Flight Simulator Co-Pilot

by Charles Gulick

The Cape Caper

Quillayute State, WA to Ocean Shores, WA

Scenery Disk 4.
North: 21805. East: 6068. Altitude: 194. Pitch: 0.
Bank: 0. Heading: 200. Airspeed: 0. Throttle: 0.
Rudder: 32767. Ailerons: 32767. Flaps: 0.
Elevators: 32767. Time: 15:00. Season: 2. Clouds: 0.
Surface Wind: 6 kn., 190 deg.

The basic Flight Simulator encompasses four major geographic areas, which are, of course, New York/Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

You might expect that where the Scenery Disks overlap areas already covered by Flight Simulator, those areas would simply be duplicated. Not so. Though the original Seattle simulation includes the Pacific coast from Cape Flattery at the extreme northwestern tip to Hoquiam about 100 miles south (the Microsoft version includes the Astoria OMNI), the Scenery Disk for the Seattle area covers another 275-odd miles of coastline, terminating at Newport, Oregon. The westward reach, too, is far greater, extending all the way across Washington and into Idaho. Such extensions are to be expected, because the Scenery Disks cover the contiguous United States.

But there are some curious differences in the areas which specifically overlap. You are sitting on one. This airport, Quillayute State, does not exist in the original Seattle-area simulation. Nor does our destination airport, Ocean Shores, which is a few miles north of the Hoquiam VOR station. Meanwhile, certain other airports included in the original simulation—among them Spanaway, Shady Acres, Tacoma Narrows, and others—are missing in the Scenery Disk for the area. This saddens me, because the original Puget Sound-area simulation offered dozens of beautiful over-the-water takeoffs and landings. And the airports functioned as landmarks when flying the area. (Some other landmarks, too, like the Seattle Space Needle, are not in the current Scenery Disk presentation.)

On the other hand, it pleases me that the Scenery Disks are not simply carbon copies of the original Flight Simulator areas. I always knew there was an airport near Hoquiam, and I even flew out there one day to see if Bruce Artwick might have tucked it in and not told anyone, but there was no Ocean Shores in those days.

In an earlier book, I guided my readers on a flight from William R. Fairchild International to Cape Flattery, so we could see the northwesternmost tip of the United States. But as it turned out, the “tip” was not all that dramatic; in fact, it was completely rounded off in the simulation, so you couldn't be sure exactly where it was.

All three charts—the original charts for Flight Simulator (Cessna) and for FSII (Piper) and the Scenery Disk charts—are different in concept and in execution. The least helpful are the original Flight Simulator charts, which depict only major airports and VOR stations. They virtually invite you not to fly, because they lead you to believe that your explorations are limited to a few big airports. Yet much of the excitement, realism, and romance of the simulation is in the little airports. The original charts, neatly executed though they are, are also useless for flying contact, which in my opinion is the most interesting way to fly.

The original Piper charts are very detailed, showing all airports (at least I think they do) and all navigational aids. They are the next best thing to purchasing the actual FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) sectionals.

The Scenery Disk charts are adequate, considering the scope of the geography they cover. They are better than either of the earlier charts in that they show what metropolitan areas are simulated. You know in advance whether you're going to see some pavement at your destination or just a runway. Another point in favor of the Scenery Disks is the comprehensive information provided about runways. They lose points, however, for not showing state lines, so the pilot must do considerable studying of atlases (I work with about seven spread around me on the floor).

Finally, if I could ask for just a single additional feature in the Scenery Disk charts, it would be a depiction of mountains and mountain ranges similar to that now given cities and bodies of water. This for the simple reason that some topographical features of the U.S. are simulated and some are not, and the choice of which are does not seem to follow any particular pattern of either size or logic. Thus you can't know in advance, based on size or other significant attributes, whether the Grand Canyon, for example, is simulated or not (it isn't). You have to fly or at least slew there to find out. And often, where you don't expect to see a mountain, because it isn't a big tourist attraction or famous historic landmark, suddenly you see a mountain.

This afternoon I plan for us to fly this “new” stretch of Pacific coastline—first, to Cape Flattery to see if the depiction of the tip is more flattering than in the original simulation, and second, for the pleasure of making an overwater approach to Ocean Shores, on the edge of the ocean, which I anticipate will be delightful.

So obviously we'll fly north first, check out the tip (who knows, maybe the Cape Flattery Lighthouse is even simulated), then do a 180 and fly back down to Ocean Shores.

Runway 22 is waiting for us. And what a pleasant little runway it is—shorter and narrower than those big-city jobs and typical of thousands of runways at local airports all over the country.

Before we take off, tune your NAV to Tatoosh OMNI, 112.2, and find out what TO radial you're on. Then set your OBS to the 330 radial. What we'll do is climb out to 500 feet, then turn to intersect and fly 330. That radial should place us about four miles east of Cape Flattery. Then we can circle it before we head south again.

Our cruise altitude will be 2500 feet. Go ahead. I'm ready when you are.

As you make your right turn, what's your heading going to be? Remember, you're trying to intersect the 330 radial. Is it ahead of you, behind you, or nowhere at all out here?

If you're confused already, press Recall and let's do this thing right. In fact, even if you're not confused, press Recall, and go through this again anyway. Let's reason together, as LBJ used to say.

Sitting here close to the threshold of Runway 22, Quillayute State Airport (named for the Quillayute Indian Reservation just to the west, in the coastal town of La Push) in the county of Clallam, state of Washington, U.S.A., you know (or should by now) that you are astride the 334 radial of the Tatoosh VOR station 21 to 22 miles to the north. You want to take off and fly to intersect the 330 radial of that same VOR station. Remembering the wheel-and-spoke analogy, where does the 330 lie in relation to where you're sitting?

