The Aircraft

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.  Id have stuCRJ-200 at Madridck with the CRJ but I couldnt get used to the handling when switching from the autopilot to manual.

I also realised Id 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 Im 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. Its 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 Ive clocked up in it!

In the 2 years I have taken to do this trip, I also slotted in another heavy Metal 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, Im 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.

JHB153 Welsh