Flight 86) Phuket (VTSP) – Langkawi (WMKL)

This flight was originally going to be from Phuket, all the way to Penang and I had plotted a route which took me over Krabi, Trang and the island of Langkawi, before landing at Penang. With just over an hours flight time I was considering this to be one of the shorter flights of the adventure.

Starting the day at 10:30 I soon completed all the necessary checks and procedures. Whilst this differs somewhat to a real life aircraft, ensuring that my Track IR equipment was working and that I had enough fuel for the flight were equally as important. The 64 gallons of fuel I had on board should easily be enough.

I was ready to depart from Runway 27 of Phuket International Airport by 10:45 although I was told to hold on the runway itself as I waited for another aircraft to land. Seeing a business jet appear over head only meters above to then touch down right in front of me was an impressive sight. Once the landing plane had taxied away from the runway I took off in my own Beechcraft Baron 58 and had “wheels up” by 11:00.

With light cloud sitting at rougly 4000 – 5000 ft I found myself either trying to dodge each cloud or simply hopping from one to another whilst seeing the odd lonely cloud hanging much lower. It wasn’t long before I was flying over the city of Krabi where I could follow the main road 4 Eastwardly on my way to Trang.

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Flying a lot lower I had some fun buzzing the tree tops perched on top of some small hills and watching out for any flocks of birds in my path disturbed by the engine noise. The clouds had cleared by now and I could easily see a range of hills from my window as I passed over Trang at 11:35.

I used the Maps app on my phone to follow the route and checked out Ko Sukon Island. Other tiny islands looked lost out at sea. Ko Taruto Island was a good bit larger and I learnt that this was home to the Taruto National Park. I’m sure it would be amazing to get to explore that island first hand.

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As I reached the island of Langkawi I was taken aback by how beautiful the place looked, both from my plane in the flight sim but more so from the images and videos I was seeing on my phone. At that point I decided that this must be a stopping destination and cancelled the last leg which would have taken me to Penang. I soon found the airport and runway on the Western side of the Southern shores and requested full stop landing clearence. I didn’t log the time I landed as I must admit I was too keen to see and learn more about this island.

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Langkawi – City Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_lR_UTt-s
10 Fun Things and Activities to do in Langkawi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lm_1RWjvw24
Amazing Langkawi. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHgXAQ_8LCw
Langkawi, Malaysia – What to do? – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2f5VHo3Bls
Hostel Life In Langkawi, Malaysia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysLb3dSKGRg
Welcome to Langkawi Island, Malaysia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IodeoJ7a4UQ

The Datai Hotel – Langkawi – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zqV2kZ90jQ

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Flight 85) Bangkok – Phuket

Bangkok (VTBD) – Phuket (VTSP)

As the nightlife in Bangkok would dictate, I began this journey rather late in the day as the shadows were being to stretch themselves over the ground. At 16:45 the skies were clear and inviting although providing an added sense of urgency due to the fading light.

Today’s journey would take me 482 miles South as the sun set on a rather pretty landscape. I began the trip by following a huge “Global Freightways” Boeing 747 down the taxi route and watched it take to the skies before I followed suit and headed West towards the setting sun. I knew the flight would be mostly in the dark and wasn’t disappointed by the colours in the sky during the transition from day to night.

2017-2-7_17-12-0-163.jpgIt was nice to see the street lights below turn on and able to watch the stars come out, one by one. In the UK this week, I was able to see the International Space Station (ISS) pass clearly overhead on several occasions. Looking like a quickly moving star, it begins as a faint speck but gets increasingly brighter until there is no mistaking it for any other star. It amazes me that mankind has the knowledge and technical ability to launch a vehical and carry a number of passengers so far above the earth. I am certainly looking forward to seeing what the future holds when it comes to NASA, SpaceX and the progression of space exploration.

Below me I was expecting to cover some mountains which I had made a note of when looking at the map. As it turned out these mountains were no more than rolling hills although in the dark these could be dangerous if flying at low altitudes.

Upon reaching the South coast of Thailand, I flew over many islands varying in size. It was difficult to spot all of them in the dark seas. Eventually it became too dark for site seeing so I simply followed the pink GPS route on the Sat Nav until reaching the city of Phuket.

