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A Scenic Trip Around the World (in 80 days)


cnic01
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Well, this IS exciting!

 

My licence is expired and I haven't flown in rather a long time, but how hard can it be to fly around the world in 80 days? Just so long as the sun shines I'm sure I will be fine. Oh, wait, Real World Weather it says... oops.

 

So I am going back to flight school for a few days but, just as Phileas Fogg himself headed off with little preparation, I'm sure I will be ok. Really....

 

I am loving reading the other participants' approaches to this. For myself,  I think I will re-read the book and try and follow it along as I travel. It's so long since I read it I haven't a clue how it turns out.

 

So I will head off from London (which airport though? Choices, choices.... maybe London City? Biggin Hill? Northolt? A gentleman would never fly from Heathrow or Gatwick and as for Luton or Stansted....)

 

Thence to Paris, Turin, Brindisi, Port Said and a short charter flight perhaps to Suez itself. We shall see. 

 

After that I shall do the detailed planning as we go but will certainly visit all the compulsory stops.

 

I have acquired a Daher TBM 930 in National Geographic Colours (their forebears were very cynical about the likely success of Phileas' own trip). It is currently being outfitted by Marshalls in Cambridge and I'm sure it will be ready in plenty of time. Unlike me.

 

(oh, for the record I use MSFS and have a Citation Longitude available en-route in case of time keeping issues in the TBM ).

 

This is going to be a blast...

 

 

 

 

     

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Positioning flight to Biggin Hill completed.... but it was foggy and I definitely should not have attempted it in these conditions. ATC were not impressed and for some reason the ground crew said they needed to check the undercarriage. No harm done really though.

 

Oh well, I'm off to my club to recover my jittery nerves before the meal later in the week and departure on 23rd.

Screenshot 2021-12-19 173639.png

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First flight completed, leaving Biggin Hill in murky conditions and arriving at Paris Le Bourget safely. A few delays en route caused by Flight Operations (I think this is going to be a recurring theme). 

I might be spending Christmas in Paris which sounds rather excellent to me. 

Photo flying with moon in it's correct phase (though the real time weather in MSFS was less than convincing). And parked at Le Bourget during engine shutdown.

Off into Paris now for a proper French lunch!

 

 

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After a rather wine-soaked Christmas in Paris, this morning we flew from Paris to Turin. The weather was pretty gloomy the whole way but managed to get a glimpse of the alps during the descent into Turin.

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There's the moon in the correct phase for today just to prove it was done live!

 

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A nice glimpse of the alps as we descend towards Turin

 

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Should probably have read the weather more carefully before leaving, then I wouldn't have been surprised to see snow on the ground in Turin!

 

French coffee was good, but now I'm in Italy where I know it will be even better.

 

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Well, that was a surprise. My sponsors (who choose to remain anonymous) summoned me back to London at short notice, informing me that they required me to use a more useful aircraft and to stop advertising a certain well-known magazine. They informed me that we would need to carry cargo for some of the journey (without being clear exactly what that would entail) and that they had procured a DC6 especially for the purpose. My heart sank. There would be no more back-seat flying on this trip.

So I headed back to Stansted and picked up the DC6. Yet another gloomy day in London but we headed off and completed the first leg to Brindisi post-haste. We should still be on time in Port Said I think

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In the murk at Stansted before departure

 

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En-route over the alps, much nicer weather and an excellent flight

 

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But dark by the time we arrived in Brindisi.

 

Looks like the DC6 is going to be my companion for some time!

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Lunchtime departure from Brindisi in calm weather and a straightforward flight. Until landing. The DC6 is not an easy aeroplane to land in the dark (for me at least) and a small amount of runway damage at Port Said might have been incurred. I'm sure it can be repaired in time for all the other arrivals though. The plane is being repaired and fortunately we have a day to spare so we will be ready for departure on time.

 

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The DC6 is a beautiful aircraft! Here we are over southern Greece on the way to Port Said.

 

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Sunset over the Mediterranean.

 

Tomorrow is a day off and I might try a bit of exploration of the Suez Canal in a Piper Cub....

 

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After a good rest in Port Said I am back at the airport today to check preparations for the next leg of the trip. Sadly there was a slight issue with a damaged undercarriage after the slightly (!) heavy landing here so a replacement plane has been found for the next leg to Jeddah.

 

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All ground checks went well and the plan is to leave here early on 2 January for the 770 mile leg to Jeddah. Then it will be on to Aden, Salalah and Mumbai. 

Sadly (but unsurprisingly after the New Year bar brawl) the trip sponsor dropped out so we are now having to earn cash for the trip by carrying cargo.

 

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Departed Port Said at 12:55 local time with cargo bound for Jeddah. The weather was clear and the 3hr 30min flight reasonably uneventful (until just before touchdown when MSFS crashed.... arggggghhhhh!!!! But the approach was good and it would have been fine).  

 

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High over the Red Sea heading for the MUVOL STAR into OEJN

 

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Earlier in the flight still in Egyptian airspace. The DC6 really is an impossibly beautiful plane.

