Wheels up on the Cross the Pond challenge (COMPLETE!)

Earlier in the week I wrote about attempting the Orbx and Vatsim Cross the Pond challenge. This morning, the challenge is on and I am wheels up in the X-Plane 11 and Aerobask Phenom 300. With the jet’s more limited range versus an airliner, I’ll need to make at least one stop along the route. Will I make it? Will my sim stay stable enough to go for hours on end? Will I get some laundry and vacuuming done while the jet crosses the Atlantic. Check this post through the day to find out.

12:50 Z – Wheels up

The official readout from Orbx’s Volanta app. There’s a ton of traffic out there – wish I could see it!

Departure time was 0850 EDT from Logan International Airport in Boston (KBOS). My intention was for as quick a time between taxiing and takeoff as possible and the GA aircraft start-up location was located next to 15R. So I took off on 15R. No, this won’t be a completely by the book flight but I am hoping to highlight that you can still have fun with these challenges even when you’re not following all of the procedures.

My aircraft for today is the excellent Aerobask Phenom 300. It’s not a transatlantic monster of a jet so it may not actually be well suited to this journey. But, it’s a sim and the point is to challenge and have fun so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

This is also my first real test of the new volumetric payware cloud add-on called Enhanced Skyscapes. A review of the technology will be forthcoming and this will be an excellent stress test!

My first leg will take me from Boston Logan (KBOS) up to Gander International Airport (CYQX). It should take about 2-hours to complete depending on aircraft and wind speed. These are variables I’m not great at calculating but in theory I should be able to make it with more than 1/3rd of a tank left. The real time range ring in the jet doesn’t completely agree so we’re going to find out if this is a fools errand or not. Will I be able to make the second leg up to Dublin airport in Ireland and my final destination? I’m going to find out.

Check back for more updates soon!

13:38 Z – Bay of Fundy

Making good progress so far. I attempted to cruise at 33,000 feet but the Phenom wasn’t flying quite as well at that altitude on reduced throttle so I brought things back to 30,000 feet and it seems much happier there at a reduced power setting.

Airspeed is 277 kts, ground speed is 458 kts, and Mach is reading as 0.73. Currently flying over the Bay of Fundy and about to make landfall near Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, Nova Scotia.

14:40 Z – Approach to Gander

I’m about 70 nautical miles out from Gander International Airport. A historical location that saw intense activity during World War II as a way station for aircraft crossing the Atlantic. I’m stopping there for similar reasons as I refuel my Phenom 300 and then carry on to Dublin.

15:15 Z – Departing Gander and on to the Atlantic

The landing was not a great one. The approach I selected didn’t bring me in on the runway the way I thought it would so I had to manually fly a new approach path. In my haste I didn’t give myself quite enough time to slow down. Fortunately, I was able to bleed enough speed on Gander’s very long Runway 03 to get down with enough time.

On the ground for less than 10 minutes (not realistic fueling speeds) at Gander and then back up in the air again. I was sure to give Volanta details on my final destination of Dublin so it didn’t think that I was landing at Gander and staying there.

On to the second more challenging leg. Now we’ll find out just how long the legs of the Phenom 300 are!

1646 Z – Midway across the Atlantic

It’s an interesting thing to be surrounded by nothing. I’ve flown to Europe once in my life (coincidentally, to Dublin and an Ireland tour) and it was definitely interesting to look down and see nothing but clouds and ocean. And that’s the feeling that I’m having right now.

Out of interest, I pressed the NRST button on the Phenom 300’s G1000 and… nothing. Blank screen. There’s nothing around me for a couple of hundred nautical miles. It’s incredible to me that it’s a regular occurrence that airplanes fly this route, hundreds and thousands of them, every day. It’s routine but it’s still miraculous.

I’ve got a couple of hours of flight time ahead of me. In the meantime, vacuuming beckons!

1756 Z – Still out in the blue

Status check. Vacuumed the house and still over the Atlantic ocean at this point. Speed is holding steady at Mach 0.77, altitude is still 38,000 feet, and my fuel status is looking pretty good at 728 kg remaining.

Flying away from the sun has the effect of it setting sooner than if I were stationary or flying within a small region. It’s drop low to the horizon and the cockpit is lit up in orange. The clouds… are a bit too brown for realism sake. But everything else is going along nicely!

I have approximately 1-hour remaining in the flight.

1845 Z – Almost to Ireland

A few minutes ago the synthetic vision on my G1000 started showing land. Ireland is ahead! With 355kg of fuel remaining it looks like I will be able to make it to Dublin after all. The fuel low warning just came on so I expect that it’ll be down to the wire.

My aircraft is performing well, cruising at Mach 0.77 and continuing on at 38,000 feet. I’ll be maintaining that high altitude until about 60nm from Dublin where I’ll be transitioning to lower altitudes in preparation for landing.

1919 Z – Landing and shut down

The last bit of my flight was done in the dark with very little to look at. I struggled a bit on approach once again but managed to bring the Phenom 300 down on Runway 10 at Dublin and taxi to a nice parking area.

Fuel remaining? 228 kg! Enough for a couple of go-arounds if I really needed to!

Welcome to Dublin! It’s done! The challenge is complete.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Knallhatten says:

    Congrats on a long and successful flight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Thank you! That was something unique and different… and a whole lot of fun to do!


  2. CanadaOne says:

    Vacuuming sounds like flying, I hope that made it more enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Well I figured I couldn’t sit at the computer watching the numbers tick down the whole time. So I did some chores and checked in on my aircraft periodically.

      It was very productive 😊


  3. Spruce Goose says:

    Enjoyable blog, as always!

    Crossing big oceans are always something different, and exciting. I have flown many times from Europe to Asia, and on certain destinations, we have to cross some interesting places, such as Afghanistan (not below 30000 feet due to manpad risk), over China highlands with numerous contingency procedures involved in case of engine failure, or depressurization, or both, and over the Bay of Bengal. The Bay of Bengal is quite interesting to cross because of the notoriously bad radio coverage, so it might be a long time during which we are not able to request clearances, for example to avoid CB’s, which on those temperate latitudes can rise to some 50000 feet! Magnificient monsters of a clouds, which are strictly to be avoided.

    So, we are avoiding huge weather phenomena in the dark of the night, trusting only the weather radar, hoping TCAS will warn us of other traffic if all else fails, blindly announcing our position and intentions, and vigoriously trying to gather at least some sort of communication over the extremely bad vhf, or even worse, hf radios, while also calculating our remaining fuel and the need of extra fuel to make those reroutes. Good times.


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