Around the World VFR (ish) - now complete!

Leg 55 - Okha, India (VAOK Okha Airport) to Baku, Azerbaijan (UBBB, Heydar Aliyev Airport)

This leg: 1,488Nm, 5:48 flying time
Total so far: 60,650Nm, 232:15 flying time

OK, so today we are flying all the way to the Caspian Sea, and the city of Baku in Azerbaijan - and we are going to take a direct route, flying at high altitude, because this flight is right on the limit of our fuel range. It’s nearly 1500Nm and close to 6 hours - one of our longest legs. We are heading North West from Okha in India and skirting the edge of the Arabian Sea. We’ll make landfall over Karachi in Pakistan, then fly over a tiny bit of Afgahnistan, Iran and then we will reach the Caspian Sea and approach Baku from the South East.

Plenty of food required for this flight, so we are stocking up with Kutchi Dabeli - buns fried to crunchy perfection in melted butter and stuffed with potato cutlet, garnished with fried peanuts, pomegranate seeds, sev, and spicy, tangy sauces.

Well if the passengers don’t like it, I’ll have them!

OK, so let’s get going - and a lovely clear day here in North East India

After take off, we circle to the right and head North West towards Karachi, and leave India behind

Climbing now to 32,000ft, we skirt the coast of India along the edge of the Arabian Sea

Over Pakistan and Karachi is below us

Some amazing barren, mountainous land in Pakistan as we head North West towards the Afghan border

Afgahnistan not looking any less barren than Pakistan - desert like

And guess what, Iran doesn’t seem any different - but still spectacular

A few clouds starting to spoil the view a little bit

Crossing some mountain ridges before we see the Caspian Sea ahead of us - crabbing into a 140Kts wind from the West

Suddenly some green below us! As we approach the Capian Sea, the climate must be a little more temperate here

In the middle of the Caspian Sea, and Baku is somewhere over there!

Time to descend through the clouds and finally emerge from the thick cloud layer

Time to start our approach into Baku - the weather not looking too great - windy, cloudy and wet (but a stunning rainbow!)

At last, a sight of land!

Baku is over there off our left side, and the little island here is Gum Island

Turning on to final approach and lining up nicely - still crabbing into a strong wind though

And down

And parked!

Enjoyed that, and patch is awesom and has really improved the frame rates and smoothness of the sim.

I think we should head to Russia and Moscow next!

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And the latest map and log


Leg 56 - Baku, Azerbaijan (UBBB, Heydar Aliyev Airport) to Samara, Russia (UWWW Kurumoch Airport)

This leg: 1,065Nm, 4:17 flying time
Total so far: 61,715Nm, 236:32 flying time

Remember I said we might head to Moscow? Well, not just yet!

Reminded of my journey of discovery along the Amazon, and spotting Volgograd on the map, I noticed that the Volga River is quite long and winds through a fair bit of Russia. So, why not take a trip along the Volga River? So today is stage one of our “Follow the Volga to it’s source” journey. Here’s a high level map of the river:

It is long though, and we are fair bit South of the mouth of the river, which comes into the Northern end of the Caspian Sea. So we start by heading pretty much North to find the river mouth, then begin our winding journey. Today we’ll aim to cover about 1,000Nm - the first 300 or so is straight across the Caspian Sea - so we should cover about 700Nm of the Volga today. That should get us to a city called Samara, with Volgograd being the other major city we will be passing through. I’m intrigued to see what the landscape is like in Southern and Central Russia as we head further North. Might be able to complete the length of the river in our next trip, which will take us close to Moscow - probably for a fly by - but I’m getting ahead of ourselves.

Some quick facts about the Volga from the internet (obviously always accurate):
The Volga River is the longest river in Europe and the eighteenth longest river on the planet traversing a total distance of 2,294 miles with a drainage basin of about 532,821 square miles. The river flows predominantly in the expansive Russian territory and drains its waters into the Caspian Sea.

We need some provisions for this expedition, and what better than some Plov (yeah, I know, doesn’t sound the most appetising…). This is an Azerbaijan delicacy consisting of saffron-flavoured rice, cooked using meat, onions, prunes, dry fruits, eggs, and fresh herbs

It looks better than it sounds!

