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  1. After a fortifying coffee I decided to have a quick look around Lukla before loading back into the Spartan with Flores to head on to Paro. Met this nice chap who gave me some tips on mountain photography. Here he is here without his jaunty green cap he'd just taken off for the photo. Got a few nice shots and thought I'd return to the bird with some warm goats milk for Flores. Only one problem... SHIT. Where's the bloody plane??? It was then I got a txt message from Flores who was apparently stuck in the Spartan as it was being towed back to Kathmandu for "extended parking in a 15min zone". So that's what that sign was for.... Told Flores to sit tight, I'd get it sorted out once I got to Paro with the baton, I couldn't come back and get her as I was already running late. Thank fully a quick call to HQ and I was able to "commandeer" the fresh new Tara Air Twin Otter sitting on the apron. Quick run through the check list and it's down the runway and off!! And what a view of the mountains we had! Since I only had the twotter, I didn't want to fly right over Everest so this is as close as I got. At this point I was at about FL210 and the DHC-6 was starting to really struggle in the thin air. We only JUST made it through this pass into the valley below And a whole lot of this for miles and miles. Eventually I crossed out of the mountains and back into the plains around VEBD where I had to drop off the Otter and procure another ride. And WOW, what a ride! Had a guy meet me at the terminal who, funnily enough, had the same green cap my friend in Lukla had. Oh well he said that this plane had to be delivered to her new owner in Paro and if I knew anyone that could fly her there. I certainly wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to fly a DC-3. Even a cheap Russian knock-off. Making the turn at VE44 heading north to the PRO VOR. Some amazing rivers flowing out of the mountains into this area. This was not going to be an easy trip, short though it might have been. To make matters worse, the camera broke during landing so I can't even show you how pretty Paro was once I (eventually) landed. Wonder if I can claim that on expenses.... Anyway, time to try find Jess in the lounge somewhere I guess and hope she didn't get too board waiting for the damn rookiee to show up! Sim Details X-Plane 11 FSRealWX for weather injection (real world) UnRealistic Carolina Blue Skys Ortho4XP RWDesigns DHC-6 Twin Otter VSkyLabs DC-3 Project AFL LI-2 CCCP 63885 livery
  2. When I first started here I saw the number of pilots running the MEBAR and other rallys with the DC-3 and wondered to myself, why are they all flying the DC-3? What's so special? Now I know. Just spent the last couple hours watching docos on YouTube about this not only incredible and stoic but GORGEOUS bird.
  3. 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.
  4. Here's a new 20 mission pack for FSX Steam Edition - Cargo Crew. Developed by Jane Whittaker of PC Pilot, it features the venerable DC-3: http://store.steampowered.com/app/343959/ FSX and P-3D versions coming soon... Cheers - Dai'
  5. Welcome aboard for Leg 4 of MEBAR 2015. We fly from Palonegro Intl (SKBG), Bucaramanga, to San Bernardo (SKMP), Mompos - a distance of around 240 nm. This Leg is 'blind', which adds to the excitement! Here's the Flight Plan in Plan-G (Thanks Tim): It's raining here at Palonegro as we take off at 7 am: Here's the sun coming up over the northern Andes: Our first waypoint, Hacaritama (SKAG), where we turn east: Now, we're established on the 101 deg in-bound radial for the LFA VOR: And soon we've arrived at Aguas Claras (SKOC) for a Full Stop. Here we're on Long Final: Steaming wheels as we stop at Aguas Claras: Flying back over SKOC and established on the 72 deg IBR for the STB VOR: Downwind on the circuit at Tibu (SKTB), preparing for our 2nd T&G: Base Turn: And another contact with the ground at Tibu: Leaving SKTB on the 293 IBR for the ELB VOR: That's Las Flores airport (SKBC), with the ELB VOR: And here's our destination, San Bernardo (SKMP), Santa Cruz de Mompos - joining the circuit: Base turn SKMP: Landing at San Bernardo: A wet but uneventful flight - no tight corners this time! Hope you enjoyed it... Cheers - Dai.
