Runway USA

A pilot's guide to destination cities in Flight Simulator
by Charles Gulick

Study in Brown


Over there is the mountain range we crossed earlier this morning, to get here to Santa Fe.

Not only is this city the capital of New Mexico, it's the oldest capital in the country. This is also where the Santa Fe Trail—a wagon trail out of Independence, Missouri—ended. The Santa Fe Trail was a major trail in the settling of the West and an overland trade route from 1821 until the coming of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1880.

Some great painters lived in this area of New Mexico, including Indians whose sand paintings you can see in the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art, here in Santa Fe. It is here, too, that Georgia O'Keeffe, the wonderful southwest artist who was married to photographer Alfred Stieglitz, died on March 6, 1986, at age 98. For years she lived on the New Mexican desert, painting what she felt and saw. The colors out here are clear and pure, different from the colors anywhere else, and Georgia O'Keeffe understood them.

If you're using a composite monitor, try adjusting your tint control to remove the green and get the earthtones as close as you can to dark sand, or adobe. Let's fly this flight to Albuquerque using those desert colors. It will be a whole new experience.

We'll take off on Runway 33, climb above pattern altitude, then do the better part of a 180-degree turn and track along the Rio Grande and Interstate 25, on a heading of about 210 degrees.

Plan on a cruising altitude of 7600 feet.

You can see one mountain ahead of you, to the left of your course, and there's another you can see by taking a left front view.

The first airport you'll spot is Albuquerque Coronado. Then, Albuquerque Alameda Airport will appear very soon thereafter, to the right of Coronado. As soon as you see Alameda, turn right, heading 290 degrees, and fly to the Rio Grande. Then turn left and track the river toward Coronado Airport, until you see Double Eagle II Airport well over to your right. (Be sure and take a view out the left side window as you fly toward the Rio Grande. If you were able to adjust for a brownish tint to the earth, it really could be New Mexico, couldn't it?)

When you see Double Eagle II Airport, turn right to a heading of 310 degrees, which parallels base leg for Runway 22. This should position you nicely to request a left turn to final and a straight-in approach.

When you're on the ground, readjust the colors of your world—change your sunglasses. I'm going to meet you where it's very green, very blue, very real, and very new.

Wear your most impressive flying togs, because we're going to STAR!

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