So let’s get going - a nice weather in Baku here today, much better than when we arrived

After take off, we do a quick 180 degree turn and head North, out over the Caspian Sea

Finally, here we are at the mouth of the Volga - a little underwhelming - just a number of small rivers reaching the Caspian Sea at this point

It’s little wonder the river is so windy given how flat the landscape is here

One of the main branches of f the Volga splits here - the Reka Gandurino

Another large tributory the Reka Bakhtemir

And we see our first major built up area - Astrakhan, Leniniskiy and Sovetskiy

This is a big, meandering, wide river - and so flat here too

The Buzan River on our right

Winding on and on - one giant flood plain

Passing through Volgograd

North of Volgograd, the river widens into what is effectively a large lake, and although the river narrows again, it is still very wide indeed - and clouding over, making things a bit gloomier

The sun starting to get a little lower in the sky and suddenly the clouds getting a bit thicker

Starting to see a little snow on the ground and also some sloping sides to the river as we maybe start to move away from the incredibly flat landscape

But as we keep heading North, the sky seems to be lightening a bit, although still lots of snow

Starting to get dark as we approach Samara

Starting our circle around to approach the runway - and a lovely moonrise in the background, with the sunset behind us

Lined up now for the runway

On final approach - and a snowy runway ahead - and down

And parked - very picturesque

Next, we continue our journey up the Volga towards Moscow

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Updated map and log

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Leg 57 - Samara, Russia (UWWW Kurumoch Airport) to Staraya, Russa, Russia (ULNR Staraya Russa Airport)

This leg: 1,306Nm, 5:13 flying time
Total so far: 63,021Nm, 241:45 flying time

Morning everyone. Today the plan is to complete our journey to the source of the Volga River, which is near a tiny town called Volgoverkhov’ye, North West of Moscow. On the way, we will detour along the canals connecting the Volga River to the Moscow River, and fly right through the middle of Moscow. We’ll then double back to the Volga, for the last leg to the source. A long and winding trip again today, with our final destination being Staraya Russa, the nearest airport to Volgoverkhov’ye.

On the food front, we are going traditional Russian today, with Borscht, traditional Russian soup madeof beetroot, loaded with potatoes, carrots, tomato and meat.

I’ve got to be honest and say I’m sticking with my sandwich up front.

So let’s get going and see what the weather has in store - hopefully clear. We are going to stick at a pretty low altitude the whole way anyway though.

Well it’s a beautiful sunny day, with a covering of snow here in Kurumoch

Sharp turn to the right after take off to get us heading back to the Volga, a little way to the West of us

And here’s the Volga again, and lovely snow covered trees in all directions

The weather really is nice this morning

But as soon as I say that, the clouds come over and the wind picks up. The Volga though is a huge river here - really wide - more like a series of connected lakes

Weather ahead looking a bit more ominous

The Volga looks amazing here, half frozen with floating ice sheets everywhere - and it looks almost dark even though it is mid morning - really hoping this isn’t the weather set for the day

This part of the river seems completely frozen over here

Maybe the weather will clear nearer Moscow

Over Yaroslavl and the weather is so much better here now

On our way towards Moscow, with the sun out and the thick clouds having cleared

Approaching rhe city of Dubna, where the Moscow Canal leads off the Volga to the South and we\re going to follow that into the centre of Moscow

And here’s the canal

Following the Moscow Canal to where it meets up with the Moscow River, and now time to get some views of the sights of Moscow

Here’s the Pobedy Monument

Lots of skyscrapers here! Must be the downtown area

Luzhniki Stadium

Cathederal of C.hrist the Saviour

The Kremlin

The Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building

The Moscow International House of Music on the right

Still following along the Moscow River before we start our turn back North

And back to the River Volga

Final stretch of the journey now

Here is the source of the Volga, some large lakes that really form the main source

Time now to head to our final destination, Stayara Russa, a straight run North West over some thick forests

Circling to the West before turning North to the runway

On final approach

And down

Well, that was cool, and Moscow looked great. I wonder where next? I think South West towards Eastern Europe and Turkey?

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This has been a great trip! I’ve been having a marathon catch-up session over the past 2-3 days and finally finished. :slight_smile: Can’t wait to see the next installment.

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Leg 58 - Staraya, Russa, Russia (ULNR Staraya Russa Airport) to Istanbul, Turky (LTFM Istanbul Airport)

This leg: 1,305Nm, 4:43 flying time
Total so far: 64,326Nm, 246:28 flying time

Today’s flight is taking us on a tour of Eastern European capitals. Heading East initially to Riga in Latvia, then South to Kaunus in Lithuania, then on to Minsk in Belarus, Kyiv in Ukraine (with a fly past of Chernobyl on the way) and then South to Istanbul.

