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Start ::  Pilot's Lobby ::  Pilots' Pub ::  Sunrise on the Hummingbird Ridge
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Sunrise on the Hummingbird Ridge

Westcoast Posted: 30.11.2018, 16:12

Westcoast

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Mt. Logan from the Southeast

At 19,501', Mount Logan in the Canadian Yukon is the second highest mountain in North America.  On top of that, it may actually be the biggest mountain mass in the world, measuring 24 miles east/west by 20 miles north/south.  It's summit plateau embraces 10 square miles above 17,500'.  The first successful ascent was made by a Canadian-American team in 1925.  They traveled for four weeks to haul 10 tons of supplies 130 miles to their basecamp on the west side of the mountain and required 20 days on the mountain to reach the summit and return.  The second ascent did not occur until 1950.

The Hummingbird Ridge




Descending the center of the massive south face of the mountain is the famed Hummingbird Ridge, a 6 mile long knife-edge ridge of steep rock and overhanging ice cornices.  This ridge ascends from it's base at 7000' on the nearly level Seward Glacier for over 12,000' to the summit.  In it's six mile length it includes a technically difficult nearly level section which is over a mile in length, after which a climbing party still must ascend another 6000' to the summit.  The first successful ascent of this arduous route was made by a party of six Americans in 1965.  It required a total of 32 days spent working on the ridge, climbing the route, fixing lines to haul supplies and hacking out tiny platforms in the ice on the ridge back on which to pitch their tents.  It was so difficult that the route was not successfully repeated for 50 years!  It remains one of the most difficult mountaineering challenges in the world.




For those of you who are considering our Econ 2018 Flights out of the Juneau Center, we have flights 600034 and 600035,  These are resupply flights into an established base camp on the Seward Glacier at the foot of the Hummingbird ridge.  It's a short flight from Yakutat, but it's a small camp at the foot of a big mountain.  We're just asking you to take 5 people and 1400 lbs. of cargo in and 4 people and 940 lbs. out.  Can you do it?  Only one SPA pilot has made a try "on the record" so far.In an effort to spur interest in this challenge, I recently made a successful reconnaissance flight into the camp.  I didn't file it under the Econ Hub flight number, because I wanted to use a very capable aircraft for this reconnaissance.  I've embedded some photos of my flight, so you can see what's involved.  I can attest that the base camp is there and that John has sited it in such a way that he approach to the site is not difficult.  Because I used a relatively large aircraft for this payload (DHC-6 Twin Otter), I lost money.  Let's see how much better you can do.

Leaving PAYA


Here I am leaving PAYA (Yakutak) literally at the crack of dawn.  Since I'm flying a pretty heavy aircraft (12,500 lbs.), I want to get to the mountain while the surface snow is still pretty hard.

The Twin Otter on Skis

This is my DHC-6 Twin Otter.  It's fitted with skis for landing on the glacier.

Approaching the Logan-St. Elias Mountains


Here we are approaching the Logan-Saint Elias Mountain Range.  That's Mt. Logan on the far horizon and Mt. Augusta (13,818') to the left.

The South Face of Mt. Logan

And here is the South Face of Mt. Logan.  That's the Hummingbird Ridge just to the right of the vertical stabilizer.  This is a pretty accurate rendering of Mt. Logan because I'm using the Orbx Scenery package for this region.

Turning for the Final Approach


Now the trick is to find the Base Camp.  It's a pretty big camp, but it's a bigger mountain.  The description in the flight assignment indicates the approximate location of the camp.  I've located the camp and am starting my turn to make an approach.

Final Approach to Base Camp

So, I'm lined up on final for the base camp.  John has done a fantastic job of locating the camp.  Even for an aircraft as large as the Twin Otter, there's plenty of near level glacier just below the camp.  But, I'll have to commit early, because after that a go around would be risky.
That's the Hummingbird Ridge on the skyline.  The camp is on that flat platform near the right hand base of the ridge.

Topuchdown on the Seward Glacier.

Touchdown on the glacier.  I set it down a ways below the camp because you can't brake on a glacier.  Fortunately, the Twotter has reversible props if I misjudge.  That's one of the reasons I used it on this reconnaissance.

