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The grand Danube adventure


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Hi guys,

One of the things that I love to do with FS is collect scenery. The closer to reality I get the better. But given my love of flying airliners, I either miss the scenery I've bought, or if I'm lucky, i fly into a new airport scenery. Either way I think I'm missing out. Well I think I'm due a change.

This summer, as I do every summer, I get a month off and so I dissapear to some part of the world to enjoy the time off. This year I went to Vienna for a month, a city that features great coffee, great food and of course, the blue Danube. The danube is one of the most famous rivers in the world, up there with the nile, Ganges and the amazon. None of which has a waltz written about them though. The Danube also happens to be Europe's longest river beginning not to far from the French border and running several thousand miles to the sea.

Vienna also boast some fine computer shops that would put pc world here in the uk to shame. Getting hold of a few of aerosoft's boxed DVD's was easy and at the end of my holiday, I'd bought 8 different titles including 'approaching innsbruck', Austria professional x' and the excellent DA20-100 katana x who is of course, like wiener snitzel, pure Austrian. Indeed the katana is build at an airfield just 30mins from Vienna city centre by train.

So with all this software and a new aircraft to learn, I came up with the idea that I would fly the length if the Danube from start to finish in the da20. It's not an easy task. I've been mulling over rules and routes for a while. In the end I decided that the following rules apply.

1. Realism is paramount.

The great thing about the katana is it's failure models. It's perhaps the most realistic simulation of owning a GA out there. You have to check the oil, check the fuel and make sure you don't abuse her or you'll find the aircraft with suffer for it. In my many trail flights with her, I've burned out many a flap motor by exceeding the Vfe speed. You even have to clean the windshield to remove bugs. So it's a perfect aircraft to use.

2. Navigation.

Old school is the rule here. No GPS, just old fashioned vor nav along with VFR flight only. I thought it would be a great excuse to brush up my nav skills as opposed to the constant reliance if the fmc and vnav buttons found in Boeing's. The katana has no autopilot so it will 'hand fly' only. No there's a challenge.

3. Real conditions.

Flying VFR has its own problems, and poor weather is one of them. The whole adventure will be flown with real world conditions provided by REX essentials. That means if the weather is poor, no flying and even the possibility of diversions should conditions deteriorate.

4. Only airfields next to or near the Danube.

This one is self explanatory. You'd be surprised how many airfields there are next to the Danube. There will be exceptions of course, but generally, if there's an airfield next to the river, I'll land there.

And 5. Enjoyment.

I plan to enjoy the whole trip.

To keep it as real as possible, I'll begin the tour here in the uk. So the start point will be my home field of Cardiff. From there it'll be a two leg journey to the small town of Donaueschingen via a stop in France. From there the Danube begins and so begins the journey.

Wish me luck, the first leg from Cardiff starts soon.

Jess B

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Hey guys,

Don't worry, there'll be plenty of screenshots and plenty if info to cover each leg including the route map for said leg provided by plan-g. I'm hoping to complete the first leg this week, weather permitting of course. ;-)

Jess B

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Yeah. The weather will make it interesting. Current weather at Cardiff is 1500 meters visability with cloud at 300 feet! The forecast doesn't show any hope of it lifting any time today. Tomorrow is forecast with heavy rain so I'm hoping for a Friday get away. I'll post the route up later.

Jess B

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Sounds like fun and a river is certainly the best landmark to follow. I also use rivers for making long freeflights as they are easy to see in FSX. Layovers are a definite possibility this time of year. Looking forward to following your flight here. Safe trip. :D

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Well, after a few days waiting on the weather, today i finally got a break and the journey could begin.

I spent a few hours working out various routes with my preferred choice leading me from the airfield in Cardiff, over the Severn estuary to Yeovilton before routing out over the channel, making landfall at Cherbourg and on to an airfield just outside Chartres. Unfortunately, the route proved unusable as the Yeovilton VOR was DME only and Cherbourg offered only offered an NDB, which the DA20 doesn't have fitted.

So Instead I chose a route to the south, heading out over the Bristol Channel, across the moors to Exeter and Exmouth to the Beachy Head VOR, the Out to sea to Guernsey, Then Jersey and on to France and a lovely arfield near the French City of Caen. Caen was a good choice as if offered Customs services, which would be required before I flew any further into France.

Getting to the Airport, I discovered the Weather to be a little on the poor side. The forecast did mention the risk of showers though out the day, so I took the oppotunity to grab a full breakfast at the Wales Aero Club. As I ate breakfast overlooking the apron and runway the weather cleared up, and by the time i'd finished my last piece of toast the sun was out. Finally I could start preflighting and get going. I topped the tanks, checked the oil and even gave the windscreen a bit of a clean. In fairness the Katana is Brand new and one of the few available with a British Registration. With zero hours on the clock, everything is brand new and shiny. So with the Preflight done I run through the checklist and get the engine started.

