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Found 30 results

  1. True enough, after stumping up to the bar and asking the lady behind if her name was "Doris", she got me sorted and stowed in my room. I asked if I'd missed the fight tent or not and she said that I was just in time as they'd rolled in just before I did. Going to be an interesting night! Sure enough, once the sun went down, the lights came on and the call went out! Yes sir, you too can get some free denture work from these travelling professionals! Just another quite night in Birdsville! I think the big horse race is on tomorrow so good thing I'm clearing out tomorrow before the crowds arrive. ANOTHER late night. ANOTHER early morning. ANOTHER pounding headache. I really hope the Dak is ready for our next little jaunt. I checked my duffle before leaving the pub and the batton was still securely stowed so we were good to go. I went looking for Jeff at the main hanger just round the back of the pub. O.o "A full paint and spray in less a one day? Damn you work fast mate.", I said to Jeff. "What? I thought you knew what was happenin'?" "Nah, mate I just fly where they tell me to, was wondering why I had to drop in here on the way to Longy." as I scratched the top of my head. "Yea we got the order through the other day that you were coming through and we had to repaint her for her new home. You're on to Longreach yea?" "Yea..." "Well she's gunna join the other birds they got out there for the QANTAS museum idn't she. Ha! She'll look great next to that big ol' 747 they got there". "Yea I've seen it before.. passed through in a C-17", I said, hoping he'd be a little amazed "Yea right ay. Painted one of them up for a bloke in NZ last week. Look, anyway you gotta get goin' but if you need a new coat a paint for your bird, you bring her to me right." Apparently Jeff runs a roaring trade in Aircraft restoration. Who knew. Right so anyway, we (me and the baton) got lined up on the rwy and got on our way. Did see something strange though immediately after take off.... Must've been the annual Grey Nomad convention.... Anyway, that was Birdsville. Don't blink or you'll miss. And so I settled down for a lot more of the same really. I did get a little bit of green. Not much. Just a little. Came in a bit high so went for a go around. I'm not flying the C-17 so can't really do a tactical descent. Touchdown at YLRE. The marshal guided me around and got me to park right in from of the other two birds currently on display at YLRE and signalled me to shutdown and close up. Got the Dak all cleared and cleaned, hopped out the back and was greeted by another bloke who looked mighty familiar. Said his name was Goeff. "Ahh I see my brother did a great job with her." "Who now?" "Jeff in Birdsville. He's my brother. And before you asked, yes our parents were comedians", he said with a wry grin. I opened my mouth to say something, left it hanging for a bit and then shut my pie hole. He'd probably heard it all before. "Hope you don't mind, but we've got you doing a test flight tomorrow for us. We're looking at maybe getting some new regional jets. Should be a good little trip by all accounts and I'm sure you'll appreciate a couple of days on Hamilton Island before returning huh?" New regional jets? Sure, why not. Plane: Aeroworx MJ C-47 conversion for XP11 Livery: Personal conversion of (I think) @jankees QANTAS for the MJ C-47 Scenery: Ortho4XP and HiRes Mesh from JASA Photo: Courtesy of one of my work collegues from a recent 4WD trek up the Birdsville track P.S. I actually grew up in the bush (YNTN) and I remember the boxing tent making the rounds along with a few other carnies so we'd have our own town show cum fete. No, I don't miss it.
  2. I awoke to sweltering heat, a headache the size of Manhatten and my alarm blaring in my ear for what seemed an age. Could have sworn I only had a couple of beers with Steph, but man is my head ringing. Whats the time?? 0600, ok so I haven't slept in too late. What's the temperature? 35. crap. gotta buy more water! I got up, grabbed my gear and checked out of my hotel room and got one of the bush taxi's to Connellan Airport where I'd been told I had a surprise waiting for me. I still had NO idea what bird I was going to fly but I'd managed to fly my way out of Asia taking little contracts here and there (Air Force kinda kicked me out after "loosing" the Spartan). This was not going to be any different. Well apart from what I had stowed in my duffle; Once again, the mighty baton had landed in my lap some how and I was entrusted to escort it on it's merry way. I had three contracts all up, one from here to Birdsville (might be in time to catch the fight tent), then on to Longreach and finally Hamilton Island. Been a while since I'd stopped off at YBHM so it'd be good to just laze on the sand for a while after this trip, though I might see enough sand to last two lifetimes going by my flightplan. At any rate, after buying the cateen's last slab of water bottles I was greated by this gorgeous beauty. Looks like I'm back in the DC-3 again. Well no complaints there! Looks like she's an old Northern Territory Airlines bird she might even have been one of the original Connellan Airways girls from after the war. They've certainly maintained her well enough. OK Well, time and the heat is a wastin' lets get her up into the air where it MIGHT be a bit cooler. Wasn't long and we were up in the air Can't say I'm not happy to say goodbye to Yulara. That light show last night was something else but all in all, the red outback is not my stick. Give me the mountains or the Atherton Tablelands any day of the year. And being this close to Uluru, I really couldn't help myself I just HAD to do a low circle around it. As we came around the back end there we saw the other famous rock(s) out here, The Olgas. No time for a flyby past those fellas though, it was time to start my climb and get underway. One last look behind and we're on our way guys and gals! You know, I have NO idea what this ridge is called, but when you're flying around and EVERYWHERE is just flat red sand, you tend to perk up a bit when we get a little treat like this. Now that I'm back in civilization, Uncle Google says that is Mount Conner Remember how I said it was flat and red. Yea.... Oh oh! Excitement, there's an airstrip! Pretty sure this is for some huge cattle station. In the middle of nowhere. More excitement! We've crossed over the boarder and are now in Queensland. No more red sand! Just more yellow sand...... I hate sand.... It's gritty and it's coarse, and it gets everywhere! Birdsville ahoy Capt'n. No bouncing kangaroos here, just a really nice easy landing. One of my best yet. Coffee and Brett'd be proud of me. I get the bird around the the main "hanger" and a bloke comes out, helps me shut her down and says "Strewth, we thought you weren't comin fella. Head into town there and ask for Doris at the pub, she's got your room sorted and we'll get the bird sorted for your trip t'marra." I give him a little eyebrow look at "get the bird sorted" but just shrug and go looking for Doris at the pub. Plane: Aeroworx MJ C-47 conversion for XP11 Livery: Personal conversion of (I think) @jankees NT Airways for the MJ C-47 Scenery: Ortho4XP and HiRes Mesh from JASA
  3. I was mentally tired from the last week of travelling ‘by any means possible’ to get to Australia. I could really have done with a few days relaxing, before my next leg, but it was not to be. Philippe, my friend from years back, who also pushed SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) flight jobs my way, must have been out of his mind when he arranged my passage from Jakarta to Broome Intl via Mau Hau. Had he known that Joe would be piloting the flight particularly with Otis accompanying me, I doubted he would have placed us in such a precarious situation… would he? My cover as ‘Sharon’ the globetrotting Flight Attendant’, that had remained intact for almost 15 years, was blown for certain, even with my brunette wig, sickeningly flowery perfume, and bright red lipstick, which were about as far away from my normal self as possible. I had to act fast and contact Philippe before Joe started asking too many questions, but as I was travelling light through Indonesia, where it was more likely I’d be searched, I hadn’t been able to carry my usual ‘covert travel essentials’ pack, so my options for using the satellite radio with the Dr. Rumack, Otis and Joe about, were zero. I needed to get Joe out of the cockpit, but how? I went into trolley-dolly mode and took Joe a can of Pepsi. Hopefully the few drops of ###### (can’t divulge details) I’d added to the can would do the trick, and just give him a bit of an upset tummy for a few hours. I would have enough time to take over the controls, get on the Sat phone, and then no one would be any the wiser… Leaving Seringapatam Reef behind, I crossed my fingers that Joe had fallen for my story of the last 10 years. Although there was a lot of truth in it, there were also a few embellishments, and some downright fabrications. Unfortunately, in my line of covert work, the fantasy is often easier to digest than the truth, and Otis’ presence did seem to cause a bit of a distraction for Joe who couldn’t stop looking at him in a quizzical way, then to me, and then back to Otis. I had no choice but to complete my mission, and leave as few loose ends as I could! The less he knew about my ‘other’ work, and Otis the safer he would be. As we landed in Broome Intl, and made our way to the Pilots lounge, I briefly nodded to my contact as we walked past him into the building. To everyone else, he was just a member of the airport staff brushing up any F.O.D. (Foreign Objects Damage) which might get sucked up into an aircraft engine.. in truth, he was there to collect the ‘package’ and get him safely to his destination. I needed to hand Otis over to my contact as soon as possible but Joe seemed keen to stay and chat for a while longer. I was wondering how long my contact could keep sweeping in the darkness before being challenged, and I began contemplating having to intervene again to speed up the process, when the prawn sandwich Joe had procured from the Café area brought back his nausea from earlier that day, and apologetically he passed the baton to me and left in a hurry. The handover went smoothly, Otis was finally on the next part of his journey, and I was on my way to my hotel. The taxi driver looked in his rear-view mirror at me when I pulled the horrible brown wig off, and started to pull out the pins that kept my long blonde hair in place. I’d have enough time to check the weather for the following day before I got a few hours’ sleep, and then I would need to be at the airport again by 3:45am for my onward leg. At 11pm, the temperature was hovering found 16°c but in the late morning it would be in the mid 30’s so an early morning departure was essential, given the aircraft I would be flying to Uluru in Central Australia. The Cessna C188 Ag Waggon was being ferried from Broome Intl to its new home just north of Alice Springs where it would be used to dispense fertilizer at one of the new up and coming grape farms in the Northern Territory. Although most of the wine production is located on the South and South-East regions, the early cropping of vines in central Australia is a distinct advantage as they can beat the southern producers to market. The Ag Waggon was going to be an important part of the future success of the grape farm. Although Broome Intl is very close to sea level, Balgo Hill was 1440ft AMSL and the high temperatures would adversely affect the performance of my Ag Waggon, and that combined with the weight, would play a very important part in my journey. The MTOW for my aircraft was 4000, but I should be within limits even if I used the ‘hopper’ as a secondary fuel tank. She wasn’t a spring chicken, but had received a major overhaul before she was sold to the grape farm, so I shouldn’t expect any problems, that is, until I realised just how little navigation I had at my disposal. Apart from the standard Whiskey