistic, more addons or what makes it the better option?


From the Flight Deck said...


I just asked my son and he knew all about the add ons.

Can an Airbus 320 captain afford this or should I just capitalize on the real sim? lol

I do have a new iMac with a 21.5 screen. (I was too cheap to buy the 27 inch) :)

Standing by


Daniel said...

From what other people have told me, they usually run FS2004 because FSX has coding problems. Thus why if you don't have a god computer your FSX won't run that good. I prefer FS2004 because it has the planes I like to fly. All I fly is Air Canada planes, however I can't get my 772/3 in FSX, so I am screwed for those flights.

However, don't get me wrong, FSX is a wonderful sim when you tweak it. I have mine tweaked so I can go in New York with a high pixel plane and still get 30 FPS locked. FSX runs of your GPU ( Graphics Card ) , so where I have a ATI 5870 HD it can do that because "frying" my computer.

( Sorry to hijack your comments Doug :D )

From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin. Sounds like Daniel is an expert.
I'll be standing by for his reply.

Having said that, I've been checking my credit card for Christmas. I should've headed south.
It would have been more enjoyable.

How is Sweden doing in the weather department?

I spent one New Year's eve there a few years ago inbound from New Delhi. And believe it or not, the tug had one heck of a time pushing us back in the snow. Proves one thing, no one is 100 precent ready for winter. :)


Edwin said...

I have the Radeon 5970 so graphics should not a problem. It's been a long time since I flew FSX but now that I don't have school for a few weeks, I might pick it up. Do you know any good A320 addons for FSX? I've read that Wilco makes good ones.

Thanks for your reply!

Oh, and Doug, hope you don't mind the hijacking as Daniel said =)

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Gee...you know your stuff!!!

It's okay to "hijack" my blog although that is a "dirty" word to an airline pilot. lol

Again, thanks for the info. I'm certain Edwin will be very appreciative.


From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin, Daniel....go for it guys. It's Christmas! I'll be getting into the rum and eggnog soon. :)
(Oh...I forgot, my booze collection went missing when my middle daughter decided to have a party when her
parents were gone for two days). :(

Daniel said...

Haha, yes, a A320 captain can afford it. I just checked and seen that there is 2 versions of the iMac, I couldn't give you a exact expectations from the computer unless I knew which one you have. Both of them look like pretty strong computers. I wouldn't get a new computer unless he is actually interested in doing it.

Edwin said...

Weather here is very cold!
Minus 10 degrees Celsius at the moment in my town.

Don't know about the airports but theres been a train chaos in the last few weeks with up to 5-8 hours delays, I read last week that one train got evacuated due to a too lengthy delay. One of my sister is on her way from the North of Sweden to celebrate Christmas here and the cargo train in front of here derailed, so we'll see how long it will take before she gets here.

Sorry I don't have any METAR info for you, but I don't know any good sites providing them :P

Daniel said...

FS LABs is coming out with a A320 series plane soon and it should be pretty good. They are trying to make it exactly like the real A320. One of them asked me a Question to find in a FCOM of Aeroflot and hell, even the FCOM didn't even have it. So unfortunately I wasn't any help to him but now he has A320 pilots telling him all the stuff.

From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin. As far as the B777 sim question, I'm not sure.
(Something tells me it would be just a software change)
But for the A330/A340-300 sim it took only 15 to 20 minutes to change the throttles, etc.
Not sure about the A340-600.

For the A320 sims, we set it as an A320 (FIN 201). They can change it to an A321 or A319 if need be. (I think) The flight deck is nearly the exact same for all three.


Edwin said...


Thanks a lot for the help, I'll take a look if they have some sort of ETA.


I'm sure someone has asked this before on your blog, but which plane in the A320 family is your favorite? I know you like the newer ones with more comfortable seats and tray tables (which some didn't have if I remember correctly), but which one is the most fun just looking at the flying aspect?

From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin. Here's an American site. Funny our aviation provider NAV CANADA does not provide international weather. I guess they think weather stops at borders. It's always been my beef.
They DO have a link to an American site.


I see Stockholm ESSA is reporting minus 16C in light snow showers.
I see you guys are adding extra info at the end of the METAR. Must be runway conditions?
I'll have to check.


ESSA 232020Z 01004KT 350V050 4000 -SHSN SCT004 BKN015 M16/M18 Q1022 R01L/710143 R08/710137 TEMPO BKN007

From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin. You're right, people have asked this before. :)


As far as performance, the A319 kicks butt.
As far as newness, comfortable seats, and VERY quiet engines and flight deck, it's the A321 hands down!

The newer A320s aren't bad either. :)

But I miss the A330 and the 340-500. :(


WILLO2D said...

