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Had some fun making a speed run from Seattle to San Diego with help from the jet stream. Forecast was 100kts right on the tail, and I did compute a ground speed of 260kt just west of the Sierras.


After the flight, I shared this picture to a Facebook group of real pilots that I belong to. Thanks to  ORBX terrain most assumed it was a real aircraft and a real photo, so I wrote the following:




The Lockheed Vega I'm using to tear around the virtual skies is created by a German engineer with characteristic attention to detail. Paraphrasing his description of the inner workings of the simulation:


"Every single part of the R-1340-SC Wasp has physical parameters defined - such as the specific heat capacity, its mass, volume, surface area, etc. Relationships between all these parts define heat exchange between crankcase, cylinders, pistons, valves, rods, etc., and fuel pump, oil pump, starter motor, mags, etc. Then the effects of airflow and oil on cooling and heat transfer are computed. So, the relationships between more than 100 engine parts are determined several times a second, but sadly the only thing you'll see are three needles that indicate cylinder head temperature, oil temperature, and oil pressure."


But all this means actions have consequences and the aircraft 'remembers.' Stress the engine today, turn off your computer, and the next time you crank up the simulator or sometime in the future you may crack a cylinder, swallow a valve, or throw a rod. Which, for me, means the experience is amazingly realistic, demanding, and immersive. But repairs, insurance, and hangar are free, happily, and if I do something stupid I can hit the pause key and go get a beer. The bird is lousy transportation but great fun and keeps me from getting withdrawal shakes now that I've hung up my spurs


If you want to know more about "my" Vega visit Wing42.com.




Edited by Tailspin45
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The aircraft is relatively simple for the pilot; it is after all only single-engine aircraft with a fixed-pitch prop, the gear is down and welded, and she has no flaps.


The study-level complexity is the developer's problem, but his effort means we get the most realistic performance possible from the flight model, engine, lubrication, and electrical system (it has fuses not circuit breakers and, yes, they do blow if, say, you crank the engine too long). The caramel-colored oil will even change color as you put hours on the engine and the carbon turns it black!


The big bird is a challenge to fly, though, to be clear. Besides being a taildragger, she has "all the glide potential of a boulder falling off a mountain," as one 1930s pilot reported, and she has limited visibility since the pilot sits alone up between the wing roots. But all that gave her record-breaking performance (the Army Air Corps bought one with a 600hp Hornet engine and it was the fast aircraft they had!). And she has no avionics--remember this was way before VORs and even before low-frequency range navigation--DR and the iron compass was all they had.


Eventually, I gather, they'll have a variety of Vegas including one with a Standard (the company) two-position prop that was big deal when it came out, a model with a newer Vega 5C with a Hamilton-Standard constant speed prop, and maybe even a model of the Vega 5B Winnie Mae with an external second stage supercharger and long-range tanks. The developer was interviewed in August and was very excited about the idea of one on floats (the aircraft was favorite in Canada and Alaska because of her long legs and load carrying capability.) They''ll probably have an ADF someday too, but you can always add the free add-on drift sight and sextant for long distance flights now. 


So far, as you probably can gather, I'm loving it, and it's still an 'early release' version with lots of features yet to be implemented. The sound engine is a work in progress, for example, but I'm using sound files from an R-1340 powered Tri-Motor and it sounds great until he produces "the real deal." Come to think of it, an update is due out any day.


Already, if you forget to pull the prop through during preflight it's possible the bend a connecting rod if you have a hydraulic lock and eventually the engine could fail if you (or Jack your mechanic) don't find the metal in the sump and pull the jug.


I found out the hard way that bugs can plug your pitot tube. I didn't check it during preflight and discovered I had no airspeed indication at the start of a long cross-country.

After the Vega's first flight the test pilot reported, "Boy, she's a dandy!" and I certainly agree. I've always loved old aircraft so this is one really has my attention.



Edited by Tailspin45
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