I learnt a lot about Phuket whilst reading up and watching videos about the place, including the correct pronunciation. I must admit that the Full Moon Party held on Koh Phangan beach is certainly an experience I would love to have first hand whilst on the alternative side, the many elephants being exploited for tourist entertainment really upset me. Whilst I am no vegan, vegetarian or animal activist myself, I hope that future generations of tourists will be more aware of the harm being inflicted on these wonderful animals whilst being held in these organisations and that the boycott of these places will mean the animals will be treated well in proper sanctuaries or better still, returned back to the wild where possible. It was comforting to know that there is infact a rather great elephant sanctuary doing the work so badly needed.

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Phuket, Thailand Travel Guide – Must-See Attractions – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP2nKrhEU68
PHUKET – THAILAND , BEST OF PHUKET HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSF5dqh94Y4
Phuket – A Quick Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qU0HSvAFVQ
Amazing Thailand Adventure Trip 2015 : Phuket – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9IxkrhGoAM
Still Dreaming? – Live Your Life – THAILAND – GoPro Travel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NAwwIMquqU
Thailand, Koh Phangan. DJI phantom – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzv2IdjFgG0
Full Moon Party Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-rdOPlsBkI

Flight 84) Ho Chi Minh – Bangkok

Ho Chi Minh (VVTS) to Bangkok (VTBD)

I learnt a lot about Vietnam during my virtual travels here although much like my time in Japan, once again the violence of war tainted much of the information I discovered. I was keen to move on to Bangkok as I have known several friends to have been here for vacation and have confirmed that the city really does live up to the “expectations.”

Loading FSX at 11:30 and plotting a very quick route I checked the flight plan for details. With a distance of 419.8  nm I would be flying for just over 2 hours and using up 79 gallons of fuel. Seeing as I only had 29 gallons on board, my first point was to refuel via the airports own fuel trucks. After a very long wait I decided to simply fill the tanks to the 168 gallons and 100% of their capacity. By 12:05 I was ready to depart the rather quiet Tansonnhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh city.

Taking off into an immediate steep climb I quickly re-trimmed the aircraft and gazed out over a very flat landscape with a single mound in the far distance. At least the weather has been remarkably clear in this part of the world as I was welcomed by another clear, blue, cloudless sky.

Just before reaching lake Torlé Sap I chose to liven up the flight a little by requesting a touch and go landing at Kampong Chhnang Airstrip (VDKH). Touching down twice on runway 18 I saw that time was ticking by quickly so continued with the flight. The waters of Torlé Sap looked incredibly mirky with a shade of muddy green rather than blue. By this time a few clouds had gathered over the water which I kept an eye on for the 24 minutes it was due to take to cover the lake end to end.

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The rest of the flight was very straight forward and I simply let the plane fly in the correct heading for the best part of the next hour. The closer I got to Bangkok, the busier the radio got. This airport was not going to be anywhere near as quiet as Ho Chi Minh. Touching down on runway 21L I soon taxied my way to gate 25 ready to see what everyone was talking about within Bangkok.

“Jai Yen” = “Cool Heart” (Stay calm)

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What to See and Eat in Bangkok, Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghoAIMb8vTI
9 Great Travel Tips for Visiting Bangkok – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OViwmoFPu0
21 Amazing Things To Do In Bangkok, Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNuaYnA8c8M
12 Things NOT To Do in Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by3yKzWG2lM
Best Things to do in Bangkok – Overnight City Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkopzReVu2A
Bangkok, Thailand Travel Guide and must see attractions – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN0cSB3rXGA
The ultimate Bangkok travel guide for 2017 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOYLjeDwJ6Q
Dirt Cheap – Thailand – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCx4T3VeQg8

 

