A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

Night in the Mountains

Chart: Southern West Germany
En Route Coordinates:
   Aircraft: N17064, E15548
   Tower: N17191.249, E15737.850
   Aircraft: 2500
   Tower: 507
Heading: 030
Time: Dawn (06:00)

Although it appears on your Southern West Germany chart, the city of Strasbourg, for whose Entzheim Airport you are ultimately destined in this scenario, is in the Alsace-Lorraine area of France.

The mountains you are about to fly between and around are more realistic in nondaytime than most simulator mountains, which is why I chose for you to fly this scenario in the dawn's early light. Once you've flown it in these conditions, try it in the daylight, too. It's a very scenic flight.

Unpause and make the transition to maximum cruise configuration.

As you know from our earlier experimentation, the mountains on either side of your aircraft are higher than your present altitude. But that's no problem, since we're going up the valley.

Point for the area ahead where the mountains almost, but not quite, appear to come together. Very shortly, you'll discover that what appears to be a single mountain on your right is actually two. If you look up the valley between them (out the right side) you'll see that there's a highway over there--so you aren't that far from civilization. Presently, you see that there is a highway ahead of you as well.

When you judge that you can clear the last slope of the mountain on your right, fly around it, ultimately getting on a due east heading. Then very shortly--lo and behold!--the air-port at Entzheim.

Your landing will be on Runway 05, which you are approaching at an approximate 40-degree angle. So this is a good time to practice "sighting" an oblique approach (though you could simply parallel a base leg and then turn final).

But first, since the elevation at Entzheim is about 510 feet, start a gradual descent. And, because the airport is in sight, get into approach configuration (slow down).

A good suggestion (in the simulator) for judging where to start your turn to final when on a diagonal approach with the airport visible on your windshield, is this:

When the runway appears nearly straight, or is about to disappear from your windshield, start your turn, using an approximate 30-degree bank.

As with all other such approach suggestions (they're not rules), this one depends on your airspeed (ideally about 60 KIAS), the steepness of your bank, and other factors related to your personal flying technique, including when you start to roll out and how smartly you roll out. So let practice and its concomitant--experience--be your guide in applying the suggestion.

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