Simanaitis Says

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BAMBERG TO ROME, 1926—AND VIRTUALLY 2021

WHEN I COMPLETE modeling an airplane for my Microsoft Flight Simulator, I typically fool with it a couple times on the sim, then go on to a new GMax project. However, it was different with the Messerschmitt M-17.

In September 1926, Professor Werner von Langsdorff and Eberhard von Costa flew an M-17 from Bramberg, in central Germany, to Rome. As described here at SimanaitisSays, their flight took more than 14 hours, what with fuel stops and all. 

A Flight Sim Adventure. Hmm…. I wonder if my M-17 and its two intrepid flyers are up to a Microsoft Flight Simulator adventure? 

Above, warming up at Bamberg. This and following images of my M-17. Below, a proposed route; source: Google Maps.

Rome is not quite due south of Bamberg with the imposing Alps in between. So we (the virtual Von Langsdorff, Von Costa, and I) took off from Bamberg, set a course of 175 degrees and a generally ascending trim to prepare for the Alps unseen at that point, but ahead. 

For a few minutes, I enjoyed examining my GMax handiwork from the sim’s various Spot Plane and Cockpit views. Then even I got bored. 

Gee, I had other things to do for the next 14 1/2 hours.

South of Bamberg, 68 kts (78 mph). And bored. Hurrah for Simulation Rate.

Simulation Rate. Wisely, Microsoft incorporated a Simulation Rate option, from slowest and 1/2 normal to 64x and fastest.  

I settled on 64x, zipping along but yet able to adjust moderate climb appropriate for the mountains ahead.

It was fun to peer out of the M-17’s cockpit to either side and see southern Germany zoom by. Approaching Munich, I changed back to 1x for a flyby of Frauenkirche. The M-17’s aerodynamic shape gave no direct view forward.

Frauenkirche, Munich.

The Alps. The foothills of the Alps weren’t far off, so I maintained 1x to choose a course between the highest peaks. Then, once at sufficient altitude, I switched back to 64x, only to find the engine noise stopped.

Not long after 64x 3 minutes of real time (3.2 hrs virtual time) at 56 kts and 12,671 ft., the prop was about to stop. Duh.

Opps. I forgot that the M-17 had a measly 28-liter (7.4-gal.) fuel tank; Von Langsdorff and von Costa had to stop every three hours to refuel. Sure enough, Cockpit View showed the Benzin needle pegged at 0. 

We were gliding, at 12,000 ft. above mountains of the Alps.

This called for a Microsoft Flight Simulator Reset (one reason I have never considered piloting as a real-world activity). I put the sim on Pause, gave the M-17 another 10-percent fuel load, and searched its map for the nearest airport.

Bolzano/Bozen. Fortunately, I was just a bit north of an Alpine valley containing the airport at Bolzano/Bozen/Bulsan. The place gets its tri-moniker for previous influence of Ladin Romansh and Bavarians, and its current location in Italy.

This airport is well known to me: My one attempt at GMax scenery construction was Bolzano (IATA: BZO). Alas, I lost it in an early computer crash; maybe it remains in a flightsim floppy.

Above,Bolzano to the left. Below, BZO, not quite on Final.

ATC Chatter. Von Langsdorff and von Costa were amazed when I used the sim’s Air Traffic Control option to get landing instructions: “Left approach. Runway 01…. Cleared to land.”

I’ve made smoother landings. ATC said, “Exit runway at earliest opportunity.” 

Yeah. Once we stop bouncing.

And On To Roma. The rest of our virtual adventure was straightforward, with plenty of Italian stopover opportunities along the way.

We even had time to sightsee the Coliseum on our Final onto St. Peter’s Square.  A regular pezzo di torta. ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021 

3 comments on “BAMBERG TO ROME, 1926—AND VIRTUALLY 2021

  1. Jack Albrecht
    June 3, 2021

    In a previous life, I did a lot of climbing in Arco, not far south of Bozen. We’d drive west from Vienna over Salzburg through Innsbruck and exit the Autostrada at Rovereto south of Bozen. I must have made that drive 20+ times. Your article lead me to 15 minutes of reminiscing on Google maps and my oldest digital photos. Thanks for that!

    • simanaitissays
      June 3, 2021

      Hello, Jack,
      Thanks for your kind words. I built a GMax BZO because of the way it and its valley nestle into tha Alps.

      • Jack Albrecht
        June 3, 2021

        I’ve never flown the route in your story. A drive through the alps is always beautiful…until there is a traffic jam. Then there is no escape. There were a few times we could have walked a few hours as fast as we drove.

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