Flying Flight Simulator

Sky-High Adventure with the Macintosh, Amiga, & Atari ST
by Charles Gulick

Chapter 12

The last flight may have been your toughest. You worked hard tracking two NDBs and a VOR and making a night approach in the Learjet. But pushing yourself to new and tougher limits is part of the learning game; and the best part of the game is that the further you push, the easier flying seems.

If you made a reasonably good landing at Fairchild on your first or subsequent tries, you have every reason to be proud of yourself. Think how far you've come since we began working together.

Now, it's time for a little diversion.

Recall TIE ISSAQUAH /C once more, and we'll go to a special landing field that I've designed for you in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Take the out-the-windshield view; then open NAV and POSITION SET, and put the aircraft at NORTH 17440.105, EAST 5059.6045, and ALT 0.0. Set the control tower to NORTH 17439.000, EAST 5059.0000, and ALT 550.0000.

Close the window.

Now, with the engine running, open the NAV window and click on SLEW. True your directional gyro and, watching its numbers, use right aileron (Amiga/Atari) or drag the mouse right (Mac) to slew to a heading of exactly 170 degrees. Be sure that your compass and the DG agree on 170 degrees, and then open the NAV window (Mac pilots, use X to transfer the 170-degree heading), and turn off SLEW.

You're looking toward San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. Access your map and zoom to a factor of 0.50. Although there is no runway as such (that's why I call this a “landing field”), the imaginary strip, which (runway or not) we'll call Runway 17, begins at the southeast corner of Mt. Tamalpais and runs in a straight line from your present position toward the bridge. The highway leading to the bridge is U.S. 101, locally called Bridgeway Boulevard. You're looking south, of course, and toward the northern end of the bridge.

Local restrictions let you take off, but not land, in the direction you're facing. You must land from the opposite direction, or on the reciprocal of 17, Runway 35. Fortunately, the winds are usually light and variable in this area and are mainly from the east. That means you'll usually take off and land in a light crosswind. Go into ENVIRO now, and set the season to spring. Open ENVIRO again, and set the surface wind depth to 3000, the direction to 80 degrees, and the speed to 2. The winds aloft won't be a concern in your flights from this field.

Close the window.

Now, dispense with the map, and save this situation as GATEWAY 17–35/C. (We'll call this landing field Gateway Field. The “17–35” will be a reminder of the takeoff and landing regulations at Gateway, which are—to say the least— atypical.)

Come to think of it, the bi-directional takeoff/landing procedure here will make operations much more interesting, won't it? In each case, you'll have a great view of the bridge as you fly over it at low altitude.

Speaking of views, take 45-degree and 90-degree looks out your left window. That's the city of San Francisco over there—which is currently the most detailed city in the simulator world.

Take note of your altimeter. It reads about 500 feet. But be advised that the altimeter is very unreliable on the ground at Gateway and at other non-airport locations in the simulator. When you fly back and land here, you may find that the elevation is 295 feet or another value the simulator may dream up. I can't give you the reason for such disparities; I can only tell you that they exist. So, you must rely on your vision rather than your altimeter when you shoot a landing here and at other whimsical locations in the simulator world.

Let's try out this new field and, at the same time, see some of San Francisco's sights.

Make your normal takeoff, but on climbout get your power back to 2100 rpm and start to trim down as quickly as possible. The flatter your climbout, the better view you'll have of the bridge passing below you. (Don't, however, flatten your aircraft and yourself against the girders.)

Go ahead and fly, and when you're beyond the bridge, take a look back at it and at Gateway. You'll see much the same scene later when you're on your final approach to Runway 35.

Your flight path crosses the northwest corner of the city and takes you directly over Lake Merced, with San Bruno Mountain to the left of your course.

Try to be at op neutral before you reach 2000 feet, and level off at that altitude.

Take a 90-degree view of San Bruno Mountain. When it's just aft of your left wing tip, apply a notch of back pressure and turn left to a heading of 086 degrees. San Francisco International takes shape ahead of you, and you'll cross—at a slight angle—the business ends of its parallel runways, 10L and 10R. Remembering the location of SFI is useful, and it will be easy if you remember that it's slightly south and east of San Bruno Mountain and right on San Francisco Bay.

The bridge on your right ahead is the San Mateo-Hayward.

When you no longer see any of San Francisco International through your windshield, turn left and head about 320 degrees, keeping San Bruno Mountain a bit left of your course. The highway skirting the mountain is Bayshore Freeway (Interstate 101) and is intersected ahead by Southern Freeway (Interstate 280). Below on the shore is Candlestick Park, famous for spectator sports.

After the disk access, you'll see Mt. Davidson ahead and to the left, this side of the Golden Gate, and to the right you'll see the buildings of downtown San Francisco. Turn right to a heading of 340 degrees to follow the shoreline toward the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco and Oakland. Put on carb heat to lose a little altitude, and use your panning arrows (if you have that feature) to catch the sights: the bridge, the buildings, Fisherman's Wharf, and Alcatraz (on the little island to the left of your course). Remember to return to your normal view.

Now that you have your carb heat on, get into slowflight at an altitude of 1500 feet. Gradually reduce your power as you trim up to slow neutral.

The bridge ahead is the Richmond-San Rafael and beyond it is San Pablo Bay. You can see San Quentin State Prison, which is in San Rafael. It is on this side of the west end of the bridge and right on the water.

As the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge disappears under the nose of your plane, turn left to a heading of 170 degrees. (Use back pressure to hold your altitude in the turn, and use aileron to maintain a 20-degree bank.) You'll be pointed to the left of both the Golden Gate Bridge and Gateway Field, parallel to Runway 17, from which you took off earlier.

Pause now, and save your situation as FOR GATEWY 35/C. You can use this situation not only for downwind approaches to landings over the Golden Gate Bridge, but for air tours of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unpause and take a look at Gateway Field, on this side of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bridgeway Boulevard and beginning where Mt. Tamalpais juts out closest to the bay. The field is easy to identify once you know exactly where it is. Take right-side views of it as you fly.

Confirm slowflight neutral if necessary, and use your throttle to descend to and maintain an altitude of 1200 feet. When Mt. Davidson's near slope has almost disappeared from the bottom of your windshield, apply a notch of back pressure, enter a standard-rate turn to the right, and start a 180-degree turn. Maintain a 20-degree bank as closely as possible, and roll out on a heading of 350 degrees.

When you've rolled out, pause and save the situation as GATEWAY FINAL/C; then, unpause and continue.

Adjust your flight path so that you will fly over the center of the bridge and be lined up accurately for a landing on the grass of Gateway Field. At the same time, slowly add some throttle, get your landing gear down, and put on 10 degrees of flaps. Trim up to approach neutral, as usual.

Use throttle to control your descent, maintaining your flight path over the center portion of the bridge. When appropriate, steepen your descent by extending your flaps to 40 degrees, preceding each extension with forward pressure on the elevator.

Regard the near edge of the grass on the other side of the bridge as the runway threshold. Use throttle adjustments to hold the threshold at the center of the screen until the last stages of your final, when you'll flatten the glide, continue to reduce power, and flare a few feet above the grass. As usual, delay the moment of touchdown with gradual applications of back pressure. When you've landed…wasn't that something?

Recall this approach and fly it as often as you like. Set the spot plane off your right wing, and take its views, as well as control tower views, as you execute or replay the landing.

No other approach in the whole simulator world is quite like this one.

Table of Contents | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter