Report of Interstate 8
Krefeld, Germany, November 23rd - 24th 1996
Report by Simon Hradecky in SimPilot Forum, November 26th 1996
The photograph shows the winning team of Interstate 8 at
First of all, many thanks for all the congratulations that arrived already both here in the forum as well in e-mail <vbg>.
Let me start the report with a big, big "Thank You" to the Interstate organizers, lead by Mathijs Kok, who did a brilliant job organizing that event. I also want to point out, that the new scoring system being used worked out nicely, and we got a fair evaluation of our skills, although at some stages some of us thought a better rating would have applied better <g>.
And of course, don't forget about the other team members of ATP team, namely:
Richard RAC Cook, captain
Teams were assigned as (first name being pilot in command):
The briefing shortly before the competition started told us following route:
Frankfurt- Stockholm- Glasgow- Paris Orly- Madrid- Rome Fiumiccino- Athens- Vienna- Amsterdam- Nice- Salzburg- Innsbruck- Duesseldorf. Two speedlegs were assigned to be Paris to Madrid and Amsterdam to Nice.
Understand please, that i was pretty busy with tasks of flight preparation and crew coordination, so i could not follow closely those flights, i wasn't on the flight deck. So i ask the pilots to jump in and describe their legs <g>.
Richard and Steve K. took the honor to open the competition on our team, taking the MD-83 from Frankfurt to Stockholm. As usual with Interstates <g>, the first leg experienced quite some problems of technical nature, this time the network having troubles, so that ATC did not see all planes. Therefore that leg was flown without evaluation, and all teams earned 15 points on this. In addition, because of the delay, the speed leg Amsterdam-Nice was cancelled.
At about 6pm, 1 hour late because of the technical problems (being solved at this time finally), i took control of the aeroplane together with Urs to get it from Stockholm to Glasgow. It was an easy flight. A crosswind component of about 3 knots on takeoff, about 10 knots on landing. No problems enroute, except a slow climb to FL 350 - we made the last few thousand feet with just 500 fpm, as we just had the weight limit to climb 350). But i thought, i had screwed up the flight even before getting airborn. As our terminal position (apron G - freight apron) was quite bad to reach runway 01, i decided to taxi quite fast via taxiway X, and did not take the turn onto taxiway Y as i should have, but continued straight onto Y5, suddenly realizing the runway ahead of me. I managed to stop the plane from our 40 knots taxi in time (thanksfully), and turned back, then taxied slowly until i reached the runway. Having gotten more nerveous by this taxi incidence <g>, i decided not to take any risk. Shortly after getting airborn i engaged the autopilot and did not disengage it anymore until full stop at Glasgow (yes, i did a fully automatic CAT3 approach <g>). Urs provided an excellent, helpful job to me, so that a few inconsistensies, i showed due to the nerveousity, could be compensated and corrected in time. So we took the lead by half a point (16.5 points).
Next leg from Glasgow to Paris was flown by Steve Kelly with Urs. I was just taking dinner, when i heard, that our poor MD-83 had experienced an explosive decompression (Mathijs, i'll charge you the repair costs! <lol>), so that they had to do an emergency descent and divert to London. After having the plane inspected, they got airborn again and continued on to Paris at low level flight. This leg got the absolute record score of 22 points (usual score would have been 16 to 17 points) of the whole competition - excellent job, Steve K. and Urs.
Now Richard/Steve K. took over the plane with the task to bring it to Madrid as fast as possible. In the preparation of the leg it was determined, that FL 310 would allow optimum time, and cruise at 0.84 mach would be called for (normal cruise 0.78, MMO being 0.86). And again, this leg was won by the ATP team, enhancing our lead quite significantly.
Steve Garry and Tonny Koops then took the burden (late night already) to fly to Athens via Rome. I heard, that I8O was trying a few bits and pieces on Satan on this leg, causing some lockups of our master computer. This caused some further delay on our side rebooting the machine and getting us back to the last saved mode file. When finally setup again, the machine locked up again 8-( (all in all 4 times), so that we got delayed by another hour or so, and now flew far behind the last FS5 team. Nonetheless, Steve/Tonny scored second place on this leg, and enhanced our lead further, as our direct competitor at this time scored even worse <g>. On the way to Athens Steve/Tonny scored third place, but again picked up a few points to our lead.
Now it was again my and Urs' turn to
get to Vienna. We were asked by I8O to speed up turn arounds and fly as
fast as possible in order to get back to flight schedule again, as the
competition had to end Sunday on time. So we hopped into the cockpit (with
more than two hours delay - i just wonder, why i got up 5 am! <vbg>)
after a very serious flight preparation and briefing, needed about 5
minutes to set the cockpit up. Urs was still programming FMC and tuning
navaids, when i taxiied already to runway 15L. We had filed a route taking
us basicly straight up north, west of Belgrade, close to the no-fly zone
of Bosnia, further up to Graz and then inbound Vienna. However, ATC gave
us another clearance, so Urs started to reprogram the FMC like mad, while
i aligned with the runway <g>.
Within 20 miles we were down to
10.000 feet (at 4.500 fpm), and needed another 20 miles to get rid of our
speed <g>. We were advised to use NDB approach 29, as runway 34
(which we would have preferred because of wind) was closed and ILS for
runway 29 was inop. We could hear the other teams being spoken down on SRE
approach. A lot of go-arounds and missed approaches, and the skies were
stacked with planes waiting for the next attempt. So when we came close,
we were told to expect an approach delay, and were advised to descend to
4000, expecting to hold at Solenau. However, we found just the right
window and went straight in. NDB approach ruled out autopilot, so it was
clear, it was going to be a manual landing, with quite some crosswind (if
i recall right, 18 knots from 010).
