Post Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:58 am

Cleared For Visual Approach

IFR from Philadelphia to La Guardia isn'rt exactly a long trip, especially in an FS2004 default Learjet, but I had an hour spare and thought why not? I hadn't delved in FS2004 for a long time and I was in the mood. So my wealthy pixellated client was strapped in the cabin, fed expensive drinks, and on with the rituals of getting a business jet into the air.

No problem with clearances, flight plans, or weather. If only reality was more like this, but I suppose flying would be all the more boring if it didn't suprise you in any way - and it does in real life, very suddenly, and sometimes very dangerously. But I had no worries. This was Micorsoft reality so nothing could go wrong.

The flight started out just fine. As always I flew on autopilot, making all adjustments to height, heading, and other factors on the little dashboard box, which meant I wasn't flustered and could enjoy the scenery. But all good things come to an end and eventually, rather sooner than I expected, the ATC told me to expect vectors for La Guardia 31.

As it happened I was cleared for visual approach. Being so unfamiliar with the area I saw the airport too late, and in any case, I hadn't reduced speed enough. So I blasted across Manhattan at 2,000ft somewhere close to cruising speed. Missed approach it is then.

The back leg seemed to take forever, and I took the opportunity to slow down and set up for landing. Time was ticking on. I had visions of a concerned passenger noticing the Empire State Building zoom by and the Atlantic Ocean on the wrong side of the aeroplane. Don't worry Sir, we're in the landing pattern.

Now I knew where La Guardia was and what it looked like. There it is. Report runway in sight... Cleared for visual approach... Okay, here we go. By my standards the approach was pretty much perfect. I pegged the sink rate absolutely just right, and with some satisfaction I saw the threshold looming ever larger in the centre of the screen. An MD-11 waited patiently for my arrival to one side. Almost there.... Almost there....

"Learjet Juliet Kilo go around" Said the controller. What? You cannot be serious! Far be it from me to disobey ATC commands. Throttle up and climb away. The sense of disappointment was palable. My passenger was probably staring perplexed and frustrated at the site of an airfield getting smaller with business meeting deadlines getting tight.

Round the landing pattern I went again. Oh look - there's the Atlantic Ocean. It felt like I was heading all the way back to Philadelphia again. This second approach was unhindered. Landing was okay, I taxied in, and opened the doors as I shut down. That flight took a bit longer than I expected. As real as it gets, eh?