Flight Simulator Co-Pilot

by Charles Gulick

Apple Polishing

Manhattan Island, NY (Local)

Flight Simulator Disk.
North: 17065. East: 20996.
Altitude: 23. Pitch: 0. Bank: 0. Heading: 220. Airspeed: 0.
Throttle: 0. Rudder: 32767. Ailerons: 32767. Flaps: 0.
Elevators: 32767. Time: 5:30. Season: 3.
Cloud Layer 1: 9000,8000. Surface Wind: 7 kn., 210 deg.

Be sure (you should always check this) that your heading agrees with the heading set up in the Editor: 220 degrees.

This is the flying field I created in Lower Manhattan—a convenient spot for us to begin a little tour of New York. I will try not to repeat myself for those of you who have flown out of here with me in the other books.

You're looking at Manhattan Bridge, which connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. A look out the right front window will show you the World Trade Center towers and (just a slip of a thing from here) the Statue of Liberty. Out the right rear window, you'll see the Empire State Building. These, together with Central Park and a few major avenues, comprise all the visual features of the Manhattan simulation.

The two most exciting features are the Manhattan Bridge and Lady Liberty. The bridge is so realistically digitized that its roadway will support you.

Let's have a close look at the bridge and at the same time learn a new maneuver, which we'll also use to view the Statue of Liberty. It's called Turns Around a Point.

There's an altitude discrepancy here at Manhattan Airport; your altimeter probably reads between 500 and 600 feet, but the altitude given at the beginning of the chapter, 23 feet, is the actual altitude, even in the simulator, though the simulator has trouble recognizing it. If you were to take off and then land again, the altimeter would read correctly. But something, I have no idea what, flaws the reading here until you have been flying.

Now go ahead and make your normal takeoff, but transition to slowflight once you're airborne—as if you were flying a pattern. Here is a short recap of the procedure (if you need more detail see “Flying the Pattern”):

After you dump your flaps, do not adjust elevator trim. Reduce your power to 2105 RPM in Cessna and 2250 RPM in Piper, and continue climbing. At your desired altitude, further reduce power to 1505 in Cessna and 1200 in Piper. If flying Cessna, follow this with two quick notches of up elevator, pause, and add two more quick notches of up. In Piper, use three slow notches up with about a second between. This will, at altitudes of 2000 feet or less, get you into slowflight configuration.

This morning the power reductions outlined above will take place fast, because we want to get straight and level at about 1000 feet, so the second set of reductions—to slowflight RPM—will come shortly after the first.

You will have passed Manhattan Bridge by the time everything settles down, so at that point take another look at it out the rear.

Looking ahead again, Upper New York Bay is on your right. Where it curves to the left is known as The Narrows, through which the water wraps around the southwestern shore of Brooklyn and empties finally into the Atlantic Ocean.

Make a standard-rate turn over the bay to a heading of about 20 degrees or whatever puts both the Trade Center towers and the Empire State Building ahead of you with the aircraft pointed about midway between them.

Fly this way for a few seconds, then turn right again and point so that the Manhattan Bridge is well to the left on your windshield, and you're flying to the right of it. Take a look out the left front and then the left side, and about the time the suspension girders on the Brooklyn side disappear from view, give one notch of up elevator and bank to the left.

The idea now is to continue banking and turning so that you circle the bridge, keeping it always in view off your left wingtip. (If you were too close to sight the bridge on your first pass, use radar or out-the-window views and maneuver to get it off your left wingtip as described.)

Establish whatever relationship with the bridge suits you. You can circle, keeping just a portion of it in sight, or you can fly farther out and circle the entire bridge. The key thing, once you like the view, is to keep the bridge apparently motionless from your left side perspective. This is called Turns Around a Point, although in this case it's a pretty big point (when we do it at the statue it will be a tighter turn).

How do you keep it motionless? If the object you are viewing and circling moves toward the tail of the plane, increase your bank a bit; if it moves toward the nose, that is, it is getting ahead of you, decrease the bank a bit. If you want to get closer to the whole scene, straighten up and fly closer, then set up the turn; to get farther away, do the opposite.

Since we're turning around a long structure in this case, pick a point, such as the center of the bridge, as your reference point which you want to keep virtually motionless. Tie it visually to some area of the wing.

