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Gunter's Race around the world in the KLM DC6 PH-TGA


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I received the offer the very honorable offer to fly KLM’s race-proven DC-6B PH-TGA. The aircraft won the Handicaped Price at the 1953 London to Christchurch air race. Sometimes that race is referred to as the “Last Great Race”, but we know that this is obviously not true.

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The aircraft is presently being prepared by KLM’s expert mechanics for the race at Amsterdams Schiphol Airport (EHAM) and will be transferred to London City later today. The aircraft was a DC-6B as it carried passengers during the 1953 air race. The beautiful paint from garfield (thank you very much!) shows it as a DC-6A, and even Wikipedia refers to the aircraft alternatively as a DC-6A and DC-6B...

 

My planed route:

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  • London EGLC
  • Paris Orly (LFPO)
  • Marseille (LFML)
  • Palese (LIBD)
  • Athens (LGAV)
  • Port Said (HEPS)
  • Jeddah (OEJN)
  • Aden (OJAA)
  • Duqm (OODQ)
  • Mumbai (VABB)
  • Varanasi (VEBN)
  • Calcutta (VECC)
  • Rangoon (VYYY)
  • Bangkok (VTBD)
  • Kuala Lumpur (WMSA)
  • Singapur (WSSL)
  • Ho-Chi-Minh (VVTS)
  • Hongkong (VHHH)
  • Shanghai (ZSSS)
  • Yokohama (RJTT)
  • Iturup (UHSI)
  • Jelosowo (UHPP)
  • Adak (PADK)
  • Cold Bay (PACD)
  • Tacoma Narrows (KTIW)
  • Rogue Valley (KMFR)
  • San Francisco (KSFO)
  • Sioux Gateway (KSUX)
  • Chicago (KMDW)
  • New York City (KJFK)
  • Halifax (CYHZ)
  • St. John's (CYYT)
  • Shannon (EINN)
  • London City (EGLC)

 

 

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Today we picked the aircraft up at EHAM and departed for London City.

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We flew the aircraft from Amsterdam to London City. Some extensive tests of all systems were performed and finally our chief technician declared the aircraft "ready to go". 

We reached England late afternoon

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Tha approach was uneventful

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The aircaft is parked and ready to.

We'll pack some more spare parts though...

 

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The race is on!
We departed London around noon.

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The weather was not really good, but we are IFR equipped, no problem. Along the route to Paris, the weather was nice but the approach into Paris Orly was a challenge with low visibility and a low ceiling.

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Paris Orly airport is the second largest of the Paris airports. It serves as a secondary hub for domestic and overseas territories flights of to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and North America. The main airport is Charles de Gaulle airport. Today there were only a few aircraft visible.

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We decided to make a quick turnaround and head south to Marseille.

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The weather didn't improve but we were soon enroute again. 

 

Passing Montelimar:

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Upon approaching Marseille the weather got worse again, but a VFR-approach into Marseille was no problem.

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It is very quiet here, so we got a first class parking spot. We will stay here tomorrow and continue on the 25th.

 

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Merry Christmas!

 

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After a nice day in southern France, we planned the next legs. With the weather changing for the worse, we departed Marseille to fly to Bari.

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After some long climb in pretty bad weather, we leveled off and found a nice 29 knots tailwind.

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After a little more than 2 hours, we arrived at Bari, where the weather was just wonderful. 17degrees Celsius and a nice breeze... But we can't stay. Today's schedule requires us to continue to Athens.

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Bari is the second most important economic center in southern Italy after Naples and lies directly on the Adriatic Sea.

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After a short stop, we were ready to continue our trip. We took off and choose a medium level to fly to Greece.

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The weather was just too good to fly high. Three hours later we arrived at Athens, the Capital city of Greece.

Approaching the Isthmus of Corinth:

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Hopefully, we get a chance for some sightseeing when we depart for Port Said tomorrow.

Enough for today, maintenance time for the aircraft.

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After a short rest visting Athens we were ready to leave Europe and towards Africa.

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Unfortunately, the weather prevented a nice view of the city on departure.

