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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

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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

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

Mount Everest

The challange of landing my small Beech Baron at the world’s most dangerous runway certainly filled me with excitment but I must admit that the relief felt upon landing safely was holding me at this location for much longer than it should have. I suppose I was reluctant to send my plane rattling downhill towards a 2000 ft drop into a valley. I chose to spend a fair amount of time exploring the extremely well trodden pathways from Lukla to Everest base camps.
Using Google Earth I was very pleased to see that someone with stronger legs than mine has taken 360 degree photos all the way along these paths incorporating “street view” features, all whilst above 9,000 ft. The paths were small and damp with a handful of man-made bridges crossing icy river waters. The shacks and lodges along the route seemed to be the true definition of cosy. I could very easily imagine numbers of people making new friends and sharing many a warming drink before taking on the massive adventure of climbing Mount Everest.
Earlier into my around the world tour, I flew to Mt. Kilimanjaro and after watching several videos from those who have scaled this peak, I would very much love to complete this challenge first hand. For some reason I do not share the same passion or desire to climb Everest. It may be due to my stronge dislike for the cold. I was much happier to be able to fly around this iconic mountain virtually and appreciate its massive size from the warmth and comfort of my leather chair.
Working up the courage to leave theI took a long flight North from Lukla and found my way to the tallest peak I could find. It was safe to say that Everest was rather easy to find although it was as slow struggle to gain the altitude needed to clear some of the ridges as I flew around.
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When considering the next leg of my tour, I knew that I would need to start with a lot more fuel on board. I was less than confident taking off from Lukla with full tanks of fuel. This would only make my plane heavier and more likely to dive off of the end of the runway. I figured it would be much safer to return to Kathmandu and complete the full journey to Dhaka from Kathmandu. With the little fuel I had left after navigating my way around Mount Everest itself I took a final low flight through the valleys eventually reaching the basin surrounding Kathmandu.
Another spectacular part of this around the world tour was over but I was eager to move on to see what else the world has to offer. Next stop, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
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Mount Everest and its geological story – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KRTfKZfIp0
Climbing MT Everest with a Mountain on My Back The Sherpa’s Story BBC full documentary 2013 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlAiU5fIaKY
National Geographic Live! – The Call of Everest – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=megSEXmV0nQ
Everest – Getting to the Top – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFkC7Cd9-IE

Flight 64) Chennai – Hyderabad

I enjoyed my rather short time visiting Chennai and whilst I would be content skipping this as an actual holiday destination, I certainly learnt a lot about the area. I also got to see how big Chennai are into Cricket! The city’s cricket grounds were very impressive and I got to watch the end of a very close match featuring the Chennai Rhinos cricket team.

Chennai Rhinos Vs Mumbai Heros – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HwUku9_J5s

Covering more ground in this flight I would be continue to head north on my way to New Delhi although would be ending this flight at Hyderabad.

I fired up the engines as the clock showed 18:20 and ensured that I would be able to reach Hyderabad easily on 3/4s of fuel. I wasn’t worried about that at all and began taxiing out from between 2 larger jets on either side of my small Beech Baron.
I took off from Runway 7 which was the opposite way to my arrival. Seems that the wind can change direction fairly often in Chennai. That being said, the take off was pretty tricky due to a heavy cross wind. Getting airborne I soon found myself flying through thick fog yet again. If I am taking one thing about India from this around the world tour, is that it is extremely foggy.

I climbed higher to rise above the fog and immediately found myself within large amounts of cloud. The majority of the landscape was rather flat but I still felt strong turbulence as I flew through the thermals and wind changes caused by the few ridges and hills as I flew closer to pretty large river which flowed into/out of a larger lake. I should have looked on the map to check the name of this lake but I was preoccupied with flying the aircraft through the rough air.

 

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I saw 1 lonely looking boat on the lake before climbing higher on my way to Hyderabad. Once I saw my GPS advising that Hyderabad was 10 minutes away, I called in my landing intentions and once again I had my request denied due to the thick fog hanging over the city. This time I was a little more prepared however and new that there was a second military landing strip north of the city which I would be able to land at providing visibility wasn’t too bad.

 

Flying the extra 5 minutes I was able to spot Hakimpet landing strip and completed a full circle before touching down safely on runway 27.

I was a little disappointed to not make it to my planned destination although the following evening, I checked the weather which was much clearer so decided to make the 5 minute hop to Hyderabad as I had originally intended.

 

Charminar

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Hasan Sagar Lake  Chowmahalla-Palace-PicturesCHOWMAHALLA-6-1140x900

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Golconda Fort

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Hyderabad International Airport – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y29ITqecQFo

Amazing Hyderabad – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=491HMSj9xGE

Hyderabad: City that Breaths Life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDcXdyjsAos

Hyderabad- City of Many – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiwYHk-A34g

Golconda Fort – Historical Monument of Hyderabad, INDIA – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87GaQvYNVsA

Golconda Fort, Hyderbad, Andhra Pradesh India – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZciUB5SxreI

 Chowmahalla Palace , Hyderabad – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6nDwxuBWag