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Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage for Flight Simulator 2000 and Flight Simulator 2004: A Century of Flight

The contents of this package copyright 2002,2006 © C. Calvin. It may be used and distributed without charge.

This package is based on the book Flight of Passage by Rinker Buck , published 1997 by Hyperion. I enjoyed the book and would encourage you to buy it or borrow it from the library and read it as you fly the trip. It will add to the enjoyment of this cross-country flight.

It is the story of two high-school age boys rebuilding and flying a Piper Cub across the country in the summer of 1966.

From the dust jacket:


The journey west, and the preparations for it, become a figurative and literal process of discovery, as the young men [Rinker Buck and his brother Kern] battle thunderstorms and wracking turbulence and encounter Arkansas rednecks, Texas cowboys, and the languid, romantic culture of small-town cafes, cheap motels, and dusty landing strips of pre-Vietnam America.


I have come to the conclusion that there may be some embellishment and a some loss of memory in 30 years. It is a good book and a good story, but flying it seems to be a bit different.

I only supply the flight plan and a saved flight for each leg along with this commentary. You will need to provide your own airplane, set up the weather for each leg of the flight, and enjoy the coast-to-coast journey. I did not really update the files for FS2K4CoF.

I recommend the Piper J-3 Cub from FSD for FS2K. This airplane is very well done and the virtual cockpit view is from the rear seat. That is where you fly a Cub solo. CoF provides a Piper Cub model which is not available in FS2K. Before you begin each flight, load the CoF Cub. When you load each flight, you will get an error loading the FSD Cub. It will then revert to the FS CoF Cub.

I modified the panel to add a digital clock from the Cessna 182. If you are more traditional, you might consider using the clock from the Sopwith Camel instead. These mods are not necessary on the CoF Cub as the watch can be called up with a button on the panel.

In FS2K4, I had to bring the realism up to at least moderate to see the grass strip airports. I like to fly with the realism down because it is less jerky on my good-but-not-great Dell 8100.

Below is a set up for each leg of the flight. I tried to get the time, weather, and airport as close as I could based on the book. Some of the airports seem no longer to exist so I picked something that seems to fit. The boys had no radio so they were limited to uncontrolled fields.

I try to point out landmarks on each legs which are mentioned in the book. Other landmarks of value to VFR navigation are noted with [square brackets].

If you wish, change the side number to N71H.

I have tried to provide a .flt, a .pln, and a .wx for each leg. Each leg is identified by day number and leg letter. In re-running the sim, I got some errors loading the .flt's loading the flight plan. Reloading the flight plan (.pln) file with the same name seemed to fix these. The .wx files do not seem to work either. Just add the weather shown below.

Day 1, Leg 1 – Basking Ridge, NJ to Carlisle, PA. (Niederer) 4 July, 1966 0930.


I set this plan up based on my best guess of where a grass strip near Central New Jersey might be. At the destination, Carlisle (N34) is paved. Niederer (PA55) is an nearby grass strip with no facilities. Take your pick.

Weather – haze, scattered cumulus, changing to scattered t-storms around 1030. Extend the tops to 15000 and pull the bottom down to 3500 reducing the variability to 100 to flatten the bottoms. Add moderate turbulence too.

Initial Weather Settings

Clouds: few

Precipitation: none

Wind: light 225 (SW)

Visibility: 20 mi

Turbulence: occasional

The landing would be a piece of cake except for the quartering wind. You can start the rain after you land if you wish.

Landmarks to watch for: Delaware River, Quakertown, [Interstate 78], and Harrisburg.

Day 1, Leg 2 –Carlisle, PA. (Niederer) to Washington Co. Airport, PA 4 July, 1966 1330.


Do not forget to gas up. Carlisle has a gas area. Fake it at Niederer.

Weather – haze, scattered cumulus, changing to scattered t-storms around 1500. Extend the tops to 15000 and pull the bottom down to 3500 reducing the variability to 100 to flatten the bottoms. Add severe turbulence too.

Initial Weather Settings

Clouds: few

Precipitation: none

Wind: light 270 (SW)

Visibility: 20 mi

Turbulence: Severe

Follow the Turnpike. Out of Carlisle, remember that I-81 bears SW and the PA turnpike is nearly due west. Maintain at least 4500’ until Ligonier to avoid terrain. The flight plan takes you nearly to Pittsburgh as in the book. Then finds the stacks and follows the river back to I-76.

Fly around the clouds and stay high enough to avoid the mountains. Look left and right to find the best path. Increase the clouds around Somerset. Turn on T-storms and hard precipitation just before landing.