Mt. Logan Basecamp


Here's the camp.  These guys look like they're here for the winter.  I suppose this will be the first winter ascent of the ridge,  I'd love to know how John got that sno-cat in here.


I lost $338 on this flight.  That's to be expected, because I used an aircraft with a lot more payload capacity than I needed for the assigned load.  A heavier (MTOW) aircraft costs more to operate and more to own. It even generates less income per pound due to our ticket pricing algorithm. On top of all that, I loaded a lot of excess fuel (1.75 hrs.) in case I needed to do an extensive search to find the camp, or I had to make several tries to nail the approach.  In reality, I'd also have to carry sufficient fuel for the return flight back to Yakutat.  We decided not to add that detail to the Juneau Hub Econ flights, so you'll be able to refuel at the basecamp for your return flight.



Westcoast
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jer029 Posted: 01.12.2018, 08:44

jer029

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Great post Mike.

I like the combination of real-world photos along with corresponding simulation.  Now that I'm done with the first Econ flights I hope to start Group-2 Juneau flights today.

I'll remind pilots that the optional scenery download for the Group-2 Juneau flights is available from our downloads area, and there's a link to them from the Group-2 Flight Schedule page.

While the scenery is optional for flying the Econ2018 Group-2 Juneau flights, it's important for pilots to understand that a number of the landing sites, including this base camp, will only be available through this scenery.  Pilots opting out of this scenery addon must "imagine" these landing sites when they pick a suitable landing area in the general areas described in the flight schedule.

jer029
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Oswald Posted: 02.12.2018, 18:06



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Unfortunately, it is not easy to find a suitable aircraft in Flightgear for these flights. It might be possible to scram the Beaver right onto MTOW for this flight (haven't checked in detail).

Which planes do you use for the different Juneau Econ flights? If I were able to do them some time, is it possible to provide the GPS data of the BCAMP?

Oswald
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Westcoast Posted: 02.12.2018, 19:38

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Hi Oswald.  Unfortunately I am unfamiliar with the aircraft available in Flightgear.  However, maybe I can be of some help.  The situation is not that much better in FSX.  After flying the flight 600034 reconnaissance (filed as 900034) in the DHC-6, which is overkill for the payload, I started looking for a more appropriate aircraft in my FSX "hangar".  I first tried to DHC-2 "Beaver", because I have one on skis, have a lot of recent hours in it and love the predictable way it behaves.  Unfortunately, it couldn't accommodate the 2250 lb payload (5 passengers at 170 lbs. each and 1400 lbs. of cargo) within its "legal" 4650 lb. gross weight.  But, just to make sure, I overloaded the aircraft by 750 lbs.and attempted a takeoff with a minimal fuel load.  That didn't work, the aircraft wallowed on rotation and it was all I could do to get it back on the runway without a crash.  So, I tried the Quest Kodiak, a pretty capable single engine turboprop (FSX payware) which has a MTOW of 6800 lbs.  So I used that loaded with excessive 858 lbs. fuel at a GW of 6457.  I filed the flight as 600034 (i.e. for "real"), probably a rash decision, as I haven't flown the Kodiak in well over a year and I had no records about its fuel consumption rate.  The aircraft did well getting to the mountain and I approached over the top of Hummingbird Ridge (a great view), located the basecamp from the air on downwind and made my approach.  Everything went well until I went to full flaps to touch down on the glacier.  I had forgotten that it takes just about full throttle to drag the Kodiak "over the fence" at full flaps.  So, as I made a low angle approach to the glacier, my speed bled off rapidly and I stalled with 20 - 30 feet of altitude above the glacier.  It was then I remembered from past experience what poor stall characteristics the Kodiak has.  This in spite of it's fancy compound wing which is supposed to give it superior handling at low speed.  Give me the trusty old Beaver any day.  So, I set it down with vertical speed of -1500 fpm, which we define as a "crash" in the Econ model, and that cost me a $5000. crash penalty.  The way things work in the model, there's no way to undo the flight; so I'm stuck with it.  That feature is intentional, we put it in to make flying the Econ flights more like "real" world flying.  My casual approach in using an aircraft on which I am not "current" is just the sort of behavior we were trying to discourage. Hoist on my own petard, as they say.

