Over a period of 30 days, working in weekend flights of an hour at a time, I completed a 2,285 nautical mile tour I called the “West Executive Tour”, flying a virtual Embraer Phenom 100 in real-world conditions from my home town of Renton, WA to Idaho, then down to the Southwest US via Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada, and back again up through California and Oregon.

The individual flights took about one hour each, and were between 225 and 300 nautical miles. Real-world meteorological conditions were used on each leg, and data was fed to Foreflight Mobile for real-time navigation assistance.

Watch All About It!

The entire series is available on YouTube, in a dedicated playlist of West Exec Flights starting from Renton on June 20th, and ending right back at Renton on July 19th.

The Overall Route

Full US IFR Diagram IFR Full US

Close Up VFR Topo Diagram VFR Close Up US

Watch Individual Routes

The Plane: Embraer Phenom 100

Callsign: N5627E

The West Exec tour was an opportunity to get dedicated time in a single airframe - in this case, the very light Embraer Phenom 100 jet. For me, having the power and cruising altitude of a fully-pressurized turbofan-powered jet yields incredible flexibility.

The Phenom 100 can take off with a little over 3,000 feet of runway, can climb above 40,000 feet, and can fly at Mach 0.7.

I’ve been impressed each time I fly this plane; it leaps off the runway, it cruises at incredible speed - this is a plane that wants to fly. I was fortunate to take it out in good weather each time, but I have no doubt it’ll perform equally well in IMC and weather.

Modeled in X-Plane 11 by Carenado, see it on the X-Plane store.

Learn more about the real Phenom 100 EV here.

Grab Some Wallpaper!

Part of flying is the great sights you’ll see on the way. I captured beauty shots at each part of the trip and make them available for you here, both in Ultrawide and standard Widescreen:

Q&A From the Flight Deck

What Flight Simulator is This?

I use X-Plane 11 Pro. You can do all this in the regular X-Plane 11 application, too.

What is Your Flight Rig - What Controls Do You Have?

I have my own custom rig called Project Nimitz – Check it out!.

How Do You Stream these Flights?

I use Streamlabs OBS. If you’d like to see how I’ve got OBS set up for flying and interviewing, check out the details in the post about the GiveBIG Fly-In.

What is the Pop-Up Navigation App on the Right Hand Side?

At intervals during the flights, you’ll see what looks like an iPad app for flight narvigation on the right side of the screen.

That’s exactly what it is: Foreflight Mobile, a real EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) application, and one of the tools of choice for real aviators.

I have a paid subscription to Foreflight Mobile, and connect it to X-Plane using these instructions from Foreflight.

I then use APowerMirror to mirror my iPad onto my PC, and capture its window to stream it using Streamlabs OBS. This does mean that I cannot run X-Plane in Fullscreen mode (otherwise the APowerMirror window won’t update), so I use fully maximized Windowed mode instead. Performance hit is minimal.

Since I use real-world meteorological conditions, the METARS, TAFs, CIGMETs, winds aloft and other meteorological and barometric information coming from Foreflight is valid for the simulation – and comes in pretty handy!

How Do the Cameras Work?

I use X-Camera to be able to move around inside the aircraft, do orbit and fly-by shots, and have airport cameras.

What Makes the Cockpit Shake?

Shaking effects come from XPRealistic, along with some of the additional sounds. I never thought shaking was such an immersive thing, but XPRealistic sold me on it. The random times when your pilot sneezes always come as a surprise and a little immersive bonus.

How Do you Do the Announcer Voice?

In order to make in-flight announcements, I use VoiceMeeter Virtual Audio Mixer, and pipe from my microphone to a virtual microphone using VoiceMeeter’s in-box FX to make the voice sound a little tinnier. In Streamlabs OBS a key combination temporarily mutes the “regular” microphone and temporarily un-mutes the Voicemeeter virtual microphone.