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 75) Shanghai – Beijing

It had been a long time since my previous flight and I had enjoyed the time spent learning about Shanghai. I really hadn’t known what a huge city this place had become, although now it was time to leave the futuristic lights and skyline of Shanghai for Beijing. I included Beijing on the tour mainly so that I could see the Great Wall of China.

I started by checking the weight and fuel load of my small Beech Baron 58 and made sure I plotted a suitable route north. This didn’t take long and before long I was requesting taxi to runway clearence by 10:00. The rain and fog wasn’t very inviting but made for a rather reflective concrete surface around Shanghai Airport. Unfortunately my take off clearence was denied as the airport was operating IFR only due to the thick fog still in the air, so I created an alternative IFR route and was soon give the clearence I was looking for.

I had to “hold my position” many times during the taxi route to the runway as this really was a very busy airport with other aircraft landing and taking off regularly and many other planes maneuvering to and from their own gates. All of this movement made the radio buzz constantly.

Having almost lapped the main terminal building entirely I finally took to the skies at 10:25 and soon cleared the low clouds. I didn’t want to fly too high as I wanted to get a look at the infamous Shanghai skyline. As the flight sim FSX is a fair few years old now, it is clear to see the rapid expansion of this city as many of the key buildings now standing were not featured in the original software. Still the city looked wonderful with the cresent moon keeping watch.2016-5-29_10-36-15-758.jpg

Flying North-West from the city I passed over the Hung-Tse Lake and then straightend to due North for the majority of the flight. My next waypoint was 1 hour, 45 minutes away.
I flew lower and the speed of the land below gave the illusion I was travelling faster than at higher altitudes.

An hour later and I was approaching the coastline and could see hills and mountains in the distance both infront and from my left hand window. I flew lower once again to have some fun with the hilly terrain below but soon found myself surrounded by mountain fog. Passing over a few unknown cities and lakes with anouther hour and a half still to go until reaching Beijing, the weather finally cleared up.

I suffered with radio confusion between Beijing Center directing me to contact Tianjin Tower and visa versa. This bounced to and from for far too long until I was able call my landing intentions and touch down at 14:38 slightly off center. The few previous runaways I have landed on have belonged to very large international airports. I will look forward to visiting smaller landing strips in the future. I find these can be a little more challenging.
The Beech Baron was parked up by 14:45 and I was looking forward to seeing the sights of Beijing.

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Whilst here I really wanted to see the Great Wall of China which can be seen to the North of Beijing. Whilst I took a short flight around the area, I was unable to see the wall at all. Many maps show there to be many sections of the Great Wall. Maybe this just simply isn’t included in the standard FSX simulator software. This was rather disappointing. Nevermind.

Beijing Travel Guide – Beijing official city guide HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHCab5_BArI
Visit Beijing – 5 Things You WIll Love & Hate about Beijing, China – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZVSii6rB5g
This Is My City – Beijing  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx35kanMWh0
BEIJING Modern City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH3PvfI7ELQ
Discover Beijing III: A Modern City in Motion (Full Episode) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PrcMFLQ5IQ

[Documentary] The Forbidden City of Ming &Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1912 AD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QvsCr_xK3c
Beijing Travel Guide – Forbidden City Documentary (Palace Museum) Part 1 “Secrets” HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHypO2ISPas

National Geographic – The Great Wall of China – Documentary  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjlydnRqcmw

Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii-n_QSS0og

Flight 45) Masirah – Seeb International, Muscat

Masirah appeared to be a very remote place to visit. I found that there are many trips taken to Masirah Island although I was eager to move on to parts of the world with a little more population as I gear up to my arrival in Dubai!

Whilst I knew I was to be flying over desert and sea, without a lot to see, I wanted to enjoy the challenge of a night time flight so set off rather late. Taking off from the runway at 8:50 pm I looked over my shoulder at the island below and could make out the main road which runs a complete loop around the island. Still, there were not many buildings or lights to see from the air.

I continued to fly north over the Arabian Sea and soon passed over the shore line at 6,000 ft. The brief but heavy turbulence notified me that I was over warm land again and I turned to a heading of 030. It was nice to see the odd cloud speckled through out the dark navy sky. It was equally nice to be flying above them as I climbed to 8,000 ft and continued to 10,000 ft. The dark sky allowed me to enjoy a different kind of view as my eyes were drawn to the brighter parts of the sky and I realized I was looking at Earth’s view of the Milkyway from my left window.

