Flight 91) Jakarta WIII – Christmas Island YPXM

During this around the world tour I have often found that remote islands can hold bigger secrets than that of the larger well known cities. This was the main reason I wanted to make the 265 nautical mile (305 mile) jump over sea to Christmas Island to the south of Jakarta as I really had no idea what was to be found there.

Sitting in my Beechcraft Baron 58 in light rain at Jakarta airport I checked over all of the usual settings and began to taxi. I had about a 20 minute wait as I held my position whilst other aircraft taxied all around me. I suppose this would have given me the opportunity to check the route again although this was a simple direct flight over water with not much in the way of a “route.”

Once airborn just after 12:40 I turned to head south, straight into a large amount of fog, cloud and rain. The clouds soon thinned out however and I was able to see the large mountains or volcanos in the distance ahead. Keeping low under the clouds I knew that I would need to climb at somepoint to make it over the mountains. With the winds trying their best to blow me off course I was able to negotiate between two peaks, skimming the tops of forest trees. Leaving the mountains behind the lanscape opened up all the way to the very pretty shoreline, peppered with small boats, with the moon keeping watch above. 2017-5-2_13-2-17-246

The horizon ahead was draped in mist so I climbed higher knowing that I wasn’t missing out on seeing any terrain for the best part of the next hour. Reaching 12,000 feet I admit that I did use the auto pilot feature of the Baron 58. I try hard not to use the auto pilot too often as I feel this makes the flight far too easy and the adventure loses it’s challenge. 2017-5-2_13-49-16-240

Flying over blanket cloud I was unble to see the island at all. I wanted to circle the island before landing so held off my radio contact until I caught sight of the runway which I eventually spotted on top of a small hill. It was a small airstrip but most importantly it had a place to refuel! I landed pretty comfortably at 14:36 and was parked and tethered only a few minutes later. I had discovered that there was an immigration detention center on the island, but still oblivious to anything else. Time to see what other secrets this island holds. 2017-5-5_7-47-57-589

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Christmas Island (Australia) Vacation Travel Wild Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OLQJIQA_IY
My Epic Christmas Island Trip 2014 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFbF5vARvMY
A day on Christmas island from the Air – Drone footage – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9assQojR5s
Christmas Island – Flying Fish Cove – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAM-FmSNk58
Meet the locals: Azmi Yon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhiYDE_A1yw

Flight 90) Singapore WSSS – Jakarta WIII

Once again it had been some time since the previous flight due to the amount of bad weather hitting Singapore this time of year. Active Sky 2016 is certainly bringing a higher level of realism to this tour although I wish that I had been using this add on software long before now. Still, I was looking forward to taking on the weather in the skies between Singapore and Jakarta as well as crossing the water.

At 496.2 nautical miles (571 miles) this was back to the sort of distances I enjoy. The miles go by pretty quickly and I feel like I am making good progress on the tour. The estimated journey time was 2 hours 30 minutes so I made myself a warm drink and sat down at the computer just before 10:30, ready for the flight. First things first, I checked the weights I had set up on the plane. I felt like I had maybe gained a few extra pounds myself since I last flew so wanted to make sure that I was keeping things accurate. Weighing myself I clocked in at exactly 160lbs and entered this into the pilot’s position of the small Beech Baron G58. I usually allow for another 100lbs of luggage and provisions in the storage areas. I have done this ever since I ran out of fuel over the island of Socotra. Using 50lbs of “luggage” weight, I was able to top up my fuel and just about make it to the next airport.

10 minutes later I was ready to start the lengthy taxi route from my parking spot to runway 2C. In this case the “C” stands for “Center” indicating that there are 3 runways pointing in the same direction. It must be an increadibly busy airport! During the time it took for me to taxi I watched clouds gather above as multiple aircraft arrived and departed. I only had to wait for one landing Airbus A321 before I was given my own take off clearence.