Landmarks to watch for: Follow the Pennsylvania Turnpike I-76 (parallel to flight plan on North),[PA 75 goes to the southwest after Shippenburg 25 minutes into flight, follow turnpike], [Breezewood Jct. I-70+I-76 about 45 minutes into flight turn to 300 or so and follow the Turnpike, the road to the north is PA 30], [Jct. I-99 follow it on a course of about 330 a couple of minutes. Turnpike heads 270ish again. Watch for Lake Shawnee and pass it to the south],[get above 4000 or you could find your self walking], [Indian Lake], [Around Somerset (2G9) US 219 runs parallel to the north before heading off to the north. The Turnpike is to the south and heads off northwest], Ligonier[on US 30 parallel north of the Turnpike in the valley between 2 big ridges], Jct. I-76+I-70 is missed by the boys [just north of Libra, you will see the metropolitan texture of Pittsburgh ahead. Turn West. You will see Rostraver (P53) head for it. From there take a 290 course to MATWA. In about 4 miles, you will see], stacks [head west], cross the Allegheny River[before G05 and head south], [I-76 follow it.], Washington Co. (KAFJ) just to the south.

Whew. I had less than a gallon of gas remaining.

Day 1 Leg 3 – Washington Co. PA to Columbus SW. 4 July, 1966 1805


Weather: Clear, cool and smooth after the front came through. I just hit "Clear all weather".

Initial Weather Settings

Clouds: none

Precipitation: none

Wind: none

Visibility: unlimited

Turbulence: none

Don’t forget to gas up. Follow Interstate 70. After you get past Columbus International, hang a left and land. There is not much to see in Ohio. Watch the intersections go by with names like SPACE, GLOOM, and EMPTY. I left these off the flight plan.

Landmarks: Ohio River, [Tunnel east of bridge], [Suspension Bridge] ,[I-77], [Muskingum River], Newark (north of highway about 5 miles), [Port Columbus Intl.]

Day 1 Leg 4 –Columbus SW to Richmond IN. 4 July, 1966 1945,


Weather: Clear, cool and smooth after the front came through. I just hit "Clear all weather".

Initial Weather Settings

Clouds: none

Precipitation: none

Wind: none

Visibility: unlimited

Turbulence: none


Do not forget to get gas. Richmond is just over the line in Indiana. The specific airport is not named in the book. The town is named as East Richmond. The problem with this leg is that is a routine 50-minute flight that could have been fatal at the far end due to get-there-itis. I chose a route (the book is not specific) which takes you south of Dayton’s airports and west to Richmond. The sun goes down at exactly 2100 leaving you in the dark. I had of choice of two fields and initially had chosen Pentacost (with a more direct route) as it sounds like the kind of place that crop duster might fly from. It impossible to find at dusk in the simulator. If you set up a take-off from Pentacost and go-around at 2055 you will see how hard it is to find. As a result, I chose the other field, Norris, with its painted approach zone on the W runway. While there were plenty of places to land while the light was good, the boys were determined to make it to Indiana.

After take-off, head due west to London, about 5 miles. You may be able to see US-40 running a 260 track. Look for the lights at Madison Co. Airport. Skirt the eastern and southern edges of town and watch for highway US-42. You should be able to pick it in the urban texture just about the time Port-O-John airport is under your wingtip. This will be your 247 track to Xenia. Sky Dive Greene County looks like a big X just before the highway turns into town. This is pretty close to your Xenia waypoint. From here it is due west (271) to OI89 Mite airport. Here is the set-up for the close. Put your airplane over OI89 using the map view or GPS (you did not have one in 1966). Set the DATE/TIME to July 4, 1966 20:50. Proceed west from OI89 be getting to 2000 feet. Just before the state line, the simulator will set the time to 19:xx as the time zone changes. Just about this time you should be able to spy the threshold of Norris (8112). Enter the pattern, make your approach and land before the light disappears. Phew.

Landmarks: [Port-O-John Airport north of London, OH. This is also a waypoint so find it and pick up the new course].[US-42. It is interesting to note that in FS2K, the field texture parallels the highway. Almost all county and minor roads in the Midwest parallel the section lines i.e. north-south or east-west. US-42 should stick out like a sore thumb but does not.], [Look for the highway that I did not find that runs through Eaton and West Florence. Mite is along this road].


Day 2, Leg 1 – East Richmond, IN to Indianapolis, IN 5 July, 1966 0520.


Speedway is "Indy". Buck says the weather was like yesterday.

