Now that I’ve been back flying in Microsoft Flight Simulator I’ve had a pent up interest in flying to different places all around the world. One of the shorter routes that I’ve wanted to fly was Boston to Providence (mirroring the same essential route in Train Sim World 2). And the perfect aircraft to test that out has just come out in the form of the Beechcraft Staggerwing. As many of you know, plans don’t always work out, and that makes for an interesting story. Let’s go!
Best laid plans
I’m working on a review of the new Asobo organized ‘Famous Flyers #1’ by Carenado/Asobo. The Beechcraft Model 17 Staggerwing was intended for ferrying business executives from city to city at speed. Think of it as the business jet of its day. So, I wanted to mimic one of those flights going from Boston’s busy Logan International (KBOS) down to Rhode Island T.F. Green International Airport (KPVD).
Along the way I was going to attempt to spot the Northeast Corridor rail route featuring some of the fastest passenger rail in North America. My plans immediately came apart.
Takeoff was not a confident affair as the tail dragger was immediately caught by significant crosswinds and it took a fair bit of simulated piloting experience to keep the aircraft on track. Climbing over Boston it appeared that I might be through the worst of it despite the high winds and occasional bouts of turbulence but that was not to be.
The further south I got the more imposing the clouds became. A strong crosswind and a fast moving stormfront dominated the sky.
Around and through
With clearer skies to the east and an imposing wall of cloud coming in from the west I decided I would try and go around the storm. I really didn’t think that the Staggerwing Model 17 had enough anti-icing and instrumentation to safely get me through so I played a game of avoid the storm.
And that mostly worked for a time but the clouds began to close in. So I looked for the brightest spot and punched my way through a cloud. Fortunately the sky opened up beyond it so I made a break for it as quickly as I could.
I wasn’t watching my fuel reserves very closely (I’m still learning the fuel systems on this aircraft) and I ran out of fuel in the primary tank. Fortunately, it has a reserve tank and after several seconds of fumbling I was able to restore fuel flow and carry on.
There was another problem, however, as I could see where Providence and my destination airport should be and it was covered in another part of the stormfront. My goal of flying in there was rapidly falling apart.
Time to make a new plan. Looking on the VFR map I decided that my best course of action was to divert to an airport that I was now only 9 nautical miles from. New Bedford Regional Airport was under a layer of cloud but apparently still in the clear. So I headed there.
I dropped under the layer of cloud only to find about 1,000 feet or so of clearance. Still, it was enough to locate the runway and come in for my smoothest landing in the Model 17 yet.
The great thing about Microsoft Flight Simulator’s live weather service is that it can give you unexpected results. Especially if you haven’t checked the real world weather reports for that area. In reality you’d be on top of that before the flight but because this is a sim the unexpected and challenging becomes part of the fun. And what fun it was!
I didn’t seek out a storm but in true Stormbirds fashion I did find one anyways and I loved the change of plans and the challenge that it presented in navigating the situation. It was a great first introduction to the Staggerwing as a cross country aircraft and it puts me well on my way towards writing a full review in the coming days.