To keep us going today, we are stocking up with Mushroom Julienne - made with thinly sliced mushrooms, cheese, sour cream and cream and broiled/grilled for a crusty top, served in a bread crust. Should be good

So let’s get going then - pretty coudy and overcast in Staraya this morning

Heading East now over very flat countryside towards Riga

Passing Aluksnes ezers

Approaching and flying over Riga

Heading South now towards Kaunus - still very flat countryside here and still very overcast weather

Heading into thicker weather now

Crossing Kaunus now, but hard to see much through the low cloud

Heading further South again towards Minsk and passing over Vilnius

Very cloudy over Minsk - can’t see anything really - can just make out Minsk airport

Further South now towards Kyiv and Chernobyl - but if the clouds don’t clear, we are not going to see too much of it

But the weather is looking like it might be about to clear a little

Flying close by Chernobyl - but best not get too close! Can just see the dome built over the reactor through the mist

Heading on to Kyiv and following the wide Dnieper River - but the fog is getting worse if anything

Well Kyiv is over there somewhere - we flew right over it but could see nothing through the clouds

Straight run South to the shores of the Black Sea - more very flat country - no hills in this part of the world at all, but maybe the weather is improving

Over the strangely green Sasyk Lagoon, just before the Black Sea

And finally the Black Sea itself and we at last break free of the clouds and into beautiful sunshine

Fair bit of wind now as we head in to Istanbul aiport

Definitely crabbing into the wind here

And down. Next we are heading South towards Africa…with a little detour around the Middle East! Should be fun!

59 - Istanbul, Turky (LTFM Istanbul Airport) - Kuwait City, Kuwait (OKBK Kuwait Airport)

This leg: 1,227Nm, 4:59 flying time
Total so far: 65,553Nm, 251:27 flying time

For today’s trip, we are heading South West to Kuwait - going for a pretty straight flight, but taking a few little detours along the way for some sit seeing. We’ll start with a quick fly over Istanbul itself, then head to Ankara, capital of Turkey, on to Baghdad, then on to the Ziggurat of Ur and finally the Al Hamra Tower in Kuwait before landing in Kuwait City.

On the food front, we’re picking up some Turkish pide with marinated artichokes, broccoli and cheese. Pide is a boat-shaped Turkish take on a flatbread or pizza. These look really nice!

Weather this morning in Turkey is very nice indeed, which is a nice change to some of the misty weather over the last couple of flights. So let’s get going.

Here’s Istanbul - and the Justice Palace, Dolmabahase Palace and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque are some key sites for us to take in as we fly over Istanbul

Heading West now towards Ankara, and first passing over Izmit - and some spectacular scenery over the rugged hills of Turkey

Passing Ankara now, turning towards the South as we fly over Esenboga, Ankara’s airport

Passing West alongside the Kizilirimark River

Ahead to our left is Erclyes Dagi - 12,800 feet tall with some amazing canyons in the foothills here

More dramatic cliffs, plateaus, trenches and valleys here in Western Turkey

We climb up to 25,000ft to get a good look around - amazing scenery

We’ve crossed into Syria now, and are back down at 5,000 feet to get a better look - Lake Assad ahead of us here and away to our right - much flatter and more desert like

Approaching Baghdad, the Euphrates River and crossing Habbaniyah Lake

Here is the Dur-Kurugalzu Ziggurat in Baghdad

Heading further South towards the Ziggurat of Ur

And now West again to our final destination, the Al Hamra Tower and Kuwait City

Approaching Kuwait Bay and Kuwait City

Now to circle around for the landing

And landed

Nice trip, and the latest patch is working beautifully. Next stop - Africa

Leg 60 - Kuwait City, Kuwait (OKBK Kuwait Airport) to Socotra, Yemen (OYSQ Moori Airport)

This leg: 1,430Nm, 5:15 flying time
Total so far: 66,983Nm, 256:42 flying time

Today we are heading East and then South to Yemen, but taking the opportunity to fly over some of the key cities in the Middle East - Bahrain, Doha, Dubai and Muscat. We are then heading to Africa, stopping on the small Yemeni island of Socotra before heading to mainland Africa on a future flight.

Today’s food order is Machboos, the national dish of Kuwait. This is slow cooked basmati rice with a variety of spices (such as cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, pepper, and ginger) and mutton or chicken and sometimes vegetables

Let’s get going and see what the weather looks like in Kuwait this morning - nice view at the airport with Kuwait City in the background

And heading South West towards Bahrain over some Kuwaiti oil fields

Heading out over the Persian Gulf - we will follow the coast of the Gulf South West to Bahrain

Approaching Bahrain

Now on to Doha in Qatar - pretty much barren desert here

Here’s Doha

On our way to Abu Dhabi and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque and back over the Persian Gulf again

Turning North with our next stop is Dubai

So we really need to do a bit of a fly by of Dubai and the Burj Khalifa in particular - just necessary

Nice. Now back to the flight plan before someone gets upset with us - and off to Muscat in Oman - and out over the Gulf of Oman on the way and across deserts and mountains

Here’s Muscat

Now a straight run South across Oman and Yemen to the Yemeni island of Socotra

And out over the Arabian Sea

Here is Socotra - unfortunately with some low cloud

First sight of the runway - visibility is fortunately OK

Nicely lined up

What lovely sunset landing

Onwards to Africa next!

