I have to admit that one of my favorite treats in WOFF:UE is the incorporated flight training. And, if I'm honest, I really only send my pilots through the hassle of take off and landing runs, circuit patterns, and navigation flights to reach the holy grail at the end: free flight hours.
In those few short hops around England, you really get a chance to enjoy the "Flight Simulator" roots of WOFF, and enjoy just tacking on flight hours as you choose your own waypoints and take to the skies. In another life, I would have loved to be a pilot, and this is a great chance to see what it was like 112 years ago.
My British 1915 pilot, Edward Harriot is training for service. It's been so long since I created Harriot - and I took the "luck of the draw" approach of picking the first date and squadron WOFF wanted to throw him in, that I don't remember what, exactly, he's training to go do.
But today he reached that milestone - solo hours without his training officer. The weather wasn't great - gentle NW winds at 8 knots, but heavy snowfall and a ceiling of about 5500 feet. Lining up on the runway at Sutton Farm, I checked my controls, and fired up the engine (I'm pretty sure I may have shouted "clear!" over my headset... the joys of having an evening to myself...
So I took off and headed out over the outskirts of London. I wanted to take in the sights (and see how WOFF is running in heavily populated terrain... not bad, btw) but realized that in bad weather, with some slight gusts, and the chance of mechanical failures, a dense urban landscape wasn't ideal.
I then turned south, and headed for the airfield just North West of Tonbridge. I spent the hour climbing, mostly trying to get above the snowfall - but to no avail. Finally realizing it was hopeless, I decided to practice my approach and landing techniques in the BE2 by doing a touch and go at Tonbridge. Turning away from the headwinds, I dropped the throttle, coasted the BE2 down from 7500 feet and set down nicely on the field.
I gave the throttle some intermittent bursts and kicked the rudder hard to turn the plane around at the end of the runway. The approach to Tonbridge is a bit tricky - I can see why we train out of Sutton Farm. Lots of elevation changes approaching the only clean side of the field, with lots of trees and obstacles around the other three sides.
Once I turned around, I hit the throttle and was back to the skies.
A while later Sutton Farm came into view. I had done the entire mission off of the briefing map only and relied on navigation and landmarks to see where I was headed - not something I attempt often. As I turned for final, I realized quickly that in the bad weather, I had missed my turn for Sutton and was descending towards a cow pasture!
A quick correction on the throttle and I was back up again, performed another pass over the field to verify my landing approach and a few minutes later I was back down again - home sweet home.
As the engine cut and ticked itself cool, I could hear the sound of birds chirping in the distance, and a gramophone playing. I could almost smell the coffee that would be waiting for me.
What a fantastic sim!!