Compass, there was just an ADF which had been Gerry-rigged and gaffer-taped to the right of my seat, and no Sat Nav!.. I was annoyed to say the least that Philippe hadn’t arranged for what I felt was ‘basic’ equipment for the flight I was about to undertake. At this ungodly hour, I was unlikely to be able to contact the seller of the aircraft to give them a piece of my mind, and I was on a tight schedule to get the Ag Waggon to Balgo Hill before the temperatures got even more restrictive. The GPS in my top of the range smartphone would be ok while I was near ‘civilisation’ but I had no idea how accurate it would be at altitude, and out in the bush, so ADF and compass, it would have to be! I settled into the compact cabin, and adjusted the seat. What is it with these ‘practical’ aircraft.. don’t they ever have pilots that are 5’ 6”? I spent a good 10 minutes trying to move the seat and my gear around till I was satisfied, then I did my run up, taxied up to the end of Runway 15 and was soon airborne. I would have at least 30 minutes to work my way up to my intended altitude of 10,000 feet before the sun came up and the temperatures soared. The performance of my Ag Truck wasn’t great, but in the heat of Central Australia it could cause me a lot of grief. Leaning the mixture correctly was essential, as was flying to the indicated airspeed when having to deal with ‘Density Altitude’. Getting to my intended altitude before the sun came up The Ag Waggon had no Auto Pilot so I would have to be on the ball for the entire flight, and trying to work out how far the winds would take me off the course the woeful navigation equipment was telling me to go. Sun up.. As with Joe’s flight from Indonesia, there wasn’t a lot to look at, just a dusty, gently undulating sea of red. I was content to marvel at the beautiful sunrise that replaced the starry sky, until it became imperative for me to pull out my sunglasses. Without the extra fuel stashed in the hopper, I knew that even if I miscalculated my wind drift a bit, I should have enough to get to Balgo Hill. I smiled as I thought of the similarities between my journey and those of a much more monumental C188 flight… Known as the Mercy Mission of 1978, a ferry flight of a C188 from the United States to New Zealand turned into a race to save the pilot when he became lost over the open waters of the Pacific. A commercial DC10 flight, piloted by an accomplished Air New Zealand Captain, Gordon Vetee, used some unorthodox, but ultimately successful solutions involving ‘Aural Boxing’, and location triangulation using the sun and the knuckles on their fists to locate the lost pilot. Like Jay Prochnow, I was flying alone and with minimal navigational equipment, but at least I wasn’t over an ocean, and despite the desolate landscape before me, I was also reassured by the fact there were a few farms below, some with airstrips used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service based in Broome, and Alice Springs. Gordon Vetee and Jay Prochnow – cameo appearance in the film depicting the monumental rescue Tuning into the YBGO NDB on 206 Htz, I adjusted my course. I had definitely gone off track a bit. The sight of Lake Gregory was a relief as I knew I was only about 30 Nautical Miles from Balgo Hill, and my fuel wasn’t looking too good. Approaching the lakes near Balgo at 10,000 feet As I neared my destination I began my slow descent and dialled in 126.70 on the radio for the Multicom given that the airport didn’t have its own assigned frequency. Balgo Hill, or Wirrimanu to use its proper name, is a small indigenous community on the edge of the Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts. The airfield has no manned control tower but I checked the ATIS primarily for the temperature which was climbing as each 1000 feet slowly wound down on the Altimeter. The weather in the outback regularly reached the mid 30’s by lunchtime so I needed to be on the ground and sipping a cold one before then. On final at Balgo Hills Surrounded by hills, plains, bores, and weird and wonderful communities such as Killi Killi, Nobby Hills, and Yagga Yagga. This was the Outback as I had imagined it, with red earth, prickly bushes which were, without doubt, hiding places for scorpions, spiders and all sorts of other creepy crawlies, but the welcome was anything but ‘sparse’ like the landscape. A group of aboriginal children had gathered at one end of the ‘runway’ and were wildly waving at me as I taxied back to the stand. My contact was Dale, who was, strangely, a native of Wales, who had arrived in Balgo with a desire to study the incredible art of the local aboriginal community before heading back to the UK and finishing his Masters. He put my backpack and pilot bag in the back seat of his Land Rover as I climbed into the wonderfully cool air-conditioned interior. We drove over to what served as the main airport building and arranged for the refuelling of the Ag Waggon. Once again, the temperature would be a deciding factor in what time I would depart given that the longest runway was the 5282 feet 15/33 gravel runway that could ground aircraft as soon as there was even a thimble-full of rain. Patchy rain was forecast but not till the following day. As long as I could get in and out, I wouldn’t risk being stuck. Dale wanted to take me to the Warlayirti Arts Centre but I needed to freshen up and get some fluids to counteract the dehydration which would rapidly overtake me if I wasn’t careful. Dale’s place was a veritable oasis in the desert, courtesy of some very wealthy parents. When Dale headed back to the UK, it would be rented out to those with deep pockets and visitors to the local artist centres. We had a light lunch before heading to the Arts Centre where the credit card took a bit of a hit. Hey, it’s not every day that you get to pick up some of the most collectible art in the world, and speak to the person that created it. Back at Dale’s place, I contemplated my new persona.. obviously my final decision is secret… The efficient temperature control in my room was enough to send me off to sleep immediately….
  4. Here we are at Umbu Mehang Kunda Airport, (formerly Mau Hau - much more exotic than its new name). This has to be one of the most unexciting flights in sector 2! Howabout 3 three screenshots? Take-off, cruise, and landing? (You will wish you had said yes). Looking at the maps, this flight was going to be point to point over 510 nm of water: So I added a couple of waypoints, 1 for a rest break near to Seringapatam Reef and 2, to deliver supplies to a remote island called Browse Island where the lighthouse keeper was running short of rum. There after I was going to head for Cape Leveque on the Aussie mainland and then on to my destination, Broome International: It’s a nice morning, I still had bells ringing in my ears after Chuck’s air display yesterday and his departure later in the day. He had forgotten to hand over the baton so flung it out of the cockpit in my direction whilst posing in a hover for a while. My Pigboat was still in the shop after leaving its nose gear on the runway during a rather hard landing by the ferry pilot. It was going to be ready by lunchtime: We had a couple of passengers coming along for the ride which was welcome news as it would help break the mesmerising monotony of the Wasp engines. Checking the loading sheet and manifest I see we have a doctor emigrating to Aus, a flight attendant who comes with the aircraft, her son, and two crates of rum. We were well short of MTOW so range will not be an issue today. Having spent an hour greasing nipples and dipping sticks, the Catalina was ready. Our passengers and precious cargo were making their way to the aircraft. I could make out an older man with grey hair (no relation!) and a familiar outline of the flight attendant, in fact the closer she got, the more familiar she became… it was Sharon! She introduced her son Otis (who!?) he seemed strangely familiar, but I didn’t give it a second thought. I think Sharon has some explaining to do? We loaded the cargo and ate our lunch comprising of local fish (caught only this morning), Lychees and a chocolate muffin, all washed down with some camel’s milk. Blurrrgh. After coaxing the engines into life, I checked the weather enroute and it is going to be balmy, but it was starting to get hot and humid here so I was keen to get us under way: I we were off the tarmac less than halfway down the runway, but with hardly any cargo I am not surprised: Our first sector started over land which is a mostly low hills, with village settlements, Sumba is like a poor neighbour to Bali: After nearly an hour we were leaving Sumba, I was pleased to leave the island and the humidity behind. We were well set up on our cruise, our GPS was showing us the way but we had no autopilot, the Pigboat had a tendency to drift left of course if unattended, even with rudder trim: It's a couple of hours into our flight and I was starting to feel a bit nauseous, the clanking and drone of the engines was making my head spin. Luckily, Sharon had noticed and called Dr Rumack for help, the following unfolded: Surely we were doomed? (and don't call me Shirley). As Dr Rumack dragged me from the cockpit, Sharon jumped into the driving seat and with a quick scan of the instruments started to pull back on the column: Now this turned out to be one of those moments that will pass into annals of ATWC history! Sharon, who was always the bridesmaid, not the bride, revealed that she is, infact, a very capable pilot, albeit a bit rusty. What's even more amazing is Sharon is also an undercover British spy and her real name is Steph. And that's not a coincidence, we have seen her in the challenge before. I just knew there was something about her, now with her cover blown, all pilots must vow to keep their silence, Putenfeld is a ruthless man and he hates being crossed by a woman. Sharon had this well under control and we headed to our scheduled stop at the reef: We killed the engines as we were coming to a stop: I was awoken with a jolt, those smelling salts made me want heave (again): After half an hour I was ready to fly again, Sharon recounted her past 10 years and how Otis came into her life, like the Beckham's first child, he was named after the place he was conceived .. (eh?) We were underway, still about 250 nm to go. That extended stop had set us back a bit: Heading set east exactly on 090 we were headed for Browse Island: Our navigation was sound, the island is ahead: This is an odd place and has has a listed airfield, ICAO YBWS, runway 9/27 length 9 metres! We can actually land on the reef: We've dropped off the rum and had a quick rest break. Time is pressing on..: Next waypoint is Cape Leveque on the mainland: We find another island on the map with a lighthouse and it's exactly on our track, so we make for it: There's no airfield here but quite a few buildings, the light from the lighthouse guided me in: Hello Adele Island. We gave it the Mutley flypass chopping up a couple of seagulls on the way. My pleasure! Ok, no more messing about, we head straight for Aus: As we pass YCLQ overhead, the ATWC airshow hits Australia! Screenshots are going to be tricky to see after this one, we press on, 201 degrees towards Broome: After another 40 minutes we have Broome in sight: Called in our approach, civilisation at last: After an uneventful landing, we are directed to our parking position. Who would believe it? A man with a broom sweeping the apron..at Broome! Checking out an extract from the log, total flight time 7.3 hours. Sharon Steph, Dr Rumack, Otis, and me depart to the pilots lounge with the baton. After a couple of hours of chat, food, and a small libation, Steph stores the baton as she is rostered to take it onto Ayres Rock. I am worried for her as I have my suspicions about the man with the broom? Sim: P3Dv4.1 A/C: Aerosoft Catalina with repaint by jeansy WX: REX Texture Direct / AS for P3D Scenery: FTX - Global / VECTOR / Australia Region / Broom International Airport (Not that you could see it) With acknowledgement to the makers of Airplane! The Movie.
