Well, after nearly two years away from home, 20 replacement credit cards, it was time to bring the baton home.
The final flight ended up being a crew event as no one PMd me their Skype address which was a condition of joining. No matter, We decided to make the journey using Aerosoft's An-2 Colt aka "Annushka" or "Annie" as she should have been the most technically challenging to keep in the air. We had got a few hours in her the week before so we were up for the task!
This should be one of the most picturesque flights in the ATWC7, as for the most part we will be flying with Orbx TrueEarth scenery, when we skirt around Belgium and France, we can just look the other way! I added a detour with a waypoint over Anne Frank's house so we get to take in the splendour of Amsterdam as well
The weather was forecast to be 'mixed' for Sunday, and mixed it was. At Dover the wind was be sou'westerly 11 - 23 mph, so right on our noses, we knew the going was going to be slow, there may even be a point when we start hovering or going backwards! QNH 1015, temp 14C, with a 40, rising to 70% chance of showers, humidity is set to be 88 - 94%, luckily we have those cockpit fans to keep us cool.
Total Distance 308.6 nm.
Shortest Leg - 24.1 nm.
Longest Leg - 78.4 nm.
Here's what it looked like in Plan-G (Thanks Tim)
Pilot's taking part were:
Andrew (Andrew Godden);
Tim (TimA); and
As it turned out Tim had major problems installing the An-2 so he opted to use the PA-28.
I had got up extra early to give the baton a damn good wash, it has been in contact with many dubious characters and substances to I wanted it clean before putting it into my trophy cupboard!
We line up on runway 23, Brian was in the front, with Tim just behind on the piano keys (you can hardly see him), followed by Andrew, Jess, and then me bringing up the rear:
I had an uninvited passenger, who we will call 'Gerald', he was constantly buzzing around the cockpit artfully dodging my side swipes:
Take off: as you can see, Tim is still trundling along the runway (below my nose), these Colts are a true STOL aircraft!
We enjoyed some great scenery along the way, this is about 9nm into our flight as we are heading directly to Amsterdam:
I seemed to cruising along nicely, chatting to Gerald:
...when my engine seized, much to the hilarity of the other pilots. I headed for an open space where I took the maintenance option and made her well again:
Having passed Amsterdam Centrall train station, I took my first (planned) turn towards Midden-Zeeland [EHMZ], notice the guys didn't wait for me!
Now crossing over the channel which connects the city of Rotterdam to its port:
We cross many islands, presently over Schouwen-Duiveland, all looking very green and natural:
Our next airfield in sight, we follow the Zeelandbrug, at 5022 metres, its the longest bridge in the Netherlands:
We made short work of our touch and go at Midden-Zeeland and press on to the coast and Belgium:
The constant droning of the engine had got to Gerald:
Teaming up with Brian for a while:
8 miles out from Calais and our turn across the English Channel:
Good old Blighty, I can hear Vera Lynn singing in the distance!
The harbour at Dover off our port wing:
Arrhhhh! With all the fumes, Gerald has turned into a Facehugger
Undaunted, I caved the baton into my face rendering dear old Gerald... deceased. We carry on - lined up to go under the Dartford Crossing, I'm not paying any toll!
London City ahead, our penultimate airport, will it be me or Andrew in first?
Haha! it was me:
All the crew were suffering low frame rates as we departed London:
13:40 I think that's Guilford ahead, no doubt JG is still in bed!
Andrew, somewhere in Surrey performing some maintenance (like a new engine!)
Jess leading the way over the A31 heading towards Winchester:
Eight miles out, the M3 below, I turn onto the runway heading, about 7 minutes to land!
Short final - I called ahead to get the Champers on ice:
And then one by one the crew all safely touch down, Tim, then Jess, then Brian followed up by Andrew:
We gather on the grass, they didn't want all our oil spoiling their apron!
This was the best line up we could manage after a tiring flight!
Welcome home to the baton, and thanks to all our intrepid pilots playing their part in this wonderful challenge. Aircraft: Octopus An-2 published by Aerosoft (Tim in Ai PA28) Scenery: Orbx throughout, TrueEarth Netherlands and England, Southampton EGHI, OpenLC Europe and VECTORs WX: Clouds by REX Sky Force, weather by Active Sky P4 Route planner: Plan-G Multiplayer client: JoinFS