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 94) Ende WATE – Kupang WATT

The flight between Ende and my next destination of Kupang was to be a short hop over water from island to island with an estimated 45 minutes flight time. It was a beautiful day with warm, clear sky and I was confident I already had enough fuel to see out this trip without any worry.
The airstrip was pretty quiet and felt rather lonely. I doubt this would be the case in the real world, but within the simulated world, I did not see any other signs of life at all.

Taking off from runway 09 at 12:50 heading due East, I was immediately confronted with a large hill which I remembered having to drop from during the landing into the airport. Of course by now the wind had changed direction meaning that I would need to also take off towards this possibly dangerous obstacle. Luckily however it was of no major concern as I was able to turn towards the sea almost as soon as I had raised my wheels.

Once over the water I started a slow climb to 10,000 feet as I wanted to be able to see the land ahead as soon as I could. Bali Center kept me company on the radios for the easy ride which gave me something of interest to hold my concentration. The open sea and endless blue sky does little to entertain during a simulated experience. I envy the weather and felt I shared the loneliness of the sky with the single small cloud I passed on my way.

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I caught sight of land at 13:20, only half an hour from take off although it still looked a long way off. Checking over my shoulder to see if I was still in sight of Ende confirmed that I had not actually travelled very far at all. 10 minutes later and I was much closer to Kupang and by now a handful of small clouds were shading the coast line. I called in my landing intentions once I had tuned the radios to Kupang El Tari WATT and decended to 2000 ft. At this height there was some low laying fog which surprised me due to how clear the rest of the flight had been. I entered left traffic in order to land on runway 07 but a CRJ700 landing infront of me meant that I was ordered to “go around.” After my quick lap I was safely on the ground and parked up by 13:52. Not a bad flight at all.

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KUPANG, INDONESIA 2017 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrvpU_2k_cw
Kupang Drone Footage – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVUbyNpL1no
Kupang, Indonesia, The Undiscovered City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiV1h2GxY_I
INDONESIA KUPANG BEMO HIP HOP – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0VY80urrGY