I was expecting some part of a long coastal flight en route to the North to be much less interesting. I suppose that is what is most interesting about using a simulator to simulate an experience outside of your comfort zone: you discover the remarkable.
What was I expecting?
A long jagged coastline, as I flew over a blue-green ocean, trees and rolling hills, and some kind of spectacular view emerging from something I thought would be familiar but new.
What did I find?
I departed from Port Hardy airport to clear skies and turned North, but in less than an hour I found myself approaching a thick bank of clouds hanging out around the 4000 ft altitude mark. My plan —again expecting the scenery to evolve into a repeating pattern of coastline — was to ascend above the cloud layer and pursue a calm, simple, high-altitude flight to my destination.
Instead, I fought with the weather. The plan struggled to climb much above 8000 ft, rarely emerging from the pillowy clouds and certainly not high above them as I had planned. I was burning up my precious fuel, and stalling out int he process barely able to maintain a proper airspeed.
Plan B found me opting to descend and tackle things more visually.
I dropped to around 2000 ft and hugged the coast, now shrouded in a low cloud and in some cases fog. The result was an ethereal trip through a unique and magical-looking landscape, tracing a route a few kilometers off my planned flight plan but relying on the stunning visual landscape to guide me — and my increasingly fuel deficient plane — towards the small Northern BC town.
I landed, still a bit rough and still needing some practice, but landed.