Just after 11:00 I retracted my landing gear and watched the city of Singapore pass by below me. I looked out for the many tall buildings but could not see the 3 towers joined with a swimming pool at the top that I had come to recognise instantly. I suppose that this building did not exist when the FSX flight simulator was first released. The huge cruise ships below certainly made me think of the huge number of tourists who get to visit such an amazing place. One day I may make it. Flying further south I left the bustle of Singapore behind and pursued the open seas in front of me as they turned through increasingly darker shades of blue. With nothing else visable on the horizon I knew this would be a long flight. 2017-5-1_21-45-12-124.jpg

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Once I hit 13,500 feet I noticed how clear the weather was, even with Active Sky 16 importing live weather information. Unfortunately weather did not stay this clear for long though as I soon saw a cloud bank below which blocked any view of landscape below. I was able to see the occasional glimps of sea though which seemed to change shade each time I looked.

At 14:51 I contacted Jakarta (WIII) to request a full stop landing although due to the heavy cloud and fog the airport was IFR landing only. This of course meant that my own VFR landing was denied. I contacted an alternative airport to request a VFR landing but this request was also denied. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) allows aircraft to line up to runways as well as entering a glideslope automatically through the use of radio systems. Visual Flight Rules (VFR) is all about being able to maintain sight with the runway. In these weather conditions I can fully understand why VFR landings would be far too dangerous. 2017-5-2_0-10-25-144

At 3,000 feet I had zero visiblity and knew there was no chance of a VFR landing anywhere despite my increasing desire to feel the firmness of the ground as soon as possible. I quickly set up a direct IFR flight plan which would mean that the airport’s tower would provide me with the relivant headings and directions to land safely. Combining the directions provided and the display on my GPS system I was able to line up pretty well despite not being able to see the runway lights until the very last minute. Another Airbus A321 was also attempting to land at the same time as me and as I heard its loud engines pass me by I also heard a radio message to the Airbus advising that it “goes around” to take another attempt at the landing. My own touch down was good considering the weather and poor visibility and I was pleased to reach my parking spot infront of gate “Charlie 5.” Shortly after the same Airbus which was attempting to land parked up next to me.

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Jakarta Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia (4K) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwkLdqUOrxE
Come With Us (Jakarta) | Eden Ang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5BXkN-NBBk
JAKARTA, Indonesia Highlights | Travel Vlog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdvtFAezEk8
I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS JAKARTA – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wC2ybrOpl4M&t=318s
A Tourist’s Guide to Jakarta, Indonesia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtxm1f5-8lw
Discover Indonesia: Jakarta – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HniDsWXVJ4
Travel With Me : Jakarta, Indonesia | What I eat episode – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Blpb2dQQCTI

Flight 89) Kuala Lumpur WMKK – Singapore WSSS

During my university years I studied 3D Modelling & Animation which consisted of many hours building various objects within virtual 3D software. One of the first projects I was given was to build a virtual copy of the Patronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Whilst researching the fine details of this building I developed some deeper appreciation of the architecture. Whilst Kuala Lumpur is not at the top of my destination bucket list, I would still very much enjoy visiting this city first hand and get to see the famous Petronas Towers close up.

Due to the rough weather of what I imagine must be monsoon season, I was unable to fly out of Kuala Lumpur for a number of weeks. Each time I would load the FSX simulator and check the weather through Active Sky, the weather enhancement addon, I would find the winds too strong for my small Baron G58. On one occasion I registered an IFR route so that I could gain permission to take off. The rain and lightening was daunting but wasn’t going to stop me from trying. I pointed the plane down the length of runway 14R and got into the air pretty quickly, only to find that the winds were incredibly strong and it would certainly not be possible to continue to fly safely. Making a very risky circuit of the airport, I was able to bring the plane back to earth. The tour would have to wait another day.

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Over the following week I continued to check the weather forecast online as this was quicker than loading FSX each time. There was a short break in the bad weather which gave me enough time to take to the skies and reach my next destination of Singapore. So I opened the flight simulator and my Carenado Beechcraft Baron 58 to see patches of blue sky trying to peak through the heavy clouds above. At 10:00 it was raining and the airport surface shined with standing water lit occasionally by lightening flashes from the horizons.

