Go to the very tip of South America and you’ll find the region of Patagonia and, as it turns out, some fantastic bush plane flying opportunities courtesy of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Here’s how the challenge works and a few details of what we’ve seen so far.
‘Bush trips’ is one of the two activities modes that come with Flight Simulator and currently features three different bush plane adventures that you can go on. These are intended to be multi-stage journeys that take you through some stunning and rugged terrain.
Flying with a friend, we decided to pick the Los Cerros to Cochrane trip which consists of 14 legs flying the Cub Crafter X Cub. To complete the challenge you need to follow the route provided and stop at each of the airports along the way. To add to the challenge, although you have a route plotted and available from the VFR map, you don’t have the aircraft icon on it (as you normally would) which means that the aircraft’s instruments are all that you have. Fortunately with the XCub, that’s a G1000 glass cockpit with GPS. Other bush planes will be more challenging.
The first leg
Departing the starting point, the first leg let us get acquainted with our aircraft and the area. CubCrafters X Cub of Yakima, Washington is an aircraft that traces its lineage to the classic Piper PA-18 Super Cub and benefits from modern construction techniques with plenty of carbon fiber. There’s also a glass cockpit as I mentioned before using the common G1000 system by Garmon that gives the aircraft a detailed map display, information overlays and a fully functional autopilot which makes longer hauls particularly easy.
We flew south until we hit Lago Fagnano and then made a left turn to follow the coastline towards the town of Tolhuin, Agentina. This was a particularly scenic part of the trip with the blue waters and snow capped mountains contrasting strongly against the dull overcast.
After several minutes of flying and watching the scenery go by, we arrived at Tolhuin and set ourselves up for a landing.
After each leg, Microsoft Flight Simulator tells you that you’ve completed it and saves the state so you can come back to it again for the next hop. If you want to, you can keep going right from that moment or you can come back to it later.
Into the mountains on leg two
That was fun so we decided to do it again. After refueling, we setup for our next leg which took us from Tolhuin into the mountains and down to Ushuaia – an Argentinian resort town sometimes called “The end of the world.”
To reach our destination, we had to fly back out along Lago Fagnano before turning south and into the mountains. We decided to follow the VFR route as accurately as we could with a slight deviation to keep us lower, between mountains, but also slightly more scenic.
After making one wrong turn we quickly recovered and headed inland. The rocks in this area must have large amounts of iron in them as their rusty colour was easily spotted from the air as well – a notable feature as we cruised along.
Two lakes helped guide us on our course before we entered into a mountain pass and then into another pass east to west.
We continued on course for several nautical miles before we made our next turn into some of the most beautiful mountain scenery we had seen yet.
And then finally we had arrived at our destination of Ushuaia, Argentina. Surrounded by water on one side and rugged mountains on the other, this city is the southern most major city in the world and has two airports located close together.
Descending in a spiral curve you really begin to appreciate the scale and scope of the mountains which seem just a little bit smaller when you’re above them.
After landing, I turned around and did a backtrack to the airport services building before shutting down my XCub and getting credit for the second leg of the trip.
When I heard about Flight Simulator for the first time, I was excited about the prospect of a worldwide scenery package that would let me fly almost anywhere I wanted to fly. Patagonia wasn’t on my bucket list but after having flown the first two legs of this challenge, it is now! This is a beautiful and rugged area of the world that I just hadn’t spent much time thinking about and now I feel like I’ve gone exploring in this whole new area of the world.
I can’t wait to fly a few more legs of the journey.