Flight 83) Da Nang – Ho Chi Minh

Leaving the sunny city of Da Nang at midday, I was greeted with a beautiful blue, cloudless sky and I was looking forward to the flight ahead. I began by checking the route and fuel requirements and saw that I had just enough left in the tanks to make the distance providing I was careful with my fuel economy. A later leg of the around the world tour will see me attempting to fly from Hawaii to San Francisco. This distance between the two destinations is way over the range of the aircraft so I will need to modify the plane somewhat as well as manage the fuel to the best of my abilities. Whilst it would have been safer to refuel at this point, I decided to treat this flight as a learning experience to attempt to gauge limitations of fuel consumption in preparation for longer flights ahead.
Da Nang airport was extremely busy with many other aircraft leaving at the same time as me. I followed a small Piper as I taxied to the runway and waited in turn as 7 other aircraft took off before me. It had been a long time since I had seen a queue like that at an airport.
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Once I took off from runway 17 Left I began my gentle climb. The slow speed of my Beech Baron 58 meant that I did not clear the airport as quickly as I would have liked. A Boeing jet had obviously taken off after me and soon passed me. I was prompted to report sighting of this plane which I saw surprisingly close just off my 10 o’clock. This added to the nerves I already felt due to watching the fuel levels closely.
The landscape consisted of rolling hills covered by a blanket of forest. I thought of the dense vegetation below which the US troops would have had to fight in as well as the protection it must have given to the Viet Cong. From this height the temperature was 10 degrees. This would be a warm day for Edinburgh UK.
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As I continued to 10,000 feet I saw the hills get gradually larger but I knew that these would be of no concern, so I was able to relax a little and simply enjoy the amazing weather. Whilst the rest of the flight was rather non eventful I took the opportunity to play around with the GPS systems until I got closer to Ho Chi Minh city.
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I began preparing for my landing at 14:00 with plenty of fuel left in my tanks. I realised that I could probably get a lot better distance out of the plane that I had originally thought. By lining up with the Dong Na and Sóng Sái Gón rivers I was soon ready to land on Runway 25 Right of Tan Son Nhat International Airport. My wheels hit down hard and I soon found my parking spot. Luckily there was no damage done although I am not sure how the plane would have faired in real life.

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Ho Chi Minh City Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35Z4GGvCmlU
Saigon. VIETNAM in EPIC 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjWxeLicdbU
Beautiful Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uN67do9bs8
23 Things To Do In Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0crXGYLYlg&t=313s
Best Things to do in Saigon – Overnight City Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCtfLuXO2tI
City Of Millionaire : Ho Chi Minh City : Culture Shock – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv8ZLgDbjwM
“THE WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM” – Ho Chi Minh City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uckg7OkWfmg
Cu Chi Tunnels Tour-Vietnam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i26ln4LUmwA
Viet Cong Tunnels and Traps – Platoon: The True Story – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsLE6EtrvhM
Overnight in Vietnam (Partying & NightLife in Ho Chi Minh City) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lTRUpmOxcI
Vietnam’s Crazy Backpacker Party Street | Bui Vien, Ho Chi Minh City Nightlife  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJdmSh-rjZU
VIETNAM WORKING GIRLS Backpacker Street – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vFd_MrkIHQ

Flight 82) Macau – Da Nang

The glitz and glam of Macau would surely keep visitors entertained all through the night which is partly why I chose to do this next flight in the early hours of the morning, just as the sun was beginning to rise. I was sitting in my Beechcraft Baron 58 on the parking stands of Macau International for 05:45 when I requested a fuel truck to refill my tanks. I was able to have a really good look around the airport for the coming fuel truck whilst using the new head tracking hardware TrackIR. I would recommend this bit of kit to anyone who is into computer simulation of any type, not just flying. It really does add a huge level of emmersion to the sense of being in the cockpit yourself.

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By the time the fuel truck had arrived and I had finished refuelling I was eager to get back into the air. I recevied my taxi clearance and made my way to Runway 16 and watched 2 planes take off ahead of me. I was happy to retract my landing gear as I climbed away from Macau’s runway for 06:00 and immediately tuned the radio stack to Hong Kong Center. The shore line below was broken with many islands not far from the mainland and I am sure that this would be a very pretty part of the world in real life.

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The morning haze limited the view slightly but the sun broke the horizon 10 mintues later which began to burn the mist away. I saw a large bank of cloud right in front of me which I was due to hit at 06:35 and had to make a decision if I should fly under or over the thick clouds. Initally choosing to fly low in order to see the terrain I soon found out that the clouds were hanging very low. So low in fact that I couldn’t drop low enough to miss the clouds altogether, so was forced to climb to 9,000 feet and fly above the weather. By this point I was over water so I wasn’t missing much in the way of a view below.

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After the best part of an hour skimming the tops of clouds I had reached land once again so decided to drop altitude to test the view. I was hoping to check out the island of Hainan whilst I passed over. Unfortunately the cloud was still too low to fly safely so headed higher to an altitude of 12,000 ft to cruise steadily over another long expanse of sea until I would finally reach the coast of Vietnam in another 50 minutes time.

