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The Tale of Two Flying Bulls (and a thank you to the PMDG crew)

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    The Tale of Two Flying Bulls (and a thank you to the PMDG crew)

    Greetings PMDG crew. I'd like to share a story of how I came to finally purchase the DC-6, as well as the tale of my third flight across the Alps, which could have ended badly, especially since I barely have any experience.

    How it came about

    After many weeks of contemplating purchasing the DC-6, while waiting for the 737, 747, and 777, watching videos from all the known YouTube actors, I was finally at a point of flirting with P3D as a second sim. Two days of planning, making a list of must-have purchases, finally gave me the cold shower I needed — the next morning I created an account in your store, added the DC-6 to my cart, and finalized the purchase.

    I spent the next 12 hours continuing watching the PMDG YouTube channel (I had gone through a number of the videos earlier, but needed a refresh) and reading the manual.

    Around midday, after getting to grips with the AFR, takeoff, and cruise procedures, I could wait no longer — I stepped into the cockpit to commence my maiden flight. I'd figure out the descent and landing part when I got to them...

    Two flights later, I convinced my friend Piotr to fly two RedBull DC-6s on a trip and he chose a route from Bergamo (LIME) to Salzburg (LOWS), over the Alps, and this is where the tale begins.

    The Tale of Two Flying Bulls


    It was a beautiful morning in Bergamo, Italy. Having spent the night around Como and driven down to the airport early, I could still smell the summer in the air. The dawn was silent, everyone having already gone to sleep after an eventful Friday night. My friend Piotr was already doing the walkaround when I arrived, and after performing all the checks, and our morning coffee, we began our journey.

    I was the first one out, taxiing down to the holding point for runway 28.


    Having performed my before takeoff checklists, I was still waiting for Piotr to taxi down to the holding point for runway 10. The winds were calm and he wanted to see the DC-6 taking off. Before lining up, I once again verified all the engines were operating correctly, having taxied out using the reversers. I did not check the RPM of each engine, something which I'd come to regret later.

    As I lined up for departure, the AFE ran through all the dry takeoff checklists. Neither of us noticed anything askew and I let go of the brakes as soon as he gave us full power. The Flying Bull was however lazy, barely accelerating down the runway, attaining around 40 KTS at the halfway point.


    "Hey! Your engine no. 1 is out!" yelled Piotr over the radio, as I taxied to the end of RWY 28. I looked out of the window and indeed — it had shut down at some point during the takeoff.


    I turned the Flying Bull around, reignited engine 1, and ran through all the checklists again. Everything appeared to be in order. The AFE and I do not remember checking the RPM on that engine, after it had stabilized once more. Lesson learned.


    The second attempt, this time down runway 10, was entirely more successful. Accelerating to VR was just a short charge, and the Flying Bull took off gracefully, while gaining momentum for the climb before the Alps.


    With the morning sun directly in our eyes, I began to focus on why, after speeding up to 130 KTS, the DC-6 wasn't accelerating much past that speed. The hills and mountains were ever closer!

    The Flying Bull still had a positive climb, despite hovering at around 130-140 KTS. I couldn't level her out without putting her nose into a hill, and I was hesitant to return to LIME, afraid I wouldn't be able to make the turn. The VOR we were planning to follow seemed even more distant with each passing minute.

    Aviate. Navigate. Communicate.

    The climb was positive, at around 500 fpm. All the engines were working at their optimal... wait! Engine 1's RPMs were through the roof, oscilating around 3500! A quick glance out of the window, and we banked left, towards the valley that was opening up before us.


    Knowing we had a runway RPMs, and risking engine damage and failure, this was the stage in which I had to focus on aviating and navigating. I did call Piotr, and found out he'd taken off behind me and successfully followed his preplaned flight plan, which was an alternative to the one I chose. Since he was already nearing cruise, I asked him to dig out the QRH, since my AFE was busy working on maintaing power, and I was navigating the valley, trying not to put it into a mountain.

    It was at this point that I started to plan where I could safely start performing diagnostics on the engine. This was complicated by the fact, that the Flying Bull was intent on banking left, which still required attention despite trimming her out.


    Piotr continued looking for the appropriate procedures while we were still trying to attain our minimum required altitude, to cross the mountains ahead of us.

    To make matters worse, a weather front rolled in from the west, forcing me to skirt around the clouds, because we needed visual obstacle confirmation, since we were still too low in the sky.


    Meanwhile, Piotr, while flying his route, had managed to suggest I leaf through pages 242-243, to see of the MALFUNCTIONING HAMILTON STANDARD PROPELLER section would be of any use. Section 10.3 – PROPELLER OVERSPEEDING — seemed promising, since the procedure under 10.1 – INDIVIDUAL PROPELLER OUT OF SYNCHRONIZATION – yielded no change of the RPM of propeller 1.


