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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Panama Air Rally: Leg 8 David to Bocas del Toro

PA34-VPA-LEG8-FlightPlanWow, it has been nearly a month since my last virtual flight which happened to be Leg #7 of the Virtual Pilots Association Panama Air Rally 2013. We will be loading realtime dynamic weather to fly online using FSX.

Our Flight plan will be YFR, starting with IFR from Enrique Malek in David, Chiriqui terminating with VFR in Bocas del Toro. Will be using our IFR equipped Piper Seneca II. I used the excellent Plan-G flight planner. Remember this is not to be used for real aviation!.


Departure from David
PA34-VPA-LEG8-2013-may-19-002We are on our beloved Piper Seneca II (Carenado) with Lord of Wings livery. The aircraft is at the ramp where I had already performed the checks on the control surfaces.
It is rainy on the Enrique Malek airport (MPDA / DAV) currently winds are 210 degrees at 10 knots so I will be departing from runway 22.

Prior to departure I tuned NAV1 to DAV VOR/DME (114.30 MHz) in the active frequency and BDT (114.9 MHz) on standby. OBS1 set to 030 our outbound radial.

Tune NAV2 to BDT (Bocas del Toro) VOR/DME with OBS2 to 352 degrees, our inbound radial to Bocas del Toro from OSITO to URUGA (still v15 but different direction) just prior to the DME arc.

The ADF to the DAV NDB (350.0 kHz). Departure time 17:40 local time (22:40 UTC) and we are scheduled to arrive shortly before sunset.

PA34-VPA-LEG8-2013-may-19-003Taxied via the parallel taxiway to the head of runway 22 until cleared for immediate takeoff. Climbed runway heading, passed 1,000 feet, gear up and initiated a sharp turn to intercept the David (DAV) VOR/DME we had just left behind. The plan calls for intercepting DAV outbound R-030 to our first intersection, EGULA and continue climbing to 11,000 feet. Not only was it rainy but there were also distant thunders and a lot of turbulence. Very quickly during climb the aircraft found itself surrounded by clouds above and below. It is nice to see turbulence in FSX with a good a/c, in fact this was perhaps the first time I actually experienced weather in this area that closely resembles what is present in real life.

Cruise
During climb it was necessary to periodically adjust the engine fuel mixture until I settled at 11,000 feet. We are flying east under IFR rules. We need this altitude to safely clear the mountain range that divides the Pacific and Atlantic sides of Panama.

On our departure we flew from DAV to EGULA on R-030 (outbound) via Victor Airway 15 following to ETATI. There is a more straighforward route on Victor Airway 17 following ASEGO and ATOBA but that would require clearing much higher mountains in the vicinity of the BarĂº Volcano which is usually very cloudy, therefore my choice for V15.

PA34-VPA-LEG8-2013-may-19-005Passed ETATI at some 20.6nm outbound DAV, fly over La Estrella dam/lake and we need at least some 7 nm (passed ETATI) more to clear the highest part of the mountain range. We would then pass the western end of the Fortuna lake and continue flying DAV R-029 to OSITO some 13.2nm from ETATI so we must keep an eye on our DME.

Okay, at OSITO we must make a left turn towards URUGA on the Atlantic coast. There are two ways to know when we reached OSITO (remember, we are still on IFR), do you know which? Well, for one thing OSITO is some 33.8 nm outbound DAV. The other is with our VOR2 instrument, do you remember we tuned NAV2 to BDT (our inbound VOR/DME)? OSITO is about 18.2 nm southeast of BDT and remember we set OBS2 to R-352? well, when we see that the CDI of VOR2 aligning it means we are approaching the inbound radial that would take us to URUGA intersection.

At this point both our NAV radios are set to BDT so it doesn’t matter whether our DME is tuned to NAV1 or NAV2. We continue from OSITO to URUGA intersection just at the coast of the Gulf of Bocas del Toro.

Approach
PA34-VPA-LEG8-2013-may-19-009Some point (around 6nm) after OSITO we can safely initiate our descent. We must reach URUGA intersection at or above 6,000 ft.

The picture on the right shows our cockpit when we are at our IAF URUGA. URUGA is 10nm from BDT and is the point where we turn right to start doing our 10nm DME arc on the Bocas del Toro (BDT) VOR/DME. At this point we switch our flight plan to VFR (Visual Flight Rules) but I will be using the instruments for guidance as well (it’s nice).

Well as you can see the Piper Seneca is very nice for IFR but unfortunately (at least for flight simulation) it is not too suitable for Visual Flights. With its large engine cowls it is very difficult to appreciate anything via the side windows.

PA34-VPA-LEG8-2013-may-19-010Now we are tracking our DME arc, you know the drill, we use VOR1 and periodically adjust OBS1 to a new radial until we arrive to our inbound radial for the final approach.

The picture on the left shows our beautiful aircraft above Loma Partida on the mainland near URUGA. For visual references we go almost through the middle of the peninsula of Loma Partida towards the north northeast edge of the adjacent Popa Island.

Then we continue the DME arc towards the eastern point of Bastimentos Island and contine the DME arc until we are 10 nm out and intercept BDT inbound R-262 which is our initial fix. We must be here at around 1,600 feet and turn left straight to runway 26 more or less flying along part of the shores of Bastimentos. At 5 DME we must be at 1,400 feet.
Unfortunately nearly on finals I missed alignment (BTW remember the VOR is not aligned to the runway!) and I had to put the gear up, apply full throttle and climb I declared a missed approach. Sadly I didn’t have my chart at hand so I did not do (shame on me) the proper missed approach procedure. However I will describe it here.

For the missed approach climb heading 271 until 8 nm outbound BDT. For visual reference this point is right at the mainland coast opposite to the runway end. At that point you do a sharp turn right to intercept BDT inbound R-104, overfly BDT and at DME 10nm we do our approach to runway 26 again.

Arrival to Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro
PA34-VPA-LEG8-2013-may-19-013I did my second attempt with waning daylight thus making it more challenging after my sad mistake.
I was using the excellent FSX Bocas del Toro airport scenery by Rhett Browning. Unfortunately this scenery is already old meaning it does not have runway lights for night approaches. The real Bocas del Toro (MPBO / BOC) airport does have runway lights so we must soon do an refresh update to the runway.

On my 2nd attempt I managed to land and taxi to the terminal just in time for sunset.

This virtual flight was flown online but during the whole flight there were no nearby aircrafts and no ATC coverage. Sadly the only airport in Panama that seems to get ATC coverage online is Tocumen (MPTO). Even more unfortunate is that my fellow Panamanians have not made it any easier to organize ourselves to have a more interesting virtual airspace.

My next flight will be the next leg of the tour, from Bocas del Toro to the Enrique Jimenez airport in Colon city, Panama. Until then have safe virtual flights and remember to follow me on Twitter (@aviationweb), the Panamanian scenery development for FSX on the Lord of Wings Flight Simulation Facebook page and of course this blog of Virtual Aviation.

Last but not least if you would like to know a bit more about Panama, our little Central American country then make sure to visit Panama Vibes or the Panama Vibes Articles section.

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