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The skies had slowly cleared in time for me to see Vietnam come into view. The terrain was a lot flatter here that I had previously seen in Japan and China on my way here. The FSX Radio window for some reason was not allowing me to contact Da Nang Airport so I had to get creative. Using the GPS hardware in the radio stack I was able to find the correct radio frequency for Da Nang Airport and subsequently entered this as my active radio channel. By listening to the radio chatter I could establish the active runway and heard how busy this airport was. I circled the runway whilst listening to approaching aircraft and wanted to time my landing accordingly, although this was easier said than done. I made 2 attempts of following slow moving Cessna 172s down to the runway but aborted the landing each time as other larger jets had caught up with my slower twin propeller plane.

It would have been too much of a challenge to attempt to land without making contact with the airport first so I was forced to correct the FSX software to allow me to send out going radio messages. Having finally received radio confirmation of my landing intentions I circled the Bón River to the South of Da Nang before diving into the low laying fog heading north to Runway 35 Right. Touching down with the smoothest of landings I was soon parked next to one of the LearJet’s which over took me as I previously attempted to land. From here it was time to check out the sights of Da Nang as well as learn more about it’s history which I was vaguely aware of in relation to the Vietnam War.

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DANANG – SINGAPORE OF VIETNAM – 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QPBCsg_aBc
DYNAMIC DANANG – Your destination for success – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfSPcDeKxxs
TRAILER CLIPPER REACHES DA NANG 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a69hgXGcPdY#t=186.92702
Best places to visit when you travel in Danang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sZTcC5Eq-k
Da Nang Fly Over 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z1tsQBkQbs
Danang 2016. Vietnam Flycam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gYH_Gg49fo&t=464s
DA NANG, Vietnam by Night 2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcG9Sr6IInc

My Son Sanctuary, Ruined Hindu Temples in Vietnam – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmuyEVddTts
My Son Sanctuary, Vietnam (HD) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRTf_GkeYUY

Vietnam War
Danang, 1971 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCyI0rICrfo
Vietnam War – Da Nang – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAzbW1kGSqU
Vietnam War, 1970: CBS camera rolls as platoon comes under fire – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89_3DgW_7mg
Da Nang Air Base: Scenes From 1965-1970 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYavDV00k8Y
Vietnam War part 1:Battle of Dien Bien Phu (Vietnam war documentary) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFPIdireXmw

Vietnam in HD Ep.01 : The Beginning | Full Documentary 2015 of History Channel  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwEPtkJhrrM

Flight 81) Taipei – Macau

Kicking off 2017 with the 81st flight of the World Tour I was travelling from the Taiwan capital Taipei to the Vegas of the East, Macau! This would allow for some mild gambling and views of spectacular buildings. I was quite looking forward to this destination as I would also get to fly through the FlyTampa Hong Kong scenery once again.

I looked at the flight route using Google Maps and saw that the Macau Runway was actually surrounded by water which always makes it easier for me to spot from the air although I was unsure as to how many of the iconic buildings would be modelled within the FSX software. I plotted a route that took me South along the main length of Taiwan before turning West towards Hong Kong and Macau.

Upon opening FSX itself and loading my aircraft I instantly saw the improvement to the ground buildings and vehicals all around me. Already I felt like the purchase of Orbx Airports HD was a good investment. The weather was pretty grey and over cast and I wondered if the low cloud would spoil any views I would get along the way, as I was keen to see Taipei 101 tower from the sky. By 10:32 I had already started the engines and allowed them to warm up breifly although I was not receiving any radio messages so I had to watch for landing and departing aircraft to determine the active runway. This issue was strange but short lived. Once my radio seemed to be working correctly once again I confirmed my taxi clearence and made my way to Runway 10 with another Beechcraft Baron following behind me.

Once my wheels had left the runway I circled the city trying to spot the buildings I had become familiar with. Of course the iconic Taipei 101 tower stood out, rising above any other buildings in the city although I was also able to see the Royal  Hotel and the Shek Memorial.

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With the sun trying its best to break through the clouds I headed South towards the mountains and climbed so that they would not be of any danger. This forced me into dense cloud however and I did not feel safe with minimal visibility, knowing that the hills below were getting progressively higher. I thought that maybe staying lower and sticking to the valleys would be safer in this situation so I decended enough to maintain a clear view.