  5. Welcome to the 7th edition of Mutley's Hangar Around The World Challenge! (aka ATWC 7even) Do you love flying your Flight sim, but are stuck flying to the same destinations time and time again? Want to join in a group activity for your favourite flight sim, but feel that other rallies are too strict and/or time consuming for your taste? Do you enjoy telling a story of your flight, and publishing screenshots to enhance the story? If the answer is yes to at least one of the above questions then the ATWC 7even is the challenge you've been waiting for! Bid, Fly, and Post, it's as simple as that. The ATWC is a relay "race" where the participants take turn in flying the ATWC Baton around the world along a predetermined route. The route will be published as we progress through the Challenge, at this point all we are giving away is that we will start and finish at Southampton EGHI (the spiritual home of the Baton), and that the route will favour locations which loosely fit in our theme of "Come and fly the seven wonders of the world." beit the ancient world, industrial, middle ages, modern, natural, or new. This time around we can look forward to roughly the same number of flights as we had in ATWC SiX, but we will be heading to new locations (Southampton being the obvious exception). The challenge is split into a number of sectors (5) which are then split into a number of legs, some with sub legs. Once a sector is announced, a bidding window will open during which all interested pilots can bid for the leg(s) they want to fly. A bid consists of an e-mail sent to atwc@mutleyshangar.com containing a list of the legs in the current sector you are interested in flying. The list should be ordered with the most desired leg at the top of the list. The only other thing needed in the bid is the type of aircraft you will be flying if you make a bid on a leg with restrictions (of course any bribes offered to the race organisers will benefit your chances of getting the leg you want). Once you have been assigned to a flight it’s up to you to plan your flight and fly it. With a few exceptions (more on those later), it’s all a matter of the pilot's preference how you get from point A to point B. Pick any aircraft you want, fly any route you want to. You can even divide the leg into shorter flights with different aircraft with different aircraft for each flight! As long as you end up at the planned destination we won’t mind the manner in which you get there. (as long as you do it in a flight simulator of course) Once you’re done with your flight, all that is left is to post your PIREP in the form of screenshots in the ATWC PIREP forum. The storytelling bit is purely optional, but some sort of commentary to go along with your screenshots is customary. The only thing we ask is that you wait until the Baton has been delivered to your departure airport by the previous pilot, and leave some time (about 36 hours) for others to view and comment on the previous PIREP before you post yours. There will also be a deadline, usually about 3-4 days after the previous PIREP was published, that we want you to keep in order to keep us moving along at a good pace. Once allocated a flight, you can fly it when it is convenient for you and keep it until it is your time to post. Legs with imposed restrictions. On a few legs we will impose some sort of restrictions on your choice of aircraft to add to the challenge of those specific destinations, i.e. it can be in the form of a MTOW restriction for the aircraft you pick. What’s next? Do you feel like joining in? In that case no real action is needed from your end until a new sector is announced and the bidding window is open. The plan is to kick things off some time in July. However, if you would like a personal banner for use in the forum signature, e-mail notification of new sectors and bidding windows and your name on the Pilot Roster for ATWC 7even send us an email to atwc@mutleyshangar.com with your screen name, real name and home country. Hope to see you all take part in this great adventure. Joe
  6. Here are a few links to free resources: Flight Planning: Plan-G SkyVector Route Finder Scenery: FS 2004 FSX / P3D Misc: FS Freeware
  7. Welcome Thank you for your interest in our challenge. We really do want to keep this simple but we have to lay down some ground rules, so please take note of the following and if you agree we can have some fun! Eligibility You will need to be a registered member of Mutley's Hangar Forums in order to post your PIREP. Registration is free, however, please consider making a donation to the running costs which can be made via PayPal using the donate button. Flying the Challenge The Around The World Challenge (ATWC) is a series of individual flights flown by many pilots who carry and pass on "The baton" eventually circumnavigating the Earth. The Challenge will start and finish at Southampton EGHI, also known to "Hangarians" as "Mutley Field" and is the spiritual home of the Challenge. Flight legs are arranged in groups, called sections, which generally correspond to the continents or some other geographic region (e.g. the Caribbean or Oceania) as each is visited in turn. These flights are then released for pilots to bid on in order of preference and awarded on a first come, first served basis. Pilots bid for the flights via email using atwc@mutleyshangar.com and the staff allocate the flights. The pilot then flies from A-B however they want. It can be direct or over several flights. All flights are reported in the forums by way of a screenshot/story post for everyone else to view and comment. So, in simple terms the overall process is BID-FLY-POST BID We will only offer flights on a section by section basis, no bids for future locations will be taken. Once a section is advertised a deadline (Usually 18-48 hours) will be published for prospective pilots to "bid" for flights. Any untaken flights can be bid for at any time after the deadline. You can bid for as many flights in that section as you wish, flights are awarded on a first come first served basis and in order of preference set out by you. e.g. 1.Leg 7 EDDH to ENSO 2.Leg 3 EGPR to EINN 3.Leg 1 EGLC to EGNS 4.Leg 8 ENSO to ENHV We will endeavour to give you the flight(s) you want, each pilot will initially be awarded one leg per section unless you are called on to stand in for another pilot. Non-availability of flights - If demand is high, it may be possible that you will not be awarded a flight in that section. This will be generally be caused by late submittal of bids which may be due to the TZ you live in. If this happens, in the next sector, we will give priority to pilots who have not been allocated a flight in a previous sector(s). Bids by email only to atwc@mutleyshangar.com FLY The flight can be made in any aircraft that can make the published journey within any flight restrictions (Weight or type) stipulated for that flight. Flexibility is permitted for those who choose amphibious aircraft or flying boats and wish to use water for take-offs or landings. Flights may be flown in any version of Flight Simulator - FS-2004 (FS9), FSX or Prepar3D are the customary choices. POST We encourage you to make your flight when it is convenient to you but we do insist it is posted in accordance with the following- No sooner than 36 hours after the previous leg was posted and no later than 4 days after the previous leg was posted. This is very important as it will hopefully keep the challenge flowing nicely and give the previous pilot's post to receive feedback. We prefer as much commentary as possible, include flight plans or other relevant info to make it more enjoyable to other members, you can never post too much detail! As with the previous challenges we encourage full use of your imagination and editing skills however you wish to use them. EXTRAS We may offer extra adventures within the challenge by way of Missions for FSX users or Treasure Hunts for both FS9,FSX and Prepar3D users. FEEDBACK Please, don't forget to leave the other pilots lots of feedback as it is your reward to another pilot for a job well done! Copyright The challenge and it's contents including shots posted by pilots will be deemed copyright of Mutley's Hangar and by accepting these rules you agree that they can be used for advertising purposes by Mutley's Hangar with acknowledgements to you. That's it! Enjoy the Challenge and lets go flying!
  8. Pilots Register

    Please see confirmation of your Pilot ID Below Pilot ID Name Screen Name Country ATWC001 Joe Lawford mutley UK ATWC002 Brian Buckley Needles UK ATWC003 Rosario Manzo rosariomanzo Italy ATWC004 Matt Gardner Captain Coffee USA ATWC005 Kieran Marshall Hurricanemk1c Eire ATWC006 John Guest J G UK ATWC007 Tim Arnot Tim_A UK ATWC008 BeeJay Bristow-Stagg OzWookiee Australia ATWC009 Mike Frank Goblin USA ATWC010 Steph Sawyer hlminx UK ATWC011 David Moran Lucent UK ATWC012 ATWC013 Andrew Godden Andrew Godden Australia ATWC014 ATWC015 ATWC016 ATWC017 ATWC018 ATWC019 ATWC040 Mikael Stockfors stu7708 Sweden ATWC666 Jessica Bannister-Pearce jess-b The Dark Side
  9. Final ATWC 6 flight..

    Hi guys Its good to be back.. the PC is in the process of being re-built and although it is early days, I'm eager to get back into it! I was wondering when the final flight of ATWC6 was going to be posted. Did i miss something during my regrettable absence? is it still in production? Minx
  10. It’s dark, I’m cold, Matt left in a hurry before I could thank him. I made my way to the fuel pump and sure enough, the baton was there in amongst the grime. I make sure the now badly repaired baton was safely stored in my rucksack. I’ll be travelling light for the first part of my trip as my aircraft had been impounded at Le Bourget yesterday, for non-payment of landing fees and fuel as our credit card company had stopped the card again (can’t think why!). I'll have to pitch up with the Euros to settle the bill before I can reclaim the aircraft. Le Bourget is over on the north side of Paris, and Bretigny-sur-Orge on the south. I had arranged to meet up with our new benefactor, a Mr Marty Putinfeldman, at the Musee du Louvre to pick up a cash donation, без всяких условий he said (lied). He also mentioned Putinfeldman would be in disguise but I would know him when I see him. So I was off to the (infamous) Bretigny-sur-Orge train station, the location of a rail disaster back in 2013, to buy a billet de train. It turned out the SNCF had called a strike demanding more garlic in their staff restaurants and 52 weeks paid holidays a year, so rail travel was out of the question. Apparently Mr Putinfeldman was a man with many contacts in the military and had managed to lay on air some transport to get me into the city, so we leave at dawn! So this is to be my aircraft. I get a briefing on the apron above noise of the idling engine on the paramotor: I took off from the apron into the wind, the runways are non-active anyway so that saved me a considerable time taxiing: As soon as I had risen above the height of the hangars I could see the romantic lights of Paris on the horizon and it was easy to pick out the river course too. My next waypoint would be Orly Airport: It wasn't difficult to find: .. I had permission to fly not below 2000ft: Now I’m tracking the river Seine, looking back, Orly is just now a distant memory: With the power station ahead, I climb again to clear the high tension wires: We turn left where the Marne meets the Seine: Many bridges cross the river, we are approaching the distinctive sports arena on the right: The bells.. the bells.. Notre Dame with its Gothic arches: And the stunning Louvre Museum, my palms start to sweat with the thought of the meeting soon to take place: Turning into the beautiful courtyard area: And a slightly pissed landing, the sudden weight of the motor makes me stumble: Out of nowhere, one of Putinfeldman's goons appear: Follow me he growls, I take the motor off and run after him: We walk down long corridors showing fine art, we pass a sign “La Gioconda” this way". The goon grunts something and points me to the famous picture: Strangely, the eyes in the picture follow me