Weather – haze, scattered cumulus, changing to scattered t-storms around 1200. Extend the tops to 15000 and pull the bottom down to 3500 reducing the variability to 100 to flatten the bottoms. Add moderate turbulence too.

Initial Weather Settings

Clouds: few

Precipitation: none

Wind: light 225 (SW)

Visibility: 20 mi

Turbulence: occasional

It says that you gassed up last night. The man says the gas is on the house. Check the drains and you are good to go. This is where your network friend can join in. Network and fly off with the Stearman in formation. Spray that field. Then off to the next stop. Head northwest to find US-40 and I-70. Follow them to Indianapolis. When you see the skyscrapers find the 7 way intersection to the north of them. Continue west. Speedway looks like a scissors. Enter the pattern and land on runway 27, that is the dirt one. Can you land and hold short? Wait and taxi across and go to the gas area.

Landmarks: [Whitewater River (hint – US-40 crosses the Whitewater just south of the Hagerstown Airport)],[Indiana SR 3], [Big Blue River],[Downtown skyscrapers], [7 way intersection]

Day 2 Leg 2 – Speedway IN to Union City, TN (Everett-Stewart) via Fulton, around 0930 5 July, 1966


Weather – haze, scattered cumulus, changing to scattered t-storms around 1200. Extend the tops to 15000 and pull the bottom down to 3500 reducing the variability to 100 to flatten the bottoms. Add moderate turbulence too.

Initial Weather Settings

Clouds: few

Precipitation: none

Wind: light 45 (NW)

Visibility: 20 mi

Turbulence: occasional

This is your lucky day. The gas jockey gives you gas and $5 to stick around until the reporter gets there. The reporter buys you breakfast. You keep the $5. Time to get going. Head out of town on a 215 track. At the edge of the metropolitan texture, pick up a highway. If it heads 215 you're golden. If it heads 240 (IN-40 and I-70) turn south. Better yet follow the edge of town to south of Indianapolis Intl and follow the White River. I-74/465 crosses the river just about at the outer marker for KIND 5L outer marker. Follow the river South. There is a junction east of the river where two highways diverge. Cross the river and put the river on your right. Look to the south for IN SR-37. Keep this on the left, the river on the right and head for Martinsville. The Little Buck River on your left will flow into the White and continue Southwest as the White. The river and the highway nearly converge. Follow the White River. Maintain 210 course. I ran out of gas even with a tail wind. The record reproduced in the books says they bought 11.9 gallons.

Landmarks : [Indianapolis Intl], [White River], [Little Buck River], Martinsville, [KBMG Monroe County at ] Bloomington, IN, [Lake Greenwood], [White River again],Vincennes, Wabash River ,[Evansville], [Ohio River], Paducah, KY.

Day 2 Leg 3 Union City, TN (Everett-Stewart) to Blytheville, AK. 5 July, 1966 1300.


Weather – Black to the west, gray to the east, clear in the middle. Moderate turbulence.

Initial Weather Settings

Clouds: few

Precipitation: none

Wind: none

Visibility: 20 mi

Turbulence: Moderate turbulence, occasionally severe.

Set up the weather. Head due west after takeoff about 15-20 minutes. The Mississippi will appear. Follow the river keeping it just in sight on the right as you head southward another 20 minutes. Look for Forked Deer Creek [at KDYR]. Then turn due west again for about 15-20 minutes. The flight plan/nav log attempts to follow the river with intersections and airports. Kern gets "co-pilot vertigo" on this leg so throw in some turbulence.

Landmarks: Ohio River, Mississippi River, Wingo, KY. [Forked]Deer Creek

Day 2 Leg 4 Blytheville, AR to Brinkley, AR 5 July, 1966 1430.


Weather – haze, scattered cumulus. Extend the tops to 15000 and pull the bottom down to 3500 reducing the variability to 100 to flatten the bottoms. Add moderate turbulence too.

Head 220 for 40 minutes following I-55 and the river. Then 242 for half-an-hour. Then 190 for 10 minutes

Landmarks: [I-55], Mississippi River.

Day 3 Leg 1 Brink, AR to Hazen, AR 6 July, 1966 0530.


Weather: Scattered clouds with occasional ground fog .

Follow US 70. The airport is just south of US 70. Turn west to 250 after takeoff. If the road forks, it's the wrong road. Look to your right. Follow the highway for about 35 minutes. After the L-shaped Carlisle Municipal, I selected a north-south grass strip on the left just west of a small lake. The boys got oil but no gas at this airport which is why I selected it. Hazen Municipal would have been 10 minutes earlier and likely have had folks there even in mid week.

