40 More Great Flight Simulator Adventures

by Charles Gulick

Chino Airport

The Arrow

North Position: 15323 Ailerons: 32767
East Position: 6085 Flaps: 0
Altitude: 650 Elevators: 32767 (IBM)
Pitch: 0 Elevators: 34815 (Apple)
Bank: 0 Elevators: 36863 (64 and Atari)
Heading: 190 Time: 6:30
Airspeed: 0 Season: 4-Fall
Throttle: 0 Wind: 8 Kts, 275
Rudder: 32767

Note: Do not check, set, or otherwise use any elevator or any flaps in the course of this flight. They are disabled as described.

You're in a most interesting predicament here at Chino Airport, bright and early on a fine fall morning. You've pulled up to the edge of runway 21, ready to make a normal takeoff. But when you checked your elevator, looking back to be sure it went up and down with your pressure on the yoke, it didn't move. Not a hair up. Not a hair down. You have no elevator control. None.

    Furthermore, your flap handle does absolutely nothing. It just loosely swings up and down in your grip. No resistance. No response. As if there's nothing on the other end of it.

    Reason tells you not to take off, of course. You made emergency arrangements to rent this crate last night, from an unsavory character who assured you it was airworthy last time he flew it. But he didn't say how long ago that last time was. You paid him in advance-for the round trip. But it looks like you bought a one-way ticket. Still, you absolutely must get to San Diego by 7:30 this morning. That's less than an hour from now. And San Diego's about 60 miles away. By the time you taxi back to the hangar, get in your rented car, gas it up, get a road map, and start figuring how to drive to San Diego from way out here, it'll be 7:30. And at 7:30, or before, you're supposed to land at Lindbergh Field where your Great-Uncle Larry will be waiting to meet you. Waiting eagerly. He has to catch a 7:45 flight out of San Diego to Outer Mongolia to attend the funeral of your Great-Aunt Atalanta, who was a goodwill worker there, and who has left you a healthy portion of her estate in her will. Great-Uncle Larry has the check for you, and he must put it into your hands in person and give you a kiss from Great-Aunt A. in order to satisfy the stipulations of her will. No Uncle Larry, no kiss, no check. And Uncle Larry, per another stipulation of the will, must spend the remainder of his life in Outer Mongolia carrying on the great work that Great-Aunt Atalanta has begun, or forfeit what the will has in it for him. So this is the first, last, and only chance you have to get that coveted kiss by proxy from Great-Aunt A.

    So there's the problem. Or Part One of it. Parts Two and Three are no elevators and no flaps.

    Fortunately, you are not alone in this airplane. Sitting next to you is a character who watched you awhile, and who then came over to see what the trouble was. He claims he can guide you through the whole flight without elevators or flaps. He also claims he has made a lifetime study of the flight of arrows. And arrows have neither elevators nor flaps. He reminds you rather snootily that in what he calls "this great bird" you have a distinct advantage over an arrow, to wit, adjustable power in flight. The arrow has only its initial power, derived from the stretched bow and bowstring. So it has only one possible trajectory, determined at the instant it's released. You, on the other hand, have variable trajectory. You can go up and come down where you like. And make decisions in flight, all based on variable power.

    Either you believe this character, despite his strange appearance and garb (the former haggard and wizardlike, the latter strangely shroudlike and unwashed), or you get no kiss from Great-Uncle Larry. You may imagine it, but there does seem to be a brilliant glitter in the eyes of this arrow man. It's easy to believe he may have genius. What's more, he's going to fly with you. It's not like someone giving you a pat on the shoulder and then going for breakfast while you fly off using the cockeyed theory.

    Time is short. Life is short. So let's waste no more time.

    "Talk me up," you say to the relic beside you. "Talk me up. And then for Pete's sake talk me down!"

    And he does. Exactly as follows:


"No worry about elevator. Wind take care of it. Move onto paved place, steer, and give all speed." (You can't rotate, remember. What's to rotate?)