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After an uneventful flight we reached Port Said. Only the 15 knots crosswind created a higher workload during the landing phase.

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That's it for today...

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This was Leg No. 5: Port Said to Jiddah, 3:03 hrs, 753 miles.

During the departure from Port SAid we overflew the city of Port Said:

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During the climb we passed over Kairo:

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For the remainder of the flight we saw the desert or the Red Sea....

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Finally we arrived at Jiddah and found ourselves almost alone on the ramp. Time for the hotel....

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After some days relaxing we continued with leg No. 6, Jiddah to Aden: RIBA1D RIBAM M559 IMLIL DANAK B413 HDH B413 TAZ SAP10

We needed 3:07 minutes and covered 709 miles.

Departing Jiddah:

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Some impressions from our route over Saudi Arabia:

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Finally we arrived at Aden:

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Leg 7: Aden to Duqm (OODQ). 880 miles and 3:25 hrs added...

Departing Aden:

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No too much to see enroute:

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Almost there:

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Duqm is not exactly the most interesting place to stop, but at least the ramp isn't overcrowded.

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Leg 8, Duqm to Bombay, 3:16 hrs

We were happy to depart from the middle of nowhere.

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So far, with 923 miles the longest leg. The weather at the arrival at Bombay- sorry, Mumbai – was extremely hazy, with no good shots possible. The landing was a challenge!

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But we had some problems with Engine No 2, so after a repair, we got permission for a short pattern around the city to test the engine. The weather had changed, a lower ceiling appeared, and the visibility increased!

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We got a good look at our hotel and the Gateway of India.

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Finally, all systems checked and ok.

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That is the view of the hotel room of the Taj Mahal Palace:

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And finally, we were advised that another participant was coming was coming, Jeff with his United Airlines DC-6. First time I met another pilot during our race. Welcome to Mumbai, Jeff!

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Leg 9: Mumbai - Varanasi, 2:39 hrs, 704 miles

 

We had hoped that the mist in Mumbai would disappear, but that did not happen. So we didn’t see too much from Mumbai when we departed.

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After a while, the mist did vanish and we had a great flight over central India.

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When approaching Varanasi, we had the same weather conditions as in Mumbai: thick haze!

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The landing against the sun in that thick haze was a bit tricky as the runway appeared only seconds before we had to perform a missed approach.

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On the way to the hotel, we remembered that we are in India, where you can see quite unusual means of transportation!

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Varanasi – or Benares – is one of the oldest cities in the world that has been continuously inhabited. And it is a central place in pilgrimage, death, and mourning in the Hindu world. It is situated at the river Ganges. The Ganges is a holy river to the Hindus, so all in all Varanasi is a very important and typically Indian city! It offers many points of interest and is very much worth a visit!

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Leg 11: Varanasi – Calcutta, 1:46 hrs, 389 miles

Again a very hazy day, so we departed as we came, without seeing anything of Varanasi from the air. We could avaid a destastrous accident, when this small vehicle appeared on the runway during our take-off roll.

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But just a few minutes we were on top of the haze.

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It got dark enroute, but with a full moon it was a very interesting view.

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Approaching Calcutte it turned out to be good to arrive at night, finding the airfield was much beasier that at Varanasi.

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Enough for today!

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Calcutta or Kolkata has been the capital of the state of West Bengal since August 15, 1947, the day of India's independence.

Since then, the city's infrastructure has been repeatedly strained to the limits by mass immigration of dispossessed refugees following internal unrest and riots. The resulting grievances, as well as the work of Mother Teresa, which focused global attention on the victims, have given Calcutta a reputation as a poorhouse that the city's residents themselves do not believe is justified.

When India's first metro opened in 1984, there was talk of a new economic dawn. Over the years, however, the city has not matched the growth of emerging economic centers in other parts of the country, such as Hyderabad or Bengaluru.

