I originally set of using the default Beech Baron 58. This was fine for most of the European hops but some of the legs started creeping up to 300+ miles in distance. While this is feasible in the Baron, three to four hour sessions were pushing it with SWMBO (for the non-British, SWMBO is She Who Must Be Obeyed ie. my partner).
This called for a re-think and I installed the Wilco Fleet CRJ Experience and tried getting to grips with the CRJ-200. This saw my first introduction to an aircraft fitted with FMS, it whet my appetite for more. Iíd have stuck with the CRJ but I couldnít get used to the handling when switching from the autopilot to manual.
I also realised Iíd need an aircraft suitable for the medium haul flights I had ahead of me and reading the reviews in copies of PC Pilot I had I opted for the PMDG 737 TNG series. I have to admit, I also chose this because there was a repaint available in the colours of my VA. This also brought a whole new challenge, starting from cold & dark, getting the systems up and running and programming the FMC even before I flew. Later, I would even attempt fuel planning but I have to admit I do this in a rough and ready manner, checking how much fuel I used on similar distance flights before!
So Iím happy with the Baron 58 for short flights and the PMDG Boeing 737-700 for the longer medium haul. There was a gap that needed filling, the shorter medium haul flights. For this I took to the PSS Dash 8 Q300. A sturdy twin prop which has steadily become a firm favourite of mine. As with the PMDG 737, the Dash 8 is a joy to fly. It handles beautifully on manual and has a fully functioning FMC for the experts. Itís another aircraft that to get the most from you should be prepared learn the procedures. I love this plane, you can tell by the hours Iíve clocked up in it!
In the 2 years I have taken to do this trip, I also slotted in another ďheavy MetalĒ round the world trip on the now defunct FPI network. As that left me having to negotiate a couple of 2000 mile + legs, I needed something with long-haul capability. Having got on so well with the PSS Dash 8 I bought the PSS Airbus A340 Pro package. I have to admit, as much as I try, Iím not comfortable with the power management of this series though I did use the A330-300 in Airtours colours for a couple of legs during this tour.