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

This Is Not the Crash You’re Looking For

11 months ago
Prairie Sunset Flight
CYMM (Fort McMurray)
Flight Time
2 hours and 25 minutes

Two hours of long, slow flight across the sunset praire landscape, and twenty NM south of my destination, attempting to adjust the flight computer in my cockpit, and I crashed. No, the plane was fine. The flight simulator froze for a few seconds, then just shut down completely as if it hadn’t even been running.

A complete failure was not a contingency I’d planned for, but if it had to happen, a practice route was ....a good time?

The little plane that could ...after about 8 hours of total flight time.

I’d lifted off out of the small Camrose airport shortly before 8 pm. The sun was pretty low, and the flight plan was telling me a little less than two hours of flying time. (Another learning: apparently I’m flying too slow.) As the sun sinks towards the horizon on the prairies, the palette of the landscape deepens and the scattered clouds of the late summer sky shifted to a pink-orange explosion of cotton even as the stars began to peek out from behind them. I dropped my elevation and swooped down across some calm lakes and enjoyed the silhouette of the treeline against the last slivers of the setting sun.

But then the dark night arrived fully and twenty NM from my destination it was pitch black outside, while my target was a small city in the middle of nowhere ... literally four hours driving from civilization and lights and any recognizable landmark.

Skimming over Lac La Biche at sunset on a long haul to Fort Mac

And to make matters worse, I’d set my destination to an industrial landing strip south of my actual destination: an unlit strip, a gap in the trees with no lights in the complete lightlessness of night, for what would be my (let’s say, maybe) tenth landing in the new plane. I flew right over it with nothing to show but some confusion.

So, about tewenty NM from my intended destination, I was in my cockpit trying to adjust and input a new destination into the flight cmputer when the software froze and failed. [Insert giant sad sigh here.]

Sticking the first attempt landing at Fort Mac International

The biggest loss was that the true flight wasn’t recorded in my in-game log, but I recovered and resumed my approach from an in-air start location (roughly) from where I was when the sim crashed, and then proceeded to get that poor little plane landed on a dark Northern Alberta runway.

Flight Number
007 / 007r