Air pollution in Calcutta has reached enormous proportions. The high level of particulate matter is the biggest problem. The causes lie in factories, small-scale industries, power plants, and traffic, as well as in private households. Carbon dioxide emissions are increasing rapidly as a result of advancing industrialization and a steady increase in traffic and energy consumption. The inadequate technical facilities in the factories repeatedly cause pollution.

Problems are also caused by the pollution of groundwater due to the lack of sewage treatment plants, unregulated waste disposal sites, pollution of the Hugli River, and traffic noise. Only about half of the inhabitants in the slums on the outskirts of the city are connected to a water supply network; the other half use hydrants on the street or contaminated canals and trickles.

In addition to infectious diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, and cholera, which are spread by inadequate hygienic conditions, there are respiratory and skin diseases due to toxic emissions from the many industrial plants and motor vehicle traffic. Special problems arise from the often close proximity of poorer residential areas and industry. Air pollution and urban sprawl in historically important areas are destroying many of Calcutta's cultural monuments.

According to a 2014 study, Greater Kolkata generated a gross domestic product of $60.4 billion (PPP). In the ranking of the world's economically strongest metropolitan regions, this put it in 196th place and third in India behind Delhi and Mumbai. GDP per capita was US$4,036, giving Kolkata the lowest per capita income among all 300 cities surveyed. GDP per capita grew at an average annual rate of 5.2 percent between 2000 and 2014. The city of Kolkata is responsible for much of the economic activity in the state of West Bengal.

The city's economic policy is guided by the managed economy, although the economy has been increasingly deregulated and privatized since 1991. The informal sector accounts for 40 percent of the city's employed population. The largest growth sectors are hardware and software manufacturing, call centers, and publishing and health care, which have prospered due to outsourcing, especially by U.S. companies.

The largest growth in 2005 was in the technology sector, with a growth rate of 70 percent. Numerous service jobs from around the world have been relocated to Calcutta in recent years. Call centers already employ tens of thousands of people, and the trend is rising. All major national and international technology companies have large offices in the city.

Kolkata has a diverse manufacturing industry with jute, paper, chemical, and petrochemical industries, shipbuilding, and engineering. Food, electronics and transportation equipment, cotton and silk textiles, steel and rubber products are manufactured in the city.

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Leg 12: Calcutta - Rangoon, 2:50 hrs, 641 miles

On the way to the airport, we got another glimpse of the street life of Calcutta:

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At the airport we had the same hazy conditions as everywhere in India, so we departed without any delay and set course to Myanmar.

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On the way, we passed the mouth of the Meghna in Bangla Dash. Its lower part is one of the three rivers that form the Ganges Delta, the largest Delta on earth.

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We reach Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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Destinationis its biggest city, Rangoon. Until 2006 Rangoon was Myanmar’s capital city. But the military government moved the capital to Naypyidaw in north-central Myanmar. Nevertheless, Rangoon is well worth a visit with many intact buildings from the colonial era.

We reached Rangoon without problems and went through the post-flight procedure, as usual.

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Leg 13: Rangoon to Bangkok, 01:48 hrs, 362 miles

 

We left Rangoon with only minor haze and got a good view over Rangoon and Myanmar.

Ready to go:

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Reaching Thailand

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Approaching Bangkok International Airport:

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Done for today!

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Despite the somewhat empty airport, Bangkok is a major metropolitan area with 10 million people living here. Another fascinating city to visit!

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Leg 14: Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur, 3:14 hrs, 812 miles

 

After some relaxing days in Bangkok we were cleared for take-off:

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We flew into the night and got lit by the setting sun:

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We intended to land at the Sultan Abdul-Aziz Airport (WMSA), but a local thunderstorm had us divert to Kuala Lumpur Intl. (WMKK) instead.

We got a parking spot and shut down.

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All systems off, ready for a beer....

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Leg 15: Kuala Lumpur to Singapore; 181 miles, 0:54 hours.

 

After a short stop at Kuala Lumpur we were cleared for take-off for thi short trip to Singapore.

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No need to climb high, and the weather was very nice as well.

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Very soon we could enjoy the skyline of Singarpore!

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A very busy airport, but we found our gate. Time to explore this fascinating city!

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