 

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And finally on the ground in Jeddah, not the most exciting airport in the world in it's standard MSFS form....

 

Now to start rooting out the add-on that caused my MSFS crash... then preparations will start for the next leg to Aden. I just hope I can find somebody that needs some cargo shifting or I will run out of funds.

  

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Well, today was supposed to be a day off, but a cargo load (didn't like to ask what it was) needed shifting at short notice and the money was good. So we fired up the engines and headed on a short flight to Al Baha (OEBH). The weather was sunny and warm and the flight went without problems. Al Baha was not very busy and the cargo was quickly offloaded and taken away, no questions.

 

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Really arid terrain of course and I certainly wouldn't want to run short of fuel out here.

 

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Taxying in, not another plane in sight, air traffic control weren't exactly rushed off their feet.

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Cargo off-loaded and we're going to find a hotel. A beer would be good, but that's clearly not happening around here.

I hear rumour that there might be some cargo heading eastwards in a couple of days so we will get the plane ready to go as soon as we get the details.

 

 

 

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So the good news is that the plane that got a little bent on landing in Port Said has been repaired and is now back in service. Today's flight took us to Riyadh, the approach reminded me of PPL qualifying days in the 1970s when I flew into Kiddlington with planes following behind and to the side as I landed. Totally terrifying. Riyadh air traffic was just bonkers but we managed somehow to thread ourselves amongst it all and landed safely.

 

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Rather inhospitable terrain, looks nice at FL170 though.

 

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Here's an old photo of this plane landing during a previous lifetime in South Africa, little did they know that 20 years later it would be on it's way round the world!

 

Next flight in a few days will be to Muscat.... probably (depends on whether I can find some cargo or passengers to fund the fuel).

 

 

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Excellent news!! A group of 20 asked to charter the plane to Muscat, no questions asked.

 

So with sufficient cash now to buy the fuel and pay the landing fees off we went. A beautiful clear day for flying and a smooth flight to Muscat

 

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The approach over the mountains was nice (though that undercarriage is extended a bit early, words have been exchanged with the Flight Engineer but he insists it was fine).

 

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I'm always a bit nervous when landing at unfamiliar airports in the middle east in case my secret stash of scotch is noticed. Not sure why ground staff suddenly appeared but it certainly made me concerned…..

 

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Passengers safely disembarked and we are off to a hotel for the night. Karachi is our next planned stop unless we are offered cash to go somewhere else!

 

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25 ne'er-do-wells looking for a cheap charter to get them across from Muscat to Karachi. They promised cash (which was just what we needed to pay a few debts and be allowed to leave Muscat unimpeded). So off we went.

 

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Another beautiful day on the Arabian peninsula and no problems en-route to Karachi and into Pakistan.

 

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As we approached the coast of Pakistan a rather ominous sea mist rolled in making landing an IFR challenge. Our passengers hadn't unbuckled their seat belts at all on the flight which I'm sure was because they were nervous flyers, nothing to do with my bumpy flying I’m sure, so they were ready for the landing....

 

2115105778_Screenshot2022-01-10152010.thumb.png.2f8ba6429b33fb844f0467998dd55abe.png   

 

..which was surprisingly smooth. The mist was lifting as we taxied in and the passengers disembarked, never glancing back. We had warned them it wasn't a very modern plane. Honest.

 

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The good news is that we are well on course to make it to Bombay on schedule. Now who would like to fly to Mumbai with us? Very cheap tickets, no unnecessary luxuries. The plane even has a toilet.

 

  

 

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I overheard a conversation (I wasn't eavesdropping, honestly). There was a group of around 25 people who had been let down by their tour company and who needed to urgently get to Bombay.

 

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Our plane was ready so, not wanting to miss an opportunity, I offered to step in and fly the disappointed travellers, (at a very reasonable cost).

It was definitely a mistake. They spent the whole flight complaining at how bumpy it was and wanting more cups of tea than we could possibly provide from the 3 thermos flasks we had on board.

 

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Approach into Bombay was arduous, murky conditions made landing tricky in this old plane and a couple of (I think malicious) misdirections by ATC didn't help. Couldn't possibly be related to my questionable piloting skills.

Anyway, once we cleared the runway we were directed to (cheap) parking and here we are, two days early in Bombay.

Our ungrateful passengers even complained about having to walk the short distance (well, maybe not so short really) to the terminal. You just can't please some people.

We might be going back to looking for cargo transportation to pay for the next leg, at least it won't complain so much.

 

 

   

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An early morning departure from Mumbai, heading for Nagpur. No problem finding 25 passengers looking for cheap tickets and all ready to go on this short hop.

 

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Beautiful clear skies until approaching Nagpur and, yet again, a full ILS landing required.

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All disembarked safe and well and looking forward to the next leg to Calcutta 

 

 

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Word came to us in our hotel in Nagpur that they were looking for somebody to ferry some supplies to Bilaspur, about 180 miles to the east of Nagpur. The airport runway would have been a challenge for the DC6 so a Cessna Grand Caravan had been found for the trip. A relief crew would take the DC6 over to Calcutta and we could pick it up there again in a few days.

