Bluegrass Airlines, August 2003


By Bill Von Sennet


This month we are using the FS2002 Boeing 307 Stratoliner.  We will be flying the Pan Am routes from Miami to Cristobal in the Canal Zone 1,142 miles, and from Miami to Belem Brazil 3,200 miles


South of those terminals passengers where transferred to DC-2’s or DC-3’s.  The schedule is dated September-November 1940   The Stratoliner (Pan AM called them “Strato-Clippers”) had a very short life as a commercial airliner.  Only 10 were built because of the demands of World War II and B-17 production.  Pan Am and TWA began passenger service with the B-307 in the summer of 1940.  I’m not sure what happened to the 4 that Pan Am bought, but the 6 TWA 307’s were sold to the U.S. Government in December of 1941 and designated as C-75’s.  They flew over 7 ½ million miles and made more than 3,000 ocean crossings in USAAF service.  In 1944 they were completely refurbished by Boeing and fitted with B-17G wings, landing gear, engines and tailplanes. Pressurization was removed and they were returned to TWA for use on the shorter New York-Midwest routes.


The Boeing 307 was the first pressurized airliner.  Cabin pressure was only 2 ½ lb/sq in which gave it a cabin altitude of 8,000’ when flying at 14,700’.  My rudimentary math would indicate that it could climb and descend at 1250 ft/min with the same comfort to passengers as 500 ft/min in a DC-3.


The FS 2002 Boeing 307 is by Al Kaiser of the Vintage Aircraft Works.  You can download it from, or visit Tim’s Flight Studio   Tim Pinkawa bgas030 has done the Boeing Factory and the TWA paint jobs.  .



Screenshot copied from Vitange Aircraft  Works site.  Quality and size reduced.


I just visited The Vintage Aircraft Works web-site and Al Kaiser announces that he is planning on releasing an FS 2004 version with full panel shortly after the release of FS2004.  That is great news!



This is panel that I have modified.  Note the com radio up on the top right.  This is the BCK.Radio_Multi.gau that I use on many panels to save space.  If you click the rotating knob above “com” on the right side it will switch to display the NAV1 frequency, then NAV2, ADF/NDB and Transponder.  Click on the left side to switch back to COM.  It may not be prototypical, but it allows me to have all the gauges in view all the time.  The throttle quadrant controls all engines simultaneously.  The rpm and manifold pressure gauges display the readings for engine #1.

For more detailed info click the icons at the bottom left.  The one with the radio antenna will display all radios and engine instruments. (Shift and 2 does the same thing).  Click the satellite dish or press (Shift and 3) to display the GPS.  Click the icon of the aircraft top view or (Shift  and 4) to display the throttle quadrants and the starter and magneto switches.  I have one switch to add: A Nav/Gps switch. It will be just to the left of the Auto Pilot. If your panel doesn’t have it, download the updated panel.cfg file here.


Flip the switch to down (GPS) and click the AutoPilots Nav function and it will track the gps.  First you have to program the GPS. While still on the ground select Flights…Flight Planner  Then enter the departure and destination airport i.e.  kopf and mpej   Click on VFR or IFR then direct route GPS.  Then click find route , set the altitude for your desired cruise and click save then OK.  All set.  If you chose IFR then press the ATC (squiggly) key and request clearance to get the show on the road.   After you take off and get turned toward in the right direction, you can activate the gps and nav mode to  follow the great circle route to your destination.


How I fly the Boeing 307


While I am not an expert, I try to fly Flightsim aircraft in a manner consistent with the prototype.

My “World Civil Aircraft since 1945” book claims the cruising speed at 10,000’ was 200mph.  Whether this is factual or the marketing departments “hype” I’m not sure. 


While testing the aircraft I was able to fly at 200mph (true air speed) at 10,000’  (164 mph indicated) using power settings of 35” m.a.p. and 2,100 rpm.  At 17,000’ that translated into 220 mph true airspeed. Those figures would represent the maximum cruise speed.


A more realistic cruise speed of 150 mph (indicated) seemed to be obtained with 31” m.a.p. and 2,100 rpm.  At 17,000’ this results in a true airspeed of 200 mph.   Please note that all speed numbers in this article are in mph.  That is the way speeds are indicated on the 307 instrument panel.

To compute to knots divide mph by 1.1518, thus 150 mph indicated is 130 knots.


Now on to the schedules.  I wish to acknowledge the kindness of Björn Larsson of Airline Timetable Images for supplying color copies of the timetables below.  (I added the red lines to indicate which schedules were for the 307).   Björn sent along some other treasures which will be used in future features.  The PanAm Clipper story has been updated with some 1939 PanAm Atlantic timetables.



Flying  Miami, FL – Cristobal, Canal Zone

What is now KPOF Opa-Locka was the Miami Municipal Airport in 1939. The direct  route to Cristabal C.Z. is 993.7 nm (1144 miles) on a heading of 179 degrees.  You will fly over Cuba (which was permissible in 1939.)  If you prefer to fly VOR to VOR your course will be about 39 nm further via Grand Cayman 115.60  and  San Andreas 113.30   After taking off fly direct to Virginia Key 117.10 (12 nm at a heading of 148 deg) then fly the 191 deg outbound radial (alt 16,500’ suggested)  At about the time you loose the VKZ VOR signal you will be in range of Grand Cayman.  Fly direct to GCM VOR then turn to the  182 deg outbound radial to San Andreas.  You will pick up SPP shortly after loosing GCN.  When passing over San Andreas take the 150 deg outbound radial and descend to 15,500’ or climb to 17,500’  (eastbound flights fly at odd thousands +500’ for VFR) then tune in FNC 109.0 (France) VOR and fly direct to MPEJ Enrique Adolfo Jimenez Airport, Colon, Panama.  I believe that MPEJ is the former France Field.  Mr Jiminez was the leader of Panama from 1945-1948.  Somewhere along the way they renamed the field in his honor.  Aside from geographic location, the name of the VOR is sufficient evidence for me.