around the room, and then Marty Putinfeldman appears out of the painting: “We’ve been expecting you, miester Mutley” he says in an appalling attempt to sound villainous. Not one for small talk he gets down to business straight away. "Here is the money", he offers it then snaps the cash away, "on one condition, I want to inspect the baton". We exchange goods and baton simultaneously. With that he levers the end off and looks angry that nothing fell out. "Happy?" I said. “suka, blyat” he replied and threw the baton to the floor before storming off. Picking up the two pieces I hastily make my way back to the courtyard, don the motor and take off. Relieved and happy, I make my way up the Champs Elysees: There’s no way I can’t take the Arc de Triomphe challenge!: Safely through, celebrations start at the Eiffel Tower: And up we go again: Now I head off to another must see attraction, the Sacre Coeur: I look down on the Place du Tertre where tourists having their portrait painted: And then on to the Stade de France, scene of England’s latest victory over France in the RBS 6 Nations cup: My mind is now back on the task in hand and Le Bourget beckons: I need to report to the tower: My unconventional approach didn't really please them much: Back on terra firma: Engine off and unloading the paramotor an official ushers me to the tower: We negotiated the release of the aircraft. Later that day. The bad weather over England had moved south. We get our clearance to Calais: This shouldn't take too long: We turn toward the NDB at Amiens: It was nice to get above the clouds for a while: Cloud and mist is a bit hit and miss, I decide I need to drop down below the murk: Our waypoint of Amiens airfield approaches: I now head out to Le Touquet and track the LT NDB: LFAT in the distance: We’ll turn right up the coast: On a very distant base leg: Over Coquelles and the marshalling yards near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel: On final approach, #1 to land: Bump! We land quite tidily (for a change): Everyone is watching my roll out: And with no further ado, I tape the baton back up and write my PIREP: Looking around I can make out a bunch of familiar looking people and a cool dude making for the bar.. wait for me! Sim and addons used: P3Dv3 Franz Luftfahrt Paramotor Albabeo Aztec Orbx Global Base, Vectors, OpenLC Europe France VFR - Paris - Ile de France REX 4 Active Sky Next
  11. With Putinfeld seemingly getting closer every day to seizing the baton, I decided to try and beat him at his own game. It had been clear, from previous attempts on the baton’s life, that Russian aircraft and equipment had been used. So, first thing was to get a Russian aircraft. I looked for the obvious choice – the Antonov An-24. Sadly, just as the lease was finalised and I went to give the aircraft one last look over, somebody stole the wheels and the propellers. So time to find another aircraft. Sticking with the Russian theme, I found this up for lease: Interestingly, the aircraft was in the colours of the Jordanian military Special Forces colours. That should help deter any would-be Putinfeld persons! As an aside, the 2 million West African Francs is about £2365.28 Having checked over the aircraft, I took the aircraft on and started to do some flights around the local area, carrying cargo and earning a bit of money in the process. It’s not quite on the credit card yet Joe – its bundles of West African Franc. From my calculations, it’s 864 franc to the pound. Good job I have more than a couple of thousand! I carried on transporting cargo for about 2 weeks, flying in and out of Ménaka regularly, at about the time I wanted to depart with the baton. It made me known and regular – nothing to be suspicious of at all. Ménaka is not exactly a holiday destination. In November 2009, Pierre Camatte was kidnapped by the North African branch of al-Qaeda and would only be released with the return of 4 al-Qaeda members from French prisons. Luckily for Monsieur Camatte, the French government agreed, and he was released after 6 weeks. In addition, Ménaka is accused of informal slavery between noble caste Tuareg pastoralists and thousands of sedentary low caste Bellah Tuareg. Plus the town is currently under joint Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb control. All this resulted in me not particularly wanting to stay long in Ménaka, besides the heat. Having got the baton from John, I did another cargo run, just to keep up routine, to XXXX, a paved airfield in Niger, which provided me with overnight accommodation My hotel, as seen by John John seemed to be back to his normal self, arriving in style in a big RAF transport. He seemed edgy, and wanted a very quick getaway. So, after handover, John disappeared, where to I did not know Very early the next morning the pair of ZMKB Progress AI-20DM turboprop engines screamed into life and I arrived back at Ménaka early, this time planning a quick turn-around. Cargo off and away we go. It was far too dark for photos so, by the time we got back, the light had picked up Getting the cockpit warmed up, so to speak. Hot enough already...... A final rapid walk around confirmed that the rear cargo door was shut and no obsructions Engine 1 bursts back into life And about the only digital instrument fixed on the plane says all good Rapidly going down the 'runway' And lift off! Gear up and an immediate bank off to the right to get on course. Good navigation is the key here About 20-30 minutes later, we were settled in for the cruise In addition to my GPS, we had a navigator on board. He was bang on throughout The rather empty cargo hold. About the only time it has been empty! Approaching the turning point, DRZA Mano Dayak International Airport in Niger And....TURN! Another 40 minutes and the 'airport' is coming into sight Nearly there, gear coming out to try and slow down a bit Due to the concentration involved on finding, keeping in sight and landing on the rather rough runway, this was the best shot that I could manage - after the roll out Having pushed myself backwards into a parking spot (that I just created), warm air flows into the cargo hold and cockpit. Time for a cold drink with Matt! Aircraft used - Tim Conrad's Antonov An-32 FS Snaps (a great little site now - thanks Joe and co!) used for the photos
  12. Someone must have slipped me a mickey at the club the other night. I don't remember anything after the last bar and woke up in my hotel room 36 hours later. My hotel room had been tossed, but nothing was missing. My initial sense of panic subsided when I called the front desk and verified that the baton was still in the hotel safe. The adventure in Macao left its mark and I gave the hotel explicit instructions to keep it in the safe until I checked out. During my reverie I had this vivid dream that the Caribbean had turned into grassy plains and scattered forests. No more blue water, just green to the horizon all the way around.* The view from my hotel room reassured me that it was just a dream. After retrieving the baton I headed off to the airport. Seeing this beauty pushed all thoughts of recent events out of my mind. That guy in the hangar looks suspicious. Round engine birds are soooo sexy. I filed IFR as there were reports of cumulonimbus activity near Montego Bay. It was an easy VOR to VOR plan. Not much going on this early, so ground cleared me right to the active. "Line up and wait." Up we go, into the wild blue yonder... Cleared to 11000. This baby wants to climb at 1000 FPM no matter what. Not having an AP was a bit frustrating, but once I figured out the trim she was as stable as the pound. Last sight of land for the next 40 minutes. A gorgeous day for flying. Hmmm. The clouds are starting to get a bit thicker. Good thing I filed IFR. Passing over Montego Bay. Puffy and white are fine. Dark and menacing are not my favorite. This may get interesting. It's nice to have an exit if things go south. Always nice to see the runway before the MDA. Hard to keep an eye on the ball when you have scenery like this. A guy could get used to sights like this. Almost there. Running through the post landing check list. Time for a taxi. I'll be avoiding the bars for a bit. Matt, I'll be hanging out in the hangar. Add-ons for this flight Alabeo Cessna 195 Businessliner REX 4 Texture Direct plus SoftClouds REX Essential Plus Overdrive for real world weather FTX Global Base FTX Global Vector FTX Trees HD FreeMeshX Global - North America Jamaica land class from Avsim * I spent several hours trying to figure out why the Caribbean had been filled in and turned to savanna. I finally remembered that UTX TAC had been installed long ago, well prior to many of the FTX packages. Disabling it brought back the sea, re-enabling it filled it back in. Lesson learned.
  13. Well, here we are at Lashio for another ATWC Six leg: Something slightly different, this time - a 375 nm flight with 20 waypoints and all in VFR. You are joking, I hear you say? Well, suspend your disbelief for a couple of minutes... First, we go back in time - to Burmah in 1943. The Allies are having a hard time getting supplies through to Chiang Kai-shek. The Ledo (Assam) to Kunming land route is too long and a shorter route, from the railhead at Lashio, is being reconnoitered. This is where we come in. Instead of flying from Lashio to Kunming over the high plateaux, called The Hump, our job is to fly along the proposed route and determine its feasibility, and the route looks something like this, in Plan-G (Thanks, Tim!): There are no, repeat NO, nav aids between VYLS and ZPPP - well, not in 1943, anyway. But we have got some old, colonial vintage, relief maps, which show the topology and some of the roads. The back-room boys have laid out a plan for the proposed route in 4 sections - from Lashio to Mangka: Section 2 - from Mangka to Xingfu: Section 3 - from Xingfu, across the Lancang Jiang (or Mekong) river up to the Ledo-Kunming road at Chuxiong: Section 4- the final stretch to Kunmimg: Although the flight is for reconnaisance, we're taking some supplies with us. Here we are loading the faithful DC-3 up: Taxi-ing past the Lashio Base hospital: It's a warm afternoon - the morning's rains are over, as we take off from runway 19: Turning north, we fly past the base... ... and pick up the road towards Thienni: After the turn at Hseni (Thienni), we head east, up the wide valley: Although the road on the proposed route looks in good shape, it's very close to those cliffs: And there are some very steep climbs, towards Mangka: Some low cloud hides the road - but it soon clears: Just after Xingfu, there's been a mud slide and the road is impassable: We've been climbing all the way from Xingfu - this terrain before Juzishan, is 7500': And that's the Lancang Jiang gorge ahead. The gorge sides are steep and there's no road - at the moment. A problem for the engineers! The river Lancang Jiang becomes the Mekong, when it reaches Laos: Looks like the engineers have already begun blasting this stretch to Midu: Another high pass - but the road looks good: The sun's going down as we approach the Xiang Yung turn: The navigator's says there's a new base around here - just north of the road: Here it is - Yungan-Ni camp: Time for a quick cuppa and a chat with the locals: And we're off, again: That's Chuxiong - just the last section to go: Over Anning Town, the land starts to rise, again: Over the last ridge, and that's Dianchi Pool ahead with Kunming beyond: Turning north over the pool: Long Final at Kunming: An easy landing on runway 03: And that's it: Just need to get the camera films to the lab and we're off for cool drink in the mess... And, that's it, Folks! The Burmah-China mesh was made by "Roger-Wilco-66" from Sim-Outhouse and is available here: http://www.sim-outhouse.com/sohforums/showthread.php?91041-1-arc-second-highres-mesh-for-CBI-scenario-%28FSX-P3D%29 The DC-3/C47 is by Manfred Jahn - search for "Douglas C-47 Skytrain Exterior Base Pack 1.0" Thanks for joining me - I hope you didn't find the flight too fatiguing! Flying without nav aids is certainly not boring, especially keeping close to the ground to follow the road. Cheers - Dai.
