A Circuitous Circumnavigation in the TBM 930

After over six months of heartaches and tribulations trying to get to the bottom of my CTD issues I finally seem to have a stable platform on which to conduct my second grand tour. The first was following the old Imperial Airways route from England to India in the TBM 930 and is covered in a thread elsewhere in this forum.

The TBM seems ideally suited to a long term project and so I have decided to repaint the old bird and set off to circumnavigate the globe with one or two provisos.

I am going to be using the TBM 930 with the flight improvement mod from Mugz and the improved G3000 mod from Working Title. The paint job is courtesy of Thermo69.

The trip is going to be flown using real world weather and the route will be dependent on this to some degree however I will be required to cross the Tropic of Capricorn three times, in Africa, South America and Australasia in order to to extend the overall project. I will set off from Carlisle (EGNC) and travel west to east in order to hopefully take advantage of prevailing winds. I have no firm idea of the route at this stage although initially I will fly south towards South Africa before turning back north towards the horn of Africa, crossing over into the Arabian peninsular, over to India, Malaysia, Indonesia and into Australia before turning back north up the Pacific coast of Asia. At some point I will cross over to North America, south through Central America in to South America, back through the Caribbean, up the east coast of the USA and then a trans Atlantic crossing back home.

Navigraph is installed and each leg will be planned via the in game World map unless I find myself running into navigation problems. Prior to flight planning I will obtain the wind data at the destination airport using SkyVector in order to plan the arrival however if ATIS information suggests otherwise this will be adjusted while en route. All flights will be flown IFR.

The first leg is a short hop down to Shoreham (EGKA) on the south coast. Subsequent legs may be of similar lengths or longer depending on the time available.

Skyvector suggested winds of 4kts from 350 at Shoreham which proved fairly accurate as it turned out so my planned arrival into Rwy 02 using the RNAV approach went smoothly. I should also add that using the default ATC also provided reasonable altitude change instructions. Obviously, moving forward I am prepared to disregard ATC if they begin to get a bit flakey.

Carlisle was renamed Carlisle and Lake District Airport in 2018. Since May 2009, the airport has been owned by the Esken group on a 150-year lease, expiring 2151. Between December 2014 and September 2015, a £12 million freight distribution centre was built on the south-eastern corner of the site, which is now leased to Eddie Stobart Logistics. Stobart Group also intended to build a further warehousing and distribution hub from 2017 on land adjacent to the freight distribution centre. After financial assistance from the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, there were plans for passenger flights from June 2018 to major tourism and business hubs including London, Dublin and Belfast but the target date was postponed. On 4 July 2019 the new terminal was officially opened, and the first scheduled passenger flights since 1993 were commenced by Loganair to London Southend, Belfast City and Dublin airports. Due to the current COVID-19 epidemic the Carlisle & Lake District Airport was closed as from the 1st of April 2020 until further notice.

As you can see the weather for the first leg of this mammoth project was perfect with the Lake District resplendent before a layer of low level broken clouds obscured much of the trip south over England. The RNAV approach worked perfectly although the glidepath bug is a little borked on the G3000. Autopilot flies the approach perfectly although the bug is all over the place. The only other bug or “feature” encountered were the landing lights which are far too bright in daylight and illuminate as if it is dark.

The leg from Carlisle to Shoreham took 1:01:27 according to my log book, turning out to be a perfect length for the first trip. The next leg will be south down the west coast of France, heading for the Iberian peninsular with the destination as yet undecided.

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Nice. I once did one of the Blue Spruces routes across the Atlantic from east to west in the TBM. The researching, planning and execution were a lot of fun.

This was quite inspirational at the time.

https://code7700.com/blue_spruce_routes.htm

Job and time didn’t permit to extent it further … so have fun.