  6. We're almost halfway - this is Leg 3 of MEBAR 2015, from Medellin (SKMD) to Bucaramanga (SKBG). Only one dog-leg, this time! Here's the Flight Plan in Plan-G (Thanks yet again, Tim!): Another beautiful, sunny day, here in Colombia as we take off: We've passed the Medellin LI NDB, and here we're establishing the 80 deg OBR from the RNG VOR: Over Puerto Nare (SKPN): And that's Cimitarra (SKCM) - still on the 80 deg OBR: Malaga - SKLA not the famous one! - is around here somewhere: Ah! There it is, tucked into the hillside, tidy like (!): Short(ish) Final to SKLA): And leaving Malaga: We've avoided the high ground and are re-establishing the 80 deg OBR, yet again: Joining the circuit at Saravena (SKSA): "Hello and Goodbye" at Los Colonizadores (SKSA): That's Palonegro (SKBG) ahead: Joining the circuit: Base Turn at SKBG: A bit of a cross wind, to liven up the landing: And so we've got to Bucaramanga in one piece - more by luck than good judgement. Another MEBAR Leg under our belts! Thanks for joining us. An exciting 'blind' Leg next... Cheers - Dai.
  7. This is where things get interesting, MEBAR 2015 Leg 2, from La Nubia (SKMZ) to Olaya Herrera (SKMD), and the first of 2 'blind' Legs where we're not told the Target Time in advance. Not that it makes much difference! Here's the interpretation of Andrew's Flight Briefing in Plan-G (Thanks again, Tim!): It's a nice sunny day as we take off at La Nubia: Turning north east to intercept the 76 deg in-bound radial for the MQU VOR: Turning at MQU for SKPQ: German Olano AB (SKPQ) ahead: A quick T&G and we're away: That's Furatena (SKFR) ahead, where we'll turn westwards: Turning at the UIB VOR for SKBS: That's Jose Celestino Mutis (SKBS) ahead: Long Final at SKBS: Here we're turning off the 97 deg IBR of RNG VOR at Concordia towards Medellin and SKMD: And that's SKMD ahead: SKMD approach: Long Final SKMD: A straightforward landing (Ha! - no screenshot) and the Leg is over. Thanks for joining me - see you for Leg 3... CHeers - Dai.
  8. Well, here we are again, thanks to Andrew and Joe. Well done Sirs! The first MEBAR Leg sees us start at Eldorado Intl, Bogota. Today we fly to La Nubia SKMZ. Here's the Plan-G Flight Plan (Thanks Tim!): Leaving SKBO: A quick T&G at Melgar AB (SKME): Turn at Wpt 2, the confluence of the Rio Magdalena and Rio Saldana Turning towards SKCL: Turning again at VOR ULQ (SKUL): Long Final at San Marino SK54: That's SKPE ahead: And our destination, La Nubia SKMZ ahead: Base Turn, SKMZ: Long Final: Touch down at La Nubia: An interesting flight - up and down, as usual - and reasonably close to the Target Time. Cheers - Dai.
  9. Here's another short video using the Isola d' Elba photo-real scenery from http://blogfsx.forumfree.it/ . This time I'm back in the old Dizzie in Air Atlantique colours: Yes, the starboard engine cutting out made the landing a bit more exciting, but I hope you enjoyed the short trip around the island! Cheers - Dai.
  10. 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.
