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  1. 3 points
    LEG #6 UACC – Astana to VIAG – Agra ~Avoiding China. What should have been a very straightforward Baton exchange, ended up like a typical British attempt at the Mens 4 x 100 mtr relay team on a bad Olympic final. I quote from JG’s pirep – ‘The cameras left Russia in the diplomatic bag and were analyzed in London’. True enough, the cameras had left Russia in the diplomatic bag. But, as JG was so late in arriving, I had been spotted by some of the locals who decided I should go on a sight-seeing tour of the rapidly expanding, eclectic city of Astana. Check it out. Looking at some of the weirdly wonderful modern architecture, who was I to refuse such a generous offer? I have been known in the past to take any freebies that might be on offer after all. So with no sight of JGs flight number appearing on the arrivals board, I made a hasty retreat with my newly found friends, hoping to be back in time to greet JG and The Baton. Truth be told, I did get a little merry whilst on the whistle stop tour of Astana but it’s considered rude not to drink a toast by the locals……isn’t it?? I got back to the airport and there was no sign of JG nor might I add, The Baton! I was told that whatever was in the parcel that JG had left for me had been sent on to Almaty in the diplomatic bag which was en-route to the UK. So I filed my flight which was to get me to Agra in India in time to pass on The Baton, should I ever get hold of it again, to Beejay aka Ozwookie. My route was to avoid any flying over Chinese air space, as they didn’t like the idea of any aircraft with a so called diplomatic bag with unknown contents coming anywhere near their country. So it was to be a circuitous route over some of the most volatile airspace in the east of Europe. Great! Cheers JG. My route using Plan-G. Start in Astana in Kazakhstan, Fly over Kyrgyzstan airspace, Into Uzbekistan, Into Tajikistan, Permission to fly into Afghanistan, Overfly Pakistani airspace, Into India. And so it was. I was to make an unscheduled stop in Almaty first to retrieve the precious cargo. One of my new friends in Astana was interested in why I was even here and after telling him about the challenge we faced as a collective, to get The Baton around the world and safely back to base offered the use of his private Hawker 850XP. Well you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth do you! He even had a special livery quickly painted on to his rather bland looking jet which, once we got to Agra would be removed simply by spraying a certain chemical over the artwork, leaving his aircraft as pristine as the day he purchased it. As I wandered around to the hangar where the said jet is based I could not believe my eyes. For a quick paint job, it looked fine and dandy. After all initial checklists were followed I taxied out to the active runway and requested clearance for takeoff. Lining up at Astana for a dawn take off. Leaving Astana with my new BFF as my co-pilot, heading for Almaty. Turning for Almaty and hopefully The Baton! Once established on bearing 145º I climb to FL160 and settle back for a relatively short hop, all things considered. The early morning sun really lights up my trusty steed, showing off the paint job nicely. After a short flight of around 80 minutes I’m on final approach in to Almaty where I hope the diplomatic bag or at least The Baton is waiting for me. Turning on to Final Approach. I park up as directed by ground control and make my way to the VIP lounge. My co-pilot, new BFF appears to know quite a few influential people in these regions. Parked at Almaty. Once inside the lounge, I am greeted by a pleasant enough chap who says that a suitcase was left for me, which was removed from a diplomatic bag and says that he was to apologize for any inconvenience that may have befallen me. I found myself a quiet sofa where I could examine the suitcase and it’s contents when to my surprise I found this little lot. Well what was I to do? There was a note inside the book, which was also in the case and it read ‘Do not let HQ know but I’ve lost the Hangar Credit Card so I’ve left you with this. Keep this to yourself as it might pay towards anything that may crop up’ signed JG So with suitcase onboard, myself and new BFF co-pilot set our course for UT64-Namangan in Uzbekistan, which will be our turning point for UTDK-Kulyab. Well, I’m hoping that the store credit card will make it to Agra before I get there because me and my new buddy are keeping this dosh to ourselves. Muwahahaha! (Only kidding so keep your knickers on). Hasty departure from Almaty. Once we are out of Almaty we have to climb to over 16000ft to clear the mountain ranges between Almaty and the Namangan waypoint in Uzbekistan. We have already been granted permission to fly through the Uzbek’ airspace, since we won’t be touching down. The cloud and weather start to close in as we arrive over the mountains. Hopefully we will have sufficient altitude for the weather not to cause us any issues. In comes the weather. Passing the Toktogul Resevoir in Kyrgyzstan. It is the largest water reservoir in central Asia with a surface of 284 sq km and an average depth of 215 meters. It was created in 1976 with the construction of a dam. Safely over the first mountain range, we can afford to descend a wee bit as we approach the flat Fergana Valley. This area was once an important staging post on the Silk-Road for goods and people