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A few people have gathered to see me off? Nope, more the good food and good Views from the Wales Aero Club.

Mike Zulu and I are about to become very well acquainted as the trip could take awhile. So with the engine ticking over smoothly, I call atc for Clearance and once given, I start to taxi out to Runway 30. Mike Zulu starts slowly with the power added, but once I'm rolling, I have to bring the Throttle back to stop the aircraft getting ahead of me. Taxiing from the South side of the Airfield, I take a last look at the White building. The sun has already brought out a few spectators to the balcony of the Wales Aero Club, so I give them a quick goodbye wave. I cross the runway to continue taxiing to 30. Over the radio I hear a Flybe flight calling for its clearance to Jersey. I may be first in the queue, but I suspect the Dash 8 will be there long before I reach Guernsey.

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Final Checks and a Pre Take off Run up complete

At the threshold I perform the last of the pre take off checks and with the Dash 8 behind me, I get permission to take off. I grab a quick look over my right shoulder and catch the Dash 8 Taxiing up to the hold point. If ever there was a hint to get going it’s the sight of a bigger aircraft coming your way. I line up, run a last check, and bring the engine to full throttle. The little Rotax 912 is surprisingly quiet. Its also surprisingly quick with VR coming at just 51Kts. In almost no time at all, Mike Zulu and myself are climbing upwards. I used almost no runway it seems and by the time I’m passing the White building, I’m already passing 200ft. I make my turn to the south and bid Cardiff a fond farewell as I climb to 3000 ft and head out over the channel. Beachy head is some 50 plus miles away and Mike Zulu isn’t the swiftest aircraft in the air. I settle her into a cruise after alot of Trimming to nose down. (The Katana is a very capable climber who’s mostly happy with her nose up.) With the Cruise topping out at 118kts I settle in on tuning the OBS for the VOR.

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The Dash 8 is heading My way. Time to et going.

Ahead of me, the weather doesn’t look to good. The forecast told me I’d miss most of the showers, but by the time I reach Dartmoor the cloud base forced me down to 2000 feet.

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Out over the South west with the weather looking none to clever.

It’s not just the ceiling that’s causing me problems though. As I passed over Exeter airport I notice the Engine is beginning to lose power. The manifold Pressure had been slowly dropping for the last five minutes and the speed has decreased back to just of 90 kts. Cursing my lack of awareness, I realise that with the lower cloud cover comes the possibility of Carburettor icing. Sure enough, with the outside temperature hovering around 5˚c, I switch on the carb heat, and soon enough the Manifold pressure recovers and the speed increases back to 118kts. I curse and remind myself to keep an eye on that more often from now on.

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Exmouth

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Beachy Head and Torbay in the distance.

Soon enough though I’m out over Exmouth and with just a few miles to go to Beachy Head VOR, I switch to the Guernsey VOR, turn to 150˚ and head out to sea.

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Leaving the MAinland behind as I head out to see.

Guernsey is over 60 miles away, but that is the least of my concerns. 30 miles out though, things turn a shade nasty. The cloud base is still at 2000 feet when I catch a flash of to the right. It turns out the weather reports miscalculated how quickly the next band of rain showers would come in. It also miscalculated the intensity of the rain. I’m caught in the middle of a thunderstorm and the weather has closed in behind me.

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The weather looks forboding. Maybe I shouldn't had that second cup of tea.

The only option I have is to press on to the nearest airport and hope to land there. For the next 30 miles I fly by the seat of my pants dodging the worst of the low cloud to ensure I don’t lose the sight of the ground, or sea in this case. By the time i reach Guernsey, Both Mike Zulu and I are tired, but the weather hasn’t let up and Guernsey is closed to non IFR traffic.

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After a battle, Guernsey pops into sight.

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The rain may have stopped but Guernsey isn't open to VFR Traffic right now.

The rain and lightning make landing here an unappealing prospect. So I hope that Jersey offers me a better shelter from the storm. Selecting the VOR I head out for the 20 mile run to Britain’s sunniest Part. The news isn’t any better though. Rain and lightning have hit Jersey as well and Jersey is also not accepting Non IFR traffic.

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Pushing on and hoping for better weather.

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Somewhere out in the gloom is Alderney.

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No rain again but Jersey is IFR only as well.

