Being relatively new to the world of flight simulators (I started in May of this year), one of my goals from the beginning has been to fly into some serious weather to see how it affects the controllability of a commercial airliner. I finally got my chance last week, as Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc on the east coast of the United States. Trouble was, I was currently half way around the world in the flight sim world, hopping around Africa with my newly purchased 777 Worldliner. Since I don’t like to “teleport” instantly to new locations whenever I fly, that means I had to find the time to actually fly from Africa back to the US. I was very busy with other things going on in my real life at the time, so there wasn’t much time.
The good thing about flight sim (and real commercial flight) is that once you program the flight computer and set the autopilot, the plane will essentially fly itself. So, with that in mind, I loaded up a FedEx 787F inX-Plane from my current location of Nairobi, Kenya (HJKJ) and set a course for KMEM back in the US. I figured if I timed it right, I’d fly right over top of the storm just as it was moving up the East Coast. The flight computer showed a flight time of 17 hours, and I knew that would be pushing the limit of the 787 – even with max fuel and no cargo. No matter, I plowed ahead anyway.
I ended up flying the route in segments. It took 3 evenings of my spare time to fly the route (I only had free time in the evenings last week), but I timed it perfectly, approaching Sandy just as she was approaching New York. Having never done this in a flight sim before, I was actually curious to see how the default weather engine in X-Plane would render the storm. I was quite impressed. Take a look at the pictures to see for yourself – you can see the swirls and rotation of the storm, which looks very realistic. I wasn’t able to try the same thing in FSX (using REX Essentials), but I’ll try next time if I have the time.