Category Archives: FSX Steam edition

Bathurst to Wollongong cross-country glider race in FSX

The video is rather long (one and a half hours) but it does capture the entire task from launch to landing including a brief comparison of our task results at the end. It features one of our regular UK Virtual Gliding multiplayer events on VATSIM specifically setup for members living in Oceania compatible time zones. In this cross-country racing task for 15m gliders there were only two participants, myself and Will Robb.  I was flying a Discus CS (Aerosoft Discus X by Specific 3D Design).  The Discus CS is just a Discus B manufactured in the Czech Republic. Will was flying a Discus 2b, one of the outstanding freeware models from Wolfgang Piper.  The Discus 2b is an improved version of the Discus B.

Bathurst to Wollongong flight plan in Plan-G

Bathurst to Wollongong flight plan in Plan-G

This is a straight line task of just under 89 nautical miles (164 km).  From the start line at Raglan Park near Bathurst airport we have to fly past Oberon and then over the wilderness areas at the Southern end of the Blue Mountains National Park and the Warragamba Dam catchment, much of which is devoid of safe land-out opportunities.  Adding to this challenge, there is a shelf of controlled airspace extending out from Kingsford Smith Airport at Sydney restricting climb height in thermals unless a substantial course deviation to the South is taken.  Final glide estimates across the Nepean Dam catchment are complicated by the need to clear the ridge line at the top of the coastal escarpment before crossing the finish line above a minimum task arrival height of 500 feet AGL mid-field over Wollongong airport.

The competition soaring environment was provided by CumulusX! with FSX custom weather defined by Will Robb, the designer of this task. The wind was only 4 to 5 knots from the SE so there was no useful ridge lift.  Thus we had to rely on thermals to fly this task.

As always, any UKVGA members who missed this event can still download this task package  from the UKVGA forum and fly it offline at any time.

 

 

FSX Ridge Soaring at El Mirador South Africa

This video, which is split into two parts to facilitate uploading to my YouTube channel, features a recent  UK Virtual Gliding Association  (UKVGA) multiplayer event on the VATSIM multiplayer servers.  I chose to fly the Aerosoft ASK21 model glider in this event.

Part 1:

Part 2:

This particular event is one of the UKVGA Association Group Launch (AGL) online events, which are conducted twice weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (UK time). Although the UKVGA conducts AGL multiplayer events on VATSIM, there are rarely any  voice or text communications with VATSIM controllers other than the submission of a textual VFR  flight plan.  The reason for this is that we fly these online events in uncontrolled airspace or airspace that does not require communication with the VATSIM controllers. However, we do use TeamSpeak to communicate with our own Launch Point Controller (LPC) and with each other.

When I set out to record this video, it was with the intention of showing what it was it is like to participate in a typical UKVGA multiplayer event.  I thought that a recent ridge soaring event based at El Mirador in South Africa had good potential to provide some close fast flying with other club members.  In fact there is no such thing as a typical multiplayer event. Each multiplayer event is a unique experience and new adventure. So it should be no surprise, I suppose,  that this one did not pan out quite the way I had intended for the video that I wanted to make.  Firstly the default FSX scenery at this location was rather ordinary.  Secondly my wish to show a bunch of gliders flying in close proximity along a ridge was frustrated by the fact that by some miracle I managed to launch and start the task near the front of the pack and then I did not get overtaken by the remainder of the pack as I usually do. Moreover, I was unable to get close enough to the only glider launching and starting ahead of me to see more than the label text in the distance until after I crossed the task finish line.  Of course I could have slowed down or turned back to intercept the gliders behind me but that is not my nature.  Once on a task,  I tend to get fixated on doing my best to fly the task as efficiently and effectively as possible.  Although the recorded result did not show exactly what I had hoped for, I decided to publish the captured video anyway.