I retried the approach with the Kodiak several times and succeeded each time by going to full flaps/full throttle some distance from touchdown and touching down carrying plenty of excess airspeed.  This worked in this case because the Base Camp site has plenty of overrun and the Kodiak has tricycle gear and a reversible prop.  This wouldn't; do for real bush flying where space is usually very tight and you have to set it down on a nickel.  I should have practiced landing it before I "went for the money".  In principle, I could have found the right combination of throttle and flap settings to touch down just above Vs, but that's tricky for  the Kodiak, because the basecamp is at an altitude of 7000' and the manual doesn't give me a Vs vs. altitude chart.

Ironically, it is just this kind of careful planning that John and I were trying to foster when we built Econ 2018.  My experience on this flight is exactly what we were trying to show people.  If lives are at stake, you don't just go for it, you make sure you know beforehand exactly what is going to happen.  Physician, heal thyself.

So, to answer your question, I don't know the best aircraft for flight 600034.  I didn't "dry lab" these flights.  I just said, here's the job, you pick the aircraft and get it done.  As I said in my initial write-up of the model, we know that pilots have different aircraft available to them and nothing in my hangar fits the bill exactly, although the Kodiak, properly handled, comes close, although I don't find it easy to fly.  I will probably fly the return flight from basecamp back to Yakutak in the Kodiak (after an in-the-field repair of the landing struts, of course) because I now remember how to fly it and the destination is a concrete airstrip, not an uneven glacial surface.

Mike

OBTW:  The Econ 2018 Juneau schedule group 2 gives the approximate Lat./Long. of the basecamp.

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jer029 Posted: 03.12.2018, 09:48

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I'll weigh in here too (pun intended).  As Mike said, the available aircraft differs for each pilot.  After recently switching from FSX to P3dV4, my hangar is greatly reduced as I slowly add p3dv4-compatible aircraft.  This puts me at a disadvantage to long-time FSX pilots who still have access to a large choice of free and payware aircraft, but it puts me more in line with FG pilots.

What I've discovered after flying the first Juneau Group-1 flights was that - as Mike indicated, it is sometimes necessary to fly overweight aircraft on these Econ2018 flights to make a profit if your only other choice is a larger aircraft that will ensure a loss for the flight.   I even Googled flying overweight to see what real-world input is regarding this. 

We've all learned of the terrible crashes that have occurred due to flying overweight aircraft.  It appears to be more common with smaller GA aircraft because of their more restrictive limits and less meticulous and experienced pilots.  Regardless - planes often fly overweight, but it's not recommended and cuts into any additional safety margin that might exist.

For our purposes in Econ2018, it offers another realism factor for us to consider.   Just as Mike explained above, overweighing aircraft in simulation has varied affects depending on the aircraft and how it is simulated.  Here FSX and P3D pilots might have an edge on FG planes as they often have less realistic handling characteristics, it seems to me, than the FG planes do.  Regardless - as Mike discovered, even FSX/P3D planes have limits - and yes - the robust Kodiak will fall like a stone when the power is reduced, which is usually done on final where altitude is not very forgiving.

To minimize costly insurance deductibles like Mike incurred, there are several things all St. Paul Airlines pilots can do when preparing to fly official Econ2018 flights.  As Mike mentioned, flying a test flight - especially when overweighting your aircraft and/or with an unfamiliar aircraft using the weight and balance planned for the econ flight.  Your test flight data will show on the Daily Arrivals area of the main SPA site page, including revenue/loss if you flew the entire planned econ route.

The variations are: just practicing takeoffs and landings with the planned aircraft all the way to flying the entire route - and picking a route and a weather situation that improves your safety margin.  I found that the further into the Econ flights I went, the less cautious - and perhaps more careless I became - cutting corners on testing and familiarizing myself with the aircraft I'd chosen for the upcoming flight.  Again - a real-world occurrence that results in many fatal GA air crashes each year as pilots get more comfortable with a little experience and lulled into a false sense of security (See "The Killing Zone:  How and Why Pilot's Die" by Paul A. Craig).