travelling from China to the Middle East and Europe. After crossing the passes from Kashgar in Xinjiang, traders would have found welcome relief in the fertile abundance of Fergana, as well as the possibility of purchasing further high-quality silk manufactured in Margilan. Passing over Namangan and the Fergana Valley. With around 450nm from Namangan to Kabul, I thought I could take a rest and let my co-pilot take over after all, it is his aircraft. So I catch a little shut eye and dream of what I’m going to spend all the lurvly lolly in the suitcase on. It was a very loud crackle on the radios that woke me as we neared the border of Afghanistan. It transpired that my new friend had forgot to ask permission to enter Afghan’ airspace and we were being threatened by a very irate Major General Mohammad Dawran serves as Chief of Staff of the Afghan Air Force. It was indeed some extremely sweet talking that my co-pilot managed to persuade them to allow us to land at Kabul, unescorted, where we would undoubtedly be able to arrive at some sort of compromise. My thoughts were again thinking of the amount of dollars we had in the suitcase and just how much persuasion was needed to leave us enough to share out once we got to Agra. So we were left to follow our original planned route with the exception of actually landing at Kabul. Kabul in sight. Almost there and my little heart is pounding. Once I have my hands on so much dosh, I hate letting it slip through my fingers. (Whose round is it)? We parked where we were instructed by a now calm Major General and off we both went with suitcase in hand minus The Baton and a substantial amount of the cash. Time to do some palm greasing methinks. Although quite a stern looking guy, Major General Dawran was quite the pussycat. Well, once he saw the wad of dosh we had to grease his mucky palm with. Although he was happy with our account of what we were doing and for us to include his photograph, he wanted us to pixelate his face for some reason. He actually seemed quite impressed with the whole idea of what we were doing for and on behalf of Mutley’s Hangar. So much so that he insisted on showing us around the base at Kabul. For strict security he asked us not to take any photographs of the base as we were heading in to India and Pakistan and he physically shuddered at the thought that these countries could, inadvertently get hold of images of the base, which could be used in future attacks. This we agreed to because we wanted to see the base for ourselves. Apologies guys but no pics of the base. Heading over the border and in to Pakistan, we encountered our first spots of rain on the entire journey so far. With the Himalaya to the north of us we make our way to Srinigar airport, our next waypoint. Over the hills and towards Srinigar airport, then a bearing of 155º and hopefully get to see the Taj Mahal en-route to Agra Air Base. Major General Dawran has ok’d our landing there so we are all clear to go. Himalaya to the north. Smog is building as we approach the large city of Agra. Having made it this far, we thought a wee jolly around the Taj Mahal was in order. Gear down in readiness for the four mile jump to the air base and we do a circuit of the beautiful palace, or rather a mausoleum. Based on the south bank of the Yamuna river in Agra, it was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. See more here And around we go for a final looksee. We now set a heading of 255º and head towards Agra Air Base, where I hope we get a comfortable greeting. After four-ish miles we were on final approach for the airbase and all looked fine. At least there didn’t appear to be an angry mob waiting for our arrival. Gear down, Flaps extended. Touch down and the landing was a smooth affair. Ground Control directed us to a suitable parking bay and told us where we might find the lounge. Once we had parked up and gone through all the usual checklists, we left the aircraft in a cold and dark state. The lucky suitcase at the foot of the exit stairs. All that was left to do was to go and find out if the credit card had arrived. Hoping that was the case (no pun intended), we both went to seek out the lounge and hopefully Beyjay aka Ozwookie. Having found Ozwookie, he let me in to a little secret. JG had told HQ about the loss of the Hangar Credit Card, so it was agreed that JG draw several thousand dollars out of the account and pass it on to me. The sting in the tail, I hadn’t just landed a rather large haul of spare cash. It was to be handed over to the following pilot to use for Hangar business only. I had to let HQ know of the small hiccup regarding Afghan air space but that I had only used a couple of hundred dollars, to secure the unrestricted flight over their air space. Oh and I gave my co-pilot a few dollars for his kindness in allowing me to fly his Hawker with the livery he was so kind to commission. He must have the gift of persuasion because he even managed an escort to see him safely back in to Kazakh’ air space. So with the suitcase and The Baton handed over to Beejay, I just had to find a way of getting back to dear old Blighty. It’s over to you Beejay, Safe Skies! Special thanks go to Mutley’s Hangar member – Ozwookie for his VIAG scenery, which gave an extra dimension to Agra Air Base. Many thanks. Software Used: Sim - LM P3Dv4 Aircraft – Carenado H850XP with ATWC Livery Scenery – Orbx FTX Global VIAG – Courtesy of Beejay aka Ozwookie Mesh – FSGlobal Ultimate Next Generation.
