Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Maiden with Buffalo Airways Virtual

I got my registration details through for Buffalo Airways virtual airline (BFL), so I thought I'd have a weekend off from cockpit building and just fly. I chose a simple route from their main base in Yellowknife to their secondary base about 150nm away in Hay River. On the BFL website I 'bid' on this route (which allows you to be paid virtual dollars for completing it) and got it.

I also downloaded the BFL ACARS app, which tracks your flight and submits a PIREP to prove you've done it. This is a nice piece of software and only took a few minutes to set up using the very clear tutorial.

Although I have downloaded the free BFL C-46 and DC-4 I thought I'd start with something I'm familiar with, so I fired up my MAAM-SIM DC-3 which comes with a Buffalo Airways livery.

I created a flight plan in FSX and also entered the route on my real world GPS, then positioned myself at Yellowknife and started my other new toy, VoxATC UK.

I took the plunge and bought this last week after trying the demo back in the summer. It's pricey (my most expensive purchase so far other than hardware), but lends a whole new dimension to flights by replacing the default FSX ATC and allowing you to speak to controllers and have them respond. I'll post my thoughts once I've given it a full shakedown.

The flight itself was uneventful, just one straight leg south over the enormous Great Slave Lake. VoxATC performed well at Yellowknife and offered traffic advisories en-route, and the GPS tracked my progress all the way.

This was the first longish (just over an hour) flight I've taken in the MAAM-SIM DC-3 and it certainly keeps you busy staying on heading and altitude. The trimming was tricky, and it didn't settle down the way some of the others planes do.

After an acceptable landing I shut down and used the ACARS app to submit my PIREP, which was approved the next day. I logged 1.1 virtual hours and earned eleven virtual dollars. I'm not sure what to do with my new found wealth, but in another 8.9 hours I'll be promoted from Rampie to Flight Attendant, so perhaps I'll save it for a party.

I can see the attraction of flying for a VA, but I can't see myself doing more than one flight every couple of weeks. There are a lot of interesting routes on offer, so it's always something to do if I'm stuck for ideas (which is NOT a problem at the moment).


  1. I'll be interested in hearing your opinions of VoxATC. I recently tried it out alongside It's Your Plane and Multi-Crew Environment for talking to ATC. In the end I went with MCE - I'm relatively happy with the default FS ATC and wouldn't know what to do with SIDs or STARs if the controller gave them to me. I felt VoxATC was on rails, prompting me to parrot back exact wordings rather than talking naturally. There was also the additional cost factor of expanding the roster of available TTS voices (at £25 a pop, not cheap)

    VoxATC does have some major advantages though, the fact that it completely replaces the default ATC rather than adding to it means that when you push-to-talk you do "lock" the radio frequency, whereas with MCE and IYP, the voice recognition parses what you're saying and only afterwards tries to pick the relevant option from the ATC menu. Since at a busy airport there's a good chance someone else will be talking by then, sometimes it's a struggle to get a word in edgeways.

    Anyway looking forward to hearing what you think of it.

    1. I read your posts on VoxATC and MCE, and I agree that VoxATC is a bit 'on rails'. I've only used MCE for tuning the radios so I haven't tried the ATC part of it. I'll take a look (and desperately hope that I don't like it as much as the very expensive VoxATC!).