One of my most recent flights in Flight Simulator was with the new Carenado YMF-5 bi-plane. This is a new build aircraft based on the original F-series bi-planes of the 1930’s and while the Carenado version isn’t without it’s flaws, it does make for a pretty good sightseeing airplane. So I took it on a cross country excursion up the Pacific coast, over Los Angeles, and over to Santa Barbara. Here’s a summary!
John Wayne airport departure
I decided to start in Los Angeles at the Orange County located John Wayne airport. Named after actor and filmmaker John Wayne, well known for his Westerns, the airport handles both commercial and general aviation traffic.
Firing up the YMF-5 from one of the GA parking spots, I taxied the aircraft out and over to the hold short lines for runway 02R. I do love the traffic that’s flying around in Flight Simulator as I had to hold for an incoming airliner. Kind of cool to see something like that go past while I’m sitting there in the YMF-5, gently rocking back and forth on the bi-plane’s landing gear.
It wasn’t long before I had clearance and, after a few tense moments, I was airborne and soaking in the morning sun.
Although the forward views are not ideal, the WYM-5’s open cockpit and all around visibility in other directions as well as the slow airspeed really make this airplane a great one if you just want to soak in the details and the surrounding scenery. Los Angeles area including the nearby mountain ranges are all done at very high levels of detail and although I didn’t fly into the mountains on this flight, appreciating them from a distance was equally great.
I used FlightVector to look up a VOR beacon near my destination of Santa Barbara airport and once plugged in I began following the beacon. Although I’ve done a little bit of work on how to navigate with VOR, I’m frankly not quite there yet with my understanding and so I followed the beacon straight in and used the nearby geography to guide me the rest of the way.
Cruising high above Los Angeles and LAX
I generally followed the coastline across Los Angeles checking out the more industrial areas as well as the extensive beaches in the Los Angeles area. At one point in the flight I crossed near LAX, my second flight over this area, and admired all of the player and AI traffic going through the area. It’s a premium airport and is a popular destination in MSFS (as well as real life).
One of the things I love about this sim is the built in multiplayer instances and AI traffic combining to help make the world feel alive. I love to see other aircraft in the sim doing their own thing and this was just one of those times were there were literally dozens of them altogether in one place.
Before long, I was cruising over the infamous Santa Monica beach and Santa Monica pier. I’ve never been there myself but it’s been featured in so many movies and TV shows over the years that I feel like I have. It was nice to see it although it’s a landmark that looks like it could use a handcrafted touch.
Then it was time to wave goodbye to Los Angeles and fly over the mountains of Topanga State Park and Malibu Creek State Park. These rugged hills apparently have plenty of hiking trails through the canyons and they look magnificent from above in the sim.
Soon I was over Camarillo and a distinct mix of farmers fields and urban areas alike.
A little while longer and I was back over the mountains with the Pacific ocean on my left and rugged peaks on the right. My destination was now in sight. Santa Barbara looks to be an extremely scenic place in the world. It’s Spanish roots and inspired buildings with their red roofs are easily seen thanks to the photogrammetry in the area and the Sanata Ynez mountains rise in the backdrop.
Orbx has sells an upgraded Santa Barbara airport scenery pack through their store and I suspect I may pick that up in a future sale as the area looks like a great place to use as a home base to do further exploring.
The trip was at an end as I was cleared for Runway 7 and came in for an uneventful landing.
A mix of ways to explore
Recently I’ve been having fun flying high and fast in airliners and business jets and while those are great ways to cover a lot of terrain and see a lot of scenery all at once, flying a much shorter distance in Microsoft Flight Simulator with its fantastic scenery really helps underscore how sometimes its better to fly slow and appreciate the small details.
For all of you who are interested in the airliner operations, do yourself a favour and mix it up sometimes. Hop in a Cessna, grab a bi-plane, or get a fancy glass cockpit GA aircraft, and go lower and slower. Sometimes, its just enjoyable to smell the roses and appreciate every detail.