Point-To-Point: Idaho County To Spokane

The latest leg in my point-to-point flying, and this one takes the Saratoga from Idaho County (KGIC) to Spokane (KGEG), the current PilotEdge bonus field. In this hop we try a new camera angle. Let me know what you think.

We also fly over homemade photorealistic scenery (with several interesting decisions to make about clouds and altitudes along the way) and get to contrast the new X-Plane default clouds with experimental HD clouds for xEnviro. Hope you like it and thanks for watching.

Waiting To Try PilotEdge? Fly With Me Today At 1:30 PM ET

I’m going to try to fly the “T to U” leg of the PilotEdge Alphabet Challenge today at 1:30 PM ET / 6:30 PM Zulu. Looks like nice VFR conditions in the forecast so that’s how I’ll be doing it, and I’ll be flying it in either a 172 or PA28-161, so it will be a leisurely 110 knots or so along the way.

Given that KTSP and KUDD are both non-towered airports, if you’ve been looking for a chance to try out PilotEdge using their free two-week trial this would be an excellent opportunity as I will be more than happy to show you the ropes. I’ll be getting flight following along the way, but you don’t need to if you don’t want to – you can just tune into the controller frequencies and listen as we fly along. If you decide to try it out:

It’s really very easy and you’ll be up and running in no time. And PE works with FSX, P3D, or X-Plane, so you don’t need to worry about us being on the same platform.

Here’s the SkyVector route, and the chart is below. I will also try to post an image of my planned flight log here so you can print it out as well if you like. The route is about 140 miles so we should be about 1:15 in route. If you’d like to join me, meet me on the KTSP ramp and be connected to PilotEdge around 1:30 PM ET today. I always take a few minutes on the ground to get things together so I won’t be taking the runway right at that time, and I will try to be online few minutes before. I will be on frequency 123.45 initially so we can brief the flight there (we need to discuss altitude and some airspace we need to avoid) before switching over to the CTAF. If this will be your first PilotEdge flight I can discuss the basics then.

Hope to see you there. (And I have cross-posted this in the forums as well.)

Sketch

Friday Night Fly-In On PilotEdge

There’s another chance brewing if you’d like to do some group flying on PilotEdge. PE user skyhog67 is organizing this opportunity as a Friday Night Fly-In, this Friday the 24th at 7pm PST / 10pm EST / 3am Zulu. You can get more details here, and the route is L54 – KRNM – KHHR. Looks like fun with some interesting airspace along the way. That’s a bit late for me, but I’ll try to be there if I can. My experience is that this type of group work is a great way to fly with some traffic, learn the ropes of the system, and get to know some fellow simmers as well. Give it a shot and have fun.

ACT Flight Tomorrow At 11 AM ET (X-Plane, P3D, FSX)

Those who have been wanting to either do some group flying on PilotEdge, or who want to try the network for the first time, are welcome to join the new “After-hours Closed Traffic” group flight tomorrow at 11 AM ET. (Note that it’s not after-hours anymore, but the name sticks.) You can learn more here, and here are the details from that post:

[R]oute proposal for this week is:
L52 (Oceano) -> LPC (Lompoc) -> IZA (Santa Ynez) -> CMA (Camarillo)
Aircraft: your choice. 

Link to the route
https://skyvector.com/?ll=34.64254755551286,-120.18264693289935&chart=24&zoom=5&fpl=N0120%20L52%20KLPC%20KIZA%20KCMA

Looks like an interesting VFR route with some controlled and restricted airspace, and terrain, to navigate along the way. I plan to be there unless home obligations intrude, and hope to see you there as well. And if you want to use this as an opportunity to try PilotEdge, it’s a great way to do it as you’ll have folks with you who can coach you and we actually won’t be talking to ATC until we arrive at Camarillo (a Class Delta strip). You can sign up for a two-week free trial here, and there’s more information on getting started with PE here.

Join Me For After-Hours Closed Traffic On PilotEdge

Regular readers probably know that most recent Saturday mornings (US time) I join a group of other simmers on PilotEdge to do pattern work and practice radio skills together. The group is called “ACT,” for After-hours Closed Traffic (as the PE air traffic controllers are offline when we begin), and it’s been a lot of fun. The general plan each time is to start at a non-towered field, do some touch-and-gos, fly to another non-towered field, and repeat. After a few stops we then typically head to a towered field in PilotEdge to land under ATC control. There are usually four or five of us online each week. Here’s the schedule for this Saturday at 9 AM ET (all of which are fields in the greater Portland area):

W04 (Ocean Shores)
14S (Westport)
2S9 (Willapa Harbour)
7W1 (Port of Ilwaco)
KAST (Astoria)
KPDX (by MisterX – an excellent designer of freeware X-Plane scenery)

If you’ve never tried PilotEdge, I think you should consider joining us, even if just for the non-towered part of the flight. It’s a great service, and ACT is a great way to begin to learn the ropes. PE has a two-week free trial, so there’s no fee for entry, and we can talk you through the radio calls, so it would be a learning experience as well. If you’d like to give it a try, sign up for a free trial and download the software for your sim. Then, next Saturday at 9 AM ET, just position your plane at W04, connect to the network, tune your COM1 radio to 123.45, and fly with us. It’s a great way to learn the system and have some fun at the same time.