  11. MEBAR 2014 Leg 05: Baldoon to Inverness. Sad to say, this is the last Leg of this year's MEBAR. Today, we fly from Baldoon, in the south west of Scotland, back up to Inverness, where we started. Andrew has included a few castles on this trip, as well as a number of light-houses, so let's see what Tim has made of the briefing: It's another lovely afternoon as we take off: This is Southerness, where we turn north west: This is our first Loch, at Earlstown: As we go further north west, we come to another Loch, this time it's Loch Dungeon: Turning north east at Loch Enoch: Reaching the west coast over (ex RAF) Turnberry: Our first Touch and Go is coming up at Prestwick - base turn: Grabbing the ILS: And a quick T&G: Climbing again and returning over Prestwick: This is Goat's Fell, where one of RAF Turnberry's Armstrong Whitworth Argosy's crashed in WWII: Up the coast to turn at Gloch: Our second Touch and Go will be at North Connel: Base leg at EGEO: A nice and tidy T&G (For once!-Ed): Passing the high point of Sgor Chalum: Turning at Inverlochy castle with Fort William ahead: And that's Ben Nevis: I shouted Brian's name as we passed his cottage, but I don't think he heard me: Soon, we're back at Inverness: And we have the luxury of another ILS at EGPE: Returning to earth for the last time on MEBER 2014: "And what about a light-house?", I hear you shout - well, here's a postcard I found in an antique shop in Inverness, showing a fly-past when the Royal Flying Corps were stationed at Turnberry: And That's It, Folks! Thanks for joining me - See you next year! Cheers - Dai.
  12. Finish that coffee – we're off! Leg 4 of MEBAR 2014 takes us from Glenforsa, on the Isle of Mull, to Baldoon, which is on the Scottish mainland, south of Wigtown. Getting inside Andrew's mind hasn't been easy, but a few hours with Tim's Plan-G resulted in the following flight plan: It's 09:30 and the sun is shining as we take off: Gaining altitude along the Sound of Mull (Bag-pipes? - Ed): A steep turn to the south west at Eilean Musdile: And we bag our second light-house of MEBAR 2014 at Dubh Artach: This is Rhuba a Mhail, the north easterly tip of Islay, where we turn south west, again: Turning east at the Rhinns of Islay: And that's Islay airfield (EGPI) ahead, where we'll try a Touch and Go: Turning onto Final at EGPI: Shee-yit! That's some cross-wind – will we make it? Apparently, we did! Here we're resuming our flight south east, with Islay's T&G behind: Turning at Cambeltown (EGEC): Ah! The Mull of Kintyre! (More bl**dy bag-pipes? - Ed), turning east: Out to sea and turning northwards at Sanda: This is another island, Du-Bharr, where we turn towards Prestwick: The islands get smaller – this is Pladda, turning south: Passing the home of Scottish potatoes – Eilsa Craig: Labdfall on the mainland, yet again, where we turn at Corsewall: Our second Touch and Go is at West Freugh (Pardon? - Ed): Base turn at EGOY: Touchdown... … and climb out from West er, EGOY: Our last turn at Carrickcarlin Point: That's (ex RAF) Baldoon ahead: Turning onto Final at UK09: Yes, I know, we're a bit low, but we're almost out of gas (Who forgot to re-fuel at Islay? - Ed): But we do hit the numbers: So, 4 down and 1 to go – hope you enjoyed the island hopping and see you next time for the last leg. Cheers – Dai.
  13. Welcome aboard for Leg 3 of MEBAR 2014. Today, we're flying from Stornoway on Lewis, south to Glenforsa on the Isle of Mull. “Simples”, I hear you say – well, not quite. Here's Tim's interpretation of Andrew's flight briefing: The ministry said sunny, but they got ot wrong – it's p*ss*ng down as we take off: The plan takes us westward, out to sea to Eilean Mor, where we turn back... … over south Lewis (or the Isle of Harris, as some maps say): This is Scalpay and we turn south west: Passing Weaver's Point: And head out to sea again to visit the Monarch Islands: Back to Benbecula (EGPL), where we'll try for our first Touch and Go: Bit left of the centre line, thanks to the cross wind (Ha! - Ed), and a quick bounce... Turning south again at Ushenish: Over Barra – yes, that is Barra as far as FSX is concerned, anyway! Must be low tide... Turning south east at Barra Head: And turning north east over Skerryvore: Here's Tyree (EGPU), our second Touch and Go candidate: Base Leg at EGPU: Making another splash – magic! Changing course at Hyskeir: And turnin west, again, at Loch Harport, famous for its farmed salmon: Turning north east at Neist Point, the westernmost part of Skye: Passing Waternish Point: And we make landfall at Rhua Rheid, on the Scottish mainland, to turn south: This is South Rona: And this is Ornsay: Nearly there now (!) - passing Ardnamurcha: And this is Tobermory: Our destination – Glenforsa (ULL): Long Final for ULL: And we're down: Only 10 minutes early, this Leg – an improvement! And a battle against the elements is over – until, possibly, Leg 4. Hope you enjoyed the rather bumpy ride – and Thanks for joining us! Cheers – Dai.