The El Mirador task featured in this video was a UKVGA “Club Class” task.  The UKVGA AGL events on Tuesday evenings (UK time), usually feature a “Club Class” task.  These tasks are usually designed to be in the range of easy to medium  difficulty.  Moreover, the more experienced virtual glider pilots are encouraged to fly glider models with a British Gliding Association (BGA) handicap less than 97, whereas the less experienced pilots may chose any glider that they feel comfortable with.  The main intentions of the UKVGA “Club Class” events are to foster a closer flying experience and provide a more cooperative learning environment for members, particularly newer members that may be frustrated by being left far behind in the faster and more difficult UKVGA open class events on Thursday evenings (UK time).

UKVGA AGL events are largely social multiplayer events and as such they tend to be conducted in a relatively informal and relaxed way.  Thus the communication chatter on TeamSpeak often includes discussions and comments that are not related to the task.  So, at the risk of creating the false impression that we do not communicate much with each other,  I have edited the TeamSpeak recorded sound track to exclude communications that in my opinion are not relevant to the task narrative and thus are not appropriate to publish for non-members.

In this video you will hear me discussing the Vne speed reductions that I was using for the ASK21 in the FSX simulator to compensate for altitude effect on indicated airspeed.  My rough estimates for these reductions are only intended for my own personal use in the FSX simulator and should not be used for any other real-world purpose. They are based on my previous experience with over-speed warnings and failures in FSX, which may not be accurately modelled by real-world standards.

Flying a cross-country task in company with AI gliders in FSX

So what do I do if a UK Virtual Gliding Association (UKVGA) multiplayer (MP) event is conducted at time that is not suitable for me? The obvious answer is to download and install the task and then fly it offline at a more convenient time. I can then analyze my IGC logfile captured with the sim_logger FSX add-on and compare my average speed  and on-task time with the other club members who participated in the event. The downside to this that I don’t have the other participating members as company while flying the task.  However, sim_logger has an option to replay multiple logfiles as AI aircraft. Since UKVGA members are encouraged to post their flight reports with attached IGC logfiles, I can download these and replay them simultaneously while flying the task offline.  This simulates flying with the other members in real-time, although I do miss out on the TeamSpeak chat that is an obvious advantage of flying online in MP events.

To demonstrate this, I made a video of my attempt to fly the UKVGA “Camphill Task 8”, which I selected from the extensive range of tasks available on the UKVGA forum.  The video is a full flight recording of around one and a half hours, so I have split it into two parts to make uploading to YouTube easier.

YouTube video example flight – PART 1:

YouTube video example flight – PART 2:

Replaying IGC logfiles can be activated by storing the logfiles downloaded from the UKVGA forum in a sub-folder below your saved flights with the same name as the task flight.   Then you have to enable the replay option in the sim_logger menu if it is not already enabled.  The sim_logger add-on will then load and replay all logfiles in that subfolder synchronized correctly with your local sim time.  You can then launch either before, during or after the AI gliders and fly with them on the cross-country task, albeit without being able to communicate with the other pilots using the TeamSpeak chat facility.

Due to the way FSX renders AI aircraft, the replay is not always perfect in every respect.  For example if you see a replayed glider with the landing wheel down on the ground before launching and then later encounter that same glider after the pilot has raised the landing gear, the wheel may be still displayed in the down position because you were not present to witness the wheel being raised. Also for FSX Steam Edition users like myself, you may find the sim_logger default settings cannot be changed by editing the supplied .ini file. So the replay option will always be enabled by default , which can be annoying in some circumstances but you can always disable this option for the current flight session by using the sim_logger sub-menu in the FSX Add-ons menu.  Nevertheless, in my opinion, the advantage of being able to fly in company with the other gliders outweighs any minor irritations like those mentioned.

Obviously, flying MP flights online is the best option if the event time and date is suitable but if you cannot join the event for whatever reason, flying the task offline at a more suitable time using sim_logger to replay the IGC logfiles of the other participants is the next best option.

I highly recommend the sim_logger add-on for FSX to any virtual cross country soaring enthusiasts wanting to record and analyze their flight and also to those wanting to simulate multiplayer events when flying offline by using the sim_logger replay option. For more information about sim_logger go this link: sim_logger by Ian Forster-Lewis