Flight 84) Ho Chi Minh – Bangkok

Ho Chi Minh (VVTS) to Bangkok (VTBD)

I learnt a lot about Vietnam during my virtual travels here although much like my time in Japan, once again the violence of war tainted much of the information I discovered. I was keen to move on to Bangkok as I have known several friends to have been here for vacation and have confirmed that the city really does live up to the “expectations.”

Loading FSX at 11:30 and plotting a very quick route I checked the flight plan for details. With a distance of 419.8  nm I would be flying for just over 2 hours and using up 79 gallons of fuel. Seeing as I only had 29 gallons on board, my first point was to refuel via the airports own fuel trucks. After a very long wait I decided to simply fill the tanks to the 168 gallons and 100% of their capacity. By 12:05 I was ready to depart the rather quiet Tansonnhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh city.

Taking off into an immediate steep climb I quickly re-trimmed the aircraft and gazed out over a very flat landscape with a single mound in the far distance. At least the weather has been remarkably clear in this part of the world as I was welcomed by another clear, blue, cloudless sky.

Just before reaching lake Torlé Sap I chose to liven up the flight a little by requesting a touch and go landing at Kampong Chhnang Airstrip (VDKH). Touching down twice on runway 18 I saw that time was ticking by quickly so continued with the flight. The waters of Torlé Sap looked incredibly mirky with a shade of muddy green rather than blue. By this time a few clouds had gathered over the water which I kept an eye on for the 24 minutes it was due to take to cover the lake end to end.

2017-2-5_13-24-0-777

The rest of the flight was very straight forward and I simply let the plane fly in the correct heading for the best part of the next hour. The closer I got to Bangkok, the busier the radio got. This airport was not going to be anywhere near as quiet as Ho Chi Minh. Touching down on runway 21L I soon taxied my way to gate 25 ready to see what everyone was talking about within Bangkok.

“Jai Yen” = “Cool Heart” (Stay calm)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What to See and Eat in Bangkok, Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghoAIMb8vTI
9 Great Travel Tips for Visiting Bangkok – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OViwmoFPu0
21 Amazing Things To Do In Bangkok, Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNuaYnA8c8M
12 Things NOT To Do in Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by3yKzWG2lM
Best Things to do in Bangkok – Overnight City Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkopzReVu2A
Bangkok, Thailand Travel Guide and must see attractions – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN0cSB3rXGA
The ultimate Bangkok travel guide for 2017 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOYLjeDwJ6Q
Dirt Cheap – Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCx4T3VeQg8

 

Flight 83) Da Nang – Ho Chi Minh

Leaving the sunny city of Da Nang at midday, I was greeted with a beautiful blue, cloudless sky and I was looking forward to the flight ahead. I began by checking the route and fuel requirements and saw that I had just enough left in the tanks to make the distance providing I was careful with my fuel economy. A later leg of the around the world tour will see me attempting to fly from Hawaii to San Francisco. This distance between the two destinations is way over the range of the aircraft so I will need to modify the plane somewhat as well as manage the fuel to the best of my abilities. Whilst it would have been safer to refuel at this point, I decided to treat this flight as a learning experience to attempt to gauge limitations of fuel consumption in preparation for longer flights ahead.
Da Nang airport was extremely busy with many other aircraft leaving at the same time as me. I followed a small Piper as I taxied to the runway and waited in turn as 7 other aircraft took off before me. It had been a long time since I had seen a queue like that at an airport.
2017-1-28_12-11-57-487
Once I took off from runway 17 Left I began my gentle climb. The slow speed of my Beech Baron 58 meant that I did not clear the airport as quickly as I would have liked. A Boeing jet had obviously taken off after me and soon passed me. I was prompted to report sighting of this plane which I saw surprisingly close just off my 10 o’clock. This added to the nerves I already felt due to watching the fuel levels closely.
The landscape consisted of rolling hills covered by a blanket of forest. I thought of the dense vegetation below which the US troops would have had to fight in as well as the protection it must have given to the Viet Cong. From this height the temperature was 10 degrees. This would be a warm day for Edinburgh UK.
2017-1-28_12-22-14-614
As I continued to 10,000 feet I saw the hills get gradually larger but I knew that these would be of no concern, so I was able to relax a little and simply enjoy the amazing weather. Whilst the rest of the flight was rather non eventful I took the opportunity to play around with the GPS systems until I got closer to Ho Chi Minh city.
2017-1-28_14-6-9-342
I began preparing for my landing at 14:00 with plenty of fuel left in my tanks. I realised that I could probably get a lot better distance out of the plane that I had originally thought. By lining up with the Dong Na and Sóng Sái Gón rivers I was soon ready to land on Runway 25 Right of Tan Son Nhat International Airport. My wheels hit down hard and I soon found my parking spot. Luckily there was no damage done although I am not sure how the plane would have faired in real life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ho Chi Minh City Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35Z4GGvCmlU
Saigon. VIETNAM in EPIC 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjWxeLicdbU
Beautiful Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uN67do9bs8
23 Things To Do In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0crXGYLYlg&t=313s
Best Things to do in Saigon – Overnight City Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCtfLuXO2tI
City Of Millionaire : Ho Chi Minh City : Culture Shock – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv8ZLgDbjwM
“THE WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM” – Ho Chi Minh City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uckg7OkWfmg
Cu Chi Tunnels Tour-Vietnam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i26ln4LUmwA
Viet Cong Tunnels and Traps – Platoon: The True Story – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsLE6EtrvhM
Overnight in Vietnam (Partying & NightLife in Ho Chi Minh City) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lTRUpmOxcI
Vietnam’s Crazy Backpacker Party Street | Bui Vien, Ho Chi Minh City Nightlife  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJdmSh-rjZU
VIETNAM WORKING GIRLS Backpacker Street – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vFd_MrkIHQ

