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.

2016-8-11_13-51-12-722.jpg

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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 73) Hanoi – Hong Kong

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.
2016-3-12_16-7-58-19
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.
2016-3-12_16-58-8-629
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.
2016-3-12_17-1-53-2322016-3-12_17-3-34-840
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.
2016-3-12_17-8-51-622016-3-12_17-9-42-814
Kai Tak Airport

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport (1925 – 1998) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PCOcyt7BPI
The Last Hurrah for Plane Spotters at Kai Tak Hong Kong Airport Airplanes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBYVc8083PM
Planes Over Hong Kong (1998) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyU9OLqQ8XA
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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hong Kong , Best of Hong Kong HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htuj-fmfKcU
Hong Kong – City Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaTcRZK0PRM
Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eIF7-opXYo
Megacities – Hong Kong Full Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcbyQ_1GhYk
Hong Kong (China) Vacation Travel Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1vQnNnsT48
Top 10 Things to do in Hong Kong – HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPNxBSAw0Yw
Hong Kong Central District Skyline at Night *HD* – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrJG3yc0WDk

Sight Seeing To Ha Long Bay

Whilst visiting the lovely city of Hanoi, I was eager to check out the nearby shoreline and the iconic “Ha long Bay” which I had seen many times in images and film but never really knew exactly where this place was.
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAK_AAAAJDdjODg3YTAyLTVjYjQtNGJjMi1hMGY4LWY0YzllNGIzOTc5Mw
Halong Bay consists of around 2,000 variously sized islands rising out of the sea, carved by 500 million years of erosion, although I much prefer the ancient legend which tells of a family of dragons sent to protect and defend the Vietnamese people against Chinese invaders. Whilst fighting the dragons spat out jewels which then turned into islands, forming a great barrier against the invaders. Once the fighting had been won, the dragons chose to settle here and the remaining islands were created by the violently whipping tails of the dragon children.

I was astounded to learn that many families live their entire lives on small boats and rafts within these islands never settling on dry land. Floating fishing villages can include markets and schools and everything needed to provide for a small community.

I wanted a smaller light aircraft which would be better suited to sight seeing than that of my regular Beech Baron 58. After a bit of research I opted for the Cessna Skylane C180 by A2A Simulations. This is a fantastic recreation it’s real life counter part and the attention to detail is hugely impressive; Even down the the engine maintantence and pre-flight walk around. I can certainly recommend A2A aircraft to any flight sim enthusiasts looking to get a whole new level of realism from their experience.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ACCU-SIM C182 SKYLANE FIRST IMPRESSIONS – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUF4GIzujy8
A2A Accu-Sim Skylane 18 Minute First Look – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lw4gWmXwD-I
A2A Cessna 182 Skylane Full review – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gD3wzJZGPo

After a very brief test with the new Cessna Skylane, I was soon taxiing behind a CRJ700 and took off to start my morning sight seeing tour of Halong Bay.
It was a slow cruise of 120 knots at 5,500 feet and it was rather relaxing watching the river snake its way towards the sea. I could see the turquoise colours of the ocean in the distance but the river, breaking off into many streams and esturies was much murkier inland.
Reaching Halong bay I was hugely disappointed by the lack of details captured by the FSX default scenery. This just confirmed to me even more that Halong bay is such an amazing place that I really would have to see if first hand to truely appreciate it.
I spent a while in the air to enjoy the new Cessna Skylane and was soon dropping through the clouds to make my landing back at Hanoi International Airport. I was relieved to find out after 3 hours of flight time, the aircraft was still in a great condition as according to the hanger’s aircraft notes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hanoi – Halong Bay — Voyage to the land of junks and sampans (Documentary, Discovery, History) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx3-JfGgAQE
VIETNAM Travel Diary (Hanoi & Halong Bay!) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTwOk8Snt9c
Hello Vietnam: Vinh Long, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Da Nang, Hoi An | HAUSOFCOLOR – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MutE9-JcWj0
Travelling Halong bay weather 2015 | Vietnam travel guide 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX-8QKcFmAE
Travel Halong Bay Vietnam – Impressions [HD] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4l3fNoEfCgY
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam – Journey with Jamie Logan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGy5zRjC-N0

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.
2015-11-14_15-10-8-33 copy.jpg
2015-11-14_14-39-25-669 copy.jpg
2015-11-14_14-59-17-849 copy
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.
mikko_01662015-11-15_12-45-36-552 copyMount-Everest-free-wallpapersMount-Everest-in-Everest-Movie-2015Mount_Everest_Summit_11
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