    "Now, wait," says The Arrow, when you're aimed down the runway. "Bird fly itself away."

    And sure enough, when your airspeed reads something over 100 knots, it does. And you keep full power, waiting for another instruction.

    "How high should I climb?" you ask.

    "High enough," he mutters. (That, after all, is your expertise.)

    You decide on 3000 feet. And you tell him. He asks how you figure out power. And after thinking for a bit you tell him by revolutions per minute in increments of 100.

    "Okay," he answers. "When I say less, you give 100 less. When I say more, you give 100 more."

    Now that you have this, you feel a little better.

    "When you high enough," he says, "give less five times." So at 3000 feet you back off your power five notches.

    He looks at you dubiously, as if he doesn't exactly trust you, and says, "If you more high than good, give one less, and if less high than good give one more."

    You assume he means get at your desired altitude by a slight change in power setting. So you tell him sure. (He'll learn to trust you, you figure.)

    You see the ocean ahead now, and you realize that in all the excitement you've forgotten to get a heading to San Diego. So you tune Mission Bay OMNI on 117.8, center your OBI needle, and bank immediately to get on course.

    "You stay straight," says The Arrow, punching his fist vehemently in the direction of the windshield. Apparently the banking makes him uneasy.

    You tell him you have to bank the airplane to turn it, but his answering growl is unintelligible.

    You notice that Chino is indeed more than 60 miles from San Diego, but if all goes well you should get there in time. At least you'll get over the airport. Getting this turkey on the ground is another matter.

    "If too high," repeats The Arrow, "give one less. If too low, give one more." And you keep doing what you have to do powerwise to hold reasonably close to 3000.

    Pretty good so far, you think. With nothing but power and aileron, you took off, got to your altitude, got on your heading, and got more or less straight and level.

    About when your DME reads 55 miles, your companion mutters that he's hungry.

    You tell him sorry. "But when we get to San Diego, sir, I will buy you the biggest breakfast you ever had in your life.

    "The sky's the limit," you add. And he looks at you a little funny.


You tune your COM to San Diego ATIS, 134.8. But you're not in range yet.

    You make sure you keep the OBI needle centered, because if you have to do any serious banking, The Arrow might jump out of the airplane. Feeling his center of gravity shift around seems to make him very nervous.

    You ask him if he's ever been in an airplane before. But all he answers is "Too high, one less. Too low, one more." It actually sounds comforting, because at least he keeps you honest.

    You find yourself wondering how you're supposed to land without elevator. And will it be at 100 + KIAS? You wonder if The Arrow has thought about that part of this escapade.

    One less. One more. One-way ticket.

    Every time he sees a runway, your companion gets very excited. "San Diego, San Diego," he says. But you tell him not yet.

    "You say San Diego," he says. And you tell him you will.

    Meanwhile, you have to keep one more-ing and one less-ing it to hold your altitude. But at least that gives you something to do and keeps your mind off what you're doing.


About 25 miles out, you try raising the San Diego tower. They give you the runway number, 31. That means downwind on a heading of 130 degrees. It crosses your mind that maybe you should just ditch in the invitingly smooth water down there. But that would mean no inheritance, pure and simple. No way you'll ditch.

    You start thinking about your descent for San Diego. Elevation there, you remember, is 15 feet. So you have approximately 3000 feet to lose to touchdown point. (Or smackdown point.) You vaguely remember something you learned way back at Spanaway. About 500 feet per minute and distance to go. So you reach into your flight bag and haul out your trusty 40 More Great Flight Simulator Adventures. Whereupon your companion starts shouting "No read! No read!" and bangs his fist on the instrument panel.

    "Can you read?" you ask him in desperation. But he only mutters, "San Diego, San Diego."

    "That's San Diego," you tell him, pointing out over the nose.

    "How high?" he asks.

    And you ask him if he means how high we are now or how high San Diego is? And his answer is "Both."

