A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

Chapter 3 - San Francisco Bay Area

Something Fishy

Chart: San Francisco
Ground Coordinates:
   Aircraft: N17422 (17422.296), E5074 (5073.8229)
   Tower: N17420.826, E5074.4836
   Aircraft: 0
   Tower: 28
Heading: 122
Time: Daylight

As I mentioned earlier, I've covered the San Francisco Bay area quite thoroughly in earlier books, specifically Runway USA and Flying Flight Simulator; the latter for the Amiga, Atari ST, and Macintosh computers. Further, the San Francisco STAR Scenery Disk (for the earlier versions) and the San Francisco and Bay areas as bundled with the later versions, vary somewhat, particularly regarding bugs. And those bugs (the ones I'm speaking of are found mostly in San Francisco) are associated, in particular, with mountains. So it's not feasible to cover San Francisco extensively in a book that's not machine- and version-specific. There is also a third rendering of the San Francisco area. It's in Scenery Disk 3, one of a now sorely outdated and I would think ill-fated Western Set of six Scenery Disks released for the earlier versions of Flight Simulator. While these disks cover some fascinating areas of the U.S., and I devoted a whole book (Runway USA) to them, they were premature insofar as detail was concerned. Fast on their heels, the STAR version of San Francisco, along with the Japan Scenery Disk, opened up new vistas in flight simulation. The Western Set, unfortunately, trailed far behind these two in scenic interest and detail, and still further behind the more recent Scenery Disks 7, 11 and Western Europe. (It's my under-standing that the Western Set will be updated and newly released in the not-too-distant future--an event to which we all, I'm sure, look forward eagerly.)

That said, we'll concentrate on having a bit of fun in the immediate area of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate.

The Golden Gate is, of course, not a bridge but the body of water that flows between San Francisco and the Marina Peninsula, connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate Bridge, named for the body of water, connects the city of San Francisco with Sausalito, on the other side of the Golden Gate, and other neighboring cities to the north.

This first scenario puts you on an "improvised" takeoff and landing strip right on the waterfront. In fact, you're on a dock at Fishermen's Wharf, pointed toward the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and some downtown buildings. The Golden Gate Bridge is behind you to the right.

Obviously, your best short-field takeoff technique is called for here. The parenthetical North and East parameters give later-version pilots all of the wharf; but for those of you without fractional parameter capability, this will be a short takeoff indeed. However, if you use a little of the grass as well as all of the wharf, you'll get airborne okay.

Proceed with your takeoff. (If you have Tower capability, watch from that vantage point, and be prepared to duck.) Throttle back quickly for a 500-FPM climb (to keep your altitude low), skim the buildings on your right, and then turn left to head over the nearest of the Bay Bridge's four arches. Pour on some power if you need it to clear the girders.

The airport on the other side of the bay is Nimitz Field.

And surprise!--you'll shoot a landing on Runway 07 over there-- elevation 17 feet--so work to get into position.

(After these shenanigans, if everyone in the Bay area doesn't know about you already, they will after the 6 o'clock news.)

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