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Pensacola,FL - Belleview,FL

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For the final leg from Austin to my new home in Central Florida, I will be flying across open water for long stretches. In a real plane, I would stay within gliding distance of land, but I am not worried about engine failure in FS9 (unless I ask for it.) Again, I will be flying the Cessna 172.

I spawn on Runway 1 at Pensacola NAS, and have a look around. There are trees and military-style housing near the runway. Suddenly, a large tree grows right before my eyes, blocking a house! Interesting. Once again, I depart to the north and turn right, heading 103, climbing to 2500 feet. Again, I see shoreline and islands with breaking waves. Soon, I am over the Gulf of Mexico, but still in sight of land. The texture of the water is pretty, and there are shadows of clouds to break the monotonous blue. I find that in the SPOT view, if I position above and a little to the right of the airplane with the sun above, the shadow of the plane appears on the water below. Nice.

I also find in this view, when looking through the window into the plane, that I am not alone! Who is this guy in the right seat? How did he get there? From the cockpit and virtual cockpit view, the right seat is empty. Is he a ghost?

I drone on and on. Tyndall AFB slides by on the left, and the shoreline stretches out to meet me. Between Tyndall and Apalachicola Regional, I make landfall. Suddenly the plane makes a turn to the left! I make a hard right to get back on course, and have to keep slight pressure on the yoke to maintain my heading. I'm wondering if my yoke is broke. I check the fuel to see if maybe one tank was dry, making the plane heavier on the left, but they are both the same. I think maybe the sea breeze from the ocean is programmed to do that. There also seems to be an updraft, as the plane starts to climb.

The time over land doesn't last long, as my course takes me back over the Gulf for an even longer stretch, even further out. The plane settles down, but my butt is getting numb. After almost 2 hours in flight, I see the shore again. The map shows a circle of blue, identified as Horseshoe Beach Restricted Area, from surface to 15,000 feet. (Later, I look it up, and find the Federal government had lifted the restriction in 2004, at the request of the Air Force. What was going on there?) There are so many airports!

Once again, when I make landfall there is unexpected turbulence and a climb. It has to be part of the program. Below me is the Ocala National Forest, with barely visible power line towers in a row in the distance. The forest gives way to pastures. I see Ocala airport, with a beacon and long runways, but my destination is closer to my house: Johary Airport (FL58).

I have never been there, and there is a seaplane base near it that FS9 also identifies as FL58, Jordan. I descend to 1000 feet and search for the airfield, but do not see it. I do see what may be a dirt runway, and decide to land. The landing went well, but I don't think it was an airstrip. Oh well, I'm close enough to home that I can walk, or call my wife to come get me. Total time: 2.6 hours. I have to learn this area better.

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  1. MAD1's Avatar
    Interesting series of posts in this blog. Am having similar experiences in a more newbie status, also using the default Cessna 172. Used the autopilot for the first time today, boy, that certainly made flying a lot easier, what with setting the heading and altitude holds.