I am also a TBM fan and will try a RTW trip soon :slight_smile:

Hello, what a fantastic project !
six months ago I did transatlantic TBM flights just as delivery flights from LFBT ( where TBM is made) to KBGR.
Steps: LFBT-EGPC-BIRK-CYFB-KBGR
A very pleasant and funny experience. You have to take in account very special weather…
I will probably try soon as you the same trip

Day 2. There had been a degree of forward planning overnight, which is always nice when you’re flying an aircraft solo around the world. It was decided that we wanted to visit Ibiza on the way south and check in at Gibraltar before leaving Europe. Therefore in an effort to split up the trip to the Balearics we decided to make for Bergerac in the Dordogne, perhaps stocking up on a few cases of wine for our visit to Ibiza. Bergerac Dordogne Périgord Airport (LFBE) was the airport selected so it looked like France, here we come.

We awoke to find ourselves at Shoreham Airport, official titled Brighton City Airport these days, situated on the south coast of England, near Lancing in West Sussex. Founded in 1910, it is the oldest airport in the UK and the oldest purpose-built commercial airport in the world still in operation. The first aviator to fly there was Harold H. Piffard in 1910 and a memorial garden celebrates his flight. The aerodrome was officially opened on 20 June 1911 and the first flying school opened in 1913.

Shoreham was occupied by the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War and by Coastal Command during the Second World War. The landing area was entirely grass until a tarmac runway was built in 1981.

We took off early in the morning as we were expecting some unpleasant weather creeping in at our destination later.

The weather was perfect as we left the shores of dear old Blighty, the offshore windmills seemed to be waving us on our way.

As we travelled south we had a following wind which allowed us to make good progress although as we hit central France the clouds soon bubbled up and it soon became unbroken overcast up to 6,000ft. Nearing our destination at Bergerac ATC instructed us to descend to our approach altitude of 2,500ft which barely saw us out of the clouds. We could see the ground below us but the view forward was barely a mile. Things weren’t looking great. We had filed for the RNAV approach into Rwy 27 which had stated minimums of just under 600ft. We hurriedly appraised ourselves of the missed approach procedure which involved climbing out on runway heading before turning left and back on ourselves, almost like a traffic pattern, back up to 2,500ft. Rain was pelting the windshield as we tracked the altitude bug on approach. 2,000ft, nothing. 1,500ft even less nothing. 1,000ft there! No wait, it’s gone again. 800ft and I was getting ready to call missed and go around. 600ft, literally on minimums the runway came into sight and stayed there. Fortunately what wind there was was straight in our faces at 5kts, just as SkyVector had forecast.

The landing was as clean as you like although the torrential rain sent a rooster tail off behind G-MOLY as we kissed the runway. This has to have been one of the most intense landings I’ve ever had in MSFS. If this had been real life I would probably have called missed way before minimums, although to be fair the weather didn’t look as if it was likely to clear up any time soon. In reality I would have had to probably divert.

Overall the flight took 1:24.57 from takeoff to touchdown.

Europe’s party island beckons. Now to fill up on the finest wines available to humanity.

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Day 3. Whoa! We’re going to Ibiza! Back to the islands. Whoa! We’re gonna have a party. By the sunny Mediterranean Sea.

As it happens, it’s amazing how many cases of wine you can fit in a TBM 930. I’m going to be so popular with the ladies when I touch down in Ibiza. Plus, with the money I can earn flogging off my surplus it may fund me for a dozen legs of my trip.

After the rain we encountered yesterday on arrival at Bergerac it was with some trepidation that I peeked out of the curtains this morning. Fortunately the day had dawned far nicer with only a few clouds in the sky and hardly any wind at the airfield.

Looking at the METARs the weather seemed to be fine for the trip to come although there were some SIGMETs warning of turbulence further to the east over Sardinia and Corsica. I thought it best to wave goodbye to France and get on the road, so to speak, up and over the Pyrenees towards the Mediterranean.

We crossed over into Spain just to the west of Andorra and went feet wet at Tarragona, just down the coast a little from Barcelona.

It’s such an advantage having an aircraft that will cruise at FL310 when you’re looking to cross mountain ranges as it means you are rarely troubled with turbulence or, indeed, poor weather, SkyVector had hinted at light winds from 210 degrees at Ibiza and so it was we were directed onto the ILS approach into Rwy 24.

It was a fine sunny afternoon in Ibiza and the evening promised much once I’d been able to unload my cargo of French wines. Hopefully I wouldn’t be too much the worse for wear for my next leg down to Gibraltar although if the ladies of Ibiza Town were as enticing as I had been led to believe I may spend a little time here before continuing on.