This time I was very hesitant whilst taking off. I appreciated the additional flaps I used which allowed me to climb whilst maintaining much slower speeds in order to get above this bad weather. I was worried by the amount of stall warnings I was hearing whilst being buffeted around by the weather. It only took me several minutes of slow steady climbing to reach an altitude of 3,500 feet with the majority of the bad weather below my wings. I still wanted to climb higher though to get as far away from the storms as possible. By 10:30 I was pushing 10,000 feet. The thunder still rumbled from below but up here the air was much calmer and I was able to calm down somewhat.

When I was able to see the ground I could see that the terrain was pretty flat along the shore line and stretched to Muar and The Muar River. At 10:50 I could see another large storm front ahead of me and just as the rain began to hit the windscreen the thunder  kicked up once again. This time I could pick out 4 or 5 different sources of lightening in all directions. I really was in the middle of a pretty intense storm.

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I did my best to pick my way through the clouds whilst trying to get as much height as possible. shortly after 11:00 my plane was shaking violently and I was expecting to fall out of the sky at any moment. The bumpy ride continued as I reached 14,000 feet pushing the small plane to its limits. If I was ever in this situation for real, I could safely say my hands would be sweating somewhat!

By the time I had reached Singapore I was extremely grateful to see that the storms were a good distance behind and I was able to catch a view of the Singapore skyline. My landing path took me out over some of the smaller islands as I lined up to land on Runway 2L. The lingering clouds made it pretty difficult to spot the runway and I as I came into land I was still passing through cloud. Despite the poor visibility I was able to touch down perfectly. I guess the additional stress fine tuned my abilities. Once I had parked and turned both engines off, I was able to listen to the distant thunder. It is strange how comforting the rumbles can be with distance to soften the sound. I can’t say the loud thunder claps I heard mid-flight were in anyway relaxing.

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Landing at Singapore Airport (Changi) Airline Pilot Cockpit View – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0UQK5KyyLY
Singapore Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_q3BdrFsLI
10 Top Tourist Attractions in Singapore – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF3aXCdAt4o
Singapore in Time-Lapse Flow Motion  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYzdrbGBh8k
Singapore 4k Aerial Drone Photography 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyuOFWCOV_M
The Night of Singapore – Marina Bay drone video in 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVH6–x5VL4
Three Days In Singapore- (4K Timelapse) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7f-aExAWsOs
15 Things You Didn’t Know About Singapore – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0ndLbqHsm8
Ultra Singapore 2016 (Official 4K Aftermovie) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZp6paQmCN0

Flight 88) Penang WMKP – Kuala Lumpur WMKK

Time to get back into the air and leave the beautiful sights of Penang behind. Today’s flight was to last a little over an hour with only 58 minutes estimated airtime. I thought as it was a short flight, I could afford some touring on the way so plotted a route which took me over some hills and small mountains.

After completing my checks and requested the appropriate take off radio messages I was soon rolling down runway 4 by 15:05. The tarmac suddenly turned into bright turquoise water as I headed South East towards land once more. I had full tanks so fuel was not a concern at all and I took advantage of staying low and fast.

I watched the clouds forming ahead which sheltered multiple thunder storms. I could hear them but it wasn’t until I was suddenly hit with a lot of very rough turbulence that I decided it would be safer to fly over them. Once I was above the bad weather I had to rely a little more on the GPS system in my Beech Baron as I was unable to see the ground too easily. I saw a runway displayed on the GPS and discovered that I was flying over Sultan Azlan Shah (WMKI)

