Diamond Point: Carrier Landings, and how to make holes!

A short story.

Well, I am entranced with the ORBX scenery and especially with Diamond Point. Its location is like a small American style village on a small hill peninsula in what is like a flattened out Fjord area with lots of forest woodlands. The village has houses along the cliff like sides and along the lower beach, beautiful little homes. On the flattish top of the area is an airport blended into homes that have, facing the tarmac airstrip, neat garages that house airplanes, some garage hangers quite big, and some large enough for a Piper Cub. Some owners have their planes parked out in front, and there are people walking around as well, bringing the area to life. Beautiful and picturesque!

But, there is an underlying danger! Something that is calling you to the place to try to practice landing there! Its grim, a fearsome challenge, like that of the Matterhorn trying to call snow boarders to its highest snow covered reaches. There is something so scary about trying to put a plane down on that runway, so tightly fitted between huge pine trees and houses, up high on a cliff like village covered mini mountain. It reminds me of the documentaries on TV about being a carrier pilot, the runway being like a postage stamp, each landing a miracle. The challenge keeps bringing me back, no matter how great the danger.

I do not dwell on how many ‘virtual’ planes I have lost there, how many times I have come in too hot and folded the beautiful, well maintained craft into a crumpled, folder wreckage heap on the thin mountain runway. I do not think about the gray two story home and its giant pine tree right in the front of the threshold. I do not bother my thoughts with the many fears of landing on this difficult, crowded little ramp. No…. I simply push the throttle back in to full, pull back on the yoke, aborting my landing, just barely clearing more pine trees and the swarm of birds at the far end of the runway, grumbling as once again I have had to cancel a landing. ‘Again…!’ I yell at the big screen in front of me, my puppy looking over at me with a worried look. I turn my head sideways with the horizon as my plane turns sharp over the trees, back over the water, another pattern loop for another try at this runway to get a perfect, 3 point landing in the vintage German classic 131 Jungman, a slow little biplane that can rarely ever get to 100 knots.

Tonight, I made a discovery. I found I was giving the little craft too much up-trim near landing. I was hanging the plane with low speed, about 90 KPH (Kilometers per Hour, not Knots) which is getting close to this things stall speed (where it converts to a big rock in the sky and like a missle upside down, heads for the ground). I had been adding too much up trim at slow speed that it was nearly impossible to land, and I was tending to dive at the runway after passing that danged tall gray house, upping my speed to well over 130 KPH, far too fast for a nice touchdown.

I change my strategy immediately. A great discovery. I had been so nervous, flustered at my approaches, I hadnt noticed what I was doing, over and over.

I bring the 131 around again, perhaps landing 400 now in the 2 weeks have had this scenery and new flight training simulator (Prepar3D). I line up with the tiny line of dark gray tarmac and that obstacle home with its giant tall tree. I bring the craft to idle and my speed drops to 100 KPH. This time, little trim, I am pulling back on the control stick instead of trimming the bird so that I need little force on the controls. I hold its nose up, and think, trying to keep an eye on the postage stamp, with another eye on the ancient pre-WWII speed gauge, trying to keep the biplane from stalling and shooting into the beach 400 feet below. I adjust the throttle, the little Hearth 4 cylinder sputtering, the wind through the wing wires loud now as the engine idles along. I think quickly to myself, how can a plane with this much wing area stall at a fast speed, yet only fly a little faster then that!? I should be fine at 50 KPH, but no. I keep my left eyeball on that speedo gauge, it moves to 85 KPH. I bump the throttle a tad, the sputter fastens, my right wings whiz past the tall tree of the gray house, the runway before me, perfect height, not too high, my tires clearing the house chimney by 10 feet. I pull the throttle about 30 yards before the threshold, the Jungmann begins a flattened pancake descent nicely. My fingers are moving the joystick around crazily, making tons of micro adjustments to keep the plane from drifting into the grass on either side of the narrow tarmac rail. Nicely, nicely.. I talk German to the plane that only exists in a virtual world, as though it were real, Junior looking over my shoulder, worried also. Its happening! It cant be! Nothing pulls me off the edge, the Hearth engine at idle, the wind noise going away, and with one crescendo…. ‘chirp!’ the little craft covered with wings touches down with all three of its feet, all at once, a beautiful 3 point landing.

Thats enough for tonight. Perhaps 15 laps, 2 crashes. I take a deep breath, my palms sweaty, I bring the bird to a slow taxi and park in front of a hanger garage and shut down the Hearth 4, the wood prop comes to a stop. I relax in my office chair, I look at Junior. I am smiling. I did it. A three pointer in the Jungmann at Diamond Point! I wipe my sweaty palms on my pants and take a deep breath again and look around at the hill top village and the word ‘sweet’ comes to mind….. What it would be like. I came close in the virtual world of knowing the great feeling of doing an incredibly difficult landing in a fast, twitchy biplane, on a very crowded runway atop a hill in between trees and houses, what a pilot must feel and (and….! ) to make a 3 point landing….. Nice..

Bill Ortis
Lionheart Creations Ltd.

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