Time en route 1:28.23
Total time 3:54.47

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Day 4. A quick getaway is required from Ibiza as it would appear that the boyfriends and husbands of Ibiza Town aren’t too enamoured of our attempts to befriend their ladies. As my Uber rushes me to the airport with dawn breaking over the western Mediterranean I check the weather, noting the SIGMET warning of thunderstorms to the north.

Fortunately our destination is in the opposite direction today. So as Ibiza gently snores I file my flightplan to Gibraltar, expecting vectors to a visual approach into Rwy 27. The sun is breaking over the horizon as I prep G-MOLY. Thank goodness I refuelled last night. Is that a pickup full of disgruntled husbands I see screeching onto the apron?

With a cackle of glee I safely take off to the east, circling around Formentera before heading for the Spanish coast I spot the thunderstorms to the north exactly as forecast.

I hit the coast at around Benidorm and Alicante and swear I can detect the aroma of Watneys Red Barrel even at FL310

Cutting across the Sierra Nevada I am contacted by ATC to commence our descent. Fortunately my co-pilot for the day has been given radio duties as the instructions come thick and fast, effectively directing us straight down to 2,000 out of FL310.

Shortly after clearing the coast and before turning west to our destination we are already at approach altitude, still with over 40 miles to go. This was my first time flying into Gibraltar and I was grateful for the extremely light winds as I had heard some horror stories of turbulence driving off the rock and over the runway at times. Today there were no issues at all approach, ATC vectored us in as advertised and we landed on a beautiful sunny morning in Gib. Today would be spent devising our route south through Africa. We were about to leave Europe.

Flight time today was 1:38.28 giving us a total elapsed time so far of 5:33.15

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Great commentary and pictures, will continue to read with pleasure !! :slightly_smiling_face:

Day 5 and wouldn’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh express? Hopefully we’ll be travelling through clear Moroccan skies and our co-pilot today just happens to be a 5 feet tall American lady dressed in blue. With apologies to Crosby, Stills and Nash, today’s flight takes us south into Africa and to Marrakesh, nestled at the foot of the Atlas mountains.

Traffic on the cross runway road was light in Gibraltar as we prepped G-MOLY under a cloudless sky. There was no weather to worry us for the trip south and we were cleared up to FL310 as usual, the ceiling for the TBM.

We waved goodbye to Europe as we took off and circled around the Rock, heading for Africa, wondering how long it would be before we would see it again.

The Straits, normally one of the busiest maritime thoroughfares were strangely quiet as we flew over it. It looks ike Asobo could do with tweaking shipping traffic a bit to make this look even more realistic.

We flew over the Rif mountain range as we arrived over Morocco. This is an outlier of the higher, and more famous, Atlas mountains.

The journey was uneventful although we were flying continuously into a stiff head wind throughout the flight. As we neared the arrival, ATC brought us down out of the levels to around 6,000 ft. The Atlas mountains loomed in front of us and at its foot Marrakesh.

When we planned the flight the weather had us expecting light winds out of the north west so we were expecting the RNAV approach into Rwy 28 although as we flew the arrival the prevailing winds were rather stronger, and off the mountains. Fortunately, as we neared the airport the winds did indeed swing round, and with little or no turbulence.

Now for todays quirk. The plate for the RNAV approach would have you believe it to be a GNSS approach, and in my book I understand that to be an RNAV approach with no vertical guidance.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived at MX281 and began a manual descent into the airport when the autopilot captured a glidepath and took over vertical control. Maybe the confusion arose out of my having installed Navigraph rather than using the plain vanilla data supplied with MSFS? Hopefully the opposite won’t occur later on when I am expecting a full RNAV approach and the autopilot ignores VNAV.

We landed safely and taxied to parking. The short American lady gave me a peck on the cheek and disappeared into a waiting cab, her blue dress shimmering in the African sun.

Flight time 1:17.18
Total accumulated flying time 6:50.33

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You’re taking really interesting passengers on board !

Now I have that tune in my head… :grin:

It depends, there are several options. Often the RNAV (GNSS) approach’s specification has the necessary data so that with appropriate AP support (which the G3000 has) the glide path can be flown automatically to a certain decision height.