Hi Doug,

EGLL @ 2 C? It's definitely warming up!! Also just about back to normal ops but the "blame game" between BA and BAA (owner/operator) has started - should be fun! BTW, my Mum's greenhouse - York - is upto -5 and the conservatory/sunroom is at a balmy +3. That's with the heating on!

I did wonder about the photo of your son/777 sim. When I did my "trip" I asked if there was a 320 available but there was a late availability on the 330 with lots of money off the advertised cost - I took the 330. Which I guess answers one of Edwin's queries: it's your pengar so you pick from the available list and that's what you "fly". Most offerings currently are 738NG or 330/340. Most of the 330/340 sims are the same box on the legs - the engineers just swap out the throttle boxes and reconfigure the software to provide what is required for that session. And they are the same kit used for real training. I was wedged between two TCX training sessions. When I finished, the next crew were waiting at the bridge!

On the question of FS 2004/FSX it's quite complicated and is very much hardware dependent. Regarding A320, I have the WILCO offering - I wish I hadn't bought it! There are a number of "freeware" offering available, but most of the current payware products now require FSX SP2/Gold/Acceleration. It can be a bit of a minefield! I wouldn't want to go further now - after all, this is Doug's patch ;) However, if you would like more info, there is an e-mail link on my blog.

Doug, re cost of MS FS, that well known south American river retailer could be your best bet, but I may be able to help - I will e-mail you after the holiday. Kind regards - IanH

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. I'll hold off in a new computer. For a family of five we have five... plus I bought my wife the iPad for Christmas. (I hope she doesn't read my blog) :)
So that makes six excluding all the iPod touches, blackberries, etc. :)

I think it's time I walk away from the computer and find something to mix with that eggnog. :)


Edwin said...

Thanks for the link, talked to a spotter at my local airport (ESGG) and he provided a link as well.

Yeah, I would assume those are runway conditions. But please get back with confirmation once you've checked.

From the Flight Deck said...


Yes, I hear a lot of finger pointing has already started. Running out of deice fluid will be on the top of the list. Having said that, a few winters ago we too ran out of deice fluid and this is at the world's largest deice center.

Of course many here in Canada are saying this would never happen to us. Ahem...what happened in Vancouver a year before the Olympics? :)

Thanks for passing along the detailed info for Edwin.

Sounds like you are up there with Daniel as far as MS Flight Sim stuff.

South American river...I love it...Amazon (It did take me a second) :)

In the mean time, enjoy your holidays!


Edwin said...

Thanks for the help IanH, I'll shoot you an email after the holidays when I've got my FSX setup up and running again.

Good one, South American river, to be honest, I didn't get it until Doug explained it. :P


From the Flight Deck said...

Edwin. I still can't find the info about the runway reports. But it's time to take a break. :)

An international METAR does include runway reports but the format is a little different.

Yes, Amazon...good one Ian! :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Heather. I almost missed you in all the email.

Yes, they are truly lucky, but something tells me my son and nephew would prefer X-box. Pity. :(

Happy Holidays Heather!



Hello Captain Doug!

WOW! Lucky kids! Maybe Air Canada will have a "Take a Sim for a Spin" contest someday for us not fortunate to have a pilot for a dad!

Here's one last one for you before the holidays..... What elevation does Santa most prefer to fly?? :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

CAT III Approach

Adam aka "The Winnipeger" said...

That sure does beat me flying FSX on my descktop at home! I agree totally with CAT III APPROACH!! That is a great idea!

Merry Christmas from,
The Winnipeger,

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III approach. That's a great idea! Having a contest for elites and super elites. I'm certain it would be a hit!

As to what flight level Santa prefers, only he would know. :) :) :)

Merry Christmas!

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Adam the Winnipeger. All the best! Captain Doug

Ed said...

Spot on Capt D! However, I have just put a tiny bit of money aside for an hour on the C152 :D (It's worth not eating for a week ;) )

Highly recommend FS2004 ( my computer couldn't handle FSX very well), you get some great add ons, especially aircraft wise (Level-D 767+ Wilco's Airbus)

It's the closes thing I have to a full motion simulator!

Have a great holiday and Merry Christmas from the UK!


Cedarglen said...

Happy Holidays, again Captain Doug. What a wonderful treat to the kids!
I introduced myself via email a few days ago, while reading through your entire archive. Wow! What a happy and supportive place for flying 'nuts' of all kinds. Everyone's comments seem to be polite and respectful (far too rare in my experience) and tend to follow the respectful lead of the Pilot Blogging. This is a keeper link and I look forward to your future postings as well as the opportunity to ask a few questions. Don't want to hog the space, so enough for now. Thanks again, for an most interesting and very civil blog.

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Craig. WELCOME! Yes, this is a "G" rated blog. Even though it seems tame, I have a lot of people looking at it from different perspectives so it's best I
keep things "straight and level." Having said that, something tells me you are going to add a "twist" to things. :)

Again welcome.

Civil Captain Doug