Day 3 Leg 2 Hazen, AR to Arkedelphia, AR 0745


Weather: Scattered clouds

Follow the highway down to Little Rock on the 250 course. You should get to the edge of the metro texture just at the Arkansas River south of the airport. Turn to 195 about 1 minute after you cross the river. The boys followed the railroad tracks. MS FS 2K does not show RR tracks. But the course I selected agrees with the Railroad Atlas. There is a highway you can see to the north. As you follow, a river appears to parallel. When the river crosses the highway, continue on for 2 minutes. Then turn to course 247. Continue for about 15 minutes. Once again a river and a highway intersect. After a minute or two, come to 275. Look for a radio tower and head for it. As you pass the tower on heading 275 the field is dead ahead. Fly the approach and land.


Landmarks: [Arkansas River],[Some of the tallest radio towers I've ever seen], [Hot Springs]


Day 3 Leg 3 Arkedelphia, AR to Horatio, AR 1030


This leg is interesting because there is no railroad or major road that travels directly. The route is due west and there may be a power line or pipeline right-of-way that is not on the maps I have. After about 40 minutes, 5 miles outside of DeQueen, you will intercept highways coming from the north-east and the south-west. They merge together. Follow them into town.

Day 3 Leg 4 Horatio, AR to Durand, OK 1230


This is your next lucky day. The gas pump is unlocked and there is nobody around to pay. You top up and are on your way. Take off and come around to 250. There is a highway going your way. After not very long, you cross the Little River. And then the OK line. Mountain Fork. When you get to the Red River (the big twisty one), follow it due west until you see the big lake to the north at Hugo. The Red River will flow toward you more to the south. Continue due west. Twenty miles out of Durant, you cross the Clear Boggy River. You see the metro texture of Durant approaching. The airport is at the southern extreme of town. US-70 is still in sight. When you have the airport in sight, enter the pattern and land.

Landmarks: Little River, [US-70],lakes, [Mountain Fork], Red River, [Clear Boggy River], [Unidentified River], Durant.


Day 3 Leg 5 Durant OK to Decatur, TX 1445 1430 6 July, 1966


Weather: Scattered clouds

Follow US 69+75 down across the Red River and Lake Texoma. Not many landmarks from Denison to Sherman. This course crosses US 82 almost perpendicular, between Sherman and Gainsville. Both are too far away to see. Watch your course. If your dead reckoning is good, you should be able to spot highway TX 51 which will lead you straight to the airport.

Landmarks: Red River, Lake Texoma, [US 82], [TX 51]

Day 3 Leg 6 Decatur, TX to Taylor (Albany) , TX 6 July, 1966 1600


Weather: Scattered clouds

No gas here. Follow US 380 west.


[Lake Bridgport]


Day 4 Leg 1 Albany, TX to Sweetwater, TX


US 180 for about 8 minutes. Then southwest on TX 351 down to Abilene. Skirt Abilene to the north and west. When you come around to Dyess AFB, look to the west and follow I-20.

Landmarks: [Jct. US 180-TX351], [Lake Ft. Phantom Hill]


Day 4 Leg 2 Sweetwater, TX to Big Spring TX


Follow I-20. The boys talk about Lamesa and Seminole but these are out of the way to Big Spring.

Landmarks: [Lake Colorado City],


Day 4 Leg 3 Big Spring, TX to Winkler Co, TX 7 July, 1966 1050


Weather: Scattered clouds

Follow I-20 down past Midland and Odessa. Then change to 255 to get to Winkler. There are no roads until you are almost there. Hold course, and watch for Kermit.


Day4 Leg 4 Winkler Co, TX to Carlsbad, NM 7 July, 1966 1130


Weather: Scattered clouds

Similar weather. Not much to see except an occasional stock tank. Take note of them since you do not have the water bag. Of course you make much better time without that extra weight and air resistance. After about 15 minutes, you see TX-18. You are about half way there. You may be able to see another road if you are a little to north of course. By now you are over New Mexico. The few folks who live here like their privacy. Even the roads have unlisted numbers. After half an hour, you can see Red Bluff Lake to the south. And the Pecos River will be seen also. After 45 minutes you should be able to see the airport. Set up your approach and land.


