40 More Great Flight Simulator Adventures

by Charles Gulick

Shady Acres Airport

Something of
a Departure
Spanaway I

North Position: 21203 Rudder: 32767
East Position: 6502 Ailerons: 32767
Altitude: 427 Flaps: 0
Pitch: 0 Elevators: 32767
Bank: 0 Time: 5:45
Heading: 205 Season: 3-Summer
Airspeed: 0 Wind: 4 Kts, 160
Throttle: 0

Note: For the most realism and, ultimately, the most precise control, 1 suggest that the Overcontrol Limiter in the Piper editor be regularly set to a figure high enough to disable it. I arbitrarily use 80, which does the job. After a little practice, you'll develop your own internal overcontrol limiter, and how you fly as well as how things look out your windshield will be much smoother. Your controls will also function more like the Cessna version, so you'll be better able to make the transition between the versions.

Because we're going to demand more precision of ourselves in this second book of adventures, the early chapters (those with Spanaway subtitles) are going to incorporate some standards. The airplane won't fly us; we'll fly it. Fly it by some specific numbers. Sharply. Like pros. Of course, if you're already an absolute expert at piloting the simulator, you can skip the Spanaway chapters. And of course, if you skip these chapters, I'll never speak to you again.


This is Shady Acres Airport in Spanaway, Washington, a suburb of Tacoma. Make sure your heading when you exit the editor is within a degree or so of 205.

    We're pulled up short of runway 16. I selected this airport because its strip is just 1800 feet long. If we can learn to do things correctly here, we can do them correctly anywhere.

    Such as ready the airplane and ourselves properly for takeoff, taxi ahead, make our turn onto the active, continue our initial roll while steering smoothly to get lined up, apply back pressure at a specific airspeed to rotate, make a normal takeoff, climb out at the right airspeed and rate of climb, get to the correct altitude before we turn to our departure heading, level off with precision at our cruise altitude and speed, make minor adjustments if we weren't all that precise, and settle down like we know what we're doing.

    We're going to do all that in this first adventure-all by the numbers and under precise control.

    Tall order. But I believe you're up to it. So let's go.


Takeoff Preparation:
1. Ten degrees flaps.
2. Two quick presses up elevator (approximates takeoff trim).
3. Check carb heat off.
4. Note altimeter reading carefully, and mentally add 400 feet to it. You must climb to that altitude before making any turns.

    Other: Where applicable, tune your NAV to get a VOR heading, call tower for weather/ runway info, and jot down wind knots/ degrees and any available destination data (elevation, probable runway considering wind direction, tower, or nearest tower frequency). If your memory's not the greatest, write down things such as your planned cruise altitude, and just as you make your turn to begin takeoff, record your time of departure.

    This morning we're just going to fly locally, so there's no destination airport. We're going to practice takeoffs, learn important stuff about climbs, and discover how to make the transition to straight and level flight at cruise altitude.

    You're now ready to taxi ahead, turn onto the runway, and take off. Here's the procedure.


Takeoff Procedure:
1. Taxi ahead, using these power settings:
    Cessna-1055 rpm
    Piper-850 rpm
2. Turn onto active runway, still rolling, and keep going.
3. Steer to line up, not worrying too much about the centerline as long as the runway is under you, and your nose is pointed toward the end of it. Follow the principle steer slightly, neutralize, steer slightly, neutralize for precise control.
4. Add maximum power smoothly when lined up.
5. Steer additionally if needed as you roll, following the steer slightly, neutralize principle.
6. Rotate when airspeed needle underlines the 60 in the Cessna, or reads 80 in the Piper. To do this:
Cessna rotation-two quick presses of up elevator.
Piper rotation-one press of up elevator.
7. You'll leave the ground.
8. Dump flaps when VSI (Vertical Speed Indicator) indicates a better than 500 feet per minute (fpm) climb (dump means take them off).


Climb-Out Procedure:
1. Reduce power gradually to 2105 rpm (Cessna), or 2050 rpm (Piper).
2. Trim elevator to climb at 500 fpm. (Piper requires only one notch of down elevator to get this rate of climb, but takes a long time to settle down and then oscillates after that.)

    Try to be trimmed by the time you reach approximately 1000 feet above ground level (AGL). That's not MSL (Mean Sea Level). Your altimeter always indicates your altitude above sea level, which is how airport elevations are measured, too.

    Your airspeed will settle at about 105-108 KIAS (Knots Indicated Air Speed). In the Cessna, trim a notch at a time and watch your VSI. It will oscillate a bit before it settles on a new up or down indication. Try to anticipate its movement.


    When you're climbing steady at 500 fpm, note your pitch attitude as depicted on the artificial horizon. Take a side view and look at your pitch in relation to the side horizon. With all these references, you could climb at 500 fpm even if some of them failed you, couldn't you?

    After the sightseeing, I hope you're not quite at 2000 feet altitude, for that's where we'd like to level off for this demonstration.


To transition from 500 fpm climb to normal cruise:
1. Climb to cruise altitude minus 20 feet (approximately).
2. Piper only: Trim nose down one notch (in other words, press T, down elevator, once).
3. Reduce power to 1905 (Cessna), or 1950 (Piper).
4. Make no further trim adjustments.

    Your airspeed when straight and level at 2000 feet nominal will be about 105 KIAS in the Cessna and 120 KIAS in the Piper. The actual speed for the Cessna is higher than indicated by 5 to 10 knots, which you can check by entering the editor briefly. The Cessna airspeed indicator quite consistently errs on the low side. But you have to fly the instrument, not the editor.

    You're now in normal cruise configuration and should be at about 2000 feet MSL. Your elevators are at what I'll call operational neutral. For the Cessna, this is 32767 in the editor, which is the power-up default parameter, and is true neutral. But for the Piper, operational neutral is 36863, not the power-up default. [From testing, it seems that operational neutral elevator on the Apple version of Flight Simulator II is 34815-Editor.] You cannot make the Piper fly straight and level with the default neutral elevator.

    You can always check for operational neutral elevator, without referring to the editor, by doing this:

    In the Cessna, operational neutral (and actual neutral) is when the elevator indicator is even with the center position mark, but at the lowest possible "even." In other words, if the indicator goes below absolute center with one additional notch of down elevator, then you were at operational neutral before you added that notch.

    In the Piper, operational neutral (but not editor neutral) is when the elevator indicator is sitting just atop the center position mark, but at the highest possible position which will preserve that indication. In other words, if the indicator moves up from its neutral position with one additional notch of up elevator, then you were at operational neutral before you added that notch.

    Operational neutral is important in our kind of precision flying, because once you're there, and know you're there, everything gets easier, as the examples in forthcoming Spanaway adventures will show.

    Use this standard takeoff/departure procedure on all your flights so that it becomes a habit. If your cruise altitude is higher, you may need a higher power setting to stay straight and level when you get up there. So use a higher power setting. But don't switch from the trim settings covered above unless and until you can't achieve the desired result with power.

    As you'll no doubt gather from these suggested procedures, it's entirely possible, and very useful, to empirically establish specific rpms for specific flight levels and keep a list of these rpms. Nowhere will your elevators be displaced from neutral by more than one notch.

Now do a 180 to the left to bring your aircraft to a heading around 340, and go back and shoot a landing at Shady Acres. You'll see three airports pop out of the landscape as you fly. Shady Acres is the middle one. You'll be more or less downwind for runway 16, so you'll land opposite the direction you're flying. Make a note of how well or poorly you do, because a little further on in this book you'll probably see a vast improvement in your landings as well as all your other procedures.

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