You can see the data on the official page here for example : http://siamaroc.onda.ma/eAIP/cartes/AD2GMMX/AD2GMMX41-2.pdf (second page).

So everything was fine, even though you seem to have been slightly distracted by the lady.

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Day 6. And after a day stuck in Marrakesh due to volcanic activity around our destination in the Canary Islands disrupting general aviation we’re finally off to Fuerteventura. MSFS and the weather engine doesn’t model volcanic activity as far as I can make out, unfortunately.

Today the winds had shifted and the SIGMET suggested that volcanic plume emanating from Mt La Palma was blowing to the SW. So it was from beneath clear African skies we departed from Marrakesh,

We took off to the north before turning around to the west. We skirted the foothills of the Atlas mountains, climbing up to our ceiling of FL310…

…before turning south, clipping the last of the range.

The weather remained clear as we approached the Canary islands although we had battled a strong head wind of over 50kts the whole way. As Fuerteventura hoved into view however we could see cloud banks building up to the south and east. Looks like we had arrived just in time.

The RNAV approach into Rwy 01 went without a hitch and we landed into a stiffening headwind

(it has to be said however that the AI’s interpretation of hotel complexes leaves something to be desired…factories with swimming pools?)

A decision has to be made now regarding the route back onto the mainland. I have an idea where I want to make for but the route has several possible alternatives.

Journey time today was 1:52.24
Total elapsed time 8:42.57

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Day 7 and a later takeoff time today. We’re heading back to the African mainland to a place called Dakhla on the coast of Western Sahara.

In much the same way that Fuerteventura, being part of the Canary Islands belongs geographically to Africa it is politically Spanish and part of the EU, Western Sahara has a similar jumbled past. Occupied by Spain until 1975 the region has been on the UN list of non-self governing territories since 1963 although these days neighbouring Morocco to the north occupies and administers 80% of the territory. Today, modern day Dakhla is attempting to reinvent itself as the water sports capital of West Africa.

We take off to the south…

…before climbing out to the west over the island.

We continue flying towards Gran Canaria and Tenerife to pick up the airway that will direct us south and to the mainland.

As we fly down the Jandia Peninsula we wave goodbye to Fuerteventura and settle back for the over 200 mile flight over the featureless Atlantic ocean.

(note the anti aliasing could be better in this shot out the pilot’s window)

We have opted for the RNAV approach once again, this time into Rwy 03 which means flying the length of the Rio de Oro Peninsula before turning back in to land.

Flight time: 1:28.39
Total elapsed time: 10:11.36

The next flight will be inland towards neighbouring Mauritania.

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Day 8. After a day spent kite surfing on the coast we reluctantly returned to G-MOLY and prepped her for the flight south into Mauritania.

The default flightplan took us out over the ocean again but we were eager to see the Sahara desert so we opted for a more inland routing with an RNAV approach into Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. Turning onto the runway at Dakhla we could see that it was going to be a warm one today.

Climbing out and heading inland before turning south we got a good view of the Rio de Oro Peninsula behind us.

Crossing the coast proper above the beaches we had been at the previous day the vastness of the Sahara began to open up to us.

After just a short time we began to appreciate the overriding characteristic of the land was its emptiness. Political boundaries were just arbitrary lines on a map. The nomadic people who actually existed here would have scant regard for what country they nominally lived in.

After an hour or so of featureless desert we began to be directed down out of the flight levels over Mauritania. Although the country technically has large reserves of iron ore and oil these are largely undeveloped and the country is amongst the poorest in West Africa. The airport we were approaching had only been built in 2016 replacing the capital’s old airport.

As we got nearer I began to fear for what awaited us. Our avionics were being powered by Navigraph so all the correct navigational aids and approaches were available however as we turned onto final it became apparent that no-one had told Asobo, least or all Bing Maps, of the existence of the new airport. If you were being kind you would allow the runways were present albeit in dirt form, and to be fair that is what the world view in MSFS warned us to expect. However, the reality of touchdown was an anticlimax to say the least. The runways were very poorly defined, with no lighting whatsoever.

