Aviation buffs - Help me find a plane

I’m going to try to fly around the world in MS Flight Simulator. To make it more of an adventure, I want to do it in an old prop-driven aircraft. I need some suggestions for an airplane to take. Here are some guidelines for my ideal aircraft, more or less in order of importance:

[li] It must be a prop-driven aircraft. Preferably piston-engined, but a sufficiently cool turboprop would be okay.[/li]
[li] It should be multi-engined. There’s going to be lots of flying over water.[/li]
[li] The aircraft must have a long range. I want to take a route close to the equator, and my longest planned leg is San Francisco to Hawaii, at about 2100 mi (3400 km). The plane should be able to make that, or close to it. If the range is a little short, I can add an extra “ferry tank” by modifying the aircraft’s file, but I’d prefer if I didn’t have to do that.[/li]
[li] It must be a cool plane. Think something that National Geographic would do a story on if someone flew one around the world in real life.[/li]
[li] It should be a vintage aircraft. I want to be somewhat realistic about it, so an old plane should still have examples flying somewhere today. Extinct planes or museum pieces are out.[/li]
[li] It must not be active military, but an old, retired warbird would be fine. The rule of thumb is to ask yourself “Would it be reasonable to find this aircraft in the hands of a private owner?” and “If I flew over [insert your favourite unfriendly nation here] in one of these, would I be shot down or merely forced down?”[/li][/ul]

Right now, I’m thinking a PBY Catalina. It meets my requirements, and being amphibious is a plus with the over water flying. It’s a bit slow though, so I’m looking for other suggestions. Also note that availability shouldn’t be a problem, you can download just about any aircraft you want.

I would suggest a Lockheed P-2V Neptune. Twin engine, long range, classic Navy aircraft. Many of the surviving planes are being refitted as fire bombers for fighting forest fires so they are in private hands and are durable and reliable.

I think you’ve made a good choice with the PBY. It’s practical for the flight if you aren’t in a hurry and has a very appealing golden age look. The fairly roomy cabin and the obersvation bubbles provide a good place to inspire a would be Antoinne de Saint-Exupéry.

I was going to suggest an Electra but it doesn’t have the panache of the PBY. Also be sure to bring a sober navigator.

I know a guy who bought a P2V which had been modified by Lyndon Johnson for campaigning in Texas prior to his signing up for the VP ticket. I’m not sure he ever actually used it, but the plane was filled with oriental carpets, lounges, and other such finery. While the guy I knew was making the plane flyable, he used it as a bachelor pad to entertain his lady friends. Traded a Stearman for it.

Perhaps you might try to succeed where Amelia Earhart failed. The Lockheed L10-E Electra (not the four-engined passenger plane of the same nickname) seems to be a pretty capable plane–if you don’t get lost.

Well, if it was me… and since this is a “virtual” tour and real life comfort won’t be an issue I would probably consider an old P-38. Its just such a cool/mean looking plane.

The other one I would probably use (while not a prop, but damn old) would be an Me-262. Since you wouldn’t have to worry about rebuilding the engine every few hours like they really did, it would be a cool plane to fly. You would get a decent speed (high-subsonic) but still be an antique. I don’t think you would have much room on board for luggage though :wink:

You would more than likely have to fly a northern route to get across the oceans since neither would have the range needed for a long trans-oceanic flight.

I think you can get some real good FS2K versions of both of these for download too.

I also was going to suggest a PV2 or P3 both Lockheed aircraft. Another suggestion would be this G222 Kinda of a minature C-130.

A DC-3 may also fit the bill. The military still uses them but mainly for target practice.

Me-262? Nice little dove, but has less range than a hard-thrown rock.

I think the PBY would be ideal for a liesurely cruise around the world. (Make sure you go with the trade winds as there are places where a good headwind will send it backward at its top speed). But a neat plane all in all.

If you wanted to go with class and style, I’d go with either the Constellation (military ID, C-69) or its big sister the Super Constellation (military ID, C-121).

More photos and info

Well, eBay recently (actually, its over in about 2 hours) tried to sell the 1967 Grumman Widgeon from Fantasy Island. There’s only 3 remaining in the world, the one being sold being the only one left that is still flying.

Seem’s fairly fun. You can imagine that every island or small village you fly over, someone is yelling, “Da plane! Da plane!”

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll admit, I’m still leaning towards the PBY. A flying boat has a certain quaintness to it, and I love the observation bubbles on the side. I’m not in a hurry, otherwise I’d fly a Concorde. :slight_smile:

The P2V looks promising, I hadn’t thought of that one before. I’ll download one this weekend and check it out. I had considered a Connie already, but it didn’t seem to have a rugged, go-anywhere “personality”, if that makes any sense.

I’ll be using real weather downloaded from the internet, so the trade winds are something I have to consider. I’m starting in Florida, and originally I planned on flying east because that’s the way Earhart flew. But at the latitudes I’m flying at, that’s against the prevailing winds most of the way, so I’m going to reverse my original route. The Catalina has a built-in headwind as it is!

I’ll second the Constellation. One made several low passes over my house on the way to and from an airshow a few weeks ago. Beatiful airplane, and there’s nothing in the world that sounds quite like a quartet of Wright Cyclone R-3350 engines, whether they’re on a Connie, a B-29, or a flight of A-1 Skyraiders. Largest-displacement production piston engine, y’know.

Here’s a set of Experimentals that might float your boat. Better check range and load capacity to see if you could do your longest leg, though.
The SeaRey

The SeaWind

The Glass Goose
I like the looks of either of the first 2. The Goose? I dunno - an amphibian biplane is just wrong, somehow, especially with those unstayed wings. Bipes are supposed to have wires and struts!

Gunslinger, I agree with you about the sound of radials. I saw a B-19 make a couple of low passes overhead once. Amazing! I understand just a little bit now why they called the fleets “aluminum overcast”.

FWIW the Pima Air Museum in Tucson has a Grumman Widgeon allong with two or three Constellations including Columbine, the one Ike had when he was occupation commander in Europe after the war. There is a flying Connie that’s operated at the Avra Valley Airport near Tucson. A pilot can get checked out in it and get a little stick time but it will cost you around $6k.

I’s still go with the Cat. You made a good choice.

Lounge(s) in a P2V? I don’t think so. The fuselage is extremely narrow. You don’t appreciate how tiny and cramped military aircraft are until you get a chance to crawl inside them.

I’d go with the Cat for practical reasons, but I’ve always admired the clean lines of the B-25.

De havilland Dragon Rapide

The Grumman Goose. The only thing that’d be the hangup is the range you require.

As far as the coolness aspect of it, well, it was good enough for being the featured aircraft in Jimmy Buffett’s Carribean seaplane stories.

It also had a cool name— the Hemisphere Dancer

Another good one - the HK-1 (later the H-4) Hurcules (best known as the Spruce Goose).

Buffett’s plane is an Albatross. It has slightly longer range than the Cat and is about 20 kts. faster, but… it doesn’t have those cool observation bubbles. :slight_smile:

I’ve decided to go with the PBY. Last weekend I gave one I downloaded a custom paint job. I couldn’t find a suitable instrument panel, so I completely reworked one. I named the plane the Yankee Trader, but I think I can come up with a better name than that. Anyway, I’ll do a couple of shakedown flights and I’ll be ready to go!

If you wanted to go around the world without stopping for fuel you could try the Voyager.


Unfortunately, you would have to get it out of the Smithsonian first.