If you were heading inbound on the 334 radial, the 330 radial would be to your right—four spokes away—right? And, remembering what you learned when we did all this earlier, you would take about a 50-degree cut (the exact number is unimportant, as long as you understand the principle involved) toward the radial you want. So add 50 to 334 (as if you were on a 334 heading and on the 334 radial) and you get an arithmetic result of 384. Then, because there are only 360 degrees in a circle, subtract 360 from 384 to get 24, which is a reasonable heading to turn to after your takeoff to intersect the 330 radial.

Another way to arrive at the same conclusion is this: Because you are sitting on the 334 radial, the 330 radial has to be behind you. If you were turned around, say, taking off on Runway 4 instead of 22, the 330 radial would be ahead of you; you would fly right into it climbing straight out. If that's the way you thought and you weren't confused, congratulations.

So now take off, climb to 500, and execute a right turn to a heading of about 24 degrees, and see how readily you intercept the 330-degree radial. Then turn left and fly the needle and let's get on with this operation.

Remember, our cruising altitude is 2500 feet. If your takeoff procedure was by the book, all you will need is a power reduction to make the transition to straight and level.

Once at cruise, and with the OBI needle centered on the 330-degree radial, take a look on radar. Zoom to the view that shows the little tip to which we are paying so much attention in this flight. It certainly looks like a tip—for real, this time, doesn't it? Your nose should be pointed just a little east of it. The long hook of water beyond it is the strait of Juan de Fuca, and the land across the way is Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Keep up your instrument and out-the-windshield scans. Keep the needle centered. Hold to your altitude. Take a look left at the wide Pacific, and take a look right at the northern section of Olympic National Park and the Olympic National Forest. Down there are Sitka spruce and Douglas firs towering to 150 feet, rare species of elk, and great mountains with active glaciers rising out of the mists of the rain forests.

Just as Cape Flattery comes into view—the tip itself in living color (green, of course) out in front of us like a slim finger of admonition—we are cheated again. The tip, the Cape, the lighthouse (if there was one), even the OMNI station, are all blown away by a disk access, and you could be flying anywhere at all. Now that's not fair! If they could show us the little finger of land ahead, why couldn't they let us fly to it? It would be different if it had been left out of the simulation entirely. But to put it there and then blow it away at the last minute is cheating.

Now if you check radar you will see something resembling a point there. It's better than nothing, I guess, so let's go ahead with our plan and fly around it. Use radar and left front views to keep a check on where it is and where you are. Fly out over the strait of Juan de Fuca, and then turn left following the shoreline.

Can you believe that the Tatoosh OMNI turns OFF when we're only a few miles from it? And that tip is very antsy, the way it jumps around.

Just this side of the “northwesternmost point in the United States,” which I've made every effort to produce for you in all its drama and grandeur, is the Makah Indian Reservation. Some 400 years ago a Makah village in Ozette, about 10 miles down the coast, was buried in a mudslide, and at Neah Bay, about where you are now, there is a commemorative center displaying artifacts from that event.

Point the nose of your plane straight over what is left of the tip. At least there's more of it here than in the original Seattle-area simulation. Wag your wings, and maybe the keeper of Cape Flattery Lighthouse will beam a light up at you. As soon as there's nothing but the Pacific out front, turn left to a heading of 160 degrees.

By rights, Tatoosh ought to turn back on soon. And keep checking Cape Flattery behind you to see if it resumes the shape it had when we were approaching it.

Well, that disk access did it all, didn't it? The OMNI turns on again; Cape Flattery reaches out again; and control is returned to us.

Retune your NAV to Hoquiam, 117.7. You will have to fly a while before you are in range. Meanwhile, enjoy the immense blue of the Pacific. It isn't hard to believe it's really there, is it?

When Hoquiam turns on, get an inbound heading and fly the needle. Keep checking to your left, and see if you can spot the runway at Quillayute. Just below it is Teahwhit Head, then Toleak Point, then Hoh Head and the Hoh Indian Reservation. And when you are 45 to 50 miles from Hoquiam you will be passing the Quinalt Indian Reservation, which stretches for about 20 miles along the coast and roughly the same distance inland. Right under you as you get opposite the reservation is Elephant Rock, rising right out of the pounding surf.

Starting just about 20 miles from the station is a string of beach communities—Sunset Beach, Ocean Grove, Roosevelt Beach, Iron Springs, Copalis Beach, Olympic Beaches, Ocean City, Oyhut, and ultimately Ocean Shores, where we're going to set down.

Actually, Ocean Shores is itself on a cape, which creates a body of water called Grays Harbor, and at the extremity of which is a lighthouse. I'm not expecting to see the lighthouse, but I would like to see the cape detailed; it should make a most interesting scenic for our approach. Keep your fingers crossed.

About 20 miles out, go into radar, and zoom to the view that shows you Grays Harbor and the highway to Hoquiam, which is U.S. 12. Further east, it is State Highway 8. And indeed it does look as if there is a cape there, and out the windshield there seems to be a cape taking shape for sure.

This cape doesn't seem to have any particular name, so let's call it Cape Hope, because we hope there will be a cape when we get there.

The closer we get, the more it looks like we won't be cheated this time.

About 15 miles out you will spot the runway almost dead ahead. This is the end of the strip we want, too—Runway 14, since the wind is from the south quadrant. A straight-in approach is a natural.

Field elevation here is only ten feet above sea level, as defined by the blue Pacific. And that strip certainly does look beautiful—just a pretty sliver across Cape Hope. With an elegant approach like this, who needs the north-westernmost tip of nowhere?

Get into pattern configuration, and enjoy every foot of this long final.

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