• Navigation Challenge By MRPSW

    Navigation Challenge By MRPSW

    By Bill Stack (June 4, 2011)


    Screen shots by MRPSW



    Navigation Challenge 1-15 is a set of fifteen flight plans for FS2004 and FSX. They start from the northern tip of Chile and end at the southern tip of Chile. Routes lead aircraft along the Pacific coastline and over the Andes Mountains from hot and dry to cold and wet climates. Major features are:

    • All flight plans rely on ground-based radio navigation aids (VORs and NDBs) for navigation.

    • Each flight is explained in detail in the 35-page manual (described later) with departure, enroute, and approach procedures.

    • All plans use the FS2004 and FSX default DC-3 aircraft. Users may fly the routes with any aircraft stored in their simulation hangars, however.

    • Although users can rely on GPS or FMC for navigation, the challenge is to fly manually according to the flight instructions to "sharpen your navigation skills," the developer explains.

    • Routes can be followed with real weather and "online," meaning multiplayer over the Internet. The default flights use clear weather to enable scenery viewing.

    LOCATION MAPS


    Screen shots by Bill Stack

    The Flight Plans

    The 15 flight plans are:

    ARICA to IQUIQUE
    IQUIQUE to COPOSA
    COPOSA to CALAMA
    CALAMA to ANTOFAGASTA
    ANTOFAGASTA to EL SALVADOR
    EL SALVADOR to COPIAPO
    COPIAPO to LA SERENA
    LA SERENA to VINA DEL MAR
    VINA DEL MAR to SANTIAGO
    SANTIAGO to LOS ANGELES
    LOS ANGELES to VALDIVIA
    VALDIVIA to BARILOCHE
    BARILOCHE to QUILLON
    QUILLON to PUERTO AYSEN
    PUERTO AYSEN to PUNTA ARENAS

    The following three descriptions are examples of the 15 flights:

    Arica to Iquique: Arica is a port city in northern Chile near its border with Peru. With a population of 185,000, manufacturing, tourism, and transport are significant economies. Its airport is Chacalluta International (SCAR) with one 7100 foot (2166 meter) runway (2/20). This flight is described by its creator as follows:

    "The first flight of the Shoestring Charter is a simple almost straight south route between Arica and Iquique. It follows the coastline at 4500 feet and later at 2500 feet. The weather is clear so that you can see the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. You will be flying over the Atacama Desert, one of the driest deserts on earth. The desert extends from the foot of the Andes Mountains to the Pacific coastline while gradually descending from around 14,000 feet to 4000 feet before dropping straight into the ocean."


    Arica to Iquique
    Iquique to Coposa: Iquique (population is 216,000) is another port city in northern Chile. Its economy is largely tourism and transport. Its airport is Diego Aracena International (SCDA) with one 11,000-foot (3,355-meter) runway (18/36). This flight is described as follows:

    "Flight will take you inland over the ever-climbing desert to COPOSA runway 17. This runway is at 12,467 ft. Landing and takeoff at high altitudes requires proper fuel mixture settings. As you climb to 16,000ft, note that the desert is also rising."


    Iquique to Coposa
    Coposa to Calama: Coposa (SCKP) elevation 12,468 feet (3800 meters) is an airport in the Atacama Desert, which is high in the Andes Mountains. Runway 17/35 is 10,499 feet (3202 meters), and runway 10/28 is 3398 feet (1036 meters). The region is desolate, and the closest community I found on the satellite maps is Caya. Calama, population 143,000, is a city in the Atacama Desert. Mining is a significant economic activity in these regions. Its airport is El Loa (SCCF), elevation 7613 feet (2322 meters). Runways 9/27 and 10/28 are both 9474 feet (2890 meters). It is described thus:

    "Flight 3 will take you between the Andes Mountains from COPOSA runway 17 to Calama SCCL. The departure runway is at 12,467 feet. Although you will be flying at 18,000 you will only be a few thousands above ground. Be sure to lean the mixture controls before starting the engines or they won't start (not so in FSX)."


