A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

Flamingo Fling

Chart: Miami
Ground Coordinates:
   Aircraft: N10783, E20833
   Tower: N10783.097, E20831.296
   Aircraft: 0
   Tower: 14
Heading: 297
Time: Night (01:00)
Special Requirements: This night flight requires a working knowledge of VOR navigation, and some instrument capability. See text.

You're looking at the numbers for Runway 27 at Marsh Harbour Airport, Marsh Harbour, Bahamas. And we're about to make a relatively long night flight to Nassau. I trust you won't fall asleep on me.

I hasten to tell you why we're flying over the ocean to Nassau at night: I want to spend the whole day tomorrow in that town. Sort of like a vacation. I want to see the flamingos. And I want to get a little sun on Paradise Beach. The other reason is, I think we both could use some night flying/ navigating experience; you're never too good or too old to learn, and we've flown most of this book in easy daylight.

What, if anything, will we be able to see on this flight? I don't know. I'm making it for the first time, same as you. But one thing is sure: We'll be able to see the instrument panel at all times.

Speaking of which, tune your NAV to Treasure Cay, on 112.90. We're out of range for the Nassau OMNI; we'll get it later. Set the OBS to R184. It will read FROM because the station is northwest of us.

What we'll do is take off, climb out of the pattern, and then turn left heading 225 degrees to intercept R184 at an approximate 40-degree angle. As you can see from your chart, that's bound to happen before we've flown very far.

So proceed. Climb to 400 feet before you turn to your intercept heading. Plan on a cruising altitude of 2500 feet. If we can't see anything, we might as well see it from that altitude as any other I can think of. And, of course, get into maximum cruise configuration.

A couple of roads are visible, but there's no telling where they lead.

You've only a shallow turn to make for intercept, so wait until the OBI actually moves to center.

At about 40 DME you should be able to raise the Nassau VOR on 112.70 (I'm giving you the frequency because I realize how intently you're studying the darkness out ahead.) Radial 184 should still be fine, so just fly the needle. You'll probably be slightly off the radial, and at this distance out--where the radials are far apart--you can reasonably use a 30-or 40-degree cut to get onto it.

I trust black is one of your favorite colors because there's sure a lot of it out here. You look great in black.

If you have Tower capability, continue flying but arrange for the tower at Nassau International now: N10138.120, E20747.276, accepting whatever ALT may result. Then take the Tower view. Slightly comforting to see you're right on the money, isn't it? Assuming, of course, that you are on the money.

Too bad there's no moonlight in the simulator. Wouldn't it be nice to see it shining on the water, and lighting up the edges of the rocks and cays?

I'm wondering whether there's a rotating beacon on the Nassau airport. Somehow, I doubt it. I don't think we'll see a thing until we see the runway complex.

But tomorrow I'm going to see lots of stuff. I'm taking a one-day vacation. I'm going to buy a straw hat. I'll take a ride down quaint narrow streets in a surrey with a fringe on top. And I'm going to watch the flamingo show, and check out Bluebeard's Tower. But in particular I'm going to have a swim at Paradise Beach, even though the water is too warm--like a bathtub. To get to Paradise Beach, you have to take a "bum-boat" from the wharf. (As you can guess, I've been to Nassau--went there once in "real" life.)

Right now, I'm having to work to hold my altitude. How about you? For some reason, this airplane either wants to climb or descend, and I have to check every few minutes to see which it is currently trying to do.

I'm reading 17 DME and still no sign of the airport. Any-way, it's high time we consider what our approach will be.

Assuming the wind is still from the west, Runway 27 will be the active.

At about 15 DME there's a road ahead--civilization! Nassau International is one of those late-blooming air-ports. But at about 12.5 DME is finally shows up.

We're close to paralleling the crosswind leg. So, considering the lateness (or earliness) of the hour and the sparseness of traffic, the tower instructs us to cross directly over the air-port at 1000 feet, and then to join the downwind leg. Elevation is 10 feet. And by the way, your final will be over a very pretty though invisible lake, so caution: It would be distressing to have to swim to shore in all that darkness.

How do you think I'll look in a straw hat?

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