This is the airport in Google maps:

And this is the Bing version, which must be well over 5 years old:

This discovery doesn’t bode well for flights in the less well developed parts of the world. Tomorrow I am hoping to head towards Mali although no firm destination is planned as yet.

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I guess this has to be expected as part of the adventure, especially in Africa. I hope that a hotel was built too, or that you had a tent in the plane !

Day 9. The previous day had not gone well. I had picked up a beach bunny at Dakhla offering to show her the sights of Africa from the air as we meandered our way towards South Africa. I think she had been expecting something better for the first night than sleeping beneath the wing of G-MOLY. If I had to guess I think my failure to magic up a Sheraton was not a plus point for any potential relationship. In light of this I decided to continue down the coast for a while before cutting inland. The likelihood of finding better lodgings was improved was my reasoning. Today, we were going to fly to Gambia.

Our destination is the smallest country in Africa comprising as it does of basically just the two banks of the mighty Gambia river. It is surrounded by Senegal apart from the area around where the river empties into the Atlantic ocean. This was where we were due to arrive, Banjul, the capital of the country.

Lining up on some arbitrary point in the desert at Nouakchott I felt today could only improve. Betsy, my companion said nothing.

Mauritania comprises over 80% desert and this is is steadily increasing year on year. I could only think this had something to do with the disappearance of the capital’s international airport.

As we flew over Nouakchott itself I could only feel it unlikely I would ever return.

Flying down the coast we flew over the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary which marked the border with Senegal

Betsy was unimpressed. I wasn’t fancying my chances to be honest.

As we descended over Senegal we could see that it certainly seemed greener than Mauritania and sure enough we began to encounter some clouds.

By the time we were nearing Gambia things had steadily worsened to the point we were now seeing lightning arcing across the sky. The ubiquitous MSFS thunderstorms.

Grateful that I had planned another RNAV approach we descended through the clouds.

At least there is a runway to land on I joked although Betsy’s initial silence had now been replaced by a distinct green complexion and white knuckles as we rode the crosswind into land

Now hopefully there is a terminal to go with the runway I added as we touched down in the pouring rain. Betsy finally looked over at me. She didn’t look overly impressed with the whole aviation lifestyle.

Flight time today: 1:16.06
Total elapsed time: 13:08.17

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Day 10 and we’re flying east from the Gambia, inland to the capital of Mali, Bamako.

Unfortunately the continent has been poorly supported by MSFS, both in terms of up to date scenery, as well as poor quality AI rendering. That said, we optimistically load up G-MOLY on the tarmac at Banjul.

We take off and circle around the city to fly up the mighty Gambia river which itself takes up a significant proportion of this former part of the British Empire. The country gained independence in the 1960s and now depends on tourism as its major source of revenue.

The day looked set fair with clear skies ahead of us.

Our route takes us the entire length of the country before passing over surrounding Senegal and finally descending down into southern Mali.

Threatening clouds are to either side of us but it remains clear straight ahead. To the south, on our right, a classic anvil shaped thunderstorm forms over Senegal.

Crossing over into Senegal we move from a former British colony to a former French colony.

Roughly half way through the journey we pass over Lake Manantali, a man made reservoir effectively covering over 184 sq miles, containing 11.3 billion cubic meters of water. It supplies hydroelectric power as well as other benefits.

As we finally arrive over Mali and descend to turn onto final at Rwy 06 the disappointing scenery can be seen from just 3,000 feet.

The next flight is into the interior of the country as we make for Timbuktu, an almost mythical location for many people of my age as being the epitome of somewhere “very, very far away”.

I take my trusted helicopter to take a closer look at your stops, and noticed that the active EASA Conflict Zone bulletin for Mali states that “The presence of terrorist groups with access to anti-aviation weaponry is assessed to pose a HIGH risk to operations within the portion of the Niamey FIR, which is situated above Mali territory, at altitudes below FL 250”.

Stay safe (and high !).

FL310 is it is then!

I’ve visited Mauritania a couple of times but oumsy airport isn’t the kind of place you take photographs

New but zero facilities

I did get to meet the British ambassador in the VIP visa lounge though !

Muir

Egypt & Scotland

Certainly not in MSFS :laughing:

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