Isn't this an elegant way to view something? You see it and its whole environment from every perspective. And you can view it for as long as you like.

If you had trouble getting this scene and this maneuver the way you wanted it, don't concede. This is one of the most useful of all flying tricks, and the basic idea can be expanded or contracted to suit any viewing situation. For instance, expanded, it permits you to circle an airport until you have its layout firmly in mind, then decide where you want to land. Or it lets you stay in the same relative position while you lose excess altitude (just reduce power and continue circling) when, for example, you arrive at a destination far above pattern altitude. Contracted, of course, it lets you get close-up views of landmarks (as we are going to shortly) in as much detail as you want.

Don't give up. Take off from Manhattan Airport again, if necessary, and fly this mode until you know you can fly Turns Around a Point. They're really simple once you get the hang of it. Just remember, if you're flying ahead of the point, steepen your bank; if it's getting ahead of you, decrease the bank.

You can use the same banking technique to set up the turn initially, too. All you need to know is where the object you want to circle is in relation to your low wing. If you're ahead of it, enter and hold a steeper bank until it comes into view, and then stop it where you want it simply by decreasing the bank. If you're behind it, shallow your bank or fly level until you catch up with it, then bank toward it, and set up the turn.

Meanwhile, don't forget to watch your altitude. In the present scenario, that's 1000 feet. Remember: Throttle is your altitude control.

As you circled, you may have noticed a big airport upriver from the Manhattan Bridge (that river, by the way, is the East River). The airport is La Guardia, at the north end of the Borough of Queens.

At some point, whenever you're ready, roll out of your turn so the Trade Center towers are on the extreme right of your windshield. (Don't forget to return to a front view. Those turns and points can make you forget what is happening.) You will probably see the Statue of Liberty on the opposite edge of your view; if not, continue banking left until it appears there.

At this point the statue is just an upright block in the Hudson River. After the towers disappear off to your right, orient the plane so the Statue of Liberty is right in the center of your windshield.

As you fly, take a left rear or rear view of the World Trade Center towers and a right rear or direct rear view of the Manhattan Bridge. Views like this are nice, and they give you a feeling for where you are and where you're going in relation to the whole landscape.

Very soon, the simulator accesses the disk to pick up some detail, and the Statue of Liberty becomes three-dimensional—hewn right out of the block. As you know by now, our objective is to do Turns Around a Point, the point in this case being the renowned statue.

I suggest you get into position to circle the Statue of Liberty clockwise, just for the practice of point-turning to the right. Either way, you'll see it from every side.

But if you get too close, your bank will wipe out the view. Here are a few tips for getting in the optimum viewing configuration (press the Pause key while you read):

Maintain your 1000-foot altitude. As the statue comes closer, keep it about halfway between the center and right edge of your windshield. When it becomes three-dimensional and begins to disappear to your right, set up a right side view (assuming you're going to circle clockwise) immediately. As soon as the statue is visible, add a notch of up elevator and set up a 20- or 25-degree right bank. Then adjust as described earlier to get and keep your desired view, which will probably be ahead of or behind the wing—otherwise, the figure may be hidden.

Once you are fairly stable in your turn, take a radar view, and watch yourself go around.

Keeping the Statue of Liberty where you want her requires constant work and attention to the controls. You may need, by turns, extra-shallow and extra-steep banks. Also, don't be afraid to use power—in combination with lower elevator settings—to gain on the statue when a steep bank won't do the job. Congratulate yourself if you get a nice, stable, steady turn around this point, keeping roughly the same distance from the statue in all directions with relatively little adjustment of your controls.

When you are satisfied with what you have done, straighten up, and set a course to the left of the World Trade Center towers. Then when the Empire State Building comes into view, fly between the two landmarks. You will see La Guardia Airport straight ahead. And you will pass dramatically close to the towers along the way. Take a good look at them.

La Guardia has a runway whose numbers match those of Manhattan Airport, 4/22, so plan for a landing on Runway 22. Be sure to take left front and side views of the Empire State Building, and Central Park just beyond it, as you cross Manhattan.

When you're over the East River, turn left to a heading of 40 degrees and you'll be downwind in a right-hand pattern for 22. Your final approach will be over the section of the river called Flushing Bay.

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