You could see all our team members smile at this time ... <vbg>
Now it was the turn of Richard with Steve Kelly to take the plane to Amsterdam. I don't know exactly what happened, but when i started to watch the flight, i saw, that apparently there was a problem on autopilot, airspeed had dropped dangerously, and the airplane was way too high to make it to the runway. Steve wanted to initiate a go-around immediately, while Richard carried on and almost managed to land the plane - he got down to 30 feet, but reached that height with just about 2000 feet of runway left. Go-around. So he came in 4th place, and our lead was reduced to 12 points.
Next leg, now Richard with Tonny, was flown from Nice to Salzburg (repositioning from Amsterdam to Nice). Of course, what else. Salzburg circling approach was chosen by weather ... So the plane came in overhead Salzburg VOR, at 5000 feet. Well, usual procedure for circling approach is to do an ILS approach to runway 16, but do not descend below 2700 feet. Overhead middle marker turn left, and visually fly a tear drop procedure back into runway 34. ATC put them on radar vectors, but didn't issue a descent, nor cleared for ILS. So they found themselves about right position to start the turn back into 34, but were way too high. Richard desparately tried to get the plane down after he finally got approved for descent, but had to realize no chance. Go-around. Back to Salzburg VOR, and another try. This time at 4000 feet, descending to 3000 before turning in. However, this time he flew the turn way to tight, and ended up unrecoverable. Next go-around. Back to Salzburg VOR, descending to 2500 feet as advised by ATC. I couldn't look anymore and had to turn away - our famous, good old fortress on top of Mönchsberg would be gone at this altitude! He apparently managed to avoid the GPWS warnings and get around the fortress, and turned into the runway, and landed, finally ... 9 points lead still.
So it was my turn now to bring the plane to Duesseldorf via Innsbruck. Urs was copilot to Innsbruck, while i chose Steve Garry to be my copilot for the last leg, most difficult leg (as we anticipated a whole bunch of problems <g>) - i had already flown a couple of hours on big sims with Steve <vbg>.
Okay, Winds in Salzburg indicated
still a departure on runway 34 - very much to my disappointment. I had
anticipated a circling departure on 16 <vbg>. Innsbruck winds
enforced runway 26 anyway, so we tried Localizer East approach via
Rattenberg. Having no problem whatsoever on takeoff and cruise (shall i
really say cruise? <vbg> - FL 110 for about 5 minutes!), the
approach into Innsbruck got quite tricky. Low broken clouds were the least
of our problems. When we came overhead Rattenberg NDB, i switched off the
autopilot and continued manually. We wanted to capture localizer, but we
didn't receive any signal. Urs had already dialed in Absam NDB (which
would be our missed approach point, too). We were at minimum safety
altitude (9500 feet), with no reliable LOC.
So the last leg was going to happen.
Innsbruck departure via Rattenberg on runway 26. What a nightmare ...
<g> Takeoff visually, do a tight turn right after takeoff to the
left to turn about 210 degrees, get onto localizer east and fly reciprocal
on this loc out of the valley, turning north overhead RTT NDB. So it
happened. We passed Absam NDB already at 6000 feet, and reached RTT at FL
150 (i had already accelerated to 290 knots), missed the turn a bit and
overshot the outbound slightly. Again, ATC gave us a different route very
much to the pleasure of Steve, who had to reprogram FMC again ...
<g>. After the FMC had been reprogrammed, ATC cleared us directly
FFM (didn't we know in advance? <vbg>). Next problem: FFM didn't
work in our scenery as it should have ... Well, we managed to get there at
least with the help of the navigation display, and went inbound to
Duesseldorf. On descent the right engine failed while idle - very nice!
You can imagine, that every of our crew members was laughing and jumping for joy. Even Mathijs came over to congratulate for that landing.
So finally, we won the whole competition with quite some 12 points advantage. When we got the cup, Mathijs also announced the first prize ...
So he handed me over some box, containing the floppy version of FS5.1, sponsored by Microsoft. I am sure, that sensational photograph will be uploaded to SIMGAMES shortly ... <lol>. Anyway, a boy (maybe 12) approached me shortly afterwards, whether i knew some source, where he could get FS5.1 from. Well, i knew ... So that boy went away with that first prize ...
A funny side story. On the way from Stockholm to Glasgow a German TV-Team of WDR (ARD) approached me for an interview - and i gave that during cruise. Urs later told me, that he almost fell off his seat about my replies to the questions of that team. I remember one of the key questions being "Could you go into the cockpit and land a real plane". And i told him: "Yes, technically no problem, but i doubt, that the nerves would hold." That interview was transmitted Sunday evening. <lol> Reportedly they filmed some boy afterwards (not being participant of the race, crashing the plane twice on an exhibitor's desk) ... <lol> Pity, i couldn't see that report 8-(
Let me express finally my sincere thanks to Steve Garry, who brought his cockpit rig the long way from Dublin to Krefeld with a lot of unforeseen complications, thus enabling us to use a professional environment in the competition. Also my thanks go to LAGO, who sponsored us with pilot's dresses (await the photos to be uploaded soon <g>). And finally, we ended up with tons of food and drinks (5 liters of juices per person <vbg>) being catered by Mailsoft.
And another achievement was made on this weekend. You surely recall the stories about the pizza, Steve Kelly and Stamatis were planning to have together for more than 2 years already. Finally, that pizza came together. However, that restaurant had just one pizza for both ... Boy, that is a photo, too! <lol> These two struggeling for the pizza.
It broke the heart of the waiter, and somehow he managed a second pizza for Stamatis ... <lol>
Final conclusion: it didn't really matter to win. Participating and showing good performance was important. But it was fun, too, and that was the most important. And we had tons of fun ... It has been an amazing weekend, a weekend, none of us will ever forget!