  14. Welcome to leg 14 of ATWC SiX. The information contained in this post is not for real world aviation, just in case you thought it was real!! On the face of it this was the easy one, a 205 nm hop from Abu Dhabi to Muscat. What I didn’t count on was the world’s press in attendance in Abu Dhabi as we had some royals in town, Andy was trying to set up some new lucrative business that would net him a few $mil. (Why else would he do it?!) More interestingly for aviation buffs, it was the start of the around the world challenge for the Solar Impulse 2 (Si2). It's first flight leg was to be the same as mine, touching down in Muscat. Si2 had already landed in Muscat so hopefully by the time me got there things will have quietened down a bit. JG wanted to steer clear of publicity since his latest jailbreak, so he high-tailed it out of town as soon as he could. Bruce said JG would be waiting at Martin & Lisa’s in Dubai and could I pick him up and take him to Muscat (where I had already booked him a place on a transporter home). Martin & Lisa’s place was in a very nice hotel apartment block just off the Sheikh Zayed road in down town Dubai, and the building had a pad on the top. So contrary to my better judgement, I hired a Bell 407 for the job. So a quick and dirty flight plan was made up to get us us to Dubai... OMAA DCT Saeed Tower 2 Here we are on the apron, Bruce was now enjoying a little break, he had spotted some Chums from the FO so was keen to catch up with them. I had the baton now so it’s time to pick up JG. With no messing around it was straight up and straight over the royal party! I decided just to fly straight out to the Persian/ Arabian Gulf on the runway heading, turn right and follow the coast up to Dubai. The sun was getting low in the sky, we were about to turn north so a welcome relief from the glare. We’re flying VFR, and I am familiar with this route so this should be a nice transfer and far more scenic than our second flight to Muscat. I had left it with Micke to have something ready at OMDB, I hope he has not sent along one of his wreckers! After 20 minutes I had Dubai in my sights as I am approaching the Palm Jumeirah with the Burj Al Arab ahead. Now it was time to concentrate as we approach the city. Here are a few shots of the way in. The fountains dancing in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa. Taking a careful route in amongst the tower blocks. There's our pad on the Saeed Tower 2! (The round pad on the right) Luckily I got this shot on the heli pad just before P3D freaked out with all the scenery detail and run out of memory. So a slight tweak to the scenery complexity was in order to carry on. As the sun was going down I called down for JG but apparently he wasn’t there. He managed to get an invite to an illicit real ale festival in town so I took a spare room at Martin and Lisa’s for the night and would set off first thing. (Supposing JG was up to it). Well I suppose 11:55am is in the morning. John was bleary eyed with the after effects of copious jugs of hop based brews. I removed the pad tie-downs and got the engine spooled up and the blades turning. The airport was only a short hop away, JG has a pretty strong constitution so the barf bag was not required. We were coming in on a non standard approach so as not to interfere with the traffic I dropped JG off at the duty free warehouse so he could stock up. I sauntered across the apron and called into ATC to find out what aircraft was waiting for us and to file my plans to Muscat. I was suitably impressed with the Phenom Micke had set up for the third leg of this flight, I texted a thank you. Take care of it was the reply, it was part of the royal fleet, Micke had friends in very high places! Taking full advantage of the free facilities I called for push back. So after a long wait for the scheduled flights to clear, it was to be a departure out over the Persian/Arabian Gulf again. We're away, being lightly fuelled it was like travelling in an express elevator! and a right turn down the coast to Oman and then another turn back inland to the airport. I thought better of letting JG do the comms as if the controller had any suspicion he had been drinking, we were stuffed. The baton was safely(?) stowed in the cabin. As we cruised south east the snoring was deafening but luckily my headphones also acted as ear defenders. I reached for the flask and gave JG a nudge. Just about to pass Fujairah airport as we transit the FJR VOR. Now over the Gulf of Oman there's quite a build up of cloud forming. With about 40 miles to go we get a low fuel warning, we'll have enough to land safely so long as we don't have to divert. As I can see the airport in the distance, JG seemed a lot more cognisant now with a strong cup of coffee in his hands. I inform ATC of our fuel predicament so we will be #1 to land. Turning inland on a course to intercept the localiser Established, wheels down, flaps 3, there's not far to go. JG is now taking running through the pre-landing check list with me. I'm happy with that approach, It's like we were on rails! The slightest puff of smoke welcomed us to Muscat. Vacate next exit Calling up for fuel on the way to parking. Here's our spot. Everything dark, it's baking in here with the air off. Chocked and ready for the next crew. JG and I head off for the terminal. JG has his duty free so is happy, The baton is safely delivered so Micke is happy, I have a meeting with Jess so I am happy!! Sorry this has been more like a photo journal than a PIREP and I hope it hasn't blown your internet bandwidth for the month! Cheers / Mut Software used: Sim: Prepar3d V2.5 WX: ASN WX Textures: REX Texture Direct Aircraft: MilViz Bell 407, Carenado Phenom 100 Scenery: OMAA / OOMS flightsim.com freeware, Dubai scenery - Fly Tampa (Rebooted), FTX Global and FTX Global Vector. Traffic: WOAI Unedited sim shots except the baton in the cabin.
  15. ATWC SiX Leg 04 "You're always bl**dy late, Doc, what was it this time?" Sam made me feel welcome, as usual: "Missed the connection at EGPE, sorry, mate!" "Well, you're here now, make yourself useful and see that the jeep is stowed securely - the engines sound good, don't they? They're both reconditioned - almost new..." Back in the cockpit, Sam was setting the NAV channels. He chivvied the tower into giving us clearance: "Why the b*gg*rs always want us to taxi to the active and not just take off from the apron beats me - every time..." I completed the checklist and gave the collective a try out. "When's the last time you drove one of these?" Sam asked. Taxi-ing in a Chinook is more luck than judgement, a lot of the time, but we were soon making our way towards the runway. "Turn right onto the runway - you are cleared for take off", said the tower. At 40 knots, the airframe started to feel a bit less cumbersome, and we were off. "Keep the runway heading and climb for a bit 'til you grab the radial..." Sam keeping me in line, clearly he knew how to stay on the right side of the Sumburgh crew. Visibility still less than a couple of miles, but there's the radial, so we turn to 77 degrees for the OBA VOR. At 2500, we're clear of the murk and can settle down to a steady 150 knots towards the rising sun. "So, where did you pick this old crock up, then, Sam?" The Chinook still has its old US markings, so Sam must have picked it up at a Defense Depot, somewhere. "Got it on eBay", mutters Sam - he's got his lap-top out and busy typing up some business stuff. "You're kidding, aren't you?", thinking that surplus aircraft aren't that easy to come by. "No, eBay-dot-RU", he replies. Turns out that he's bought 5 Ch-47s from Chechnaya, had them delivered in containers, and this is the first one he's managed to get air-worthy. "This one'll carry 3 times as much as a Super Puma, cruise at the same speed, with 20% greater range. The rear ramp's big enough for equipment loading and it'll still carry more passengers. It's ideal for rig supply", he sounds so confident. "Yeah, but will it land on a rig?", I ask. "That's what you're gonna find out! We're headed for the Oseburg rig, one of Nor-Oil's main platforms. I've told 'em we can do it, so you'd better not prove me wrong, ol' buddy!" This is going to be interesting, I thought... Some 45 minutes later, after we'd shared his thermos, Sam pointed ahead to a vague shape in the distance. "There she is, Doc - big, isn't she?" Sam clearly has a different idea about size - I squinted ahead and could just about see the vague outline of the rig After descending to around 250 feet, Sam said: "The main helipad's on the west side - don't try the other pad, last time I was here, they'd built a shed on it!" So, we approached slowly from the south - straight into the sun - brilliant! The pad is compact and the Chinook noses into it gently... We're down fairly comfortably on the ropes - and it starts raining. Sam leaps off to speak with the local management. He's really enthusiastic about this project and has put his life's savings into it. I'm optimistic about his chances, the CH-47 is a reliable work-horse, well suited to the job - it even floats, although I don't want to test that aspect, personally. While I'm waiting, I reset the NAV 1 for Flesland's VOR. The next section is less than 80 miles, so we should have dinner on dry ground - if it stops raining, of course. He's back - and full of it: "They've bought it! They never thought you'd make it with this thing - they're gonna be sending the draft contracts to the office later today so that the lawyers can get it sorted. C'mon, let's get to Flesland and sort that end out." Strapped in again, we head out east. The murk is still with us as we home in on the FLS VOR. Sam's on the radio, most of the way, and we're soon getting vectors for an approach from the north. "There she blows!", shouts Sam as the runway lights glint through the sea fret. I've not landed here before, so I'll observe decorum and approach as professionally as I can. Here we are on Long Final. That's ENBR runway 17 ahead. Flesland is on Bjoroyfjord, a few clicks south west of Bergen on the only flat land in the area. The tarmac looks dry and our approach speed is around 45 knots, so it's a good thing we've got wheels, but let's not burst any tyres... ... ATC let that 738 in right on our heels! Certainly a place to stay awake. Taxi-ing to the cargo area, trying to keep the undercarriage in one piece. Ramp down and our transport ready to disembark. Sam's already in the terminal building, tracking down a spare meeting room to use as a temporary office. "Meet you in the cafe in 45 minutes", he promises, and I shut her down... So, that's it, folks. Like i said, the snow in Inverness delayed the leg, but all's well that ends well, as the Bard said. Oh, yes, the Baton? It was in the jeep - under the driver's seat, Rob! Thanks for flying Sam's Riggers! See you somewhere else Around The World for another Challenge-ing flight. Cheers -Dai.