  14. MEBAR 2014 Leg 2: Scatsta to Stornoway With this Leg, Andrew's briefing returns us to the Scottish mainland, where we head westwards toward the Outer Hebrides – here's the flight plan (Thanks, Tim): After taking off from runway 6, we return over Scatsta, to head SSW: Saying 'Goodbye' to the Shetlands as we pass Sumburgh Head: A half an we make landfall at North Ronaldsay: And that's Papa Westray (EGEP) ahead, where we'll make a Touch-and-Go: Descending over Westray (EGEW), joint holder of the shortest scheduled flight in the world (with guess who?!?): Long Final at EGEP: A quick T&G: On westwards to the turn at Noup Head: Here's the Brough (fort in the Gaelic) of Birsay: Passing Graemsay – over the Low Hoy: This is Ward Hill, the highest point on Hoy: Turning at Cantick Head, the most northerly tip of the Scottish mainland: Turning north (WT*?) at Dunnets Head – chasing silkies: And we bag out very first lighthouse at Sule Skerry: Back to Cape Wrath, looking extremely serene, for once: Another sharp turn north westwards at Stoer Head: And we reach the Buttt of Lewis and turn south, again: That's Stornoway ahead: Plenty of choice at EGPO – wind is 73 deg, so... … we'll plump for 07 after this Base Leg: Long Final: And we're down: So, another MEBAR leg under our belt. Hope you enjoyed the flight despite the default! Join me again, soon. Cheers – Dai.
  15. MEBAR 2014 Leg 01: Well, better late than never! After 3 weeks of painting the house, I finally dragged the Old Girl (sorry, not you, Pam!) out of the hangar and cleared out the worst of the sheep droppings. Stuck some new letters on the fuselage, and we were ready. Tim kindly gave me the latest version of Plan-G and, 48 hours later, we had decoded Andrew's briefing and the flight plan was finished: As you can see from the flight plan, it's one of Andrew's masterpieces. Looks like we'll be visiting every rocky island between Inverness and the Shetlands. As always, there's method in his madness, so we'd better get on with it and find out... Oh, yes - the screenshots are not pretty! The flight was VFR, with the aid of Tim's plan and so all the shots are external so that you get an idea of where we went. The weather at Inverness was unusually fine as we took off: First turn at Chanonry Point on Rosemarkie Bay: We couldn't find Castle Hill (default scenery - Aarghh!), but did see Fearn airfield: Next turn was at Tarbat Ness: Then, on to Wick airport: Ah Ha! John o' Groats with Cape Wrath in the far west: A sharp turn at Stroma: And another over Muckle Skerry (also missing from the bl**dy default scenery): Next up is Copinsay: Then Auskerry: Here we turn at Start Point: And approach the Fair Isle: Long final to EGEF: And our first Touch-and-Go: Turning again after a circuit of Fair Isle: That's Sumburgh airport: After which we turn towards Tingwall: Where we turn again: This is Bound Skerry, Bruray (note spelling): The second Touch-and-Go at Unst: Turning at Muckle Flugga (sic) and the most northerly point of this year's MEBAR, I think: Last turn (Hurrah! - Ed) at Eshaness: That's Scatsta airfield ahead: Base leg at Scatsta: And Short Final: So, my friends, that's Leg 1 in the bag. I was 20 minutes early, for my sins, so I won't get the bottle of champagne this time! But I do hope you enjoyed the flight and all the splendid (Not! - Ed) screenshots. Join me again... Cheers - Dai.
