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$100 Hamburger Flight: Northern Italy

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You’ve been working extremely hard for the last six months, so when the opportunity to enjoy a late summer Roman holiday presented itself, you jumped at the chance. Rome is a glorious capital city, offering a nearly endless stream of sights, sounds, tastes, and adventures. You stared in awe at the Colosseum, felt your spirit soar in the Sistine Chapel, and discovered you like coda alla vaccinara (oxtail braised in herbs, tomato, and celery). And you will never forget that delightful afternoon in the company of the young woman on the Vespa!

But as they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Romans love to travel, so you decide to expand your horizons and venture north. With four days remaining, you want to explore Florence and the Tuscan countryside. At 9:30 a.m. you board the EuroStar Italia #9432 train at Roma Termini for the 1 hour 39 minute nonstop journey to Firenze S.M.N. As you make your way through central Italy, a whole new set of delights await you.

The art, history, and scenery of Florence and Tuscany certainly do not disappoint. The Duomo of the Cathedral of Santa Maria dei Fiori and the Leaning Tower of Pisa are architectural marvels. The sculptures and paintings to be discovered are equally astounding. Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Women in the Piazza della Signoria, Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’ Accademia, and the treasures of the Uffizi museum all vie for your attention. And Tuscany’s olive oil is world-renowned; after one taste, you purchase several bottles to take home.

Yet even as you relish in the wonders of Tuscany, a siren’s song from northern Italy grows ever louder in your ears. Venice, the ancient city of canals, beckons you to visit her and to bask in her beauty. But there is no time! Tomorrow is your last full day in Florence. The day after that you take the 8:49 a.m. train to Rome and then must go to the airport in the afternoon, forced to return to the “real world.” Only 125 miles to the north-northeast, Venice seems simultaneously just in view and yet just out of reach.

Suddenly, the answer is obvious. One of the reasons you had been so busy for the past half year was the time you spent earning a multi-engine rating, plus the many flight hours you subsequently logged in a Piper Cheyenne refining your skills. A speedy twin can transport you from Florence to Laguna Veneta in under an hour. This gives you plenty of time to enjoy the views of northern Italy from above, explore the canals and landmarks of Venice by air or water, and then when your appetite peaks, to enjoy a $100 hamburger – Italian style!



A wide range of aircraft could be used for this trip, but with the two legs averaging 130 nm each, a speedy single- or twin-engine is recommended. The author has been flying the Digital Aviation Piper Cheyenne X recently, so that is what he used. Several of the stock MSFS models or one of the freeware or payware addons listed in the Resources section would also be suitable. Please keep in mind, however, that jets and planes generally flown by two pilots are not in keeping with the traditional spirit of the $100 Hamburger flights.

This is a true “cross-country” journey for a GA aircraft and, as the first international $100 Hamburger, involves flying over territory which may be unfamiliar to many pilots. When you factor in FSX and FS2004’s unfortunate tendencies to portray much of the Emilia-Romagna plains rather monotonously, use of proper navigational aids is a virtual necessity. Please avoid the temptation to rely upon GPS. Instead, practice using the VOR (VHF Omni-directional radio range) and NDB (Non-directional beacon) stations along the route to find your way. (Make sure your aircraft has the proper receivers!) All the information you need is summarized below. If your mood is more daring or you are familiar with flying in Italy, the same information can be used for dead reckoning (navigation by speed, time, distance, and heading). For an even richer experience, log on to VATSIM, file a flight plan, and utilize the excellent services of the VATITA air traffic controllers.

Real world weather is generally recommended, but keep in mind that this is meant to be a VFR flight and you will want to enjoy the scenery both en route and around Venice. If Mother Nature does not cooperate, adjust the weather settings appropriately. The author set the time and date for 10:50 a.m. on September 9, 2009, outbound and 4:15 p.m. the same day for the return.

Florence to Venice

Depart Florence Amerigo Vespucci Airport (LIRQ) on Runway 05
Fly 3 nm @ 142° to Arno River [You should be able to clearly see the Duomo as you near the river.]
Fly 55 nm @ 60° to Cervia (CER) VOR 113.60
Fly 52 nm @ 354° to Chioggia (CHI) VOR 114.10
Fly 23 nm @ 357° to Venice (VEN) NDB 379.0
Fly 4 nm @ 40° to land on Runway 04R at Venice Marco Polo Airport (LIPZ) VOR 115.30
• Total Distance: 137 nm

Venice to Florence
Depart Venice Marco Polo Airport (LIPZ) on Runway 04R
Fly 51 nm @ 214° to Ferrara (FER) NDB 427.0
Fly 22 nm @ 218° to Bologna (BOA) VOR 112.20
Fly 33 nm @ 200° to Florence (FRZ) VOR 115.20
Fly 16 nm @144° to land on Runway 05 at Amerigo Vespucci Airport (LIRQ) VOR 112.50
• Total Distance: 122 nm


With most $100 Hamburger flights, the destination and burger you eat there are largely just an excuse for flying – the focus is on the journey, not the destination. Here, however, as pleasurable as the flights from Florence and back are, Venice is a truly worthy end in her own right. After landing on Runway 04R, do not be in a rush to leave. Enjoy some flightseeing by helicopter or, using an amphibian to hop from the airport to the Venetian Lagoon, circle the city and explore the Grand Canal by boat.