After an hour in the air, with the thick cloud finally behind me the scenery was rather spectacular with a lovely clear blue sky above me and pockets of smaller clouds trapped in the valleys below. At 11:36 my only concern became a reality when I reached the end of a valley and had to climb quickly to hop over a rather tall peak. This would have put the heart into the mouth of any pilot doing this flight for real and it was a close enough call even in a simulator. On the other side though was a magnificent drop to an amazing view where I couldn’t resist taking a handful of photos. Once I had all the images I wanted to get, I glanced at the fuel gauge and realised that I did not refuel at Taipei airport. I would need to land again in order to refuel before crossing the stretch of sea back to China. Luckily it was only 5 minutes until I caught the first sight of the sea and was able to request a landing at Makung Airport situated on a small island not far from the mainland. Initally I saw some cloud gathered over the island although this cleared nicely in time for my landing as if to welcome me to this very short stop off.

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30 minutes later and I was full of fuel and back in the open air without cloud to spoil the view.I climbed slowly to a suitable crusing altitude which I was to maintain for the next hour and a half until I reached my next waypoint close to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong seemed misty once more as I also got buffetted around by some turbulence although it was great to see the familiar buildings and detail of this wonderful city once again. I flew straight past the old Kai Tak airport and continued past HK international. Whilst flying over HK International I was surprised by a very large jet on its final approach which over took my much slower Baron. I was even able to watch it land below me.

The weather seemed a lot brighter over Macau as I lined up for Runway 16. I touched down without a bump and was happy to park up next to a cessna 172 where my plane would stay until the next leg of the tour.

Whilst checking out Macua I was surprised to see how the city felt like Lisbon due to the architecture and styling. Of course this was due to the Portuguese colonies which helped establish Macau as a large city. The distinctive tiled flooring was the most noticable aspect for me although even the name of the largest casino hotel is called “The Grand Lisboa Hotel.” Strange how you can travel half way around the world and see the same design features repeated.

 

A319 landing at Macau airport – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e4LQ2ulXwE
Macau Airport – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbWesmtAIhg

Unique Macau – travelguru.tv – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gq_YAd3HpQ
Macau Travel Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcHpih87Aec
Macau One Day Trip 2014 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAKozVKA9bw
Things to do in Macau Travel Guide & Macanese Street Food – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad5-enfZqcs
Beautiful places in MACAU china -2015 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxgEa8DZo7g&t=337s
Night of the City – Macau – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAFWci1Cvi8
A Night In Macau  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI2kO4qTi80#t=208.329242
The Grand Lisboa Casino In Macau China 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCsnKT8wXEw

New Year, New Goodies…

2016 was a pretty good year for the Home Pilot Adventures blog as it received a lot more traffic than I had previously expected. I was also lucky enough to be provided with some fantastic scenery of Hong Kong by the wonderful people at FlyTampa. – Thanks again.

Whilst 2016 saw the Home Pilot Adventure blog reach more people than ever, I did not get to complete nearly as many flights as I had wanted. Having spent a number of years virtually touring the world already, the current pace would require many more years before I finish the tour. It is about time I pick up a gear and try to complete more flights and see more about each destination. Hopefully I will be able to publish one a week so stay tuned for more updates.

Upon reaching a new year as well as achieving the miles stone of the 80th flight around the world, I figured I deserved a small treat and would add to my flight sim set up. I saw an advert through a flight sim Facebook group from somebody wanting to sell a Track IR set. Track IR is a device which allows you to “put your head in the game,” so to speak.

A small device which looks similar to a web cam sits on top of the computer screen and tracks your head movements in real time. This signal is then translated on screen by the virtual camera allowing you to turn your own head and look around in game. This adds a massive step to immersiveness when flying and I had wanted to get one primarily for the combat flight sim, DCS. Now that the Track IR is set up correctly, I will be enjoying the view from my Beech Baron cockpit to a deeper degree than before.

I also purchased the Orbx Airport HD Texture pack, just to make each of the default airports and landing strips that little better. With another 122 airports to land at before I finish the tour at least, I knew this would be worth having.

I have also been looking for a model of the Beechcraft Baron G58 although have been surprisingly unlucky. Through all of the searching I have only found a single company offering such models. This would be a hand crafted, carved mahogony construction and will cost upwards of £200 with shipping. I’ll be looking for cheaper alternative options through out the year though. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

For now, it is time to start up the engines once again and continue on my around the world tour. Over the next few months I shall be travelling through Tawan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia on my way to Australia! Please stay tuned for the rest of this virtual ride and drop me a message along the way.