  16. Welcome to leg 1 of ATWC Six! Our first leg will see us transport the baton from Southampton Mutley Field (EGHI) to Gamston EGNE in Nottinghamshire via a multiplayer session. The route would be as follows with a touch and go at each airfield en route. (Thanks Plan-G) We had a good turn out from the crew with the following in attendance. Jeff (Joe) Virgil (Micke) John (Tim) Penny (Jess) Parker (Brian) Kyrano (Dai) The Hood (Andrew) In support we had: Gordon (John) Brains (JG) Tin Tin Kyrano (Lynda) Chosen aircraft were from the WWII era, we had 4 Spitfires (Joe, Andrew, Dai & Micke) a ME109 'flown' by Brian, a Messerschmitt Me 262 flown by Jess and a RealAir Duke B60 V2 flown by Tim (There’s always one!!) Micke had sent the plan down to the Mutley Crew in plenty of time to preview the route, but that didn’t mean we would not have problems on the day, oh no! Nearly everyone had issues with FSX, their machine, Skype or the internet! It took a good hour to get the crew assembled, I had a problem with my RealAir Spitfire overheating and catching fire so a quick swap out for the Just Flight version did the trick. Then I spotted Fritz in my mirrors giving it to me with both barrels, so not to be out done I turned around and faced him up. Eat lead sucker! (Every shot missed!) As you can see, no one had a version of Jess’ ME 262 in their sim so we saw differing models from the F18, to a CRJ or Phenom! Anyway, we were off, only an hour late. 02 was the runway of the day, we were flying in fair weather as the real world weather on the day had the cloud base at around 800ft. We dropped past Middle Wallop army base at varying intervals. Here is a picture from Micke and we can see Tim off to the right. Here's Dai coming in! I paid a complimentary visit to Truxton for a mini display. Before heading to Upavon, not to be confused with the larger Netheravon airfield a couple of miles away, I am sure someone landed there? There was no one to greet us at Oaksey park but we still graced them with our presence. We carried on regardless with a little cat and mouse activity! Gloucestershire airport was a breeze with no problems encountered. No piccies so here is a shot of Micke and Brian having a pow-pow! Woverhampton aka Halfpenny Green, another ex RAF airfield and we were spoilt with a choice of three runways. Approach to Cosford, an active RAF base so we had to watch our p's and q's Woodford nr Manchester, a salute to the Avro Lancaster and Vulcan that were built here. Over the border to the land of flat caps and Whippets, Micke on the ground at Sheffield City... ... As I circle overhead taking in the view before we make the final leg. Gamston -Joe landing Brian touching down Micke on base Andrew Landing De briefing on the apron, just waiting for Kasper to arrive to take the baton off overseas. One final shot from Dai! The company credit card remained unscathed, however we have 8 for dinner so it will be prawn croquette tapas all round, the bar had doubled their Bacardi order as they knew Jess was in town... Meanwhile, Sharon has been getting ready for service, very willing and very able. Happy flying everyone. Over to you Kasper
  17. Ever since this section was announced, I wanted this leg. After all, how many times do you get to fly a large aircraft into London City? Anyway, on to the story! The plan was simple. Train to Heuston, bus to the airport, flight to East Midlands, bus to Nottingham, train to London St. Pancras, Eurostar to Brussels and finally another train to the airport. Simple? To me, yes. When I got word that Joe had landed at Brussels, I set off on my extended journey. Of course, flying Aer Lingus to Brussels would save about 2 days, but where is the fun? And anyway, I had to find an aircraft. Luckily, somewhere around the middle of the Channel Tunnel, I got talking to a BA flight crew (off duty, off course). As part of a massive publicity stunt, they were taking an aircraft from Brussels to London City, rather than Heathrow. They started asking questions such as, "Do you think we should put fuel in the centre tank?" and "How much in the mains?". This naturally interested me, as Mikael's brief said a 300,000lb MTOW. What on earth could they be flying? Ah. An old, battered 747-236. During the trip I was able to get a ticket to ride and, if the captain or co-pilot didn't want to fly, I said I would. The co-pilot immediately questioned why I wanted to go on this dangerous flight. A quick flash of the baton, followed by admiring eyes, ensured my spot in the left hand seat, no less. No pressure then! Some of the more normal aircraft on the ramp at Brussels The co-pilot handled the radios. Turns out, as far as Brussels is concerned, we are flying to Heathrow. Once we get into NATS airspace, the plan changes to City. Pushback followed the clearance and engine start was made Onto the runway, the rather light weight for the 747 would soon be shown 80....100....120....140 V1....150....150...Rotate All tucked up now and well established into the climb. There was one worrying aspect of the climb, when I forgot to turn on the autopilot properly! All the automation is control - the INS guiding us towards London City Heading ever upwards Now into the cruise, however short! Good old Blighty ahead. The baton hasn't got far to go now! Going down! Another aircraft flies over us at a more normal height Turning over south England Heathrow ahead Gear down Now for the scary part. Time to land! Full flaps, going down slowly The airport is now in sight Threading through the buildings Down and just before the spoilers deploy And we stop! Congratulations all round from the airport and the other crew members. Unfortunately, the aircraft went onto the grass at the end, whilst turning around A most unusual view And finally all shut down, dwarfing the Dornier 328 Prop in the foreground Normally, I would one meet one person then head home. However, it is time to bring the baton home. Meet you all in the bar (or on the DLR)
  18. Thanks Kieran. After the race Malta, and knowing I had flight coming up, I decided to take the FW190 ahead and fly to Lugano to grab a little down time and catch up on some needed maintenance, the race having taken quite a bit out of the old bird. That, and mulling over ways to beat Sharon in the next one. Come morning and I arrived at the airport to collect the baton, finding Kieran doing a thorough check of the 737. Kieran duly wished me good luck and I made my way, baton in hand, to my aircraft for the leg. Or rather, I didn't actually have one: it turns out that the FW190 needed more maintenance and would be staying behind in Lugano. Instead, I had secured a charter flight to deliver some cargo to Herten Rheinfelden. In addition, the Swiss, having heard of the earlier troubles experienced during the ATWC, were taking no risks and had detached two Mirage 3's to fly escort along my flightpath. So this promised to be a safe flight. That flightplan would be to fly pretty much straight to Herten Rheinfeld, taking just a slight detour to the east to avoid the highest of the Swiss Alps. And here's my aircraft for the leg, the Quest Kodiak. Taxiing out to the runway, in this case departing to the north. Turning onto the runway for a rolling start. I'm a bit rusty on the Kodiak and the aircraft is fully loaded, so best to punch it. Lift off. Leaving lovely Lugano behind. Ahead lie the Swiss alps. And I'm soon at cruising altitude of 12500ft. To the west lies the high ground I wanted to avoid - the Western Swiss alps, with the Mont Blanc massif just out of sight. A few minutes later and I've cleared the highest of the mountains. That's Lake Lucerne below; a popular tourist destination and one I unfortunately did not get round to visiting. My attention is quickly directed elsewhere as it starts to get turbulent. And that's why. I've got some storms building over the Rhein with the occasional flash of lightning. There's the Rhein itself. Visibility, at this altitude at least, is starting to deteriorate. Turning into a gentle, banking 360 degree descent. It's still choppy but it seems the visibility lower down is good. Low enough and now to find the airport. I've got a prominent meander in the Rhein ahead; the airport should be just beyond it to the west. Bingo! There it is, to the south of that forested high ground. On final and considering the length of the runway I'm going to be using full flaps. Then all of a sudden the turbulence melts away and apart from a few flashes of lightning, I have a smooth approach. The only weather I end up dealing with is 10 knot headwind. Which kicks in about here. A good thing too, as that runway is short. Short final. Touchdown! Reverse thrust and the Kodiak comes to a stop with space to spare. The radio crackles to life, the Swiss pilots signing off and congratulating me on a successful flight. I hear one of them chuckling, so maybe by successful they meant "like watching paint dry." No matter. Job's done and the baton is safe and sound. I trundle over to the terminal building to wait for John and organize transport back to Lugano. From there, it's off to Southampton to watch the baton cross the finish line. Over to you John.
  19. Benvenuti in Sicilia! Per l'aeroporto di Palermo - Falcone-Borsellino aeroporto (LICJ). Today, we fly to the Isle of Elba, sometime home to Emperor Napoleon, and where to eat real gurguglione, washed down with the local Aleatico wine. The flight will take a little over 2 hours - here's the plan (Thanks Tim): We're priveliged to be using a veritable gem of an aircraft, the DC-3 of Air Atlantique G-AMCA: The wind's in the south west, so we'll be taking runway 20, and the big bluff, to the south will require a fairly quick turn towards the main departure waypoint. Here's the Jeppesen SID: No STAR (Good evening, Bach) at LIRJ, but here's anapproach from the ELB VOR: Now, the kids are all aboard (What kids? - Ed), so we can start the port engine: Oh, yes - we've got a party of school-children with us. They're off to Elba for a camping holiday. So far, they're reasonably quiet - let's hope it stays that way. Taxying is a joy in the DC-3 (just a slight adjustment to the rear contact point rotation angle!): One of the spotters managed to get us on the take-off roll... ... and we're airborne: Here's the turn to D5-PRS: This is KERON, at 13 nm DME on the 282 deg OB radial from VOR PRS. And we turn northwards to pick up the 324 deg OB radial from VOR PAL towards GIANO: 20 minutes later, and we're at GIANO, some 60 nm DME from PAL: The heading is now 337 deg as we head towards Elba: And here's the VOR ELB signal: The wind has made a heading change necessary (Sloppy flying! - Ed): 50 nm DME from VOR ELB and we start the descent: First sight of our destination and there's a cheer from the cabin: A bit bumpy, so the seat-belts sign goes on to get the kids quiet, again. We level off at 3000 ft: "C'è il campeggio!" - let's hope it's not too near the transmitter... Elba's looking nice in the evening light.Wonder what's for dinner? Giving the kids the grand tour - This is Porto Abruzzi: Turning again, over Portoferraio, where Napoleon had his flat: This is LICJ: Out over the bay for the Base turn: Turning onto LICJ approach: Long Final: Everything looks good... Short Final: Touch down, and the kids go wild... Turning off the runway, nearly there: Full stop - let's hope the kids have some decent weather... Thank you for flying Air Atlantique - see you soon! Cheers - Dai. P.S. Excellent Elba scenery from www.blogfsx.forumfree.it.
  20. What a place. Twinned with Jinan in China, Palm Desert in the US and Townsville in Oz, this place with a population of 307,000 and an average temperture of 31 degrees Celsius in March, it's quite different with from Portlaoise. There, it rains and rains and rains, and the temperature is rarely in double figures. It also has no airport, but does have a railway, unlike this place. Port Moresby was where I had to be, to meet a Welshman with the infamous baton. Sitting in the local hotel, reading about signalling systems and Traffic Management Systems, the phone buzzes and disturbs the humid peace.Dai has arrived in one piece in a Caravan. Strange thing to arrive at an airport in, as I gathered my flight suit to get down to the airport and a meeting with my friend. At the airport, Dai stood around, every inch the farmer I imagined. After a few brief words, and the vital exchange of the baton, he left talking about a Goat Simulator. Why he needs that when he has real ones, I don't honestly know! The baton was quietly stowed into the bulky flight bag. Inside was the vital baton, a navigation log, a helmet with oxygen and comms equipment and my vital camera. All required for this rather noisy flight. Dominating the airport was this beauty Meeting up with Sergei and the rest of the crew, it became clear that language would be a problem. Only the navigator spoke decent English, the rest with varying degrees of the language. Needless to say, a translated copy of the pilot's notes were thrusted into my hand. Translated prehaps is a strong word. More like Rus-english. The grammer didn't make sense at all. All I took out of it was the vital speeds: V1, VR, V2, Gear up/down, landing and stalling speeds. Climbing up the ladder, it was plain to see that escape would be difficult in an emergancy. It must be one of the most unusual escape mechanisms around. No ejector seats are installed, but a conveyer belt running down the middle. Crew would take it in turns to be sped down the belt and hopefully missing the nosegear leg. As pilot flying, I would be last to go out. The low whine of electricity was steadily replaced by the whine of the turboprops Taxi out was pretty OK. That big nose gear was a great help, with a wide turning angle Turning around at the end of the runway To get to this point, some reverse thrust was required, with the last wheel on the edge on the tarmac. I'll need a lot of that runway! The turboprops, the most powerful built, roar out a ear-splitting song and lift the aircraft into the sky The gear progressively comes up And nice and tidy. 'This less cold than normal for Bear' comments my co-pilot, Alexandr 'Go left 10 degrees to regain track', Sergi comments. Good job I brought this autopilot as well Nice and smooth A scheduled turn to head direct for AYMD 'Nice scenery' I commented to the crew. All I received was a grunt of approval from Alexandr. Prehaps this wasn't the best of ideas However soon we are descending into Madang '95MS cleared for approach to 07. Radar has you, confirm aircraft type' 'Aircraft is type Tu-95MS Bear. Runway 07 approach' 'OK. Stop messing around. Confirm aircraft type' 'No, seriously, Tu-95 Bear. Have a look' 'Chuck, is that you?' Charming! Coming around to the airport Airport ahead - cleared to land Tower watches us nervously Touchdown but this will be a touch-and-go. Was waaaaay to far down the runway to stop. Ah well, will just make noise instead! '95MS on go around' Coming in for a more stable approach and now knowing what to do Scraping over the fence for an early touch down Everything was thrown out to help us stop And stop we did! I turned to Alexandr and noticed he was white with fear. Never before had he been in a Bear on such a short runway A three-point turn was needed to keep fuel burn down (well, we must think of the money every now and again!) Tower watches us in awe and wonders how it'll get out! And finally all stopped and out we get for some air Over to you Remmington!