Flight 82) Macau – Da Nang

The glitz and glam of Macau would surely keep visitors entertained all through the night which is partly why I chose to do this next flight in the early hours of the morning, just as the sun was beginning to rise. I was sitting in my Beechcraft Baron 58 on the parking stands of Macau International for 05:45 when I requested a fuel truck to refill my tanks. I was able to have a really good look around the airport for the coming fuel truck whilst using the new head tracking hardware TrackIR. I would recommend this bit of kit to anyone who is into computer simulation of any type, not just flying. It really does add a huge level of emmersion to the sense of being in the cockpit yourself.

2017-1-18_17-55-30-5732017-1-18_18-4-6-453

By the time the fuel truck had arrived and I had finished refuelling I was eager to get back into the air. I recevied my taxi clearance and made my way to Runway 16 and watched 2 planes take off ahead of me. I was happy to retract my landing gear as I climbed away from Macau’s runway for 06:00 and immediately tuned the radio stack to Hong Kong Center. The shore line below was broken with many islands not far from the mainland and I am sure that this would be a very pretty part of the world in real life.

2017-1-18_18-28-2-836

The morning haze limited the view slightly but the sun broke the horizon 10 mintues later which began to burn the mist away. I saw a large bank of cloud right in front of me which I was due to hit at 06:35 and had to make a decision if I should fly under or over the thick clouds. Initally choosing to fly low in order to see the terrain I soon found out that the clouds were hanging very low. So low in fact that I couldn’t drop low enough to miss the clouds altogether, so was forced to climb to 9,000 feet and fly above the weather. By this point I was over water so I wasn’t missing much in the way of a view below.

2017-1-18_19-16-23-839

After the best part of an hour skimming the tops of clouds I had reached land once again so decided to drop altitude to test the view. I was hoping to check out the island of Hainan whilst I passed over. Unfortunately the cloud was still too low to fly safely so headed higher to an altitude of 12,000 ft to cruise steadily over another long expanse of sea until I would finally reach the coast of Vietnam in another 50 minutes time.

2017-1-18_21-0-38-817

The skies had slowly cleared in time for me to see Vietnam come into view. The terrain was a lot flatter here that I had previously seen in Japan and China on my way here. The FSX Radio window for some reason was not allowing me to contact Da Nang Airport so I had to get creative. Using the GPS hardware in the radio stack I was able to find the correct radio frequency for Da Nang Airport and subsequently entered this as my active radio channel. By listening to the radio chatter I could establish the active runway and heard how busy this airport was. I circled the runway whilst listening to approaching aircraft and wanted to time my landing accordingly, although this was easier said than done. I made 2 attempts of following slow moving Cessna 172s down to the runway but aborted the landing each time as other larger jets had caught up with my slower twin propeller plane.

