A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

The Port of Le Havre

Chart: Northern France
En Route Coordinates:
   Aircraft: N17814, E13623
   Tower: N17801.475, E13668.565
   Aircraft: 3100
   Tower: 316
Heading: 134
Time: Daylight

The Port of Le Havre area may be at the top of my list of favorite places to fly in northern France.

You are presently over the Bay of the Seine, with the Grand Canal du Havre directly ahead. Le Havre and its commercial seaport are just at the entrance of the canal, and the airport at Octeville (Le Havre/Octeville on your chart) is visible on the left side of your windshield. Deauville's St. Gatien Airport will appear on the opposite side of the canal as you proceed with your flight.

Rather than approach Le Havre directly, stay on your 134-degree heading until the runway at Gatien just touches the right side of your windshield. When that happens, enter a 30-degree bank and a long turn to the right, rolling out on a heading of 320 degrees. You'll be on an extended right base for Runway 05 at Le Havre. Start your descent, but don't let your altitude get too low. You are quite a distance from touchdown. Do, however, work to slow the aircraft to about 60 knots, for reasons that will be clear in a moment.

Keep a check on the lie of the runway out the right front and side, and when it's visible with a 90-degree view to the right, pause a moment to read.

Judging when to make a turn from base to final, as you're about to do, is far more difficult in the simulator than in an actual aircraft, due to perspective, restricted vision, and other limitations. At an airspeed of approximately 80 knots (a typical medium-speed approach), we've seen that the turn should be started when the runway threshold is just ahead of our wingtip. But there is another general guideline, for low air-speed only, that you may find helpful.

If your airspeed is in the general vicinity of 60 knots, and you are viewing your intended runway from the base leg (at a 90-degree angle to the runway heading), wait until the run-way appears almost (but not quite) straight before you start your turn; then make your bank a relatively steep one (about 30 degrees). In my experience this is somewhat more reliable (but only at low airspeed) than starting the turn to final when the intended runway is just ahead of your wingtip. It seems to compensate somewhat for your slow airspeed. The runway will sometimes be almost under rather than just ahead of your wing as in a turn at an airspeed of, say, 80 knots. If on the other hand your airspeed is near the higher figure, use the just-ahead-of-the-wingtip technique. And in any case, tailor these or any methods to suit your individual flying techniques. The key thing, once you've found a technique that seems to suit you, is to be consistent.

Go ahead now with your approach over Grand Canal du Havre, and if your airspeed is around 60 knots, try the almost-straight-on view technique. Elevation at Le Havre is about 319 feet.

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