Take-off: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Intl Airport (Ahmadabad, India) – ICAO: VAAH
METAR VAAH 102100Z 30003KT 4000 FU NSC 18/07 Q1011 NOSIG (decode)
Landing: Jaipur International Airport (India) – ICAO: VIJP
METAR VIJP 102030Z VRB035KT 3000 HZ FEW030 19/10 Q1010 NOSIG (decode)
This IFR flight stretched from Ahmadabad to Jaipur, two big cities, with a combined total of over 12 million inhabitants. The advantage of flying between big cities is the assurance that the airports are – probably (always check!) – quite large and full of facilities too, like a fuel station, and that’s important, because we’re not here to walk. 🙂
We filled up the fuel tanks at the end of our last flight, so we could immediately file our flight plan, request IFR clearance and take off on runway 23. We stayed in the traffic pattern to leave it in northeast direction.
METAR reported smoke above the city of Ahmadabad. At this moment the world’s focus is on China’s skies, with the smog alert in Beijing, but apparently last year India’s air was named the worst on the planet by the World Health Organization, supposedly from wood-burning stoves and the widespread practice of burning leaves and garbage, making for a dense toxic soup. It’s probably not an easy task for FSX to simulate this, but the screen went white and visibility went next to nothing short after take-off, so that was obviously a combination of Active Sky Next and REX Soft Clouds simulating the smoke, which I though was pretty neat.
As instructed by ATC, we continued our ascend to 9000ft and at 5000ft we climbed out of the smoke and had a beautiful white blanket beneath us.
We departed in the late afternoon, so we would have the sunset during our flight, and even better, we experienced it when we passed the Aravalli Range, literally meaning “line of peaks”, a range of mountains in western India running approximately 692 km (~ 430 miles) in a northeastern direction across three different Indian states.
A sunset above beautiful scenery is a situation were add-ons can really shine and even though it’s all virtual, the rendered visuals were truly beautiful to see. Sometimes combining various add-ons can be a hassle, but when you get it all working, it gives great satisfaction and makes these flights a joy to complete. Kudos to REX Simulations, Orbx FTX, Nine Two Productions (FreeMeshX) and Active Sky Next for their great products!
But, when the sun disappeared behind the horizon, the dark fell and the beautiful scenery made way for a play of lights down below. We had about a half hour of flight in pitch black darkness before vectors to our ILS approach at runway 27 of Jaipur International Airport. Instrumental approaches in pitch black darkness are still quite the challenge, especially knowing that the Aravalli mountain range also has some high peaks near Jaipur city. I had a bit of stress when I came within close range of the airport, already descending on the glide scope and still couldn’t visually see the runway lights. The elevation of the airport was at 1263 ft and with less than 3,5 miles to landing I finally saw the runway lights. Maybe some of the few clouds or the haze made it hard to see the runway from a further distance. I received some good advice through different social media channels after the “rate my landing” video from last flight and I didn’t cut off the throttle completely this time, but brought it down slowly, which resulted in a very smooth landing. So thanks for the advice, it really helped!
Got a flashlight?
When taxiing to fuel station and parking spot during nighttime, it really bothers me that the taxi (and landing) lights of the aircraft don’t light up the environment enough. Some (payware) airport scenery have proper lighting and offer a better overnight experience, but the default FSX scenery leaves most airport parkings pitch black. Although there are taxiway lights to guide you in the dark, it’s still really hard to spot the markings of the parking spots in the darkness. I don’t know if there’s any add-on or tweak to solve this problem, but hopefully I can resolve this in the future, because it’s really annoying when operating at default FSX airport scenery at night.
Next flight brings us to the capital of India, New Delhi, and I got a little surprise detour planned. Keep tuned! 😉