I was glad to be leaving Mogadishu and extremely glad that this is a stop in a simulator and not the real thing. Everything I have discovered about Mogadishu has been negative. Even the overviews of the city online have warning not to travel there. If you do arrive by road make sure to use an armored truck with security agents on board. By air you have a high risk of being shot down. Much like the 2 Black Hawk helicopters in 1993. Alternatively, if you arrive by boat you run a high risk of being captured by the infamous Somalian pirates.
Once in Mogadishu, the food may or may not be ok to consume. Do NOT drink the water (if you can indeed get any.) And certainly do NOT travel alone at any cost! After being sold by this lovely destination I did watch the movie “Black Hawk Down” to get a deeper impression of the area.
I was keen to start the long flight to Moori although I left it late in the day. Rolling down the runway at 3:45pm was tricky due to strong cross winds. Once the wheels left the ground I turned without thinking with the wind. I should have turned to face the wind as that would have helped my aircraft climb. Once heading northwardly I saw the city below me, much closer to me than usual as I hadn’t had been able to gain altitude as quickly as I would have liked to. It made me think of pilots who would have to fly over the city for whatever reasons and if they would get nervous about the risk of being shot down at all.
Climbing slowly, a blanket of mist which covered the city began to thin out a little but not completely. The mist was more likely to be heat haze as it continued for a lot of the desert below. The sun still shone brightly over my left shoulder and I could see the moon rising in full at my 1 o’clock. I looked forward to watching the sky darken and this full moon get brighter on this leg of my tour.
The setting sun turned the sky to colours of deep dark blues mixed with pinks and purples. Even in a simulator it looked lovely.
My route I had pre -planned followed the coast for the majority of the flight before crossing land and flying over a small range of hills or mountains. This added a bit of fun to the very long flight. Although it was dark well before I reached the mountains I could still see the land as it was lit by the moonlight. I saw a band of yellow stretch across the view from time to time which would have been a main road. I don’t know if that road would have had street lights in reality though as it is certainly pretty remote.
I wanted some fun whilst flying through the mountains so dropped altitude and nestled in to a valley and followed it until I had to hop over a crest. As I did so I saw some dramatic scenery stretch out in front of me. It didn’t take long to reach the very eastern tip of Somalia main land and then found myself over water once more.
The cloud cover had increased somewhat and the low hanging cloud made it impossible to see the small islands I was due to fly over until I burst through a cloud with the land right below.
Fuel was again becoming dangerously low despite leaving with fill tanks. It had been a good test of the aircraft’s range though. I held my breath over the last stretch of sea and breathed a sigh of relief once I was over the island I was due to land at. My relief was short lived however when both of my engines splattered and gave up on me. Very quickly adjusting the propellers to reduce drag, trimming the aircraft for low speeds and dropping the flaps and lowered the landing gear, I had a few moments to scout the ground ready for an emergency landing. With all of the trees and shrubs to avoid it was tricky but I managed to bring the plane to a safe stop without damage or hitting anything.
Although safe, I had no way of reaching my final waypoint at Moori airfield, also known as Socotra. With all of my flights I allow extra weight on board for baggage. My only idea I had was to suggest that at least some of that baggage would be emergency supplies. A regular jerry can holds 22 litres of fuel. That is 48.4 lbs worth. I reduced my baggage weight and added 48 lbs of fuel to the plane and fired up the engines once again. With my Beech Baron back to working order I taxied to find a suitable stretch to take off from. Using some flap and a slight slope I was soon completing a very rough and bouncy take off.
15 minutes later I caught sight of the runway and touched down in a much safer fashion for 9:45pm. From now on I shall be adding extra weight to longer journeys just in case this should ever catch me out again. I was very lucky not to be over water at the time my fuel ran out.
Parking the plane facing some hills it was nice to hear the quiet once the engines were off. That had to be the longest flight yet. Let us hope that Socotra is a nicer place to see than Mogadishu was!
The time I spent here was unusually long. I discovered the island of Socotra held a huge amount of natural beauty. From diverse animals and birds to exotic and alien like plant life. I had come across images of Dragon Blood trees before I had ever looked into the island of Socotra. Despite their unique appearance the name “Dragon Blood” certainly inspires the imagination. I had never realised where they grew or why they were named “Dragon Blood.” Apparently when cut, the sap of the tree oozes with the colour of deep red, like blood.
The magnificence of the island was a world away from my previous destination of Mogadishu. I was happy to stay here for a little longer. Which was a very good thing as it turned out…
15 Mins of Beautiful Socotra – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxkLc1M8880
Photos from Socotra – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEEqHnuDaTo
Go To Socotra – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t658D5KsjgU
Socotra by Janez Doler 2013 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF7-QMvo8pQ
Kite Surfing in Socotra – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5Dp4ZNStbo
Landing 01 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qssOzpfiUs
Landing 02 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkUYYdP-loQ
Paragliding in Socotra – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB_v0f_n4l0