  21. Welcome to sunny Weipa, epicentre of bauxite mining in Northern Australia. I'm here, looking after Seair's contract with Rio Tinto. Not the most exciting job on offer - I thankfully missed out on the MH370 scramble, last I heard was that Sam had a 'plane load of reporters to be delivered to Perth. Today, I'm taking an RTZ exec up to Skardon and then to Horn Island to pick up a Queensland Tourist Board official bound for Murray Island. And, before returning to Seair's base in Cairns, there's a package to deliver to our PNG agent at Port Moresby. Here's the plan (Thanks, Tim): Well, the RTZ exec is happily eating his peanut-butter sandwiches in back, pre flight checks are complete, so off we go: The last 2 weeks of continuous rain has changed the landscape completely - what was an arid zone, scarred with the detritus of open cast mining, has been transformed into a green and pleasant countryside: Autumn is here. To port, you can just see Wallaby Island in the distance, where I relax with a cool-box of frosties and watch the sun go down: As the Ducie River slips below, my passenger wakes up and starts to get ready to debark - RTZ's Skardon mine is just 20 miles away and we start the descent: YSKR is pretty basic - just a dirt runway in the middle of nowhere. The mine was opened up fairly recently and the railhead is still to be built. I tell the exec to belt up as the landing will be rough - hopefully he'll retain his comestibles... Just time to stretch my legs before the next hop to YHID - no canteen here, so I enjoy a nice cup of English Breakfast from my thermos. No rest for the wicked and we're on our way: Climbing away from Skardon, I select the AP and grab my iPad. I'm halfway through a course on Climate Chaos, care of the FutureLearn website. Andy, my boss, is somewhat of a sceptic on this topic - he reckons it's more to do with sunspots and CME's than anything man has done. Maybe he's right - looking down, the coast doesn't appear any different to 20 years ago and you'd be forgiven for being in denial: Another hour, and we can see Prince of Wales and Horn Island, just beyond. Time to put the 'books' away, turn off the AP and descend to YHID: We get clearance to land from the very friendly ATC and look forward to a lunchtime chat... ... Which is interrupted by the arrival of the QantasLink delivering my next customer: His name is Bob and wears shorts - the de rigeur cladding for Tourist Board types. He is also fastidious and complains loudly about the crumbs on the seats left by my previous passenger. Maybe he'll ask for the lamp shades to be changed... Whatever, he's strapped down and looking at a map as we take off: "That's Cape York over there!", he shouts - well, it's not bl**dy Cape Wrath, is it, I think. He chats about his job, which, inter alia, covers tourism in the islands in the northern part of the Coral Sea. Although he's based in Brisbane, he spends much of his time up here. "I want to see Warraber from the air - we've not developed that spot, yet", he says. I go for a low pass: Bob is anxious to land and do a walk-about, so I oblige: YWBR is short, so the approach is quite exciting: No surprise when he returns to the aircraft after a quarter of an hour, looking hot and bothered. "No chance", he comments as grabs a coke from the fridge. "The runway spoils the place - no room for a resort - b*gg*r it." So, off we go again: Murray Island is another half hour - bigger than Warraber and a real tourist magnet: The neighbouring island is quite spectacular: As is the approach: Bob is happier now that he's in a real resort and wanders off after thanking me for stopping at Warraber. I find time for snack at the cafe: And then it's off again for the last part of the flight to Port Moresby: Leaving Murray Island: Turning onto the 256 degree outbound radal of the PY VOR, for AYPY: Another 20 minutes and the weather's turning cloudy: Turning for the PRE NDB to intercept AYPY's 14L ILS: PNG is down there, somewhere. Capturing the ILS: The runway's ahead, honest! See, I told you... (Very) Short Final: And that's that! Parked up to refuel before reporting back to Cairns. Wonder where they'll want me next? Back to Weipa, of course! Thanks for joining me. See you next time... Cheers - Dai. P.S. Thanks to OrbX for Murray Island - big improvement on the default!
  22. After having the baton left for me by John in the late afternoon I thought, why not fly down through the night in something nice and slow? Depart as the sun sets and arrive as the sun rises. I spoke to the ramp hands and asked them to prepare the Diamond Katana for me, I thought it would be an ideal choice for the flight, and a welcome break from the tube liners As I was walking out to the aircraft my phone buzzed... Oh boy, here we go again. Sharon has found some fame on the reality TV show 'Air Hostesses Gone Wild' and has become quite the socialite since. As La Rochelle was more or less on my flight path (co-incidental eh?) I thought why not. Some company would be welcome. After the pre flight checks I was ready to go and begin this leg of the ATWC It was a very nice and calm day today, perfect for VFR flying.REX was working it's magic once again Our cruise altitude was only 1,500ft for this flight, which was perfect for watching the world go by below Before too long La Rochelle popped into view and we began to fly the traffic pattern Turning finals Getting down nice and low over La Rochelle A little bit to the left, easy to fix Landing After a nice and easy landing I left the ramp guys to secure the aircraft as I went to find Sharon Sharon: Hi Rob, are we ready to go? Rob: Sure, have you any bags to bring? Sharon: Yeah they are in the terminal, would you go and get them please? Off I trotted to find the baggage. Afetr finding it I needed to make a call to Joe 'Joe, we're going to need a bigger plane!' Joe told me to sit tight and he's get something sent down overnight for us. The next day.... We got to the airport nice and early and after a while heard the rumbling of what sounded like the big plane we had asked for Joe had come through again for us! I went and did the paperwork and went out to find the aircraft already prepared for flight Without wasting any more time we took to the skies The Electra is an old bird, but I felt right at home in this cockpit I took her up to 11,500ft and settled back for the cruise to Barcelona Strange shadow ..Passing over the MUT NDB aswell The Sharon threw me another curveball. She'd heard that the paparazzi were waiting for her en mass at Barcelona and asked me to divert to Girona for her so that she could escape them. Sure no problem. Landing at Girona Parked up As we went to the terminal Sharon received a phone call....... It turns out one of her co-stars had asked her to attend, and contribute, to a talk she was giving at the University of Air Hostesses in Barcelona (c'mon give me a break I'm trying to fit it into the story!). Her friend was based up in the mountains at La Cerdanya, LECD. There was no way the Electra would fit into that airport, so we arranged for Sharon's baggage to be forwarded to the university whilst we headed off the LECD in a rental Mooney Bravo This was only going to be a short flight, but I was beginning to think that the Baton was going to be going around in Spain for ages I had to make a quick climb to 9,500ft The airport is in a long valley. I thought that it would be best to get into the valley early and descend slowly. To make the flight more interesting the mountains were surrounded in cloud Although the hills were a little close for comfort Descending down the valley was tricky with this cloud cover But the scenery was still very nice The runway is out there somewhere After landing Sharon decided that she was going to spend the night there and her friend would fly them into Barcelona the next day in the Mooney (what are the chances, an air hostess with a PPL....). Which left me with the choice of drinking all night with two socialite air hostesses, or getting the baton to Barcelona the same day. Easy choice, the baton it is. Although the only other aircraft available was a DC-6 parked at the other side of the airfield (don't ask how it got there as it might ruin the continuity) The runway is very short, and the DC6 is quite big... Once over the tree it was time to get over the mountains The flight to Barcelona was a short one, before long we were being guided down to our landing, in very strong and gusty winds Lining up with these winds was hard as this is a very sluggish bird Eventually after a crazy adventure the Baton arrives at Barcelona, although the Boeing and Airbus guys are a bit bemused as to why this old war bird has arrived Here is the route of Leg 3 I'm off to put my feet up whilst Rosario gets ready to head to Gibraltar For those who are interested I'll upload the flight plan to the file library later today/tomorrow
  23. Subtitled: Never, ever let me near a FMC So word had got around that the Mutley's roadshow had hit town. President Hu Jintao had declared a public holiday and sent his men to greet us. As we were saying our goodbyes the crowds erupted into uncontrollable sobbing, I thought that they were sad to see us leave, but no, word had got around that Sharon was NOT on board. So just commencing push pack and start up I decided to let the plane fly me to the next destination. Tapping in to the FMC.. Company Route..blah blah.. SID, STAR blah :blah:! We were lucky to get this aircraft. Mr Baggins from the NZ tourist board agreed as the aircraft was due in Taiwan for a re-paint for some film or other. It's quite remote out here on the runway, it's on its own island. Just checking the route before we push the pedal to the metal! Looks easy enough to me, just starting to roll. No problem with the runway, we had hundreds of feet spare. I'm a bit surprised by this turn by the AP, oh well, she knows the way. Flaps coming up, we're still turning? NIce advertising for the airline. Now we have settled into a steady climb it's time for the first coffee of the flight. You're going the wrong way mate! Taiwan is this way, perhaps he's got an emergency and going back, strange, I didn't hear anything on the radio. Just reflecting on what I have just said, I take a look at the FMC. Hmm, that's not right, easy enough to correct. Seems to be getting late now, the moon is rising... Still not quite up to our cruising altitude, but it wont be long. Contrails starting to form and the engines are throttling back by themselves. Here we are at cruising alt. and it feels good looking at the curvature of the Earth. Now that's an odd route being plotted on the MFD? Oh dear, it dawns on me that we should have flown direct to SWA, but we have over 600 miles to go? We're turning back.. Lucky we have plenty of fuel. Having been denied a scotch, I pick the baton off the floor again! Back on a course to Macau to start again. You may recognise these islands from earlier.. Now we're cookin! Heading AWAY from the sun this time. I should have been at Songhan by now but at least an hour to go. Our friend the moon, he was trying to say something to us earlier. We're turning on the TIA VOR, that's Taiwan International below A bit of a bumpy descent through though cloud. Established and gear down Songham lies dead ahead, I fully expect Needles has gone back to his 5 star hotel room in disgust that I am so late. (He can be a such a "prima donna" sometimes!) We're down, chucking the anchor out ... That was a great landing.. For me! Very tired now, thinking of what excuse I can tell Brian. Lined up with my buddies, collecting up my notes and the baton to face the music. Actual distance flown 981nm, flight time 4hrs 21. Expected distance 471nm / 2hrs 06! Damn computers, I thought I had forgotten to program the SID but I managed to put in two, so flew the first 2 hours in search and rescue pattern for the People's Republic of China coastguard (Although I didn’t realise it at the time!) It was only when two J-15 fighter jets flanked me I realised I was starting an international incident and accused of spying! I guess you can see why from this plot they sent me. PIREP over, baton delivered, I hope you enjoyed my (mis) adventures! Cheers, see you in the bar Brian...