So I have no choice but to push on. I do a quick check with my ipad of the weather at my destination and discover a cloud base of 3700 feet and clear visibility. With the promise of better weather, I tune to the Caen VOR and push on. The VOR in question doesn’t offer DME, so it’s back to navigating the old fashion way, Watching to see when the needle swing to point at the VOR behind me, not in Front.

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France at last and with it the promise of better weather.

It doesn’t take long for the weather to clear up. With France in sight, the Cloud lifts, the rain stops and I climb up to 3000 feet. It turns out I needn’t have worried about the lack of DME. Once I was over land, I checked to see if the airport is available on my radio, and with it sitting there, I contact Caen and get instructions on how to join for landing. The Airport is just 25 miles ahead and the VOR is based at the airfield.

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The airport is in sight.

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Following the joining instructions, I turn onto the Downwind leg and follow the road home.

Following the arrival procedures, I join the Circuit for Runway 31. Slowly I bleed the speed off and tune the Nav radio for an ILS landing.

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Off to my left is the City of Caen.

As I turn on to the base leg, I do a quick check to make sure the runway is clear. The whole airport is clear and I appear to be the only aircraft visiting today. Onto final, I set the throttle to give me a nice 500 Ft/m descent and I hold the Glideslope nicely.

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I;ve nver been so glad to see a runway in my life.

The Katana handles beautifully at low speeds and as I cross the threshold, I close the throttle and She floats down onto the runway. Turing off midway, I contact the Ground controller and get instructions to the parking area.

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On the ground and looking to put our feet up

Finally, as I pull into my parking spot, I can finally relax after the fun and games of the storm flying. If this had been real life, Id have had my licence pulled for not turning around the minute that storm formed. Although the storm wouldn’t have come as quite a surprise as it does when REX Essentials loads it into the screen. Tired and with a flight time of 2 hours and 4 minutes. I secure Mike Zulu and head off to the terminal for customs clearance.

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Parked up, Mike Zulu has earned a nights rest.

Tomorrow I head to the start of the Danube, but for now I grab a cab into Caen, get a bite to eat and a room for the night. Hopefully, the next leg will be less surprising!

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Well done for getting through that flight, I have had a similar RW experience in a Navajo (Not piloting) and felt like kissing the ground once we had landed.

An eventful start to your adventure, things can only get better?

Cheers,

Joe

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Day 2 started off poorly. The weather at Caen was atrocious with heavy rain and thunder batter the area all morning. So I enjoy another leisurely breakfast at the hotel whist I check the weather en-route. Over a cup of strong black coffee and a croissant, I see that there's a band of heavy rain stretching over most of France, extending all the way into Belgium. Fortunately its moving North and at speed leaving just a few showers coming up from the Spanish border. Its clear there's no need to rush, and its not until 13.30 that i head out to the airport. With memories of last nights meal and entertainment at the hotel still fresh, I arrive with Mike Zulu a little after 1400 and get started with the preflight and fuelling. There's still a small shower passing over the area, but by the time I'm ready to add fuel, the sky has cleared and I can expect some VFR on top conditions. It's good news as at 8000ft I can enjoy a greater ground speed. The route itself is a long one with an estimated 3 hours 36 minutes block time. It will take me down to Chartes, then past Orleans, the south of Paris, then on to the North of Dijon. Then I thread Mike Zulu through some tight controlled airspace near the Swiss/French and German Border. From there I cross over the Northern Alps and then on into Germany and Donaueschingen to land.

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The planned route.

So with the weather clearing and the rain along the route now out of the way. I get going

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Fuel added and the oil Checked we're ready to depart.

With the Engine Running I call the tower for clearance to the south. Its granted and I begin to taxi out to runway 31R. To my surprise, I find that 31R is a grass runway. I line up and perform my pre Take off check-list, then with permission granted, I advance the throttle and Mike Zulu and I spring forward. The Grass runway is much bumpier than the Asphalt and it takes a fair bit of rudder control to keep the aircraft straight and moving in the right direction.

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On Grass and its Bumpy

The bumps make the takeoff roll a little longer than at Cardiff the day before, but in no time at all, I'm airborne and turning to intercept my first VOR. The VOR is just that, no DME, so I keep an eye on the Arrow to ensure I know When I've passed over it. With the City of Caens passing behind me, Begin to concentrate on the route ahead.

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Leaving Caens

The Weather has put me behind and its gone 1430 UTC before I'm climbing to 8000ft. And as I climb, the news isn't good. I was hoping to pick up a bit of a tailwind but in the air the tailwind is more of a crosswind, making hand flying a little more difficult.

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The lovely fluffy cloud looks innocent enough.