    You tell him, "Three thousand here, no thousand there." You're starting to talk like him.

    "How long?" he says.

    You tell him you have to read the book to find out.

    So he says, "How far?" impatiently. Thankfully, your DME has that answer. So you tell him.

    "Wait," he says, punching his fist toward the windshield. "Straight arrow, straight arrow," he says. And then adds, "You say 12 miles!"

    Now you wonder what he's thinking. Obviously, he wants you to tell him when the DME reads 12 miles out. Can he possibly have a crafty computer in that wizened brain of his? Has he possibly calculated the flight of this arrow right down to the last foot?

    Anyway, you have to rely on him. He got you this far.

    Meanwhile, you're careful to keep your altitude at 3000, or at least averaging that. And careful to keep that needle on the nose.


When your DME reads exactly 12, you tell him, "Twelve miles," and then, suddenly, in a kind of stunned way you add, "but that's nautical miles!"

    His eyes blaze with a fanatic kind of joy. "Two less!" he virtually screams. "Two less!"

    Hypnotized, you reduce power by 200 rpm.

    Then quite reassuringly, the VSI indicates a descent-at 500 feet per minute. Respectable!

    You have the airport in sight, somewhat left of the OMNI bearing, but it isn't very distinct yet. You decide the best idea is to get on the downwind heading, 130 degrees, and see what develops.

    Shortly, you see the runway, and despite shouts of "Straight arrow!" you have to do some banking and turning to get in good position for the downwind leg.

    At this point, your companion actually reaches inside his shroudlike garments and pulls forth a miniature arrow, like some kind of token or talisman, and starts stroking it with a kind of fervor.


You switch in radar and get a look at your relationship to runway 31.

    Then you check your altimeter, and, sure enough, there you are, at a very reasonable altitude for a landing. A bit more arrow stroking and you'll be at 1000-pattern altitude. And it's essential you get and hold that altitude.

    "What now?" you ask The Arrow. But he just says "Wait."

    And you judge that maybe you should fly a longer downwind than normal since you'll have to make a power approach so as not to come in too steep.

    Your own judgment begins to come seriously into play, as you watch your altimeter and keep check on your relationship to the runway. If you get far enough beyond the touchdown point, then you can make your turns and have a long final to adjust as needed.

    You reflect absentmindedly that the DME reads three-odd miles though you're right over the airport. But that, you sagely reason, is because the OMNI station is about three miles away.

    "Three miles," you murmur.

    "No!" shouts The Arrow, never looking up, but stroking furiously on his totem.

    "Okay! Okay!" you shout in return. "I didn't mean three miles away!"

You decide you'll fly a long enough downwind leg to get the whole runway visible, but pretty small out the rear of this machine. And just when it is like that, unaccountably, The Arrow, never looking up, says loudly "One-eighty!"

    You do a 180, roll out toward the runway heading, 310, and then work at getting lined up.

    All the way in, The Arrow, never looking up from his feverish stroking, keeps saying one mores and one lesses that you intuitively realize are exactly right for your moment-to-moment situation. Your rate of descent seems mystically to correct itself so that when the wheels touch (right over the centerline, of course) and you chop your power, you have a pretty fast landing, yes, but you're amazingly safe and sound-you're there! You made it!

    You extend your hand to shake the hand of The Arrow, and a shudder goes through you.

    He is not there. Nowhere to be seen.

    All that's left is the token, the talisman, lying there on the right seat. The Arrow.

    You get the coveted, mutually embarrassing buss on the check from Great-Uncle Larry. But all that's postlude. Without The Arrow, the morning has lost its grand excitement. You deeply regret not having the opportunity, once Uncle Larry's flight has departed for Outer Mongolia, to buy breakfast for that shriveled, blazing-eyed old wizard. It would have been easy to keep your promise to buy him all he could eat. With the $40.27 Great-Aunt Atalanta left you in her will.

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