I was tuned to Muscat center and was surprised at how little radio chatter there was as at 9:20 I heard the only other aircraft in the sky, a Bombardier. I decided to gain some speed and requested a decent to 6,000ft. To really enjoy the challenge of night time flying I stuck to flying by instruments only. By the time I looked out of the windows once again I could see the opposite shore line coming into view on the horizon, dark shapes describing mountains to my left with a lot of desert floor below.

By 9:36 I had reached my second way point and received my landing instructions from Seeb International airport for runway 26. It wasn’t for another 15 mins of flight before I saw the lights of Muscat City come in to view and I saw another aircraft in the sky.

My first approach was missed as I failed to hear my landing clearance being given over the radio so I entered a downwind left landing pattern and looped over the city. Even the simulator FSX made Muscat appear to be a substantial location.

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Muscat City FSX

As I lined up for runway 26 I could see the airport was buzzing with aircraft and ground vehicles.  Just whilst taxiing to my parking spot I watched 4 aircraft leave Seeb International Airport and take to the night’s sky.

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Time to see what Muscat City has to offer.

muskatcity092_270_muscat_site_view downtown-muscat-waterfront-muscatMuscatRoadGate

256192ee-c0f1-4738-b3b6-8d8767dfbdc6_d grand mosque sultan-qaboos-grand-mosque12

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Muscat 02 Muscat 07 Al Jalali Fortroyal-opera-house-muscat19521814_600x400 The front of the Sultan's Palace.

Landing OOMS Muscat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7saH-nDyMc
National Geographic Channel: World Traveller – Muscat & Nizwa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wFZMcIbg3c
Muscat capital of Oman – Unravel Travel TV – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZZAnxAmg_w
Muscat City Tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op1ZHk_qoG8
Oman Muscat 2013 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp8SCdTBu9w
Amazing Oman Muscat, Nizwa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ufi-z_fgJ4
Oman Travel Guide and Tourism 2014 ( Full Video HD)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjVD1izlwNQ

Flight 32) Kimberley – Cape Town

The large city of Cape Town was the whole reason for my multi flight detour. This was the journey that I had been looking forward to.

After flying at high altitudes for days I was expecting there to be a pretty impressive drop on my way to the coast line. I was not disappointed. Flying above the splatter of clouds below the ground seemed further away than it had done for a while so I reduced the throttle and adjusted the trim of the aircraft to slowly descend across half an hour or more. It wasn’t until I was pretty close to Cape Town when the ground suddenly seemed to give way and fell away from the aircraft once again. Seeing such steep drops in such a huge scale did certainly make me wish I could see them first hand. Although I rarely suffer from vertigo I am pretty confident I would have trouble staying on my feet with those views before me.

Seeing the ocean again was a refreshing sight but more spectacular was the curving beaches and impressive mountains around the city of Cape Town. I took the plane lower to take a closer look but was soon surrounded by heavy fog. This made locating the airport rather difficult but once again the GPS pointed me in the right direction.

 cape_town

Cape Town

 cape town table mountain

Cape Town and Table Mountain

The airport was fairly busy with larger jet liners and the occasional lighter aircraft. I discovered that the airport was busy most of the time when on another day I took a Cessna 172 up into the skies to take a better look around the city and the infamous “Table Mountain.” The fog wasn’t as dense but still hung over the city.

 Cape Town Cessna

Cape Town from a Cessna 172

I flew a complete lap of Cape Town and dived between some of the other peaks and out over the shore lines. I managed to jump the short stretch of water to an island off the coast. Seeing some buildings on the island I knew this must have been the prison in which held Nelson Mandela as number 46664. I later learnt that this island is called Robben Island.

Cape Town Robin Island

Robben Island & Prison From the air.

Robben Island Tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSy-uNlVLyE

Although this wasn’t the route I took this is a lovely video of a flight over Cape Town in a light aircraft: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvBxNvuW2YY

robben island prison

Robben Island Prison

Cape Town – Rhino Africa Safaris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDfPV8PNROU

Cape Town 2013 HD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw2dPccmyjs

My Cape Town, My South Africa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD4pm1MMBHg

10 Reasons Why Cape Town Is Best City In The World: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyUsWVMukT0

10 Things you need to know about Cape Town: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyLwupyQANo

Cape Town in 60 Seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAq–Hvgtb0

Cape Town and its Beauty: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTx-_ryJ5aU

Beautiful and relaxing video of scenes from Cape Town: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etyEApu_4-E