Day 4 Leg 5 Carlsbad, NM to El Paso, TX 7 July, 1230


Weather: Scattered clouds

Here is where it gets interesting. The book says that they need 10500 feet altitude to get through the Guadalupe Pass. I set up the weather with a 15 knot south-westerly wind to see if the simulator would give a back-side-of-the-mountain effect which would make thing more difficult. My advice: follow the highway. The highway was built on the route taken by the guy who was walking following an ox that was pulling a loaded wagon. They were not going to take a route that was more difficult than necessary. The altitudes are averaged between points on a ˝ mile grid in Flight Simulator 2000. This might be more dramatic in FS2002. Maintain your best rate-of-climb speed until you are at 10,500.


Day 5 West Texas to El Paso International 8 July, 0800


Weather: Scattered clouds

A short hop has the potential to become a bad day when Kern misinterprets the light signal from the tower.


Day 6 Leg 1 El Paso TX to Lordsburg NM 9 July, 0800


Weather: Scattered clouds

Follow I-10 from the northwest side of town north to Las Cruces and then west to Lordsburg. You probably need to stay above 8000.

Day 6 Leg 2 Lordsburg NM to La Cholla AZ 9 July, 1030


Weather: Scattered clouds

Follow I-10 southwesterly to the Arizona border. At the border, the highway swings more to the west than south. You may see the airstrip at Bowie. Then more SW. You should see the airport at Willcox/Cochise. Follow the highway around the mountain at Benson and then west to Tucson. When you see the Tucson metropolitan texture, turn northward and follow the edge of town. Watch for AZ-77 north over the mountain. You have about 15 minutes left. You should be heading about 300. We are still following I-10 through Tucson. It is a bit confusing with the interchanges and turns. There are not many landmarks here. A big patch of green is the only clue in WFS2K. The landscape turns brown again. A highway (I-10?) crosses a dry river. The airport is close by. This airport is truly a needle in a haystack. That thin straight line is the strip.

Day 6 Leg 3 La Cholla (Tucson) to Casa Grande 9 July, 1100


Weather: Scattered clouds

Fly heading 300 for 50 miles.

Day 6 Leg 4 Casa Grande to Gila Bend, 9 July, 1300


Weather: Scattered clouds

Fly heading 257 for about 20 minutes. Soon you will be able to see the lights at Gila Bend Auxiliary Facility. The Municipal Airport is a bit north of those. You can head down to 2000 ft and watch for it to come up.

Day 6 Leg 5 Gila Bend, AZ to Yuma, AZ 9 July 1445


Weather: Scattered clouds

Follow I-8 on a heading of 245. After about an hour and 15 minutes, Yuma will come into view. Avoid being busted by the Border Patrol.

Day 7 Leg 1 Yuma, AZ to El Centro CA 10 July 0600


Weather: Scattered clouds

Head northward after take-off to follow the highway, I-8. Then follow it west. This avoids the corner of Baja California. Do not confuse the canal with the highway. About 17 minutes into the flight, a fork heads WSW and another heads west. Follow west. In just a bit, you see the metropolitan texture for Calexico/El Centro. El Centro is the smaller clump to the north (right). You should see the lights of Calexico airport to the south and Imperial County airport to the north. Follow the highway north about 2 miles. Douthitt Strip is about 2/3 the way from Calexico to Imperial County. It is right on the highway you should have been following. Otherwise, it is really hard to see as it is dirt on light brown metro texture. Enter the pattern and land.

Day 7 Leg 2 El Centro CA to San Diego 10 July, 0800


Weather: Scattered clouds

After take-off, follow I-10 west. You will need to get up a bit to clear the mountains ahead, so climb to 4500. After about 30 minutes, the highway forks WNW. Follow that over the mountains. Gain altitude to about 6500 to clear. After you are over the mountains, follow the metro texture south. Look for the Otay Reservoir, a large lake roughly T-shaped. This is about 5 miles out. Head for 1500 feet to enter the pattern. Brown is the one to the north. Tijuana is just over the clearly visible border.

Day 7 Leg 3 San Diego to Oceanside 10 July, 1000.


Weather: Scattered clouds

The airport that might have been at San Juan Capistrano in 1966 is now a housing development or a golf course or something else. Farther north, there is nothing until John Wayne in Orange Co. To the south, Camp Pendleton takes up a lot of space leaving no choice but to land at Oceanside.

Follow the coastline north. Watch for the mouths of two rivers after about 25 minutes. McClellan-Palomar airport is there. Just beyond and due north is the Oceanside airport in the heart of town.

That is it. Hope that you enjoyed the trip.

You can e-mail me at cbc0777 on earthlink dot net with comment if you wish. I will acknowledge when I have time.