  2. 1 point
    No one would have believed since the last around the world challenge that the 2017 challenge preparations were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences far dumber than ours and yet as mortal; that as Mutley’s members busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Slowly and surely Putinfeld drew his plans against us. With the baton safely in its top secret UK hiding place, the forces of evil were held in abeyance, but inevitably the hallowed object must venture forth to fulfil is annual task and circumnavigate the world again. This was its vulnerable time, its very raison d’etre was its Achilles heel, and it would be at this precious time that they would strike, that they would try to put an end to the ATWC once and for all. Latest mug-shot of Putinfeld. However the forces of good were labouring tirelessly to be more prepared than those outings that went before, this time there would be some covertly sanctioned but deniable support from Her Majesty's Government. This support took the form of a joint operation between MI5 and MI6. MI5 for those operations in and around Great Britain and its dependents, and, in a larger part by MI6 for international operations. A new temporary department was set up with a name that fairly represented the workload bias. MI5 ¾ was born. Housed in some hastily converted space out of the back of the main MI5 building, MI5 ¾ was soon up and running. Initially thought to be a bit cramped even for a staff of just three, it was soon recognized as having the facilities to get things moving quickly. The three staff were my old friend Jasmine who, much to my surprise (not), was an MI6 agent, her liaison officer Rupert, and a guy from MI5, Bob Squirrel, who was just known as Squirrel. Swanky new offices. So far the baton remained unmolested, but it couldn’t be long before Putinfeld made his first appearance. It was anybody's guess when this would be, but now the baton was in Russia the danger was great. Putinfeld was known to have his main base is one of the exe Soviet countries, indeed there was some evidence that it was somewhere east of Moscow, but that was like saying it was somewhere on the moon for all it was worth. It was decided by the powers at MI5 ¾ that I should apply for the Moscow Sheremetyevo to Astana (Kazakhstan) leg, just in case some new intelligence was received before I was to start my leg. And so it came to be. Someone in Russia had done a dodgy deal and sold a tract of land near the Kazakhstan border to one of Putinfeld’s know front companies, It was worth a look and it came to be integrated into my leg. There were two problems: How to overfly the area, and how to get the hard evidence needed, preferably photographic, to convince HMG, (her Majesty's Government to those who don’t know), that there was a real issue with this man. The answer to the second problem kinda solved the first one. I was to fly the leg in a Canberra PR9, a beautiful aircraft of late ’50 vintage built for the very task of photographing ground targets. I was to fly on the pretext that the aircraft was flying to Japan for an airshow later in the month. The flight plan for the Canberra was to be a direct line between UUEE to UCAA, and at 45,000 feet. This plan in such an old aircraft allowed for enough navigational deviation to cross the area of interest, and take some interesting pictures. The next issue would be getting the loaded cameras past the Russians. F49 camera. The PR9’s F49 cameras were not small things. The lens was six inches in diameter, an on the back of the camera was a bulky film magazine. This is where Q and his department of ingenious gadgets came up trumps (nothing to do with Donald). The aircraft was to have all its cameras mounted but with no film magazine attached to them, nor were there to be any film magazines in the aircraft. Thus we could prove that we were not going to be taking any photographs with the aircraft, and in any event our 45,000 feet flight plan would be too high for these old cameras to be effective. Now this is the clever bit. The lens area was modified to take a modern miniature ultra-high definition digital camera, invisible to all but a destructive examination of the cameras. The camera in a camera was Bluetooth linked to an android phone app for its operation. This meant that the navigation officer could take photos using the app on his phone, and the images would be of such high quality that flying at up to and over 45,000 ft. wouldn’t be a problem. The PR9 was flown to Moscow ahead of me and was duly inspected and approved for the leg flight. They didn’t find the hidden cameras. Once this was confirmed, I flew to Moscow and was kitted out for the leg, including the clever little app on my phone as a backup. My navigating officer was none other than Rupert, suitably kitted out and with a cover identity as ex-RAF personnel. He too had his own Android phone. The flight plan below was, filed. As you can see from