It would have been too much of a challenge to attempt to land without making contact with the airport first so I was forced to correct the FSX software to allow me to send out going radio messages. Having finally received radio confirmation of my landing intentions I circled the Bón River to the South of Da Nang before diving into the low laying fog heading north to Runway 35 Right. Touching down with the smoothest of landings I was soon parked next to one of the LearJet’s which over took me as I previously attempted to land. From here it was time to check out the sights of Da Nang as well as learn more about it’s history which I was vaguely aware of in relation to the Vietnam War.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DANANG – SINGAPORE OF VIETNAM – 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QPBCsg_aBc
DYNAMIC DANANG – Your destination for success – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfSPcDeKxxs
TRAILER CLIPPER REACHES DA NANG 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a69hgXGcPdY#t=186.92702
Best places to visit when you travel in Danang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sZTcC5Eq-k
Da Nang Fly Over 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z1tsQBkQbs
Danang 2016. Vietnam Flycam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gYH_Gg49fo&t=464s
DA NANG, Vietnam by Night 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcG9Sr6IInc

My Son Sanctuary, Ruined Hindu Temples in Vietnam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmuyEVddTts
My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam (HD) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRTf_GkeYUY

Vietnam War
Danang, 1971 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCyI0rICrfo
Vietnam War – Da Nang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAzbW1kGSqU
Vietnam War, 1970: CBS camera rolls as platoon comes under fire – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89_3DgW_7mg
Da Nang Air Base: Scenes From 1965-1970 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYavDV00k8Y
Vietnam War part 1:Battle of Dien Bien Phu (Vietnam war documentary) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFPIdireXmw

Vietnam in HD Ep.01 : The Beginning | Full Documentary 2015 of History Channel  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwEPtkJhrrM

Flight 81) Taipei – Macau

Kicking off 2017 with the 81st flight of the World Tour I was travelling from the Taiwan capital Taipei to the Vegas of the East, Macau! This would allow for some mild gambling and views of spectacular buildings. I was quite looking forward to this destination as I would also get to fly through the FlyTampa Hong Kong scenery once again.

I looked at the flight route using Google Maps and saw that the Macau Runway was actually surrounded by water which always makes it easier for me to spot from the air although I was unsure as to how many of the iconic buildings would be modelled within the FSX software. I plotted a route that took me South along the main length of Taiwan before turning West towards Hong Kong and Macau.

Upon opening FSX itself and loading my aircraft I instantly saw the improvement to the ground buildings and vehicals all around me. Already I felt like the purchase of Orbx Airports HD was a good investment. The weather was pretty grey and over cast and I wondered if the low cloud would spoil any views I would get along the way, as I was keen to see Taipei 101 tower from the sky. By 10:32 I had already started the engines and allowed them to warm up breifly although I was not receiving any radio messages so I had to watch for landing and departing aircraft to determine the active runway. This issue was strange but short lived. Once my radio seemed to be working correctly once again I confirmed my taxi clearence and made my way to Runway 10 with another Beechcraft Baron following behind me.

Once my wheels had left the runway I circled the city trying to spot the buildings I had become familiar with. Of course the iconic Taipei 101 tower stood out, rising above any other buildings in the city although I was also able to see the Royal  Hotel and the Shek Memorial.

2016-12-8_10-34-20-7452016-12-8_10-46-1-136

With the sun trying its best to break through the clouds I headed South towards the mountains and climbed so that they would not be of any danger. This forced me into dense cloud however and I did not feel safe with minimal visibility, knowing that the hills below were getting progressively higher. I thought that maybe staying lower and sticking to the valleys would be safer in this situation so I decended enough to maintain a clear view.

After an hour in the air, with the thick cloud finally behind me the scenery was rather spectacular with a lovely clear blue sky above me and pockets of smaller clouds trapped in the valleys below. At 11:36 my only concern became a reality when I reached the end of a valley and had to climb quickly to hop over a rather tall peak. This would have put the heart into the mouth of any pilot doing this flight for real and it was a close enough call even in a simulator. On the other side though was a magnificent drop to an amazing view where I couldn’t resist taking a handful of photos. Once I had all the images I wanted to get, I glanced at the fuel gauge and realised that I did not refuel at Taipei airport. I would need to land again in order to refuel before crossing the stretch of sea back to China. Luckily it was only 5 minutes until I caught the first sight of the sea and was able to request a landing at Makung Airport situated on a small island not far from the mainland. Initally I saw some cloud gathered over the island although this cleared nicely in time for my landing as if to welcome me to this very short stop off.