Finally, the hyperlinks in the list of fields above are links to the latest custom X-Plane scenery for each field, should you want them. Be sure to download the latest version as there are multiple iterations.

I hope to see you there!

Westward Ho! The PilotEdge Western Expansion (And Beta Test Flight Video)

The PilotEdge Western Expansion goes LIVE tomorrow, December 27th. It’s going to be a fantastic addition to the service, with a remarkable expansion of the network’s the controlled airspace:

Operating_Hours_and_Service_Area_-_PilotEdge_net

I was fortunate to participate in the beta test of the expansion last week, and here’s a video I made of the flight. It’s a long one: KSLC to Heber to Price To Moab. This is the longest video I’ve uploaded to date, but I wanted to capture the entire flight (with some edits) and the ATC handoffs along the way. Thanks for watching, and if you cater to real-world ATC, PilotEdge is as real as it gets.

Fantastic News From PilotEdge

WUS-launch-banner

The long awaited Western Expansion is finally ready and will go live on December 27th. This will bring a massive increase to the coverage area, offering seven new towered fields (six continual, one on a rotating basis) to the service area and many hundreds of thousands of new square miles in which to fly. Just as important is that PE will offer enroute coverage through the entire limits of the five ARTCCs that make up the expansion area. This means you can depart one of the towered fields and fly with advisories to any non-towered field throughout the entire western third of the US. FANTASTIC.  Learn more about it here, and I’ll see you in the KSLC Bravo soon.

P.A.T. Fun On PilotEdge

A few PilotEdge users, led by Jiva, have arranged some pattern traffic together in the hours before controllers start manning their stations on the network (hence PAT – PilotEdge Afterhours Traffic). Today I joined the group a bit late at KDLO where we did pattern work, and then Jiva and I flew out Elizabeth Lake for a touch and go, and then to Bakersfield (which by then was manned by a controller) for landing. As always it was a learning experience, and it was a lot of fun flying from place to place as a flight. Here are some pics, and if you’re on PE, we’d love to have you join us. Watch the Fly With Me thread in the PE forums for updates.

Also worth noting in these pics: The hangars and airport textures of REX Worldwide Airports HD,  the wonderful haze and sky textures of As16/ASCA with the Service Pack 1 update, the fantastic textures of ORBX SoCal scenery, and the beautiful lines of the Carenado C 177 RG Cardinal II.

Flight1
Ready To Go
Headed East
Flight2
In Formation
Flight4
A Flight To KBFL

The PilotEdge CAT-04 Rating

Yesterday I did the fourth PilotEdge Communication and Airspace Training rating flight, which is a Class D towered field (KSBP) to a Class D towered field (KSMX) with no ATC services in between:

CAT4Route

Here’s the description from the PE briefing page, but the short story is that you:

  • Get the weather at San Luis via the ATIS
  • Contact ground to tell them our position and let them know we want to depart to the South
  • Taxi to the runway as directed by ground
  • Contact tower at the end of the runway to let them know we are ready to go
  • Depart via their directions
  • Contact Santa Maria tower about 10 miles out and let them know our position and that we’re inbound for landing
  • Follow their directions for entering the pattern and contacting them when there
  • Land
  • Contact tower when clear of the runway to tell them our position and request taxi
  • Follow their directions, including whether or not to contact ground

Note that each time we talk to a new controller we tell them our position and our intentions. This is a solid rule for any initial ATC contact: “Here is who I am, where I am, and what I wish to do.”

Also, this “inside / out, outside /in” pattern of communication was a good way for me to think about the handoffs in ATC service when I was learning the airspace system (originally I found the rules of who to contact when and where a bit confusing). When departing you start with the controller closest to where you are – ground – and then progressively work your way out as your position changes (tower, then departure, then center). Coming in to a region or to land, you then work your way IN as your position changes (approach, then tower, then ground). One exception is clearance delivery, whom you contact before you start with ground if you’re filing an IFR clearance, or if you’re at a field that has a local clearance delivery (that will be on the chart). The CAT-04 flight is a good, simple example of these outside / in, inside / out handoffs: ground, tower, tower, ground. We don’t talk to a departure, center, or approach because we don’t have “radar services” (also called “flight following”), which is asking ATC to track you between towered fields as a safety measure, which is something they only do for VFR aircraft on request and if workload allows. “Picking up” flight following en route is the subject of the next CAT rating.

So here’s the flight. It goes right according to plan until the very last second – and then the technology fates intervene! We do this flight in the Carenado C177 Cardinal over ORBX SoCal/Vector scenery and AS16 weather with REX textures. Thanks for watching.