In the real world, I live in Edmonton, Canada (CYEG) and as I set out into the yonder in light aircraft I’m tracking, posting, writing, and otherwise documenting my virtual around-the-world trip in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. This is another log entry from the Pilot Project

Islands in the Sea, West Coast Style

9 months ago
West Coast Cruise
CYVR via CYAZ (Tofino)
CYZT (Port Hardy, BC)
Flight Time
2 hours 21 minutes

I was out for a run with friends last night and we started talking flight sim. Well... correction. The guys started talking flight sim, while the ladies made fun of us for talking about flight sim. Apparently it’s not everyone’s jam.

Gender bias aside, one of the guys asked me a couple questions about my choices. Are you really flying ALL of it? And why in such a slow plane?

Approaching Tofino with some brilliant cloud art.

Because, yes, I admit that I could jump around and skip over the long boring parts in the middle, but NO I’m flying all of it, every kilometer of my flight plans, take off to landing, no matter the scenery (and I think some less remarkable passages across the Northern ice floes of Alaska are coming up in the next weeks... so, yeah.) And if I skipped over bits, what would be the point? Anyone can do that? Not everyone is going to fly the whole world!

And why not a faster plane? Well, a few reasons for that, too. First, I want to hit some small airports in obscure places. Those jets and faster planes might be tougher to land on dirt or snow runways. Second, this is a kind of recreation of a slow adventure. You sightsee from a low altitude and slow speed fly-over, not from a high altitude cruise. Finally, hitting the open skies in the Honda Civic of airplanes is probably closer to something I would do in real life. The Cessna 172 is not a sports car, not a bus, not a pickup truck... it’s the mid-level coupe of airplanes, which is more my style.

Countless small islands dotting the coast and inland coast skirting Vancouver Island.

I took off away from the sunrise out of Vancouver this morning and crossed over the Strait, crossed over the island, and boogied up the West Coast looking for whales.... are there whales in this sim? Call me Ishmael.

As I approached that coast for the first time I emerged into some mountain-hugging clouds, almost a low fog wrapped around the coastal mountain range as green-topped summits peaked from the puffy white weather. It speaks volumes to flying in “live” weather, weather generated from the real weather data available to the sim. I would never have chosen that. I would have picked blue skies and missed it. Reality can sometimes do better than our creativity, it seems.

Rain and low clouds descending into our final destination.

Turning inland, I leaped over the mountain range that is the island-proper, and as the clouds increased, the wind also picked up and offered a bit of rain that wasn’t much more bother than to obscure some of the amazing scenery.

My landings are improving, and I was able to bring the plane down (with guidance still on) into the small ariport. I use the guidance, not because it flies the plane for me, but rather because it acts as a learning tool. I’m still flying the plane, of course, but the projections of the landing corridor are helpful in tackling one of the trickier parts of the flight sim experience: touching down without crashing in a chaotic mess.

I didn’t crash. Instead, I parked the plane and logged off for some time in the tiny port town.

Flight Number