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Leg 61 - Socotra, Yemen (OYSQ Moori Airport) to Entebbe, Uganda (HUEN Entebbe Airport)

This leg: 1,502Nm, 4:39 flying time
Total so far: 68,485Nm, 261:21 flying time

Today we are heading into Africa proper, and taking a pretty straight line from Yemen to Entebbe in Uganda. This is at the edge of our range, so we are going for a pretty straight line for our route. Our approach to Entebbe will be from over Lake Victoria.

On the food side of things, today we are stocking up with the traditional Yemeni dish of Shakshouka, which is a delicious combination of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.

So time to get going, and just a few clouds about tis morning in Socotra - otherwise looks like nice weather for the flight

Taking off to the North East, we start a gentle 180 degree turn to take us back to heading South West towards Africa

Socotra is a small, barren islands, but still looks beautiful from the air

Out over the Gulf of Aden on our way to Somalia

Somalia looks amazing from the air - barren, rocky desert with incredible patterns and colours

Crossing into Etheopia with the view no less spectacular albeit starting to get into a bit of cloud now

Cloudy over Kenya, so unfortunately can’t see too much

At last the cloud is beginning to break up so we can get a bit of a view as to what’s going on

Nearing Lake Victoria and crossing into Uganda

Turning to the North to circle around and over Kampala to line up with the runway

Lined up on final approach

And down

Next to head further South towards South Africa

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Leg 62 - Entebbe, Uganda (HUEN Entebbe Airport) to Makokola Retreat, Malawi (FWCM Club Makokola Airstrip)

This leg: 1,318Nm, 5:06 flying time
Total so far: 69,803Nm, 266:27 flying time

Today we are flying further South through Africa and into Malawi, but taking a bit of a detour through Kenya. So we are first heading East to Nairobi, then on to the East Coast of Africa to Mombasa and then South to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania before heading back South West and inland again to Karonga (Malawi) on Lake Malawi. We’ll then travel the length of Lake Malawi to the Makokola Retreat in Malawi.

To fuel us all up for the flight, we are having mandazi which is similar to a donut minus the hole and is a fried bread that is sweetened with coconut milk and shaped into circles or triangles. A Ugandan delicacy.

So some good weather this morning in Uganda as we prepare to depart from Entebbe

Lovely views over Lake Victoria as we leave Entebbe - although with thickening cloud as we continue towards Nairobi

Here’s Mfangano Island, at the far side of the Lake - and the Lake here is a beautiful green colour

Heading across Kenya towards Nairobi and passing Mount Suswa Conservancy

Approaching Nairobi we are heading into some thicker cloud - so unfortunately we can’t see much

On our way to the Coast - to Mombasa - and we finally start to emerge from the clouds

Although it looks like more cloud is on the way at the coast

Well, Mombasa is down there somewhere…at the end of the rainbow? Definitely raining down there over Port Reitz and Kilindini Port

Following the coastline South towards Dar Es Salaam - but the clouds ahead looking pretty ominous

Thick cloud all the way to Dar Es Salaam - and so turning to the South West and heading back inland towards Malawi and hopefully some better weather

But still lots of thick cloud - although maybe starting to clear as we approach Lake Malawi

At the edge of Lake Malawi, and some serious hills and slopes here

On the other side of the Lake now, and turning to the South over Karonga Airstrip

Heading South over Lake Malawi

Turning now to line up with the runway at our destination, Makokola Airstrip

Lining up for final approach

And down and parked

Where next? Further South I think, towards the Southern tip of Africa…


Not done an updated map and lof for a while, so here we are:

And here’s the latest log:

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Leg 63 - Makokola Retreat, Malawi (FWCM Club Makokola Airstrip) to Mauritius (FIMP Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport)

This leg: 1,376Nm, 5:28 flying time
Total so far: 71,179Nm, 271:53 flying time

Well, remember I said we were heading South next? OK, so I lied. I’ve never been to Mauritius, and we are not that far away from it here…so why not? Plus we get a chance to fly over Madagascar in the process. So we are going pretty much straight East today, flying low altitude airways on a straight line to Mauritius with a couple of exceptions. First we are going to fly over Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, and then we will take a little detour to Reunion Island, part of France. Finally we will land at the awesomely named Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Mauritius. Turns out that Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam served as the island’s first Chief Minister, Prime Minister and Governor-General.