The Grand Canal snakes through the heart of Venice, from the Ferrovia train station in the northwest to St. Mark’s Square in the southeast. Many of the largest canal-side buildings have been converted into international banks, government or university buildings, art galleries, and consulates. The Rialto Bridge, which crosses at the narrowest point, is surrounded by expensive shops and tourists. The current stone span was built in 1592 and its arch stretches over 90 feet to allow trading ships, private boats, and gondolas to pass underneath.

The Piazza San Marco or St. Mark’s Square at the end of the Grand Canal is the focal point of Venice. One of the great urban spaces on the Continent, Napoleon reportedly called it “the drawing room of Europe.” It is ideal for lunch – your $100 budget should offer a range of choices far grander than a hamburger should you like, with a side order of people watching. After eating, explore St. Mark’s Basilica and then take the elevator to the viewing platform of the Campanile or Bell Tower. Its views of Venice are nothing short of stunning.

The pink and white Palazzo Ducale or Doges Palace lies between the Basilica di San Marco and St. Mark's Basin. The Gothic-Renaissance building served as the residence and government center of the doges – the "dukes" elected for life – who ruled Venice for more than 1,000 years. The Bridge of Sighs crosses the Rio di Palazzoa and connects the palace to the prison next door. Longstanding myth says that couples will be assured eternal love if they kiss in a gondola at sunset under the Bridge. Just to the southwest across St. Mark’s Basin is La Dogana da Mar. This triangular structure began service as a customs house in the 1400s and was a mandatory stop for all ships entering the city. On its roof is a golden ball topped by a statue of Fortune. These are just a few of the treasures to be found among the canals of Venice, truly the gem of Northern Italy.


FSBreak Podcast www.fsbreak.com
FSBreak Discussion Thread http://www.fszone.org/forums/forum/71-fsbreak-discussion-forum/
VATITA -- Vatsim vACC Italy http://www.vatita.net/ [Excellent – offering all of the above charts and more!]


Freeware Addon Files

Avsim – italy_regionspack_for_fsx.zip, italy_seasonspack_for_fsx.zip
Flightsim – italypkx.zip, lipz_fsx.zip, paesi_it.zip, vfr_obj.zip


Avsim – fsx_piper_seminole.zip, pa312fsx.zip, t303v31.zip
Flightsim – c414jprx.zip, fsxpipsm.zip


Flightsim – donzi.zip, fsxaquar.zip



Avsim – cg_-_lido_di_venezia_vfr_scenery_2005.zip, isdproject_-_lipz_&_lipv_2003.zip, italy.zip, italymesh2004.zip, sangiorgio.zip, vfr_objects_italia_v2.zip
Flightsim – af2_lirq.zip, aflirqrs.zip, itcoast2.zip, itac2_p1.zip, lipf2004.zip, lirplirq.zip, sluca.zip, italyto4.zip (6 additional files for Tuscany region are also available)


Avsim – 4_ga_piper_cheyenne_ii.zip, aztec_v4.zip, b58tc.zip, dm_tcom.zip, jojo.zip, twin_bonanza_pour_fs2004.zip
Flightsim – c414jpr9.zip, pa44smni.zip, twin_bon.zip


Avsim – med180v1.zip
Flightsim – riva_aqu.zip


Payware Addons

Florence X (FSX) http://www.aerosoft.com/cgi-local/re/iboshop.cgi?showd,5265620520,D12345
[NOTE: Aerosoft offers a 30-day full-version free trial of this addon.]

Venice X (FSX) http://www.aerosoft.com/cgi-local/us/iboshop.cgi?showd480!20,5285694690,D10242
[I cannot recommend Venice X highly enough; it makes this trip truly special.]


Digital Aviation Piper Cheyenne X (FSX/FS2004)

Carenado - PA-34 200T Seneca II (FSX)

RealAir – Beechcraft Duke B60 (FSX)


Deltasim – Malibu 32 Motor Boat



Lago Florence Scenery (FS2004) http://secure.simmarket.com/lago-florence-scenery.phtml
Lago Venice Scenery (FS2004) http://secure.simmarket.com/lago-venice-scenery.phtml


Digital Aviation Piper Cheyenne X (FSX/FS2004)

Carenado - PA-34 200T Seneca II (FS2004)

Flight1 –Cessna 441 Conquest II (FS2004)


When you get back to Rome, be sure to toss a coin over your left shoulder into Trevi Fountain before heading to the Leonardo da Vinci – Fiumicino airport. Legend has it that this gesture will ensure your return to the city, an excellent base for future explorations of this wonderful country. Arrivederci dall'Italia!

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