the map below, our registered plan in black was for a direct route. But our intended route in red was to overfly a point on the Russian border with Kazakhstan. Flight plan and actual plan All we needed now was the baton. Once we had news that the Baton was on finals, I made my way to the bar to wait for Tim. I had just settled down for a wait when I was pinged a text. He had arrived, and was in Burger King. I inwardly groaned as I hate fast food burgers and quickly necked my beer. After a fleeting feeling of guilt at the thought of flying with too much booze in me, I thought in for a penny, in for a pound and then I downed one I had bought him. I headed over to Burger King. Tim was there eating what seemed to me a small skyscraper of meat, salad and bun. Red and white scunge was leaking out of the sides of this monstrosity and was dribbling down his chin and dripping onto his shirt. It was a sight that I wished I could forget the moment I saw it, however Pandora was out of the box. Tim handed over the baton and offered me a bite of his burger which I gracefully declined whilst desperately trying to hide the sudden desire to chunder. With that over, and with a baton which seemed to have a side order of tomato sauce and mayo I got into my flying gear and walked out onto the tarmac. Our departure Airport Rupert joined me and we hopped into an old UAZ jeep and speed off towards the apron near taxiway 20 where our aircraft was discreetly parked. We climbed into the aircraft, Rupert into the “coal-hole” and myself into the cockpit. All ready and waiting. Pre-start checklists done, we started the engines. Left engine first, the cartridge fired and black smoke belched out of the engine accompanied by a sound like a dentist’s drill which was soon replaced by the sound of the engine turning normally. The process was repeated for the second engine, and with all instruments looking god we were ready to taxi. Taxi. Permission given we taxied the short distance to runway 25R and were told to line up and wait. Takeoff clearance was given quickly and with brakes on we spooled up the engines. Brakes on and spool ‘em up Brakes off and we accelerated down the runway and were soon climbing over the Moscow suburbs. Wheels up and climbing over Mother Russia Soon the buildings below receded, getting smaller and smaller as we began our climb to our cruising height of 45,000 feet. Moscow below Through the thin cloud layer, leaving this to retreat far behind is as had the city of Moscow. We eventually reached 45,000 ft, the best operating height for the Canberra, although she could go higher but with diminished performance. 45,000 feet. See how dark the sky above is. The weather was supposed to be good for our mission, with little cloud over our point of interest. For once the weather boys were spot on and we found ourselves cruising over minimal clouds. Cruising at altitude. As soon as we were out of Moscow controlled airspace we slowly we allowed our course to drift southward as we headed towards the target area that was of interest to MI5 ¾. There isn't much traffic above 40,000 feet in darkest Russia and so we received no interest from ATC as we continued to drift southward. Banking over the area of interest to line up the cameras. We settled into a rather dull cruise, mindful of Russian radar and ATC nonetheless. We were less than 50 miles from our target when we were lit up by a military radar, alarms flashed and hooted in the cockpit which instantly sharpened the mind, and browned the trousers. After 30 seconds the alarms stopped as suddenly as they started, the radar had been switched off. what a relief! The radio chirped up with ATC telling us that we were straying off our course and must turn to correct the drift at once. We had been spotted by someone who had alerted ATC, but didn't want to stay switched on long enough to be pinpointed themselves. By this time we were over the target area, had commenced our bank to line up the cameras for taking photographs. Whoever it was lighting us up was too late. Smile please. Click-click, click-click, click-click Our High-Tec cameras went into action and after a minute of activity we had done the job. We then complied with the ATC instruction and headed back towards our intended destination. Over Astana It wasn't to long until we started our descent as we approached Astana. Permission to land was given without us having to hold and we were soon on finals for runway 04. On short finals Slightly rattled by the earlier military radar, I made a dog’s breakfast of the landing, putting the aircraft down an embarrassing distance from the centre line. Not quite on the centre line. I dug out the chart for Astana to work out where to go after we had received taxi instructions from the tower. Our destination airport We slowed to taxi speed beyond taxiway B and so had to run the length of the runway to taxiway A and then took P and B to reach the terminal buildings. Astana terminal buildings As I