Today’s food order is Chambo with Nsima - Chambo is the most popular and best-known fish found in Lake Malawi and here is served grilled with nsima (a stiff porridge). Supposed to be delicious, so we will see!

So let’s get going, and it’s a lovely day with just some light cloud here in Malawi.

Heading East now, crossing into Mozambique as we leave the Eastern shore of Lake Malawi

Some really interesting hills popping up from the plains below us

Getting a little cloudier as we approach the coast of Mozambique

Heading out over the Mozambique Channel and the next stop is Madagascar - and some cloud ahead

Really interesting scenery in Madagascar - I think I expected more apparent jungle, but it looks more like barren scrubland

Some heavier clouds and rain ahead of us maybe

Looks like we’ve managed to keep clear of the weather

Approaching the capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo

Flying over Antananarivo

Heading out over the Indian Ocean towards Reunion

Nearing Reunion, and a bit of cloud

At Reunion, we are going to fly over Saint-Denis and Saint-Clotilde, the major urban areas on the island

Turning to head on our final leg towards Mauritius

First site of Mauritius

Turning to line up for final approach

It’s going to be a stunning sunset approach and landing - wow!

And down

What a stunning sunset landing. Sometimes this sim is jaw dropping

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Updated log and map

Leg 64 - Mauritius (FIMP Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport) to Maputo, Mozambique (FQMA Maputo Airport)

This leg: 1,437Nm, 5:19 flying time
Total so far: 72,616Nm, 277:12 flying time

Today we are getting back on track by heading back to Africa. We’re going to take a straight line, high altitude flight from Mauritius to Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. We’ll be flying over the top of Reunion Island again, although that will likely be far below us, and then over Madagascar again, before finally crossing the Mozambique channel, East to West this time, and landing in Maputo.

So what Mauritian delicacy can we find today? How about Bol Renverse? In English this translates to ‘Upside Down Bowl’ and is a rice-based dish, served with a stir-fry sauce, similar to chop suey. The thick sauce is made with soy sauce, oyster sauce and sautéed with a variety of vegetables, usually Bok Choi (Chinese cabbage), mushrooms and carrots. Chicken, shrimp, or thin strips of meat is then added to the chop suey, though chicken is the standard choice and finally an egg over easy tops the dish.

So let’s get going, then and see what the weather has in store for us in Mauritius this morning. Well we didn’t expect heavy rain and thunderstorms!

Turning West and climbing out of the heavy clouds and up over Reunion Island - better view of the vocanic nature of the island from this altitude

Heading to Madagscar at 32,000 feet

Approaching the coast of Madagascar - thick clouds making it hard to see anything from high up here - just some little glimpses through the could of the green lands below

But as we cross the heart of Madagascar, the clouds clear to reveal an amazing landscape below

There ahead is the West coast of Madagascar. The snaking river on the left is the Onilahy River, whilst on the right it looks like a dry gorge, but is actually a deep casm with the Fiherenana River flowing through it. Bteween them, on the coast itself, is the town of Toliara

And back out over the ocean heading towards Mozambique and approaching the East coast of Africa

Descending to start our approach pattern - just a few clouds about - flying past Maputo, so we can circle back around for the airport

Heading right over the top of the city now and past the airport that we are about to turn around and land at

Turning on to final approach

and down

And parked

Cool. Enjoyed that - great views of Madagascar from 32,000 feet.

Updated map and logbook

Leg 65 - Maputo, Mozambique (FQMA Maputo Airport) to Langebaanweg, South Africa (FALW Langebaanweg Airport)

This leg: 1,064Nm, 4:24 flying time
Total so far: 73,680Nm, 281:36 flying time

Today we are flying from Mozambique to Langebaaweg, a town just West of Cape Town in South Africa. On the way we are detouring over Pretoria and Johannesburg before flying straight across the middle of South Africa to Cape Town. There we will fly over the Cape of Good Hope itself where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll then head a few miles West to Langebaanweg.

So let’s get going - a bit cloudy and overcast here in Maputo this morning

Heading South West on the departure track before we’ll turn West towards Pretoria and straight into thick cloud

Finally, a little break in the cloud as we skim low over the higher ground to the West of Maputo on our way tp Pretoria - still lots of cloud and rain about

The weather has really cleared up a