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.

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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.

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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 79) Hiroshima – Nagasaki

Hiroshima was a rather harrowing place to visit. The city itself had developed in to a lively urban center although any information regarding this city would include reference to the atomic bomb dropped here in 6th August 1945. This fact was unfortunately unavoidable.

I wanted to see more of Japan from the air in daylight as my previous flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima was taken at night. The 1 hour flight time meant that I would not need to refuel for this relatively short flight. After fighting some very strong cross winds I knew that the take off would be a little challenging although the Boeing 737 ahead of me on it’s way to Naha Air Force Base did not have any difficulties.

I took off at 13:55 into a sky dusted with a handful of clouds. Just enough clouds to keep the sky interesting without making it difficult to fly. At 180 knots I was flying pretty fast in my small twin propellor plane. The rivers of Hiroshima were very clear below and I could easily get my bearings from above. I could even spot the infamous “Atomic Dome” building still standing from the nuclear bomb which detonated 600 meters above. 2016-8-10_14-8-6-552.jpg

The surrounding islands scattered through the bay looked very pretty indeed and it felt a great shame that this area would only be known for the atom bomb as this beauty would easily be overlooked. There were no clouds further out over the water and it felt good to get the miles passing by quickly below. The only other visible weather seemed to collect over the mountains ahead.

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I saw a strange building as I passed over Oita city and upon referring to Google Maps, I discovered this was the ‘Kyushu Oil Dome’ – a football (Soccer) stadium. The many roads around the city were very well mapped and it was fun to see the tiny cars below. As i flew past Mount Aso, the scale of the cars on the road was even more dramatic.

I took a low fly-by of Kumamoto Airport and it was not long before Nagasaki came in to view from the West, nestled between two mountains. Mount Tara and Mount Unzen. With the mountains protecting Nagasaki and the turquoise coastline, Nagasaki seemed to be another beautiful city forever destined to be known for tragedy. Runway 14 which I was directed to land at was a single strip surrounded by water. A small bridge connected it to another runway built on the mainland.

I thought that Nagasaki would be much like Hiroshima in the way that all information would include reference to the second atomic bomb attack on Japan. Whilst not as infamous as the Hiroshima bombing it was still evident to see what an effect it also had on the people of Japan.

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Nagasaki Tourism Promotional Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4dI1PsyTF0
A Day in Nagasaki – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnBOnermVnE
HD – EXPLORE NAGASAKI / JAPAN –
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aPt9NQIQAU

Battleship Island in Nagasaki, Japan! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9w8APSmaRg

Atomic bombing of Nagasaki – BBC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncq_Wye43TM

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.

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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 42) Mogadishu – Moori, Socotra (Yemen)

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!

SocotraMAP

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… yemen-socotra_shuab4 socotra-watering-hole-172 socotra-island-yemen socotra-island socotraisland28 socotra-080 socotra-249 socotra-dragon-blood Socotra-7 Socotra.640.1994 Socotra_Beaches_08 socotra1 Socotra wadi socotra trees Socotra traditional cave house Socotra tank Socotra Island dragon_trees_socotra1-3 Shelter Socotra Amazing-View-Of-Socotra-Island Isla de Socotra, Yemen Socotra (13) dracaena_cinnabari_forest_socotra bottle-tree-socotra-3 4837333516_9f5185797f 4924294-Biggest_pool_in_Socotra_Socotra 4E7

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

Flight 33) Cape Town – George

Leaving Cape Town was almost saddening. The amount that I have seen and heard about Cape Town makes it a new place on my list of locations that I would love to visit in real life. The views and atmosphere of the city do look spectacular. The Table Mountain and botanical gardens are places I would imagine are fantastic.

With the airport tarmac retreating away from my small plane, I soon found the south coast and took in some of the sights from the ocean. Chasing the coast line east I saw many smaller towns and rivers whilst ticking them off on the map each time I passed one. It wasn’t too long before I arrived at my next stop of George. This was a place I knew nothing about and hadn’t really heard of before. I had planned these next few flights to be a collection of relatively short hops which could be done of an evening and without having to refuel on every landing.

George South Africa

George – South Africa

George Garden Route: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bb3adov-50U

George – Travel Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODSPdbXBF1M

Outeniqua Farmers Market: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s6H1c54YLo

Life community Services (Documentary): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXLfEMUbM2Q

Flight 31) Johannesburg – Kimberley

After learning a fair bit about Johannesburg, I know that it is not going to be a place that I want to visit at all in my life. The reputation of violence and crime which occurs in Jo’burgh is enough to make me want to stay in this black leather chair in my much safer home town of Edinburgh.

This flight took me over much of Africa’s North Cape which is filled with wild animals and national parks. The biggest thing which I could see from the windows of my Beech Baron was another large body of water. This time it wasn’t as natural as I had expected. The North West edge of the lake is held in by a massive dam on the outskirts of Bloemhof. It’s a shame to think of how much natural habitat must have been destroyed by this expanse of water, but I guess it can also be argued that there is much wildlife thriving from these waters too.

Before landing I took a lap of the airport and had a good look over the city. I found a huge hole in the ground. I had no idea what it was until I was able to do a little research and discovered that it was the largest man made hole in the world and was created to extract diamonds. Watch the videos to learn more about it.

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The Big Hole Diamond Mine

Learn about Kimberley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOpuImj5zxg

The Big Hole Diamond Mine. Kimberley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLgy-PT4qDM

The Big Hole. Kimberley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g6cFo7Hq10

Amateur Cribs: Kimberley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCmACnKbGWU

Barney Barnato Guest House, Kimberley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcyBE3si8wk

Push bike sound system! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dU9heix2Hlw

Steam Train in Kimberley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bqq2fzk0ag8