Flight Simulator Co-Pilot

by Charles Gulick

One More Time

Forget parameters!

I'm determined to do one more thing before this book is finished. I want to make one last, very special excursion into the Bermuda triangle world of Eagle Field. My concept is this:

In “An Eerie Eyrie of Eagles” we took off from the World War I friendly airbase, on Runway 27, and flew absolutely straight, up over the mountain with the arrow on it, and, flying straight as an arrow, arrived at a clone of the Red Quiver Valley. A clone, in fact, of the exact area from which we took off, except that the clone was missing the runway and hangar.

At that time I recorded—not just for myself but for history—the parameters of my Eagle Field Clone 1 position.

If you remember, when I came to a stop in the vicinity of where the runway was supposed to be but wasn't, my North position was 17421 and my East position was 7193. And that was quite a distance from the original Eagle Field.

My idea now is to use the Editor to position ourselves, not at Eagle Field, but at Eagle Field Clone 1. And having done that, we'll reverse direction and fly back to the original Eagle Field, retracing our earlier flight but on the opposite heading.

You see, if we took off straight ahead—from the clone, that is—we wouldn't get back to Eagle Field; we would just come to another clone. But in the opposite direction, the North and East parameters will wind down to put us on approach—not to Runway 27, I guess, but to the reciprocal, Runway 9. This will mean a tough approach, because we will need considerable altitude to clear the mountain, and will then have to let down in a hurry. But, on the other hand, we can circle over Red Quiver Valley to lose altitude, so everything should be fine.

I assume that we'll approach Eagle Field (the original) from the west, because our heading will be east from Clone 1. But anything can happen here in the Eagle Field Triangle, or octagonal, or whatever kind of polygon it is. So, be prepared for anything. Among other things, we will discover whether Clone 1 has a hangar and runway when entered afresh from the Editor.

Follow this procedure so we'll all be in the same groove:

  1. Go into the Editor.
  2. At User Mode, enter a 0, unless the 0 mode is already in effect. This will return everything to the power-up status.
  3. Skip down to North and enter the parameter I recorded after my landing at Clone 1—17421.
  4. Enter the East parameter likewise—7193.
  5. Set altitude to 410.
  6. Set heading to 90.
  7. Save the parameters you've entered.

Leave everything else just as it is, and exit the Editor.

Make sure you're heading 90 degrees. If your carb heat is still on from the previous chapter, correct it (carb heat doesn't turn off when you're in the Editor, which is why you should always check it prior to takeoff).

Take a good look around you. Everything—the gridlines and the mountains behind you—seems to be where it's supposed to be. We have simply done an about-face. But, just as we might have expected, the runway and hangar are still missing.

Let's waste no time. We are headed for our rendezvous with Eagle Field. Ready your plane, and take off straight ahead.

But don't trim down at all after you rotate. Keep your takeoff trim and full power, just as we did when we departed Eagle on the original flight. We don't have a mountain to clear this time, but we want 6500 feet of altitude as soon as possible, because we may have a mountain to clear at the other end of our trip.

Do, however, dump your flaps as soon as you're climbing 500 FPM, and look back at Clonesville as you ascend. Get straight and level at 6500.

This time, instead of gazing backward until the area disappears, we'll keep watching forward and see it appear—or reappear.

It just seemed to grow out of the landscape, didn't it? As if at some sort of signal. Now to find out if the runway and hangar are still there.

It seems as if the best way to do this would be to start our let down now and forget crossing the peak; just aim over to your left where the ridge reaches its lowest point, and we'll cross the mountain there.

Even after we're on the other side of the mountain, it's still hard to tell if this is the real Eagle Field. We can't see a runway or hangar yet, but we are still a number of miles away. Head for the approximate location of the runway as you remember it, and continue your descent.

The miles tick away. But where is Eagle?

Ah, there it is. Sprawled, like a smashed spider.

There is no wind, so plan to land on Runway 9. And once you're down, come back here for a minute.

I don't think the exploration of Red Quiver Valley and Eagle Field and the other airports here will ever be really complete. But I know for sure that this exercise we have just finished is really not finished.

This flight didn't last too long, and we are already (almost) set up in the Editor. So, if you're with me, let's make one final reconnaissance:

Let's fly 270 degrees—not from here, but from Clone 1, that is, let's fly a second leg in the original direction and see if any airport shows up. If that gets us back to Eagle Field, we'll have learned something. And if it doesn't, we will have learned something else. Are you with me?

OK. So enter the Editor, press Recall, which re-establishes our location at hangarless, runwayless Clone 1, and change only heading, to 270. Then exit the Editor.

Take off again, over the mountain, keeping all your takeoff trim as before. Just dump your flaps as you climb, and hang in there.

Once you have cleared the mountain, fly at the altitude you want. You know how to fly the airplane now. You know how to hustle around the sky, control your airspeed and altitude like a pro, use your eyes and your mind and the skills you have developed. You know how to fly.

Yes, and sure enough, there is another valley ahead of us—another backdrop of mountains, no matter how make believe, and, perhaps, another runway. But always, a pinch in the heart, a twinge of high anticipation, an exultation in the new, the unknown, the sometimes unknowable. What mystery, what beauty, what challenge lies ahead in this next microcosm of the world?

And how beautiful this simulator world is, that can take us in imagination to faraway places where in reality we would never be able to go. There are rivers and lakes and hills and stretches of beach out there that we haven't seen. And cities we believe in, no matter how drab, featureless, and unsupportive of life they seem to be. And earth and sky that stretch to everywhere—beyond our ability to witness the limit of them, inviting us to accept them for exactly what they are: luxuriantly green, endlessly blue, beckoning us to survive so we may yet discover. And all of it is ours just for the asking.

Thanks for the pleasure of flying with you.

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