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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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

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 78) Tokyo – Hiroshima

Tokyo was a fantastic city to learn about and is certainly on my list of destinations to visit first hand. The culture and technology seems so different from ours within the UK that every aspect of Tokyo life fills me with intrigue. I will be looking to travel to Tokyo for a short visit hopefully within the next couple of years but for now it is time to continue with this around the world tour. Having left Edinburgh and the UK 3 years ago on this virtual tour I have been travelling further and further East around the world. Now that I have quite literally reached the “Far East” I shall be back tracking slightly as I work my way South towards Australia and New Zealand before taking on the huge Pacific Ocean on my way to the USA.

This flight would always have been a sombre one as I would be flying over the city of Hiroshima. It would be impossible not to consider the same flight which took place 71 years ago by the Enola Gay air crew which dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. I was keen to approach this destination in a positive light however as I wanted to know more about this city other than its infamous history.

Previously flying over Japan on my way to Tokyo from Seoul, I was very impressed with the level of detail within the simulator depicting the winding roads which snaked their way through mountains and hugged the shorelines around the island. I thought at the time that this would look extremely pretty at night time as the street lights would string across the landscape so I decided to take the flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima at night.

Sitting virtually in my Beechcraft Baron 58 at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport at 22:20 I listened to the light rain landing on the cockpit windows whilst I switched on the various components and set up my navigation for the flight. I actually felt rather cosy with the rain and the dashboard lighting although that may also be due to the fact that I was warm at home in front of my computer. I let the engines warm up for a few minutes before beginning my taxi route at 22:30.

The landing lights of multiple aircraft could be seen in the distance as they made their way ever closer to the runway before eventually landing. I actually had to wait in line for another 3 aircraft to take off infront of me before I took my turn on the runway. When I was given the take off clearence, I had to move pretty sharpish as there was already another plane on its final descent.

Tokyo was VERY bright below me as I flew over the city and I also passed many other planes in the sky. These were easy to spot due to the night time sky and lighting on the aircraft. There was a scattering of clouds sitting at roughly 7,000 feet which allowed me to see the snow covered peak of Mount Fuji in the distance. I took note of this as I did not want to fly too close in the darkness. Even so, I took the opportunity to fly a loop around the huge volcano before leaving this destination behind me.

2016-8-9_23-50-38-949

Further from Mount Fuji I passed many more smaller mountains with their own snow covered caps before flying over another large city “Nagoya.” This would be the last I got to see of the night lights of Japan for a while as by 00:23 the clouds had formed a thick blanket at 5,000 feet preventing me from seeing much of the ground at all. The darkness and blanket cloud made the next hour pass increadably slowly but I eventually made it to Hiroshima Airport for 01:21.

——————————————————–

I wanted to take a sight seeing flight over the city of Hiroshima during the day so decided to do this a couple of days later. There were several landmarks included in the software although the most recognisible had to be that of the Atomic Dome. One of the very few buildings which remained standing after the bomb had dropped. The reason that this building specifically remained standing was due to the fact that the bomb detonated directly above, marking the epicenter of the explosion.

Whilst it was re-assuring to see that Hiroshima is once again a thriving city it really was impossible to forget the horrific event which made this city so famous. I watched several documentaries about the fateful day and have to admit that my mind boggles as to how the threat of any country ever using a nuclear bomb could even be a possibility in todays society. I’m certainly a supporter of scrapping the UK’s Trident program and strongly believe that stockpiling of such weaponry is not only a waste of money and resources but also an unnecessary danger for future generations. If only mankind would learn from our own history.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hiroshima Today

Welcome to Hiroshima – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_1_ZQiGhcA
Hiroshima City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_3awSTnoqs
WELCOME TO HIROSHIMA! Hiroshima Tour Pt. 1  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgpCQQVmbvc
Hiroshima today, Japan tours 2016 (HD 1080p) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsD5IQb_Ruk
Japan Vlog – Hiroshima – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6A2HU-tw9o

Dome & Peace Garden
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V-tugvjUYQ
Hiroshima Memorial Museum and Peace Park | Virtual Tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx3RdOyRfL0

Atomic Bombing
Hiroshima – 70 Years after the Bomb  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlMh-uMf3go#t=294.372
The Day They Dropped The Bomb | War Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp9cgm4Dkzg
1946 film shows how the atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2rEhYS46EA
Hiroshima: Why the Bomb was Dropped (1995) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-WnLNLe3sk