2016-12-8_11-33-22-2452016-12-8_12-5-14-708

30 minutes later and I was full of fuel and back in the open air without cloud to spoil the view.I climbed slowly to a suitable crusing altitude which I was to maintain for the next hour and a half until I reached my next waypoint close to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong seemed misty once more as I also got buffetted around by some turbulence although it was great to see the familiar buildings and detail of this wonderful city once again. I flew straight past the old Kai Tak airport and continued past HK international. Whilst flying over HK International I was surprised by a very large jet on its final approach which over took my much slower Baron. I was even able to watch it land below me.

The weather seemed a lot brighter over Macau as I lined up for Runway 16. I touched down without a bump and was happy to park up next to a cessna 172 where my plane would stay until the next leg of the tour.

Whilst checking out Macua I was surprised to see how the city felt like Lisbon due to the architecture and styling. Of course this was due to the Portuguese colonies which helped establish Macau as a large city. The distinctive tiled flooring was the most noticable aspect for me although even the name of the largest casino hotel is called “The Grand Lisboa Hotel.” Strange how you can travel half way around the world and see the same design features repeated.

 

A319 landing at Macau airport – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e4LQ2ulXwE
Macau Airport – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbWesmtAIhg

Unique Macau – travelguru.tv – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gq_YAd3HpQ
Macau Travel Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcHpih87Aec
Macau One Day Trip 2014 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAKozVKA9bw
Things to do in Macau Travel Guide & Macanese Street Food – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad5-enfZqcs
Beautiful places in MACAU china -2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxgEa8DZo7g&t=337s
Night of the City – Macau – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAFWci1Cvi8
A Night In Macau  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI2kO4qTi80#t=208.329242
The Grand Lisboa Casino In Macau China 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCsnKT8wXEw

New Year, New Goodies…

2016 was a pretty good year for the Home Pilot Adventures blog as it received a lot more traffic than I had previously expected. I was also lucky enough to be provided with some fantastic scenery of Hong Kong by the wonderful people at FlyTampa. – Thanks again.

Whilst 2016 saw the Home Pilot Adventure blog reach more people than ever, I did not get to complete nearly as many flights as I had wanted. Having spent a number of years virtually touring the world already, the current pace would require many more years before I finish the tour. It is about time I pick up a gear and try to complete more flights and see more about each destination. Hopefully I will be able to publish one a week so stay tuned for more updates.

Upon reaching a new year as well as achieving the miles stone of the 80th flight around the world, I figured I deserved a small treat and would add to my flight sim set up. I saw an advert through a flight sim Facebook group from somebody wanting to sell a Track IR set. Track IR is a device which allows you to “put your head in the game,” so to speak.

A small device which looks similar to a web cam sits on top of the computer screen and tracks your head movements in real time. This signal is then translated on screen by the virtual camera allowing you to turn your own head and look around in game. This adds a massive step to immersiveness when flying and I had wanted to get one primarily for the combat flight sim, DCS. Now that the Track IR is set up correctly, I will be enjoying the view from my Beech Baron cockpit to a deeper degree than before.

I also purchased the Orbx Airport HD Texture pack, just to make each of the default airports and landing strips that little better. With another 122 airports to land at before I finish the tour at least, I knew this would be worth having.

I have also been looking for a model of the Beechcraft Baron G58 although have been surprisingly unlucky. Through all of the searching I have only found a single company offering such models. This would be a hand crafted, carved mahogony construction and will cost upwards of £200 with shipping. I’ll be looking for cheaper alternative options through out the year though. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

For now, it is time to start up the engines once again and continue on my around the world tour. Over the next few months I shall be travelling through Tawan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia on my way to Australia! Please stay tuned for the rest of this virtual ride and drop me a message along the way.

The 80th Flight!

Flight number 80 would be the final flight of the original “Around the world in 80 flights” tour so this should be somewhat of a great achievement. However, due to the number of diversions and additional flights I have added to my own tour, despite reaching the 80th flight, I have not even reached my half way point.