glanced at the terminal buildings I noticed that they looked very new and I commented on this to Rupert. He told me that the city of Astana had only been the capital of Kazakhstan since December 1997, six years after the country gained independence, and that as a result there had been loads of development in recent years. Before 1997 the capitol was Almaty, right down in the southeast of the country. Taxi up to the stand History lesson over, we were directed to a stand near the refueling point and once the aircraft was parked we went through the last of the checklists and shut the engines down. Shut down and handed back to the RAF There was an RAF crew waiting with some Kazakh minders and they took over from us. We had left the cameras in place and they were now the responsibility of the collecting crew. I said goodbye to Rupert who stayed with the aircraft and I walked into the terminal buildings. I headed to the bar to find Brian. Our diversion meant I was late. Brian would have been in the bar a while. I hopped he wasn't to pissed, either in the ..off or ..as a newt meaning of the word. It wasn’t until a few days later when I had flown back to the UK that I found out what we had photographed. The cameras left Russia in the diplomatic bag and were analyzed in London. This is what was found: Putinfeld’s Farm Above is the first shot we took of the plot of land bought by Putinfeld. It looks innocent enough, perhaps a farm? It is just inside the Russian border with Kazakhstan, let’s look closer… Perhaps not a farm then! Do you still think this is a farm? Notice what appears to be a double set of lines that surround the site, and the strange corners these lines have, and that there seems to be only one entrance at the bottom of the picture. This is a double razor wire fence with corners designed to be strong on defence and visability. The larger buildings are too big to be barns and seem to be some manufacturing or processing plant. There is a perimeter path, studded with white roofed watch towers. The four square areas of land where the grass is browner than the rest hint at large underground buildings, the soil depth here is thinner than that around it because of the concrete structures below and so holds less moisture which in turn causes the grass to brown more quickly. Now look at the smallest black roofed buildings. The one nearest the entrance is in its own square of uneven ground. This is the entrance to an underground store for something sensitive or volatile, hence its own wire fence around it. Its uneven surface and the two smaller areas of brown grass indicate something below. The second small building is by a white circle, and is the most worrying. This is a blockhouse and offers access to an underground facility. It is the entrance to what lies below the white circle, or to be more accurate, the very large circular hatch, that is of the utmost concern. This is an ex-Soviet Nuclear Missile silo. Why has Putinfeld acquired a Nuclear ICBM base?
  3. 1 point
    Putinfield is a master of disguise but looks horrible in the morning.
  4. 1 point
    JG lost it Boss, honest Guv' it wasna me. I suspect this could hold things up a while until you can send a replacement to Ozwookie but then, he has got a case full of dollars to be going on with. Minus the few I used in the bar at Agra.
  5. 1 point
    Fantastic! Now I guess the boss will be a bit upset.
  6. 1 point
    Tanker to Xwing...Don't use so much force Luke.
  7. 1 point
    not awkward, looked at PMDG, I do have their only XP venture, but read some good things about the ifly 737 and thought I would give it a go, happy with it so far....
  8. 1 point
    Welcome to Mutley's Hangar Joe. Keep an eye out in the forums and you might see this aircraft flown by a member, you never know. As it was just released only time will tell if it is a viable purchase. Mooney aircraft are aren't well covered, like you said, so this release is a pleasant surprise and if I purchase it then it will be mostly for that reason alone. Alabeo products are well modeled and will fly according to the numbers, add in AccuFeel and it will be an approximate representation of the aircraft for simming purposes. I think they are a tad more expensive for what you get when compared to others but if you're in the mood right now for something new, fast and shiny then by all means jump right in and smell the new leather. Price is based on what the market will bear, need is subjective. Personally I have the A2A Cherokee and Comanche so I'm covered with low wing singles but if I saw this on sale I would buy it just for the pure experience and pleasure of flying it.
  9. 1 point
  10. 1 point
    Superb PIREP JG You have me wondering where this is going, and who of our pilot crew are doubling up as agents for MI5 ¾? (and maybe for PF) You won't miss Brian, he looks very shifty, like Quasimodo since he trapped a nerve in his neck. Reminder:
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