Flight 96) Darwin YPDN – Katherine YPTN

I had really enjoyed my first taste of Australia. Quite literally in fact as I was able to find a relatively local Australian themed resturant which sold Kangaroo steak. I found the meat to be pretty tough although I don’t know if that was the Kangaroo or the chef’s ability leaving something to be desired. Still, it was an experience entirely driven from this tour. Maybe I’ll find some other Australian food as I continue through the country.

After being away from the Around The World tour for so long, it was finally time to get back into the swing of things again and plan the next leg. I used SkyVector to look at the route. This is an online map showing airways, airports and other aviation navigation details. Simply enter the departing and arriving airports along with any other waypoints and the site generates a full “NavLog” for the journey. This navlog advised of a distance of 153.4 nauticle miles which would take roughly 1 hour 39 minutes. I was also able to look at the details of the Katherine YPTN Airport. This is actually a military airfield but it was good to know the runway lengths and directions as well as the radio frequencies. I wondered how acurate the flight sim would be when it came to details such as this.

REX SkyForce is an addon piece of software which provides ennhancments across the board for the simulator. Most notibly weather. The clouds, sky colours, lighting, weather effects are all tweekable although it is the real time live weather updates that are imported to the sim which is my favorite part. If there is a thunderstorm over Darwin when I am due to take off in real life, there will be a thunderstorm in the simulator too. Wind direction, temperature, air pressure is all loaded in and effects the performance of the aircraft accordingly. It truly adds to the immersiveness and adds that extra element of planning. – http://rexsimulations.com/skyforce.html

Here in the UK we are entering the autumn months and the weather has noticable taken a turn. On the other side of the world the weather was improving and I was pleased to see that Darwin had clear skies with a light wind of 11 nmph heading South East. This would give me a helping hand as I would be travelling the same direction. That will cut some time off the flight.

07:00 local time (Local for Darwin) and I was once again back in the Carenado Beechcraft Baron 58, making adjustments to the familiar cockpit. Barometric pressure – 29.94 Check. Heading bug correctly aligned – Check. GPS and Radio systems all correctly configured and tuned – Check. Along with the full pre-flight check lists completed.

The tower provided my route along the taxiways to Runway 29 so I knew I would be taking off to the West. Precicely due west would be 27 for the 270 degrees on the compass. North would be 00 or 36, East 09, South 18 etc etc. As I crossed the runway as part of the taxi route I noticed that the wind sock was pretty much dead. Not a lot of breeze to disturb it at ground level despite the advised 11 nmph wind advised. By 07:16 I was ready to leave the City of Darwin, climb into the sky once again and take on the rest of this adventure.

The city passed by below as I climbed a little. I wanted to see what I could of Darwin before continuing. The city appeared to be very lush and green although this soon gave way to expanses of brushland and forest. I was suprised to see the low sun glistening from the large number of rivers snaking their way through the terrain as well.

By 07:38 light clouds were appearing ahead although I knew they would not be a concern. The ground stretched out below and I considered it to be very flat until I dropped lower for a closer look at some of the rivers. On closer inspection the terrain was full of rolling hills. Not very high but very condensed. I found a main road and followed this over the hills and wasn;t too worried about following the purple GPS route line perfectly as I knew I would make decent time due to the tail wind anyway.

The rivers widened as I got closer to Katherine and I saw a large area of drier, dusty ground. I was later to learn that this was Nitmiluk National Park. A large nature reserve with spectacular river canyons cutting through rock. I would certainly look more into this when I had landed.2019-10-4_23-44-43-631

Katherine is situated on the Katherine river whilst the Tindal Military field YPTN is located outside, a little SE from the main population. I made my way in for a left downwind circuit of the runway lining up with runway 32 at 08:22 and my wheels touching down smoothly only 6 minutes later. I took a wrong turn during the taxi route to general aviation parking. I will have to do more research on each airport and see if I can find the taxiway labels as well. I was parked up by 08:35 and immediately took to Google and Youtube to find out more about this rather remote looking place.


I was amazed by Nitmiluk Nation Park. It’s Croc filled rivers, large red rock cliffs and spectacular waterfalls would certainly be something to enjoy first hand. I was impressed to learn about the Jawoyn Aboriginal rock artwork.

“Nitmiluk is the Jawoyn name for Katherine Gorge. It is pronounced Nit-me-look, and literally means Cicada Place. The name was given by Nabilil, important figure of the Creation Time. As he travelled through the country he came to the Gorge where he hears the song of the Cicada, “Nit, Nit, Nit!” The Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park and Jawoyn Association logo is a painting by a deceased traditional owner of Nitmiluk. It depicts Bolung (the rainbow serpent), Nitmi (the cicada), mussels, fish and rocks. By tradition, Bolung still inhabits the deep pools of the second Gorge at Nitmiluk and care must be taken not to disturb him.”

Source – https://www.nitmiluktours.com.au/about-us/jawoyn-people

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The Katherine Hot springs also seemed to be a popular destination. Looking at the clear waters and idyllic scenery, I can see why.