  16. Just a few screenshots from the DC-3 Airways World Rally made into a video montage: The rally was a typical Norm Hancock mixture of bad weather, cross-wind landings and tortuous flight plans coupled with some buzzing around the landmarks of NYC. Great fun - hope you enjoy the video. CHeers - Dai.
  17. Quickmarch


    I mis-spent a few hours this afternoon messing about with 2D panels for the DC-3. I went looking for a suitable DC-3 for the 2014 GAAR and couldn't find anything I really liked. I like the stock DC-3 the best but it is woefully inadequate in the instrumentation department. I'm not one to suffer for the sake of nostalgia. Heck, there isn't a DC-3 flying today with the original panel in place. All of the panels include the GAAR timer in the right hand side of the panel. They all have a pop-up Garmin 500 except as noted below. ADF's are tuned with the stock radio pop-up. VOR's can be tuned either with the stock pop-up or on the NavComm(s) on the panel. There is a tiny little button on the left hand side of the panel to choose between GPS or Nav (no annunciator). Note that this is not all my work. Others have contributed some of the ideas, some code, some instruments, etc. All has been lifted from the public domain, however, if I've stepped on someones toes, I'll be the first to apologize. Number 1 - pretty much stock but with a radio stack on the panel Number 2 - Same as above but with dual ADF Number 3 - Slight variation with single ADF and VOR/ILS - note there is only a single NavComm on the panel because I put an ADF tuning head in place of the second NavComm. this panel and the rest of them have the Cessna Stopwatch/clock incorporated into the left hand panel. Number 4 - Getting a bit more sophisticated with HSI and second VOR, an ADF and a Garmin 295 in the panel. There is also a pop-up 295 that makes it easier to manipulate. Then there's number 5 - with all the bells and whistles. HSI, second VOR, dual ADF's, Garmin 295. There you have it. If anyone is interested let me know and I'll arrange to get the code to you.
  18. For the second leg of the DCA WR, we're in 'darkest Peru', so have your marmalade sandwiches ready! We fly from Pampa Grande (SPJB) south to Comandante FAP Germán Arias Graziani Airport (SPHZ). From the flight plan (Thanks, Tim), it looks fairly straightforward: Take off from Pampa Grande: Turning onto the TRU VOR (Trujillo) radial: An unusual navigation direction from Norm: "Head to the right of that sharp peak in the distance" - plenty of choice, I'm afraid! That's "Pico de Diamante" to starboard: Turning south east, up the valley: Picking up the ATA NDB (SPHZ): And that's our destination, ahead, if you look carefully: Just over the hill for Long Final: There's a bit of a cross wind on Short Final: My right foot is on the floor for this one! Hope we make it: Well, we did make it - only just. Thanks for the sting in the tail, Norm! As I said, pretty straightforward apart from the crosswind. Hope you enjoyed the flight and Thanks for joining me. Cheers - Dai.
  19. Here we go again with the DC Airways World Rally for 2013. Leg 1 is from Charles de Gaulle (LFPG) to Aix les Bains (LFLB), which is in south east France. Here's the Flight Plan (Thanks, Tim!): Just a few screenshots - LFPG Take Off: Leaving Charles de Gaulle: Turn at DJL VOR (Dijon): That's the Alpes ahead: Passing the Rhone: Turning towards Aix les Bains at St Claude: Picking up the ILS on approach to LFLB: Long Final to runway 18 at Aix les Bains: Touch Down: Hopefully I'll post the other Legs - Thanks for watching... Cheers - Dai.
  20. "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.