Since leaving Edinburgh in the UK 3 years ago I have racked up over 54,000 Kilometres which works out at over 33,500 Miles! I have passed through 37 different countries whilst I have covered Europe and the length of Africa, all the way too Cape Town before continuing to The UAE and Middle East. I then covered the entire length of India or order to reach the Maldives Islands before returning North to the Himalayas and Mt. Everest. From the Himalayas I continued to Asia and across to Japan where I have now begun to double back on myself a little. This is simply so that I can loop further South as I make my way through the Pacific Islands and eventually reach Australia.

From my home in the UK, Australia will make my geographical half way point around the world. I feel that this should be celebrated more than the acknowledgement of my 80th flight. After all, I still have many more miles to go with many more countries to visit. Having significantly amended the original route I shall be completing a total of 203 flights before my wheels finally touch down in Edinburgh UK once more.

Whilst not mathematically nor geographically “half way,” I shall be considering my virtual arrival to the island of Hawaii to be the half way point of my Around The World Tour.
Hawaii to San Francisco is by far the longest flight I will have to negotiate during the tour and will need to heavily modify my tiny Beechcraft Baron 58 in order to make the huge distance but this is still some way off for flight number 120.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire time I have been completing this tour although I would love to hear from people who live in any of the places I have already, or am yet to visit. See below for the offical route map and for the full list of destinations I shall be visiting (virtually.)

OFFICIAL ROUTE MAP

Blue Pins = Offical 80 Flights Route
Red Pins = Addional Destinations Added By Me
Yellow Pins = Points Of Interest I Shall Not Land At.

Please continue to follow my virtual adventures around the world and leave comments to help me to make it that little bit more realistic.

Flight 80!) Nagasaki – Taipei

The 80th flight would be another long haul over a large expanse of sea so I was expecting the journey to be rather uneventful. This was not to be the exciting ending to the world tour that I could have had on the 80th flight had I stuck to the original route.

Beginning this leg of the tour at 09:00 I loaded up the flight simulator FSX and opened the flight plan I had prepared earlier. In order to make the distance over the sea I was eager to ensure that I have enough fuel so requested a fuel truck from Nagasaki airport. Being third in line meant that I didn’t have to wait too long before my tanks were full and I was ready to depart. I followed another jet all the way from my parking spot to the runway.

There were rather strong side winds coming down from the surrounding mountains and heading out to the sea which set my plane at a strange angle during take off. This didn’t cause any problems though. I left Japan behind me as I crossed over many smaller islands although each of them had their own substantial mountains or high hills which I had to contend with. It was a shame to be leaving behind this amazing country and very different culture to my own. I will certainly be making a real life visit to Japan to see its wonders first hand.

After flying South for roughly 25 minutes I took more of a Westerly heading to fly towards Taiwan. It seemed strange to be heading West as I have been travelling East all the way from the UK other than the occasional Northern or Southern detours. I climbed to 10,000 feet to get better fuel economy from my plane and saw a heard a few rumbles of thunder. The weather outside appeared to be pleasent so I was a little unsure as to where the sound of thunder was coming from. There must have been a mixture of cold and warm air though as I soon passed through a very bumpy patch of sky which dropped me down to 7,500 feet.

The stretch of sea seemed to last for ages although eventually the shores of Taiwan come into view maked by a large mountain. Lingering clouds blocked much of the view to the ground below so I decided to circle the city to get my bairings. The airport I had originally considered was Songshan airport which is located right in the heart of Taipei itself although the larger Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was more appealing as a place to land. By 13:50 I had touched down on Runway 6 and safely taxied to my parking spot.

2016-8-11_13-51-12-722.jpg

I didn’t really have any prior knowledge of expectations of Taiwan. I can only say that I know of the large production output as in the UK we do have many electronic goods which are manufactured within this country. It would be interesting to find out more about this place.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Taipei Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XeDkwAfako
Why Taipei Is the Best City (Exploring Taiwan)  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDM3oj83zMY
The Taipei Budget Travel Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on3NyVwxgoM
Best Things to do in Taipei – Overnight City Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_nCj1X_Hhw
What to Eat and Do in Taipei, Taiwan (NOC Travel Guide!) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XzlkgI-j50
3 Days in Taipei | Jenny Zhou  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEd_5pwZrgY
Taipei 101 Travel Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt83a5azuY4
14 BEST THINGS TO DO IN TAIPEI TAIWAN | Top Taipei Attractions  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iXCN4UVAfI#t=343.519119

Taiwan Vacation Travel Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkx5sqexl84