  24. "Must be something important", Hal commented as we headed back towards the aircraft. Midge had started the engines after the local crew had finished their checks. "And in this weather, too". The mist had come down soon after we'd finished our mid-day meal in the mess - it had looked like chicken, but that's no guarantee - and now it was raining quite hard. Both Hal and Midge had accompanied me to the afternoon briefing with the station chief. I'd hoped for a less conspicuous aircraft, but the old An-2 was out of action. The Russian built bi-plane had been captured in South Vietnam, dismantled and brought here for the odd trip across the border. Unfortunately, the fuel system was too unreliable for the flight to Dien Bien and back, so it was back to the Dizzie - and Hal. Without the cargo we'd brought in, the Old Girl fairly leapt into the air, with Hal at the controls. "Don't worry, Mate, you'll get your turn when it's my break!" He'd not been quite so sanguine at the briefing. "Let me get this straight - just drop him off as close to D.B. as I can get on this side of the frontier? At night and with this visibilty? And then get back without..." For a moment, I thought Hal would back off. It might be a tight squeeze for me to get across the border, but at least I'd have my feet on terra firma. Midge chipped in with: "Maybe some R-and-R in Saigon is coming up, eh, Boss?" Hal looked to the chief, who nodded. "Right", said Hal, nodding at me, "Take off at 16.30. Better get your feet up for some rest." We returned to the mess hall, which had some easy chairs. I left them snoozing - I needed to check out my gear. The setting sun created a rosy backdrop as Hal banked to port. Our flight plan was simply to head due north - the 100 mile leg should take roughly an hour. The Dien Bien Phu airfield was, according to Hal, relatively easy to spot, even at night, at the northern end of a cultivated valley, bounded on the west by a high ridge, which was the frontier. Hal was to keep as low as the cloud would permit - just below the tops of the hills. As the sun went down, thunderclouds crept towards us. The landscape lit up with irregular lightning flashes, revealing us as clear as if we'd been caught in a searchlight beam. "Well, at least we can read the instruments", Hal joked as the lightning lit up the cabin's interior. "Take over the controls while I take a break." Hal opened the cabin door - "Put the kettle on, Midge - and make a nice sweet one for our guest!" Below us, the jungle was dark - no lights indicating any sort of life. Well, at least there was no-one to hear us flying over their heads. Hal brought back some coffee and more egg rolls on a plate: "Midge thought you might be peckish." The thought of the parachute jump ahead had taken away any hunger I might have had for these delicacies, so I declined, yet again. He took back control and the plane rumbled on, buffeted by the occasional pocket of turbulence. After a while, an area of dim illumination appeared to starboard. "That's where you're bound, Mate - Dien Bien. Last time I was there they were filling in the trenches the Frenchies had vacated - watch out, the security's supposed to be tight." I'd given my kit to Midge after boarding, but before leaving the cockpit, I shook Hal's hand and thanked him for the ride. "No worries, Mate - and Good Luck - you're gonna need it!" Midge helped me strap on the harness and I checked the contents of the rucksack on my chest. Mustn't forget the reason for all this parlaver, I thought. Leaning out of the doorway, I looked down: The chute opened as the 'plane continued without me. The moon gave just about enough light for me to see the jungle canopy coming up and, as luck would have it, I found a clearing for landing. Heading east, up and over the ridge, wasn't easy - just the odd shaft of moonlight and the compass guiding me eastwards. Hal's positioning had been nigh-on perfect - when I reached the edge of the trees, the temple was clearly visible. Taking care not to disturb the locals, I made my way towards the airfield perimiter. The RV was at the maintenance hangar, and it looked as if they were working late. Where they'd dug up the old 2A from, I had no idea, but its headlamps flashed as I approached. "You'd have been more comfortable if you'd come with Vietnam Airlines", he joked, "But not quite as exciting, I guess." I'd experienced Guy's droll sense of humour in Hanoi on a previous occassion. "Don't like the airline food", I answered, as I handed him the container - "Look after this for us." He passed me a holdall with my change of clothes. "Make yourself respectable, they still expect their russian advisors to be reasonably dressed." I scanned the contents of the file - Dimitri Czseznovski, telecommunications engineer, born Tbilisi, etc - the usual cover. "Xotite potancevat?", I asked - "Just get in, Laddie" was Guy's answer.   That's it Folks. Hope you enjoyed the bumpy ride...   Cheers - Dai.
  25. Welcome to Leg 15 of our fourth Around The World Challenge. Today, we are flying from Chiang Mai Intl (VICC), in northern Thailand to Dien Bien Phu (VVDB), in northern Vietnam. Straightforward enough, here's the Flight Plan from Plan-G (Thanks, Tim!):   "Ah", I hear you say "What's the intermediate stop for?". Well, read on... "How many hours?" Hal was shouting above the noise of the P.W.s. I tried to ignore him, but I was still trying to get comfortable. The FC-47 instruments were different to the Dakotas I'd flown in Burma, some were the same but in the wrong position. Hal had set the flaps to one quarter - although he was in the co-pilot's seat, he was nominally PIC. When I'd met him in the briefing, he looked a bit more curdled than usual, so I had suggested I take the controls for take-off. Hal isisted that he'd be in good shape for Long Tieng. I hoped so, as I'd heard bad things about the approach. After getting our brief from the 'Major' - he'd served in Korea but now was station head in Chiang Mai - Hal led the way to the aircraft, a converted Long Beach Skytrain called 'Puff'. The engines were already running and a hand reached down from the cargo door to help me inside. Its owner introduced himself as 'Midge' - Hal's loadmaster and partner in crime. I went foraward to the cpckpit, past at least twenty oil drums, all carefully lashed in - Midge knew his job. After a very quick run through the checks with Hal, I eased the throttles forward and began the taxi:   Hal's conversation with the tower was mostly in Lanna, the local dialect - he'd clearly been in Thailand some time. Waving me straight onto the active, he gestured to the throttles - "Let's go before they change their minds...":   One final check around the cockpit - everything looked O.K.:   As We rumbled down the runway, I tried to remember how much over weight we were. At around 100 knots, the yoke started to feel a bit more responsive, but I gave it another 10 knots before pulling back. The wheels left the tarmac and we settled into a reasonable climb-rate of 500 fps. Up came the gear and, with a quick glance at Hal, in went the flaps. I'd never liked taking off with flaps and wasn't about to change habits. Hal winked at me - "Confident, eh? We'll see how you manage Long Tieng". The sun was just coming up as we turned east. Hal asked Midge if he'd make some coffee and settled back in his seat. On the plan, the NAN VOR was around 100 miles - just about an hour away. Cruise height was set at 10,000 feet, about enough to get us safely over the jungle clad hills. The rainy season had finished a month or so back, so we were hoping for reasonable visibility. Midge handed me a coffee mug. "Care for an egg roll?" He offered me a plate with several spring rolls - "Picked them up this morning - try one". I hadn't eaten breakfast - but I couldn't risk it. "Suit yourself" was his comment as he divided the rolls between Hal and himself. By the time we reached the waypoint, the thin cloud was hugging the hillsides. Hal went aft for a smoke, leaving me alone. I still wasn't sure how the day would pan out. There was no way of getting into Dien Bien by air - the North Vietnamese had that region sown up - they even shot their own aircraft down, it was said. But the mission objective was clear: contact had to be made and that was that. There had to be an opening, and that's why we were enjoying Air America's co-operation. The solution would be found at Long Tieng. Hal broke into my thoughts, "We're over the Laotian border - take her down a couple of thousand feet. Keep a heading of around 75 degrees. The flight plan said 81 degrees, not 75. "The Luang Phabang VOR's a reliable signal, we'll follow the 138 degree radial for LA20" This made sense, as the valleys now appeared all to have a neat south-westerly heading. Hal took over the controls as we intersected the radial. "Okay Mr Expert - here's your chance to shine! There's Long Tieng ahead - she's all yours!" What Hal hadn't told me was that LA20 was virtually a one-way ticket - you approached from the south east - period! Increaing the mixture back to auto-rich, I eased back on the throttles and watched the IAS reduce to 120 knots. The flaps clunked out to one quarter as Long Tieng slipped past to port. Descending to 6,000 feet and staying at 120 knots was helped when the gear came down and locked. A hard base turn to port sent the empty mugs across the cabin floor and the valley sides rushed up to meet us. More flap and a lot of rudder and we were lined up - but still a bit high. "Just fly the 'plane", I said to myself - I could feel Hal's eyes burning into me. The strip looked no wider than the DC-3's wingspan, but there was no side wind and the height seemed to bleed off well as I tried to maintain a reasonable airspeed. The thought of all that fuel behind my head certainly helped to keep me focussed. And there we were - floating over the threshold - all I needed now was a firm hand on the yoke and we'd be back on terra firma. Midge's yells of relief were plain to hear, even above the racket the gear was making over the surface of the strip and Hal leaned over and patted me on the back. "You just graduated, Son - nice going!" But it wasn't over yet, the tail did not want to drop with the amount of braking needed to slow the aircraft down. Now we were down, the runway looked longer than before, and as luck would have it, the rush became a roll and we finally were able to taxi towards the ramp. Before shutting down, Midge popped his head around the cabin door: "Almost up to Hal's standard!", he laughed "But not as exciting, eh, Hal?" As the engines stopped, I heard other noises around me - a Huey Slick was taking off from the other side of the base, and a jeep's revving announced the arrival of our de-briefing. Now for some answers... Stay tuned for Part 2. BTW, for those interested, here's the Fuel and Payload at Chiang Mai: Cheers - Dai.  
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