My test flight was done at 16,500’ direct via gps.  I departed KOPF at 7:45 EDT (corresponds to 6:45 EST on the schedule).  I arrived at MPEJ at 12:21 EST 54 min ahead of schedule. I cruised at 200 mph using 2100 rpm and 31” m.a.p. 

I also tested the VOR to VOR route.  Take off at 0645 EST (0745 EDT clock setting)  Flew at 16,500’ Passed over GCM at 0917 EST, SPP at 1139 EST and landed at MPEJ at 1307 EST 8 min ahead of schedule. (I was too high on approach and took my passengers on a tour of the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal.)

Isla Providencia, Columbia  51nm NNE of San Andreas Island SPP VOR 113.30

FSNav settings for the Boeing 307.  Cruised at 150 mph (translates to 130 kts).  At 16,500’ the true airspeed was 200 mph.  Note the fuel flow #’s  My flight plan came within 2 gallons of actual fuel burned.  Also the elapsed time was within 2 minutes.  The key is to program the cruise speed with your expected cruise speed making allowances for winds.  Thus if I was expecting 10 knot headwinds I would change the 130 kts cruise to 120 kts.  I used real weather and had light cross winds.


Flying Miami, FL – Belem, Brazil

Leg 1  Miami – San Juan, PR

Daylight Saving Time was not used in 1939, so your time to San Juan won’t match the schedule.  In FS2002 during Daylight Saving Time, the San Juan time is identical to Miami since San Juan is on standard time.  To correct for the difference, depart from Miami at 8am (EDT) which would be 7am EST as depicted in the schedule.  On my test flights I didn’t have any trouble arriving ahead of schedule.  The winds were light.  On the southern portion of the route the prevailing winds are from the east. On a stormy day, with a hurricane approaching, the schedule may prove to be optimistic.

My first flight was VOR to VOR  via Bimini 116.70, Exuma 112.20, Provedenciales 115.60 and Grand Turk 114.20.  Within range I flew direct to San Juan 114.0 until picking up the 330.0 NDB.  I turned toward it until intercepting the localizer for runway 10.

FSNav flight plan VOR to VOR  The speed was set to 130 knots which = 150 mph indicated.  Flying VFR at 17,500’ 2100 rpm and 31” map I arrived in San Juan at 13:34 60mst (with an 8amEDT departure)

My second flight was ATC controlled GPS direct at 17,000’ with 2100rpm and 35” map  I arrived in San Juan at 13:16 60mst with an 08:00 EDT departure. I used 936 gal of fuel.   I felt like canceling my IFR flight toward the end as ATC constantly had me switching back and forth between 100 and 135 deg headings!  I’m eagerly waiting for FS2004 (*should be out by the time you read this).  Some of the ATC options sound interesting, like being able to file enroute and also to change altitudes.

The GPS routing followed the VOR to VOR route very closely. Other than passing south of Bimini and east of  Great Exuma it was almost identical.  I flew just a few miles north of Provo and directly over Grand Turk.

I haven’t flown Legs 2 and 3 yet, but here are some screen shots of the flight plans.

Belem approach is assuming a wind blowing in from the Atlantic.  Revise your plan based on current weather conditions when you arrive.  If you look at the PanAm schedule you will note that after adjusting for time zone changes the Port of Spain – Belem trip takes 7:20 eastbound but only 6:25 westbound.  The prevailing wind in the area is from the east.  This trip may require a direct route (not via the VOR’s and/or a faster cruise speed to maintain the schedule. At 17,500 the max cruise would be about 220 mph at 170 mph indicated. (fsnav cruise speed in knots would be 150). 

I flew the route from Belem to Port of Spain at the max cruise of 220 mph.  Had a 10 knot tail wind and was almost one hour early arriving at Port of Spain.  The eastbound schedule must have some padding in it in case of a severe headwind.

All flights in this months feature get reported to the Southern Division.  I’ll pass your hours on to your division director for inclusion in his roster.

Next months feature will be the 1932 National Air Tour.  If you are within range of one of the cities they are visiting, try to check out the real one.  I will be at Kill Devil Hills, NC Sept 20th and maybe Pittsburgh, PA Sept 22nd when the tour visits.  I’ll get some pictures to post on the screen shots page.   Be on the lookout for a 1932 aircraft to fly.  DC-3’s are a little modern but will be permitted, since the FAA announced they will be flying theirs in the tour.  Not sure what KFFA will look like in FS2004, but we have an enhanced version for FS2002 on our downloads page. (KFFA is First Flight Airport at Kill Devil Hills)

Just to remind you that we are doing historic fights for our “Features of the Month” this year as it is the 100th anniversary of Powered Flight. (In honor of Wilbur and Orville Wright and their Kitty Hawk adventures in December of 1903)

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