Getting the occasional look at the hills below, I could still see low laying cloud and fog trapped within. This combined with the distant thunder certainly did well to create a sense of adventure. The weather was a lot clearer on the other side of the range of hills. The blue sky was now stretching out above me as the clouds dispersed and the winds died down. I even had a nice sun reflection coming off the wings. 2017-3-15_22-51-34-479Flying over the city of Kuala Lumpur I knew to look out for the iconic Petronas Towers and the bridge connecting the two. With a few airports to choose from in Kuala Lumpur I considered landing closer to the city but chose to stay with the International Airport at WMKK. Once I touched down on runway 14 left, I was given the longest list of instructions to taxi to my parking spot I had ever heard. (A5 A B7 T2 T3 F T5 T7 T6 T8.) I appreciate these messages may not mean anything to the uninitiated so to explain, simply consider each of the figures to represent a taxiway along the airport. Much in the same way you could follow the A1 M25, M23 when driving roads in Britain. After taxing for the longest distance so far on this tour I finally parked at 16:40 ready to see this amazing city.

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Kuala Lumpur Drone – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxaIn93yHVU#t=1.362125
Kuala Lumpur – City Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MfneG2aWPg
Kuala Lumpur City Tour 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hY6hUYYEv4
MALAYSIA PART 1 – Kuala Lumpur  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H3mKsoKUiQ
CRAZY LIGHTNING STORM IN KUALA LUMPUR! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7CkKZ_wBYQ
Best Things to do in Kuala Lumpur – Overnight City Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzyXTUrcLaw
4K Drone Footage KUALA LUMPUR [DJI Phantom 4]  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fy5iJuJag4

Flight 87) Langkawi (WMKL) – Penang (WMKP)

With just 30 minutes estimated travel time, this was sure to be one of the shortest flights on the tour. After all, I had originally planned to fly this leg as part of my previous route coming from Phuket. This was until I saw the beautiful island of Langkawi.

At 12:45 the weather was pretty sunny with a dusting of white clouds. By 12:57 I was up in the sky and I was able to take in the sights with out anything to restrict the views.

The time went by very quickly and I was soon coming in to Penang City which seemed to be draped in fog again. I shall have to look into the FSX weather platform in more detail as I am sure there will be something more realistic than this.

Parked and refuelled by 13:20 I made a good afternoon of seeing what Penang had in store.

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Whilst there was much in Penang which provided insights to the history and culture, I was really taken with the street art. Banksy seems to have made a name for himself in the UK but the street art of Penang really could give him a run for his money.

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PENANG | 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Flhgqm4kv6c
PENANG, MALAYSIA 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIDNehPbELw
24 Hours in Penang, Malaysia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iOvEG1aB8o
Trip to Penang, Malaysia | 2016 | Qintan Adjani – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jeax0i-BlhA
5 Days in Penang, Malaysia! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yElpWQbxNE
Penang, Malaysia – Best Places to Eat from a Local! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cr9ZqlGp86Y

Flight 86) Phuket (VTSP) – Langkawi (WMKL)

This flight was originally going to be from Phuket, all the way to Penang and I had plotted a route which took me over Krabi, Trang and the island of Langkawi, before landing at Penang. With just over an hours flight time I was considering this to be one of the shorter flights of the adventure.

Starting the day at 10:30 I soon completed all the necessary checks and procedures. Whilst this differs somewhat to a real life aircraft, ensuring that my Track IR equipment was working and that I had enough fuel for the flight were equally as important. The 64 gallons of fuel I had on board should easily be enough.

I was ready to depart from Runway 27 of Phuket International Airport by 10:45 although I was told to hold on the runway itself as I waited for another aircraft to land. Seeing a business jet appear over head only meters above to then touch down right in front of me was an impressive sight. Once the landing plane had taxied away from the runway I took off in my own Beechcraft Baron 58 and had “wheels up” by 11:00.

With light cloud sitting at rougly 4000 – 5000 ft I found myself either trying to dodge each cloud or simply hopping from one to another whilst seeing the odd lonely cloud hanging much lower. It wasn’t long before I was flying over the city of Krabi where I could follow the main road 4 Eastwardly on my way to Trang.

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Flying a lot lower I had some fun buzzing the tree tops perched on top of some small hills and watching out for any flocks of birds in my path disturbed by the engine noise. The clouds had cleared by now and I could easily see a range of hills from my window as I passed over Trang at 11:35.