 

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Another early morning departure for the flight to Bilaspur which would be VFR once we were clear of the murk around Nagpur.

 

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It was a beautiful flight over the reserves of central India and we were glad not to have to land the DC6 on the short runway here.

 

The MSFS rendition of Bilaspur airport rather under-represents it's real size. 

 

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We are looking forward to making our way on to Calcutta in the Grand Caravan with all its fancy modern avionics. If only there were a Twin Otter available though.....

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Could we carry two senior executives of a major steel company from Bilaspur to Jamshedpur? You bet we could. So we loaded the Caravan up and headed off across the plains of north east India for the industrial city of Jamshedpur. Nice VFR flight with no complications and we made sure there was plenty of in-flight refreshment for the passengers. Seems to have done the trick because they have chartered us to take them to Calcutta tomorrow. Result!

 

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Nice VFR navigation, railways seem to be pretty reliable and plentiful aids.

Tomorrow to Calcutta, on time I think.

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Lovely morning in Jamshedpur, so we were able to get away on time and fly our two executives across to Calcutta. The weather was fine for most of the trip...

 

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But as we approached Calcutta, the smog started to appear and we prepared for yet another instrument landing (easier in the Caravan than the DC6 though!)

 

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Safely on the ground and I was wondering if the IndiGo arrival behind us might have been another competitor.....

 

I need to do some serious planning for the next section to Hong Kong and see if we can arranged some paid-for work along the route. Passengers, animals, freight, we can take anything since the DC6 will be flown in later by the relief crew and it will  be ready (probably). 

  

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Departed Calcutta for a lunchtime flight to Mandalay, feeling optimistic as we embark on the next leg of this epic journey.

Not long into the flight number 3 engine failed (not at all rare on the DC6, at least when I fly it). We decided that discretion was called for rather than potentially having to make an emergency landing in Myanmar, so we diverted to Chattogram in Bangladesh.

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Not what you want to see really! Restarting the engine didn't work, so we landed with three engines and a fair amount of rudder trim.

 

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We will leave it to the ground crew to work out why that number 3 prop is still feathered. Hopefully we can restart tomorrow, fortunately we have plenty of time in hand.

 

 

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Sadly, it's going to take a while for the spares for the broken engine on the DC6 to arrive so the next part of the journey requires a new plane.

Coincidentally (!) a DHC6 Twin Otter has just become available. I don't have a type rating for this but I do have a very able co-pilot who will help me to learn.

After a bit of familiarisation with the new plane, we took off with cargo heading for Mandalay. No instrument facilities there but we were able to fly VFR.

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Gorgeous plane to fly and, even though it's avionics aren't exactly state-of-the-art, after the DC6 it is nothing short of miraculous.

 

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I'm not sure what the cargo is, but flying into Myanmar, I really hope it is innocuous!

 

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Cargo ready to be unloaded. I'm really happy with this new addition to the fleet. Sadly it is a little slow for the long legs on the trip, but will be making regular appearances for the rest of the journey.

 

The next leg will be to Mae Hong Son in Thailand, a favourite place of mine with special memories, then on to Chiang Mai where, hopefully, we will be able to pick up the DC6 again

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Greetings from the Kodiak team.
We are currently also in Mandalay.
We're going to stay for a day and treat ourselves to some culture.
Our next stop is Luang-Namtha. There we have an appointment with some archeologists.

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1 hour ago, CB2 said:

Greetings from the Kodiak team.
We are currently also in Mandalay.
We're going to stay for a day and treat ourselves to some culture.
Our next stop is Luang-Namtha. There we have an appointment with some archeologists.

Hi Kodiak team! Glad to see you in Mandalay, though I'm slightly jealous that you got invited to a party which I must have missed. I'm low on funds having just bought a Twin Otter so I shall have to spend the night sleeping in it!

 

I'm off to Mae Hong Son in northern Thailand next where there are some amazing temples to see. I hope you meet up with the archaeologists ok in Luang_namtha

 

Enjoy the rest of the trip, I will look out for you in Hong Kong!!

 

 

 

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How could you not want to fly to somewhere called Heho? So we did.

Loaded the Twin Otter up (don't ask how a South American registered plane ended up in Myanmar) and flew low from Mandalay to Heho. Beautiful flight in a great plane.

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This plane was configured for passengers... but we didn't let any on board. All they do is complain (and take photos).

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Then here we are in Heho. Next leg really will be to Mae Hong Son.

 

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Loving the Twin Otter (I guess I will eventually have to call it a Twotter like everybody else seems to) 

 

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At last we made it to Mae Hong Son in northern Thailand. This town holds fond memories for me, so it is nice to be back

 

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Really enjoyed the steep approach, no problem at all for the Twin Otter of course!

 

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Once we were on the ground we went for a walk up a steep local hill for a view of the runway

 

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And here's the real thing from (quite) a few years ago

 

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Next flight will be to Chiang Mai where we will pick up the DC6 again for some longer legs.

 

 

 

 

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