40 More Great Flight Simulator Adventures

by Charles Gulick

Los Angeles

Lights Out

North Position: 15307 Rudder: 32767
East Position: 5817 Ailerons: 32767
Altitude: 102 Flaps: 0
Pitch: 0 Elevators: 32767
Bank: 0 Time: 22:18
Heading: 0 Season: 4-Fall
Airspeed: 0 Wind: 5 Kts, 310
Throttle: 0

You're poised for runway 30R at Torrance Municipal, Torrance, California. The lights ahead are those of the San Diego Freeway, Interstate 405, about four miles distant.

    (If you're flying the Piper, take a look out the front left to get a better idea of the lie of the runway.)


When you're set, taxi ahead, turn onto the runway, and continue with your takeoff. Plan to get into slow flight at an altitude of 1000 feet, and then turn right heading 317, or to whatever heading puts the tip of the coastal lights directly in front of you. You'll be just about even with the coastline, with the darkness of the Pacific spreading off to your left.



Take frequent views out the right side as you pass Los Angeles International and then the brilliantly lit Marina Del Rey. When you're a few minutes past the marina, tune your NAV to Paradise VOR, 112.2 (if you're flying the Cessna, this station doesn't appear on your chart, but it's there and you can tune it).

    Center the OBI needle with a TO reading, and take up the indicated heading. Admire all those lights as they swing by and under you, because you may be looking at some darkness soon.

    Once you're on the radial, climb to a cruise altitude of 2500 feet and get straight and level at your normal cruising airspeed.

    Take views in all directions as you fly, and enjoy the wild network of Los Angeles area highways. This is the most brilliant highway lighting display in the simulator. If you see a mountain range ahead, it's the Santa Anas.

    Meanwhile, continue to correct as necessary to stay on the OMNI radial you're tracking.

    As you fly further and further inland from the coast, the highways and consequently the lights, thin out until finally there's pure darkness ahead. When you have this bleak outlook, the unexpected happens.

Chop your throttle completely. You have lost your engine.

    Fine state of affairs, this. Just out on a little sightseeing trip, taking in the lights.

    Well, at least you're not over a densely populated area, judging from the illumination down there. There are supposed to be a few airports somewhere around here, but in the blackness what difference does it make?

    It makes a big difference. Keep a sharp eye out, all sides. If you're lucky, you'll spot a place to put her down. Maybe Chino, maybe Corona, maybe Riverside.

    And maybe, if no airport's in sight, you'll just have to go down into that darkness, straight ahead, and hope for the best. Average elevation around here is 600-odd feet. Chino's 650, Corona 533. Knowing that may help a little. But you'll have to act fast. You've less than 2000 feet of altitude.

    Try to put on full flaps so that you can land at as slow a speed as possible. Use radar if it'll help.

    Give it your best shot. And good luck.

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