That's not my only problem. A mere 10 minutes after I've taken off and just as I'm reaching 7000ft, the weather once again closes in on me and I'm surrounded by cloud, rain and thunder. I turn the carb heat on and begin a quick descent back down to 3000ft in an effort to outrun the surprising storm. Fortunately Its only a baby and before I know it, i'm popping out of the far edge of the weather and in to bluer skies.

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Light at the end of the Tunnel

With the weather now clearing up' I climb once again and before long I hit 8000ft and settle into a nice 90kt cruise on the clock. I relax a bit and try to enjoy the scenery. To be honest, this part of France isn't so interesting. nothing but flat farmlands below and little else. It turns out I shouldn't have been to worried. Being use to flying Airliners, I'm surprised to find my windscreen starting to fog up. Checking the OAT gauge, I see it reads 0. Realising I'm in serious trouble, I hit both the carb heat and the cabin heat and hope for the best. The Controls also begin to suffer with signs of icing. The stick has frozen. Thankfully, the Heat frees them quickly and slowly the cabin begins to defog.

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Icing causes more than just Visibility issues.

whist I'm waiting for the screen to fully clear, the small ventilation opening in the canopy serves as my only view to the ground below. As a Precaution I decide that discretion is the better part of Vallor and I descend to warmer air feeling a bit stupid and a lot lucky.

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My only window on the world.

For the next hour i Battle with the crosswind and Various showers, but as I make the turn onto my third VOR, I discover a new, much bigger problem. The weather has been unkind to me today, and although I'm flying now in CAVOK conditions, The crosswind, late start and a slower than expected cruise speed have left me severely behind schedule and the sun behind me is starting to get low in the sky. The VOR reports the range as over 100nm and there are two more after that. I have to face the fact that I may run out of daylight.

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Passing somewhere around Orleans.

I figure I have about a hour or so of daylight left and with conditions looking good I figure I can make it to Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport right on the France/Swiss Border near Basel. Of course, as has become a running joke this trip, The weather has other ideas. 50nm's from the VOR, the weather has another one of those sudden Changes (Thanks REX) and I find a thick layer of Haze in the early dusk.

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It looks pretty but I know I'm on Borrowed time.

Now I start checking for nearby airports for the night. The nearest is Auxerre-Branches but its unmanned. With daylight failing and rain making a timely if unwelcome return, I call Troyes Airport to the north.

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Conditions deteriorate quickly.

The Airport is only open for the next two hours and its my best option. I bank to the North and begin to cross my fingers for the next 20 miles. Conditions outside really begin to turn nasty and as I approach the city of Troyes, the rain has turned early evening into almost pitch blackness. Finally after several calls to the tower for directions, I see the Airfield in sight.

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The Airfield is just Visible above the clock

I join the circuit for runway 18 and now I'm really starting to sweat. Making matters even worse is the crosswind I find as I turn onto final. At 13kts its just 2kts shy of the maximum crosswind allowance for the Katana. It's a real job trying to fly her to the runway. behind me I hear a Dash 8 lining up to land behind me. however I've got other things to worry about. The aircraft is crabbing horribly and as I cross the threshold, I kick in a healthy boot of left rudder to straighten the nose for landing.

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I'm off the centreline but down safe.

Water spray fills the screen as the Wheels touch down. Behind me I hear the tower call for the Dash 8 to 'Go Around' So I guess I'm not going to be popular tonight with the passengers and crew. I don't care though. As I taxi off the Runway and its a struggle to keep straight even on the ground. The lightness of the Aircraft isn't doing either of us any favours as we taxi to park. I shut down and give Mike Zulu a little pat. I may have made a few errors today but the Katana has been as good as gold all day. I pay my landing fee's and head into Troyes in search of a very large Bacardi and diet coke. Hopefully, I can get the aircraft to Donaueschingen tomorrow, and maybe the weather will be kinder to us.

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Down, and Down Safe. Maybe I picked the wrong week to give up drinking

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Hi Sean,

The trim tabs are a devil to work out, that's for sure. The elevator Trim I've got set to a trim wheel, not accurate I know, but it feels natural. The aileron and rudder trims are a mystery. I can't find the controls in the cockpit that's for sure.

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What a harrowing 2 days of flying. I was on the edge of my seat hoping you would be all right. Now that's storytelling. :clapping: Thanks for the play by play, looking forward to more. Hopefully the weather will clear so you can enjoy the scenery.

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Morning all,

The weather isn't looking good today. There's a wicked occluded front moving in off the the Atlantic and its bringing more heavy rain and thunder. It's moving to the north east on track with my route out of Troyes. I'll keep an eye on it but I suspect I'm grounded for the day.

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