I used the Maps app on my phone to follow the route and checked out Ko Sukon Island. Other tiny islands looked lost out at sea. Ko Taruto Island was a good bit larger and I learnt that this was home to the Taruto National Park. I’m sure it would be amazing to get to explore that island first hand.

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As I reached the island of Langkawi I was taken aback by how beautiful the place looked, both from my plane in the flight sim but more so from the images and videos I was seeing on my phone. At that point I decided that this must be a stopping destination and cancelled the last leg which would have taken me to Penang. I soon found the airport and runway on the Western side of the Southern shores and requested full stop landing clearence. I didn’t log the time I landed as I must admit I was too keen to see and learn more about this island.

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Langkawi – City Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_lR_UTt-s
10 Fun Things and Activities to do in Langkawi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm_1RWjvw24
Amazing Langkawi. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHgXAQ_8LCw
Langkawi, Malaysia – What to do? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2f5VHo3Bls
Hostel Life In Langkawi, Malaysia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysLb3dSKGRg
Welcome to Langkawi Island, Malaysia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IodeoJ7a4UQ

The Datai Hotel – Langkawi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zqV2kZ90jQ

Flight 85) Bangkok – Phuket

Bangkok (VTBD) – Phuket (VTSP)

As the nightlife in Bangkok would dictate, I began this journey rather late in the day as the shadows were being to stretch themselves over the ground. At 16:45 the skies were clear and inviting although providing an added sense of urgency due to the fading light.

Today’s journey would take me 482 miles South as the sun set on a rather pretty landscape. I began the trip by following a huge “Global Freightways” Boeing 747 down the taxi route and watched it take to the skies before I followed suit and headed West towards the setting sun. I knew the flight would be mostly in the dark and wasn’t disappointed by the colours in the sky during the transition from day to night.

2017-2-7_17-12-0-163.jpgIt was nice to see the street lights below turn on and able to watch the stars come out, one by one. In the UK this week, I was able to see the International Space Station (ISS) pass clearly overhead on several occasions. Looking like a quickly moving star, it begins as a faint speck but gets increasingly brighter until there is no mistaking it for any other star. It amazes me that mankind has the knowledge and technical ability to launch a vehical and carry a number of passengers so far above the earth. I am certainly looking forward to seeing what the future holds when it comes to NASA, SpaceX and the progression of space exploration.

Below me I was expecting to cover some mountains which I had made a note of when looking at the map. As it turned out these mountains were no more than rolling hills although in the dark these could be dangerous if flying at low altitudes.

Upon reaching the South coast of Thailand, I flew over many islands varying in size. It was difficult to spot all of them in the dark seas. Eventually it became too dark for site seeing so I simply followed the pink GPS route on the Sat Nav until reaching the city of Phuket.

I learnt a lot about Phuket whilst reading up and watching videos about the place, including the correct pronunciation. I must admit that the Full Moon Party held on Koh Phangan beach is certainly an experience I would love to have first hand whilst on the alternative side, the many elephants being exploited for tourist entertainment really upset me. Whilst I am no vegan, vegetarian or animal activist myself, I hope that future generations of tourists will be more aware of the harm being inflicted on these wonderful animals whilst being held in these organisations and that the boycott of these places will mean the animals will be treated well in proper sanctuaries or better still, returned back to the wild where possible. It was comforting to know that there is infact a rather great elephant sanctuary doing the work so badly needed.

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Phuket, Thailand Travel Guide – Must-See Attractions – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP2nKrhEU68
PHUKET – THAILAND , BEST OF PHUKET HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSF5dqh94Y4
Phuket – A Quick Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qU0HSvAFVQ
Amazing Thailand Adventure Trip 2015 : Phuket – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9IxkrhGoAM
Still Dreaming? – Live Your Life – THAILAND – GoPro Travel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NAwwIMquqU
Thailand, Koh Phangan. DJI phantom – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzv2IdjFgG0
Full Moon Party Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-rdOPlsBkI