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Jess-b

Leg 19 Songhan (RCSS) to Gimpo Intl (RKSS)

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It's never easy filling in for a downed pilot. With Brian out of action, I stepped in to fly his leg of the ATWC. Before I knew it, I found myself on a late night flight to Honk Kong from London, with a connecting flight on from there to Taiwan. As much as I love to fly, a late night flight is my least favourite especially in economy. (Whist the hangar of course covers our traveling expenses, Y is the best i could hope for.) By the time I arrived at Songhan, I was tired, it was the middle of the afternoon and all i wanted to do was grab a meal and hit the hay.

A night in a hotel left me feeling much better, and as i chewed through breakfast, I took the time to think about my aircraft choice for this leg. My initial instincts were to fly the very nice, and very capable Epic LT Dynasty. But given my location and the troubles between Taiwan and China, I thought better of it. Instead I choose an aircraft that is more than at home in the Orient, The undisputed Queen of the skies, The Boeing 747-400F. I picked a freighter because Asia is full of 747F's. The other thing i decided, what with me still feeling jet lagged from the journey, was to adopt an old Aeroflot pilot trick of staying on my own countries time. So when i arrived at the airport at 15.30 local, it would be 07.30UTC and just about my breakfast time. In the mean time i polished off breakfast and went back to my room for a nap

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By 1500, I was on my way to the airport, and as I got through security and out to the aircraft, I was struck by how big the 747 is. Parked out next to the fueling station, the Queen was dwarfing all nearby aircraft. I don't think Songhan gets to see many 747's. Never the less, I get into the cockpit and begin the pre-flight checks. It's been a while since i'd flown the 747 and that explained why I failed to get the IRS aligned properly the first time. It also explained why i had trouble getting the engines running.

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But within half an hour, I completed the checklists, received my clearance and was ready to push back. As I moved slowly back, behind me a MD-80 sneaked in front of me to be first in a short queue of traffic for takeoff. Feeling slightly disrespected, I taxied up behind as closely as I dared to intimidate the little tyke. He was having none of it however.

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As he taxied into position on runway 10, i ran the last of the takeoff checklist items and waited my turn. As the MD-80 soared away I taxied into position, held the brakes and waited for clearance the moment it came, i advanced the throttles and the 4 engines roared into life and started to throw me down the runway

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. As I was running light on this flight (800 miles is small potatoes to a 747), I had the flaps set to 10 and my VR speed came up quickly. I was in the air before I reached two thirds and by the time the threshold passed underneath, I was already approaching 1000 ft. I flicked on 'George' to take over the flying duties and settled in for a long flight.

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Sipping a coffee, i watched as the island of Taiwan disappeared to be replaced with water for the next 600 miles. Our initial climb took us up to FL330 but a strong headwind was causing far to many bumps for the cargo in the back so I requested FL390 to try and climb above the chop. ATC who cleared us up to FL390. From there my new Korean friend and I settled in for a quiet flight. The weather was still a little bouncy up here, but much more manageable for all concerned. With the flight out to sea, China on the left and Japan on the right, there was nothing else to do than monitor systems and drink more coffee.

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Outside though, night was falling and as we crossed over the southern point of South Korea, night had more or less fallen.

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It was nice to see other aircraft around us again, as the ocean crossing had been terribly quiet and lonely. It wasn't long before our descent began and as we sank lower, I could make out various towns and cities. There really is nothing like flying at night.

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Passing 16000 we got our vectors to runway 14R along with several other aircraft. it was only as we descended to 10000 feet that we began to encounter cloud. ATIS told me it was cold outside with temperatures in minus figures at Gimpo, along with low cloud and reduced visibility. Fortunately, the 747 can handle anything.

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As we took the last turn onto the ILS it was clear the visibility was going to be low, but it wasn't long before the threshold lights blinked into view and I followed a Dash-8 in to land at GImpo intl.

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With the flight over and the aircraft parked up at the gate,I took a deep breath and headed for a cup of coffee and to pass on the baton to Marcel. I had a flight to catch myself. From here I headed out to Tokyo for a few days rest, whist Marcel flew the baton on to Sapporo on Hokkaido. I'd meet up with him in a few days. For now, I had a bar i wanted to visit in Tokyo near Ueno Park. Feel free to join me if your in town.

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I have to respect your stamina Jess. You put us old timers to shame!

You are flying the ATWC like a veteran, an excellent account of your flight Captain.

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Great shots Jess.

Totally agree with Kieran on the sunset shot, just beautiful..

And thanks for stepping in with such short notice.

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well.. it's a short 900 nm hop.. go for the Katana ;)

But you better start now if you want to be done in time ;)

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Katana! Lol. It's good for about 500nm but since fsx has little data for ths area, stopping for gas may be an issue. Lol

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Well, judging by google earth up to date data in FSX wouldn't help you that much anyway...

Can only find one airport along that line of volcanic islands that goes all the way from Hokkaido up to the Kamchatka Peninsula.. and that one is just of the east coast of Hokkaido anyway....

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Guessing it's a small aircraft that Katana. AirHauler's wonderful map is telling me the closest airport between Petropavlovsk-kamchatskiy is still Japanese - RJCN - although UHSS may scrape a bit closer. You can always use some of Joe's infinite funds to buy a 50-gallon tank and store it in the passenger seat, that might get you a bit further. Try playing around with the configuration a bit. Both airports I mentioned are over 8000ft, so if you are overweight you won't run out of runway. Good luck!

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Well, a 50-gallon tank will fill up the Katana two or three times depending on if your talking UK or US gallons ;)

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