Flying is a great hobby...especially when your feet don't leave the ground! Flight Simulators have become
ever more complex, the extraordinary cockpit detail and photographic mapping of landscapes down to 4 metre acccuracy
makes the experience of 'flying' on a computer screen very 'real' indeed.
If your a fan of the Bernese Oberland why not try our Oberland Quiz based on flight sim views of the terrain!
So lets get started with some 'real' flying.. with the Swiss Airforce over the alps!
Falcon 50 transport jet over Lake Brienz
Click for a larger view!
A while ago, our friend Mike (from Infotourist) and I, spent an late
night session flying in real time from one side of Switzerland to the other. To show me just how good this 'simming' lark
(note simming not slimming, for which I appear less able!!), Mike had chosen to 'fly' at dawn just as the sun was rising,
and well from that moment on I was hooked. However, I am not very technical in the way I fly, opting for the 'full thottle
and pull back on the joystick 'approach. I'm glad to say the simulator is very forgiving!! I've been trying to learn
to do it properly, and I'll be posting news on this page as I pick more of it up!
Mike then began a series of flights of the Bernese Oberland, taking pictures
as he went of the flight sims lofty view of well known landmarks, which Infotourist listeners were then treated to via email!
This got me thinking, and a string of radio features based on vitual flights up and down the valleys of the Oberland
I decided to make these flights in an aircraft of which I have always been fond, the Douglas Dakota DC3
skytrain, it's a slow ponderous but wonderful aircraft perfect for 'stooging' around the beautiful blue skies of the Oberland.
The Dak would be stabled at the ex military base of Interlaken (LSMI) which, just as in real life, is perfectly centrally
located for quick access to all the valleys.
I did question the length of runway, another reason for the choice of the Dakota, anyway I should worry,
Mike had earlier successfully landed a Boeing 747 Jumbo jet there (which by the way is still parked near the end
of the runway as there is no hope of it ever taking off again!)
Yes it's her....the DC3 not Liz, well actually it's Liz as well!!
Liz can't stand flying with me in the Dak.. She says it 'rattles too much'.....well I am over 40!!
Flight Simming with Carlyboy in his Dakota DC3.
This is where Mascha sits! I have been fortunate to have absolutely the best crew that any DC3 has had out of Interlaken!! (umm OK my DC3 is the
ONLY Dc3 to work out of Interlaken). But my crew are the best (as soon as they get back from the pub we'll take a photo and
Is there truth in the rumour?
Check out the report below to the right
Most of my virtual flying around the Oberland has been from Interlaken airfield. Now 'non operational' this
used to be a military airfield with a selection of my favourite military aircraft ever ( apart from the Dak of course) The
Hawker Hunter. See below!
Click to read clearly!
The subject of a terrific April fools joke, Mike Parkin was to be entertainments officer of a new airline
to operate from Interlaken. The story made it to the press! I think the airline was to be called 'Balmers'. Regular visitors
to the Oberland will probably know that this is the name of the Interlaken Youth Hostel! I prefer the name Ample Air though.
The name sadly derived from a line that I have voiced on a thousand radio commercials in my career 'with ample parking'. And
at this point I should add Mr Parkin is not full of figure, vigour yes, figure no. My word I'm rambling again!
One of my colleagues
at JMS has taken a keen interest in all this flight simulator nonsense, and between us we’ve been struggling through
getting from Airport A to Airport B using the Instrument Landing System. You see I admit to being a novice. I also admit to
being bamboozled by all the technicalities of flight, abbreviations and as for some of the cockpit instrumentation, well just
where do you start.
As I mentioned
Mike tried to teach me a bit about setting the ILS frequencies, headings and the autopilot, then regaining control just in
time to manually ‘flare’ on landing. For me half the problem is with the keyboard shortcuts. It’s the same
with my train simulator. I’ll be chugging along quite happily when I press the wrong key on the keyboard and end up
sanding the track instead of braking. I guess the other half of the problem for me is giving it time… I just haven’t
my old girl, the Douglas DC3, not Liz. It is undoubtedly the most successful transport aircraft in history. Dating from the
30’s and 40’s it seems difficult to believe but it was then a ‘luxury’ aircraft, with revolutionary
facilities like cabin heat, insulated walls and running water in the toilet! 1st class executive comfort, particularly
in the variant which was called ‘Skylounge’ It boasted just 14 seats for daytime flying. If you wanted to travel
at night another variation of the DC3 was the Skysleeper complete with bunk beds! The DC3 was, and is, a classic.
Click the above for a high resolution view.. courtesy of bigfoto.com
A stalwart of World War 2, it's interesting that the Swiss national airline ordered 5 DC-3's before
the war began. Swissair used them to begin a long nonstop Zurich-London route. With it's military connections
Swissair thought it better to adopt a special color scheme for it's DC3's. After the war suddenly the trade in second
hand DC3's became big business, and the Swissair DC-3 fleet was at in no time! The 1960's saw the majority of Swissair DC-3's
decomissioned although I beleive you can still fly DC3 from Zurich to London in Swissair 1940's colors!
But what of my all time favourite JET? Well it's the Hunter. Beautiful just beautiful.
Swiss Hunter J 4098 at Hermeskeil Air Museum
The largest private aviation museum in Europe!
A few summers
ago, we visited the Hermeskeil Air Museum in Germany where we captured the above a moment before the camera
batteries gave up! (That's our excuse for such a lousy photo).
number of us, and especially for those camping around Interlaken airfield, over 3 decades, the sight, and sound, of the Hawker Hunter
jet was quite familiar. It’s an aircraft much loved by many including me, Ahh the old days when the valleys reverberated
to the sound of the Rolls Royce Avon!!
researching a radio piece I did about the Hunters a couple of years back, I had a chat with Peter Lewis, author
of the 'definitive' work on the Swiss Hunters. He has written two books on the subject, 'Swiss Hunter' and
'Ein Jäger für
die Schweiz'. His website is goatworks.com.
I also got in touch with Gordon Williams who created the fascinating website
swisshunters.info dedicated to the 160 Swiss Hunters. On his ‘profiles' page there
is a meticulously compiled list of all the aircraft with their known histories.
Built by Hawker Aircraft Limited, Kingston-upon-Thames.
First flight 27Jan56, Pilot: David Lockspeiser Original serial XE536, delivered to no5 Maintenance
Unit (Kemble) 23Feb56(RAF, new aircraft pending squadron allocation) Modified by HAL 1957 to Mk58 specification First
flight as Mk58: 29Mar58, Pilot: Frank Bullen Delivered to Emmen 03Apr58, Pilot: Hans Häfliger Delivered to squadron
12Apr58 Served with SAF Squadrons: 7, 20# SAF MODIFICATIONS Fatigue
meter Hours logged: 2541.17, landings: 1330 Out of service (and final flight) 16Dec94 at Dübendorf, Pilot Major
Konrad Brändli, making this the very last Swiss Hunter operational flight by the very first Swiss Hunter!!
She was stripped back to bare aluminium and perfectly repainted by Alfred Genther, BAMF (Swiss Logistics
Command) paint specialist, at Dübendorf. Aircraft returned to its original early 1960s condition, without braking parachute
or modifications . Sidewinder missiles fitted. Displayed at Fliegermuseum Dübendorf, Aug 2002
A remarkable and very beautiful aircraft.. and talking of 'remarkable and beautiful' here's the Patrouille Suisse airdisplay team!