    Coposa to Calama

    Guidance for flying any of the 15 flight plans is presented in a 35-page manual with text and images. Because the flight plans rely on ground-based radio navigation aids and not GPS waypoints, proficiency with those navigation methods is beneficial. For flight-sim pilots without those navigation skills, these flights will provide plenty of experience. The GPS device may be used for tracking progress during the flights or even for following the filed flight plans. Because the flight files use clear weather for scenery viewing, they are all VFR. They could be IFR if real-world weather were chosen, however.

    The developer promised to fix problems with loading the flight files, which results from inconsistent names being used for the flight plans. He also told me that loading the flight plans is not necessary because they can be followed using the textual guidance in the manuals. While this is true of VFR flights, ATC in MSFS requires filed flight plans at any airport where instrument meteorological conditions are present. (Its ATC won't clear VFR landing under IMC, but anybody can land under any conditions in a flight simulator, even though that would not be realistic.)

    The major challenges and rewards for most of these flight plans are avoiding high terrain and arriving at remote airports in desolate areas with few visual landmarks.

    "If you follow the instructions to a tee," the documentation says, "you won't get lost and you will miss the mountains that surround the flight path."

    Technical Features

    This product is for FS2004 and FSX. Separate flight plan, flight, and weather files are provided for each program.

    Because these are ordinary flight, weather, and flight plan files for both simulator versions, no special system requirements apply. They work on basic FS2004 and FSX configurations.

    Purchase and installation from the Pilot Shop are very easy, and downloading and installation are quick because the archive file is not large.

    The installation program defaults to install the mission and aircraft files into the folder named "C:\Program Files\Navigation Challenge 1-15"

    Removing the product (if desired) must be done manually with a file-management program such as Windows Explorer by deleting unwanted flight, weather, and/or flight plan files.

    Technical support is available through an email address in the PDF manual. Responses to my questions were very prompt and clear.

    Readers with technical questions not answered in this review should ask the developer. Using the links below, go to the Pilot Shop page where the product is listed and described, then click on "Manufacturer Tech Support" in the right column.


    FLYING THE ROUTES

    Departing Arica

    Flying Over the Andes

    Departing Calama

    Landing at Coposa


    Screen shot by Bill Stack

    Documentation

    Documentation consists of a "ReadMe" file and a 35-page manual in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) and Microsoft Word (DOC) formats. Content of each version of the respective files is identical. The ReadMe.txt file provides concise, one-page instructions for installing the flights and flight plans. The 35-page manual provides a list of the flight plans, detailed descriptions of each flight, and annotated Google satellite maps of each flight with waypoints. The textual flight descriptions and the developer's screen shots laying out these flights make following them very easy.


    MANUAL IMAGES

    Page 2

    Page 3

    Page 5

    Page 6


    Screen shot by Bill Stack



    PURCHASE FEATURES

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    Yes

    Installation program

    Yes

    License key required

    No

    Copyright acknowledgment required

    No

    Manual included

    Yes

    Uninstall program included

    No

    More Information

    Information about Chile and the places and airports in this package can be found from numerous sources that would be impractical to list here. Wikipedia and A-Z World Airports are good places to start.

    MRPSW is operated by Martin R Pettersson, who describes himself as a retired electronic and computer engineer with a private pilot license who flies his simulator almost daily. "Since I needed to provide a manufacturer's name for advertising," he explained, "I used MrpSw (My initials MRP and then Sw for software)." He chose to make the Chilean flight plans because Chile is his home country. "I wanted to show others its beauty from tip to tip," he said. He is a United States citizen living here since 1955. His other product is the Digital Flight Recorder.

    Wrapup

    Over the years, I have found simulation in remote areas more challenging and interesting than in populated and flight-congested areas because of the unique scenery and the dearth of navigation aids and visual landmarks. I have simulated flights over the Andes Mountains many times, including Equador, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. Many of the locales in these 15 flight plans are unlike other places in the world because of terrain, elevation, desolation, and climate. Flying to and from them is a unique, challenging, and stimulating experience. Clearing the Andes is challenging and rewarding, especially in old aircraft such as the DC-3, as is finding remote airports in Chile's desolate regions in any aircraft. The flight descriptions in the manual are very helpful toward enjoying these flights. The price is reasonable for the amount of enjoyment available and the depth of preparation that obviously went into making this product.


    Bill Stack
    [email protected]



    Learn More About MRPSW's Navigation Challenge 1-15.




    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com


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