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I also found a great Aboriginal Art center along Gorge Road leading north from Katherine which featured some amazing traditional arts and didgeridoos for sale. I would love to have been able to get one of these as a souvenir. Check out their site: https://topdidj.com/

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Life In Katherine – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydZVg7NgL5o

Top 15 Experiences Katherine NT – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_dlb3sns5A

Katherine Outback Experience – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=95&v=6sqJef5pVFg

Katherine Gorge, Edith Falls, Hot Springs – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDRiqWQ1QKY

 

Half The World Away – A Recap

“So here I go, I’m still scratching around in the same old hole
My body feels young but my mind is very old
So what do you say?
You can’t give me the dreams that are mine anyway
Half the world away, half the world away
Half the world away
I’ve been lost, I’ve been found but I don’t feel down.”
– Oasis 1994
I finally made it!
I made it to Australia.
All the way from Edinburgh UK.
In a tiny, twin propeller, piston engined, Beechcraft Baron 58.
– I have travelled 66,000 km / 41,000 miles.
– Been airbourne for 8 days (combined) flight time.
– Logged 95 flights.
– Suffered 2 close calls. (Running out of fuel over Socotra Island and reaching the limits of altitude whilst viewing Mt Everest.)
– Visited 46 different countries…
   … and I can’t wait for more.
What an adventure it has been. Stay with me for the ride as I continue with another 150+ flights as I route my way over Austrailia, New Zealand, The Pacific Islands, Hawaii, North and South America, The Antartic, Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, Europe and the UK as I finally return to Edinburgh where I started this journey.
Here’s some of the highlights so far!

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Flight 95) Kupang WATT – Darwin YPDN

So, it’s been a fair while since I actually completed this flight. A couple of years in fact. I am disappointed in myself for leaving it such a long time before updating this blog although even after such a long time, because of the notes I made when flying, I am still able to remember the details of the journey. Unfortunately however the screen grabs taken along the way have been lost.

It was to be a rather straight forward hop of 453 nautical miles over the Timor Sea to reach the central, northern point of Australia home to Darwin. At 13:42 I had just finished eating some lunch in preparation for the estimated 2 hour, 23 minute flight ahead. The temperature was a warm 26 degrees on the apron of El Tari International Airport (WATT) as I completed my usual checks of the Baron 58 although the overcast sky was less welcoming.

Tuning the first radio frequency to 118.3 (El Tari Tower) I requested my taxi clearance and was guided to Runway 7 to take off to the East. Taking off to the east is always preferable as it saves a little time not having to turn back on myself to continue the very Easterly tour. A landing CRJ700 gave me a short hold at the entrance to the runway but I was soon rolling East with my wheels leaving the ground at 13:55 and entering rather thick fog right up to 1500 feet. Although I couldn’t see the ground below I used my GPS to tell me when I began to fly over the coastline and out to sea.

At 14:08 I banked to starboard turning South East and began a slow climb to 12,000 feet. This was primarily to get better fuel economy from the aircraft due to the thinner atmosphere and less need for such a rich mixture of air and fuel.

Changing the radio over to Brisane center the overcast clouds which were now below me began to thin out and eventually disappeared leaving a wide open sky and a long stretch of sea ahead. Without much more to see or do until I reached the Australian shore I turned on the auto pilot and read up about the city I was about to visit.

I disabled the auto pilot as soon as I could see the shade of the water change from a deep blue to lighter shades as I got closer to land until finally the sea turned to estuaries and bays, and then on to rivers. This was the big moment I had been waiting for since leaving Edinburgh in the UK. To finally make it to the far side of the world! Even in a simulator, flying the correct distances in real time, with real world weather updates and realistic fuel consumption, I believe that this was a grand achievement.

With buildings present on both sides of the bay I was initially unsure as to where I would be landing. Of course the GPS flight plan showed me the way easily enough. It also appeared that I had a police helicopter escort as I made my way towards the city. I took some time to enjoy Darwin from the air as the now orange sun hung low in the sky creating a beautiful sunset behind me. The Orbx terrain that I have been using had now also changed to represent the Oceania part of the globe. The fresh new textures were a welcome change which only re-iterated the fact that I had reached a new portion of the tour.

By 17:00 I could see that there wasn’t much daylight left so tuned to Darwin Airport (YPDN) and called in my landing intentions for Runway Right 29. Australian liveries peppered the gates and parking areas of the airport as the now purple sky glinted reflections off of their surfaces. I watched a Virgin Australia 737 take off as I parked up close to the fuel pumps and smiled to myself knowing that where ever that massive aircraft was flying to, it wouldn’t be as far as I had travelled.

 

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Darwin Landing 2018 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDe1eOk503s

Darwin Vacation Travel Guide Expedia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ3M3bt22v4

Discover Darwin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT3dSF1tepc

Why you need to visit Darwin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2p-5fS9l9M8

5 Things to do in Darwin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as5qsR4Ur7M&t=3s

Darwin A City View – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrOwQjPtfaY&t=154s

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