    At this point I was checking my charts to see where I could perform the procedure, since it required idling the throttles and slowing down to 139 KIAS or less. Luckily, we had just crossed over the Alps and Munich was swinging to us in the distance. I knew I had a few thousand feet available, if it came to the worst and we were forced to glide.


    After completing the procedure, feathering the propeller, turning off the magnetos and fuel, and trimming out for 3-engined flight, I figured I'd try to restart engine 1. I had already accelerated back to 170+ KIAS, and surprisingly, engine 1 roared back to life after unfeathering it, adding fuel and turning on the magnetos, synchronizing its RPMs with the rest of the engines correctly!

    A few minutes later we were back on course for Salzburg and landed soon thereafter.

    We grabbed a quick coffee with Piotr at the airport and I thanked him for his help during the flight, without which we would have had a much tougher time coming in to our destination.


    PMDG crew,

    1. I'm sure that engine would have been toast had it been a flight in RL — I kept it at high RPM way too long, but I didn't want to risk a crash.

    2. I didn't know I'd find emergency procedures in the POH until I started looking for them (I hadn't yet reached that point in the documentation). This was wonderful. The last time I had a similar situation in a less perfected aircraft from another developer, I had to actually Google the symptoms mid-flight.

    3. The emotions were high and I will remember that flight for many years to come.


    1. Does anyone know what actually happened and why?

    2. Was it because I was using the reversers and one of the propellers got stuck in reverse, hence it shutdown the engine before takeoff?

    3. Was it later spinning the other way, so I had less than expected power during the climb? Or was there another reason?

    I'd love to get some feedback to better understand what exactly happened, but in the meantime — thank you for this wonderful aircraft.

    My only regret is that I didn't get it sooner!

    P.S. I'd love some suggestions what kind of remarks to add to my VATSIM flightplan, to be able to fly it online, without GPS, so the controllers know SIDs and STARs are theoritically out of the question, but ILS is doable.
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    Last edited by Moridin; 13Sep2021, 13:16. Reason: Grammar

    Wojtek Pietrusiewicz

    I actually forgot to underline the most important part:

    THANK YOU for the DC-6! It's simply amazing. I love flying it. I love the sounds it makes. I love looking at it.

    Wojtek Pietrusiewicz


      And I just had the exact same thing happen again to Engine 3. Didn't use reversers so that's a dead end. Reduced power, feathered + shut engine off mid flight, reignited. There was more damage this time...

      Timeline of events:

      1. Startup + taxi was fine.
      2. Engine shutdown just before takeoff, when doing before takeoff checks.
      3. Restarted engine.
      4. Reran checks.
      5. Everything was fine.
      6. RPMs desynced soon after takeoff.
      7. Shutdown engine 3, feathered prop.
      8. Restarted mid flight. RPMs were now synced but engine was had a "yellow" oil temp. The others were green.
      9. Landed soon thereafter, engine 3 in the orange.

      Can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.

      Wojtek Pietrusiewicz


        Wonderful write up Wojtek! Next time I'm in the DC-6 for another challenging stream you're welcome to fly with me as I'm sure you already know - sounds like you're miles ahead of me at getting your head about the aircraft too!

        Glad you're enjoying it too - she's a tricky girl but the AFE is excellent and certainly takes a lot of the pressure off you.

        Loved reading this as a story - almost read like a movie, and like yourself, I'm REALLY looking forward to the 737 for MSFS!

        Luke Carter aka British Avgeek


          A few screenshots from our stunning trip from Rijeka to Innsbruck the other day too!

          Luke Carter - British Avgeek
 image_14299.png image_14300.png image_14301.png


            Originally posted by British Avgeek YT View Post
            Wonderful write up Wojtek! Next time I'm in the DC-6 for another challenging stream you're welcome to fly with me as I'm sure you already know - sounds like you're miles ahead of me at getting your head about the aircraft too!

            Glad you're enjoying it too - she's a tricky girl but the AFE is excellent and certainly takes a lot of the pressure off you.

            Loved reading this as a story - almost read like a movie, and like yourself, I'm REALLY looking forward to the 737 for MSFS!

            Luke Carter aka British Avgeek
            Thanks! Looking forward to our future flights together! Will hopefully join on the long haul this weekend. And congrats on the 10K again!

            She's so photogenic - I have a tonne of screenshots already.

            Wojtek Pietrusiewicz


              Originally posted by British Avgeek YT View Post
              A few screenshots from our stunning trip from Rijeka to Innsbruck the other day too!
              I just flew the RedBull livery OE-LDM from LOWS to LOWW. I chickened out on LOWI! The circle to land approach was on the cards, but I'm not yet ready for it, mentally. :-)

              Wojtek Pietrusiewicz


                Great story. Keep us posted on your future journeys.
                Manfred Luederitz

                A Day Without Laughter, Is A Day Without Living