I had been looking forward to my next destination of Hong Kong for a long time. When I was a child, my uncle visited Hong Kong and brought me back a hand made, paper kite in an ornate bird of prey design. This gift instantly cemented Hong Kong in my mind as a far away exotic land, very different from that of home in the UK.
Earlier on my around the world tour I stopped off at Dubai. This dynamic and exciting city was made so much more impressive when flying over the incredible detail included within FlyTampa’s “Dubai rebooted” add on scenery for the FSX Simulator. I was lucky enough to be provided with a copy of FlyTampa’s Hong Kong add on scenery by the fantastic FlyTampa support team. Massive thanks to the team at Fly Tampa!
FlyTampa Hong Kong – Kai Tak
The add on scenery covers the city as well as the infamous older airport Kai Tak. Whilst this airport was actually closed in 1998, I wanted to tackle the challenging approach of flying extremely low over many buildings before making a right hand turn to touch down on the runway myself.
Before I left Hanoi International, I made sure to plan the flight first. Covering 522 miles I could expect to have a flight time of roughly 2 hours, 40 minutes and that was without any detours for sight seeing. I had expected to start my journey at 09:30 and would be able to make it to Hong Kong in time for lunch. Unfortunately this departure time was not to be met as the niggling issue I had previously noticed with my rudder controls were back with a vengeance. I could not taxi in a straight line at all which made it impossible to reach the runway. It would have been silly to try to fly this leg of the tour on full left rudder the entire way.
I suppose the technical troubles I had would have been the equivalent of finding some physical maintenance required on my aircraft. Luckily, I had saved my previous joystick and new that it was hiding in a dark box somewhere in my garage. By the time I had dug it out, given it a clean and configured it with my PC and FSX a good few hours had passed.
I glanced at the clock and at 11:10 I took off from Hanoi to complete a short circle of the airport in order to test the new control system. Everything appeared to be working perfectly once again and with one more successful landing I parked up and requested a visit by the fuel truck to fill my tanks.
At 14:00 I finally radioed in my IFR request and began to taxi behind another larger twin propeller plane. I passed other aircraft looking for their gates and could see how active this airport was. When I had first opened the flight simulator, the weather was rather misty and cloudy although now, in the afternoon, this had mostly burnt off as I headed rather steeply into the skies.
It didn’t take long before I had climbed to 5,000 feet and was just about touching the base of a thick layer of cloud hanging above me. I requested a flight level of 10,000 which was granted and I trimmed the aircraft and adjusted the fuel mixture so that I could fly steady at this new altitude. For much of the flight, I was simply fighting the wind forever trying to blow me off course whist enjoying the view above the clouds. Some clouds were lighter but the large majority of the sky was grey and heavy which were impressive to look at even if I could not see the ground below at all.
It wasn’t until 16:00 when I dropped below the clouds and finally saw the terrain once more. A river caught my eye snaking its way across the landscape, so I decided to follow this a little lower. Seeing boats on the river below I could hear rain hitting my windscreen and thought about whoever would be on those boats in real life, currently getting rained upon.
I declared my approach at 16:43 whilst still surround by clouds and had pretty poor visibility. I spotted a small airport out of my right hand window with a bright turquoise bay framing the tarmac but this runway was dwarfed in comparison when I passed by the newer Hong Kong International Airport. That place was huge! I would certainly return in order to say I had landed at HKIA but for now I was to take on the infamous Kai Tak approach and landing.
As the sun began to set I glided over parts of the city in my small twin propeller Beech Baron. I was able to take the approach very slowly but could gain a real sense of appreciation for those huge passenger jets having to skim the tops of buildings whilst pointing directly for a hill before turning sharp right to actually line up with the runway. Even in my plane I was nervous at how low I needed to be over the buildings.
I must say that FlyTampa had certainly done a fantastic job at modelling the scenery and including the recognizable details. A large checkerboard on a hill is all that guided me in to my approach but I knew to expect this. Being an aviation fan, the Kai Tak checkerboard has a reputation of its own. This had to be one of the most exciting landings of my tour! Whilst Lukla landing strip near Mount Everest certainly had the fear factor, this notorious landing had certainly been built up in my own mind. It is a shame that this amazing airport is no longer active and that I will never get to experience the same landing for real.
I touched down with my wheels either side of the white center line and spent a long while taxiing to my parking spot, surrounded by many huge jets in appropriate liveries. Watching the sun set I was really looking forward to flying over Hong Kong in better weather as well as embracing the food by ordering our own local Chinese take away.
Whilst researching Hong Kong I have found a new fondness for this place. I can safely say that Hong Kong is well and truly on my bucket list.