As for a flight plan to the various base camps - Yes - I included one, but it's for FSX/P3d and might be useless for FG pilots unless it can be converted to something for that simulator, although the destination lat/lon coordinates should be able to be culled from the plan and used for FG.  Additionally, you will not be able to use the optional addon scenery available for FSX/P3D pilots, and will have to simulate the basecamps and some other destinations, which might make choosing a suitable landing site easier than the ones created with our addon scenery.  Also - a reminder for pilots using the addon scenery along with the flight plan was a comprehensive plan that hops to all the different locations - not an out and back plan for all the scheduled flights.  Therefore you have to select the leg of the flight plan that corresponds to your scheduled flight and use the plan as a guide to the destination.  Your return flight to Juneau or other airport should be easy enough to find without additional help.

To summarize, as Mike mentioned, while we can't make our simulated flight identical to real-world flying, our efforts with Econ2018 certainly have added some missing real-world factors into our simulation.  This enforces additional real-world considerations into flight planning and aircraft handling.  The extent to which a pilot plans, and the experience they have with the aircraft they've chosen for a particular flight directly affects the anxiety experienced during the flight if you take the Econ flights seriously because - as Mike mentioned, you only get "one bite at the apple" for each official flight.  As in the real world, there are no do-overs for the official flight, although you can re-fly the flights for your own satisfaction - only the first flight will register on the official Econ2018 listing.

Mike and I worked very hard on making this available to SPA pilots - Enjoy!

John

jer029
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Oswald Posted: 03.12.2018, 16:32



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Hi John and Mike,

your postings were very encouraging and I tried Juneau flight 600011 as a test flight ("600011T"). Worked well, I could even have had less fuel and less landing overweight.

Problem: I am not able to get the exact predefined payload, setting cargo either to 674 or 676 lbs. Does that mean I can't do the flight as a proper ECON flight?

Oswald
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jer029 Posted: 03.12.2018, 16:59

jer029

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Oswald,

The PAX and Cargo numbers MUST be exactly as shown to be accepted as an official Econ2018 flight.  I think SPAACARS-FG should handle this if you've configured your FG simulator's payload weight correctly before starting SPAACARS so that SPAACARS can correctly separate the Cargo and Pax weight.

Briefly, make sure that your simulator's payload has exactly the payload weight equal to number of PAX * 170 + Cargo weight.  Then SPAACARS should be able to parse the total payload weight correctly.

See the Econ instructions from the main menu (especially about half way down where it says "how simulators handle payload".

http://www.stpaulairlines.com/index.php?module=NukeWrapper&file=Econ/Econ2018_Use.html

If it still won't work, let me know the flight and values and I'll test it out on my system.

John

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jer029 Posted: 03.12.2018, 17:06

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A quick example:

Let's say your flight calls for 5 PAX and 250 lbs. Cargo:

Your total payload weight needs to be: (5*170) + 250 = 1,100 lbs. (count the pilot as one of the required passengers).

Hopefully you can adjust either payload or one of the passenger weight values down to the exact 1-pound increment so that you can achieve exactly that required payload weight for SPAACARS to parse.

If not - then I'll need to revisit the FG setup for possible work-around.

John


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Oswald Posted: 03.12.2018, 17:06



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I can only make changes in numbers > 1. So I should have to figure out how it adds up, a bit like a puzzle. I'll try.

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jer029 Posted: 03.12.2018, 17:09

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If you're talking about SPAACARS PAX field you must first highlight the current number there and then type the new entry.  This replaces the current number without making a new number.  Example entering a '1' in the field if a '5' is already there doesn't replace the 1 with a 5, it just makes 15 and SPAACARS may change the value if it's not a number the current payload weight can accept.

John

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Oswald Posted: 03.12.2018, 17:42



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It is not an issue of SPAACARS, but of the payload definition of the aircraft, that doesn't allow these small changes. But I'll give it a try some time later.

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jer029 Posted: 03.12.2018, 17:46

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Ok Oswald.  It might be particular to the model of plane you're working with.  It might be necessary to alter a file again to make it work - or perhaps choose a different plane.  Perhaps you can email me the FG plane model you're working with and the PAX Cargo payload values you're trying to set for it and I can look for a workaround too.

John

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