The Around the world adventure which I have undertaken from my own black leather office chair is about to ramp up a level. The recent flights have been relatively short hops from one city to the next as I navigated my way around the varied country of India. This next flight was due to be a lengthy one and even includes a destination I would love to visit first hand. The Taj Mahal.
I had spent a good amount of time preparing for this flight by checking the route in Google Earth and making what I thought would be enough notes to find may way. Looking back now I am glad that I combined this with a good GPS system within the Beech Baron aircraft I am using to complete this tour. My notes were as follows:
“Follow take off heading to join river. At river fork, take right hand river north of the city. Due North. Follow over 2 lakes with canyon dividing them. North West, at the top of the second lake. Over flat mountain tops. (Pachmarchi Mountains.) Continue over mountains to Tawa Reservoir. Due North to Agra and the Taj Mahal. Follow river North West to Delhi. Airport West of city.”
As you can see, these notes were far from professional but served me well enough to find my way without harm. Knowing that this was a longer flight ahead, I wanted to set off a little earlier, so waited for a suitable day off from my job and set an alarm to remind me of flight day. I ensured that I had switched the PC on, logged into the flight simulator, set my weather to download real world settings every 15 minutes and finally found myself sitting at Nagpur airport in my small aircraft next to the fuel pumps where I had previously left her.
Just before 09:00 I had filled my fuel tanks to 100% with the 136 gallons of fuel my Beech Baron could carry. I also wanted to do a complete check of the instruments and realized that the heading bug had drifted pretty drastically. After a quick correction and noticing the air temperature at a balmy 26 degrees, I was ready to begin. With the radio set to 118.1 I contacted Nagpur Tower to request taxi clearance. It felt pretty quiet without any other aircraft moving around the airport but this may have been down to the thick fog which once again obscured much of the view. India is covered in fog! So much so that I almost got lost whilst taxiing on the ground, well before I got up in to the air.
At 09:22 I had reached Runway 14 and was ready to take off. Pushed the throttle forward and listened to the engines speed up and the propellers cut through the misty air. The small plane rattled down the runway and lifted effortlessly into the sky. At this point I quickly logged the squawk code of 6103 and turned to fly North. The thick fog made it very hard to find the river I was looking out for but once I got above the fog and cloud, navigation got easier.
I used Google Earth whilst flying to check the landscape passing below and was soon able to find the first lake I was expecting to cross. Flying rather low over the lake I wanted to pass through the canyon although the heavy turbulence made me think twice about the low altitude, but not before buzzing the tree tops on the north far side of the lake. Eventually reaching 6,000 ft I heard the first sign of any other aircraft in the area across the radio. The sky also cleared up and made for much smoother flight.
The horizon was marked by rough terrain. This would have been the hills and mountains I had been expecting once I had passed through a rather large valley which would be my turning point to head due North once again. A vast forest covered the hills and surrounded another large lake I spotted from the left window. I kept this heading for the following hour and climbed to 10,000 ft skirting just above long wispy clouds. It was a long while before I decided to descend to lower altitudes. Cutting the power to the engines I let the plane glide and gradually fall to 4,000 ft and was engulfed by thick cloud meaning I couldn’t see anything and I was forced to climb out of the cloud once again just in time to glance Rajghat Reservoir passing below the clouds.
A while later and the sprawling expanse of Gwaliar came into view and I knew to look out for the larger river on this journey which would eventually lead me to Agra, the Taj Mahal and finally Delhi. The lingering Indian fog came and went and came back again as I covered more miles to my next way point. The weather also took a turn for the worst as I flew straight into a thunder storm over the city of Agra. This made sight seeing next to impossible and as I took my first pass of the city I was unable to spot the famous Taj Mahal. After checking a map of Agra I was able to take a second loop of the city to regain my bearings and locate the amazing landmark. The fog and lightening made the sight much more eerie than it should have been.
I originally wanted to land in Agra although the thick fog meant that my landing request was denied. Rather than arguing this decision I decided to continue on for the last leg of this trip to Delhi. Wanting to escape the horrible weather I climbed as high as I could in the time available to reach an impressive 12,000 ft. I was so relieved to find that Delhi was much much brighter and I was able to land easily.
As I flew over the city of Delhi and made my way towards the airport I could hear many aircraft arriving and departing from the airport. Whilst circling the airport I battled rather strong winds and watched several larger jets take off. The skies were the busiest I have had to contend with for a while. Upon landing I also had to slow myself down to allow time for the previous landing aircraft to leave the runway. This was rather stressful as I also had another jet wanting to land directly behind me. Touching down at 13:00 I was glad to complete this flight in once piece.
Whilst looking at images and watching videos about the Taj Mahal, I came across a truly wonderful video in which a couple, clearly very much in love, become engaged. The video of the Taj Mahal is done beautifully although the story of love reflected in both the original history of the Taj Mahal is reflected perfectly in one man’s proposal in the video below.
The Proposal at the Taj Mahal – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcLrb_YFeTo&feature=iv&src_vid=nl0vskw8Xlk&annotation_id=annotation_671377
Taj Mahal Close Up & Inside – Frank & Jen Travel India 10 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nl0vskw8Xlk
Video from Inside the Taj Mahal – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SOkPmdxqS6Y&feature=iv&src_vid=nl0vskw8Xlk&annotation_id=annotation_586729
Taj Mahal Tourist Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLsp7lyBC0A
Guided tour of the Taj Mahal in Agra, India – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zZ1maISrCU
Delhi HD Travel Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P00rLlTQdtA
21 Things to do in Delhi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huipm50W2bw
India, Delhi – City Tour (2013) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGtRK_H_HNg
Guide of Delhi (48 minutes) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO1-XfpS9W4