  21. 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.  
  22. The fourth World Rally flight is another late afternoon flight, this time in Norway, and is mostly navigation by NDB with some VOR. The route first takes us in a North Easterly direction and eventually North West to terminate at Leirin, Norway. The distance is about 190nm and flight time will be approximately one-hour and twenty minutes. This is a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flight, so keep those eyes open! Here's the Flight Plan from Plan-G (Thanks Tim!): It's a wet, windy day at Torp - but visibility is good. Here we are, stowing the gear: Turning towards our first waypoint, the DA NDB: Intercepting the 027 Radial from the TOR VOR: As we fly up Oslofjiord, we find the new bridge which has replaced the famous tunnel. At the end f Oslofjord is - Oslo: TURNING North at the SOL NDB: And here's Oslos main airprtat Gardermoen: Turning north-west at th MES VOR: Turning south-west off the MES 283 radial and watching the ADF needle tuned to theLL NDB: Tracking the 148 radial inbound for ENFG: Long Final - a little high, maybe: Short Final and... ... we're down: Well that's Leg 4 - almost half-way. See you next time - Thanks for joining me! Cheers - Dai.
  23. The third World Rally flight begins late afternoon in South Africa. and is almost exclusively navigation by NDB. The route is South Westerly from Retief and will terminate at Ficksburg, both cities in South Africa. The distance is about 245nm and flight time will be approximately one-hour and forty minutes. This is a VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flight and here's the Flight Plan courtesy of Tim Arnott's Plan-G (Version 3 - so no contour shading): Here we are, taking off on a lovely sunny afternoon from Retief: First turn at the VHD NDB: Turning west at the HS NDB: That's Bethlem by the lake - turning south: Starting the descent to Ficksberg: Over our destination airport and about to enter the circuit: Base turn: Long Final: Short Final: And landed safely in the sunset. Time for a cuppa! Apologies if the flight wasn't as exciting as maybe you'd like, but enjoyable for all that! Cheers - Dai.
  24. The second World Rally flight begins in the dawn light at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, and is a mixture of NDB and VOR navigation following a North Easterly route terminating at Tingwall in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The distance is about 234nm and flight time will be approximately one-hour and forty minutes. Here's the Plan-G Flight Plan (Thanks Tim): Sun coming up as we take off from Stornoway: Turning east at the first waypoint: Over the mainland of Scotland, turning at the second waypoint: Heading north from John-O-Groats, bound for the Inner Hebrides: This is Kirkwall, turning for the Outer Hebrides: After 70 miles of sea, we're at Sumburgh and heading north again: Lerwick in sight and gear going down: Long Final: And safely down at Tingwall, Lerwick. Hope you enjoyed this pleasant flight along the north coast of Bonnie Scotland! Cheers - Dai.
  25. The first Leg of the DCA World Rally begins at Bandirma AB on the southern coast of The Marmara Sea in Turkey and traces the coastline east to the end of the lake. From there it becomes an NDB/VOR navigation flight to the north and then west to Corlu AB on the northern coast. The Marmara Sea connects the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea and separates Asian Turkey from European Turkey. The distance is about 165nm and flight time is around seventy minutes. Here's the flight plan - Thanks, Tim! Here we are, taking off from Bandirma AB and stowing the gear: Turning east at the coast of the Marmara Sea: Turning again, inland at Waypoint 1: Second Waypoint - turning north towards the Istanbul area: This is Sabiha Gokcen Intl, just east of Istanbul: The Bosporus, with Constantinople on the west and Istanbul, the east: Istanbul Ataturk Intl Airport: My co-pilot took this with his mobile at Lake Buyukcekmece - we're still not sure what it is... Turning onto the Left Circuit at Corlu AB: Long final: Dropping down on the nubers for runway 23 at Corlu: Nice and easy - the calm before the storm, possibly? Hope you enjoyed the flight - more WR2012 Legs to come. Cheers - Dai.
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