Taking a virtual round the world trip with X-Plane: Segment 1: ORD-HNL

Segment 1: Chicago to Honolulu
Segment 2: Honolulu to Hong Kong
Segment 3: Hong Kong to Frankfurt
Segment 4: Frankfurt to Chicago

For an aviation and travel geek like me who suffers from wanderlust, it’s tough being grounded without any immediate travel plans. It’s only been three weeks since I’ve last been on an airplane, but my next trip is 7 weeks away and I’m ready to go somewhere right now. Part of what makes it tough is my travel blog addiction. I can’t get enough reading the travel and aviation blogs, wishing that I too were headed off to some far away land right this very instant.

Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. I realize that it was unwise to choose a career which involved sitting at a desk all day, but it is what it is, and I’ve got to find other ways to satisfy my wanderlust in between trips. That’s where flight simulators like X-Plane come in.

If I can’t go somewhere for real, I can very easily load up X-Plane, jump in the virtual cockpit, and go anywhere I want in the world with surprisingly convincing (visual) realism. To show you exactly what I mean, let me take you along on a long round-the-world flight that I decided to undertake to kill off some of my raging wanderlust.

Segment 1

ORD to HNL route map

Route map of this Chicago to Honolulu segment

United Airlines
Chicago, IL (ORD) – Honolulu, HI (HNL)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400

The reasoning for originating out of ORD was predetermined. When flying with X-Plane, I always fly out of the last airport that I flew into – in this case, I just happened to end my last flight at O’Hare several months ago. And because I didn’t want to do a short domestic positioning flight to LAX or JFK, I decided to keep things simple and start from there. As far as choosing my first destination, I simply asked myself, “if I was standing in ORD today, and I could go anywhere I wanted to go…what would I choose?” Hawaii was my first thought, so I packed my sunscreen and board shorts without hesitation and boarded the plane. Here are some photos from the trip:

runway 27L at ORD

Lined up and ready to go on runway 27L at ORD

Climbing through the clouds out of ORD

Climbing through the clouds out of ORD. Can you tell I’m an aggressive pilot?

View from the cockpit

View from the cockpit: clear skies out over the northern plains

Leaving the continental US

Leaving the continental US just north of San Francisco, CA

View of the western coast of the US

View of the western coast of the US from the economy class cabin

good weather across the pacific

The weather was pretty good all the way across the Pacific to the islands

30 minutes out of HNL

Things got real interesting about 30 minutes out of HNL. Rain!

View of the storm from the cockpit

View of the storm from the cockpit

first clear view of Oahu

The rain eventually stopped and I got the first clear view of Oahu

Coming around the west end of Oahu

Coming around the west end of Oahu to line up for the reef runway

View of runway 8R

View of runway 8R through the HUD

runway 8R arrival at HNL

All lined up for a runway 8R arrival at HNL

on the ground in HNL

Finally on the ground in HNL after a long 9 hour flight from ORD.

Overall, it was a pretty good flight. Flying time was just over 9 hours, and the weather was clear most of the way. Now I’m just virtually relaxing on a beach on the north shore of Oahu thinking about where I want to go next. Who knows where that might be? At the time of this writing, I am thinking about the rest of the trip looking something like this:

1. Aukland
2. Singapore
3. Bangalore
4. Frankfurt
5. Chicago

But really, nothing is certain and my next destination will ultimately depend on where I feel like going the next time I jump in the cockpit of that UA 747-400. Stay tuned for the next segment in this round-the-world adventure…