[COMPLETE] England to Karachi in 2022 - Following in the Footsteps of "The Spider"

As much as I love flying low and slow, I don’t have the time investment to recreate The Duchess of Bedford and Capt. Barnard’s historic journey across Europe and the Middle East using the Fokker F. VII. Thus, I’ll be using other planes, but following the route written specifically for this Flying Legend as published for MSFS by Koschi. The world has changed, but we’ll still be able to appreciate the sights they saw on the journey and how they might have used natural and human-made landmarks to navigate.

Leg 1: Pent Farm UK to Cologne-Bonn DE

Leg 2: Cologne-Bonn DE to St. Gellen CH

Leg 3: St. Gellen CH to Linz AT

Leg 4: Linz AT to Érsekcsanád, HU

Leg 5: Érsekcsanád, HU to Vidin Smurdan BG

Leg 6: Vidin Smurdan BG to Constanta RO

Leg 7: Constanta RO to Sabiha Golcen (Istanbul) TR

Leg 8: Sabiha Golcen (Istanbul) TR to Kapadokya TR

Leg 9: Kapadokya TR to Oguzeli TR

Leg 10: Oguzeli TR to Hadithah Airport IQ

Leg 11: Hadithah Airport IQ to Ali Base IQ

Leg 12: Ali Base IQ to Bushehr IR

Leg 13: Bushehr IR to Bandar Lengeh IR

Leg 14: Bandar Lengeh IR to Jask IR

Leg 15: Jask IR to Jiwani PK

Leg 16: Jiwani PK to Karachi PK

Leg 1: Pent Farm UK to Cologne-Bonn DE 280 NM 01:53:00 ETE

Starting off from a lovely grass airstrip in Southeast England, we pass over the famous White Cliffs Dover, making landfall at Calais and work our way north following the hazy coast past Dunkirk to Holland. We turn east using the Haringviet and Hollandsch Diep rivers to the city of bridges Nijmegen. We turn south and enter Germany, flying over Dusseldorf to arrive at Cologne-Bonn.

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Leg 2: Cologne-Bonn DE to St. Gellen CH 316NM 01:46:00 ETE

On this leg, we follow the famous and sinuous Rhine river all the way down to St. Gellen. We’ll pass well-known population centers like Remagen, Koblenz, Wiesbaden and get a glimpse of the enormous airport at Frankfurt-Main. Other landmarks include the hydrodams at Strasbourg and the gently rising and picturesque Swiss landscape surrounding the lakeside regions of the Untersee and Lake Constance.

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Leg 3: St. Gellen CH to Linz AT 253 NM 0:53:00 ETE

Departing scenic St. Gellen under overcast skies, we head northeast to Memmingen, then pick up the Iller River to Ulm. Cutting east again, we guide along the Donau River to Regensberg, then slowly South past the Bayerischer Wald Nature Park and recover at Linz Austria. The VL-3 makes quick work of this route.

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Leg 4: Linz AT to Érsekcsanád, HU 279 NM 0:49:00 ETE

This was a very scenic leg, with multiple Points of Interest flying over the major cities of Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest, before recovering at Érsekcsanád, a small field about 100 NM or so northwest of Belgrade. Of interest in Vienna is the famous G-Flak Tower left over from WW2.

Leg 5: Érsekcsanád, HU to Vidin Smurdan BG 222 NM 01:26:00 ETE

For the next few legs, we’ll be following the largest river in Western Europe - the Danube. It flows through several countries before emptying out into the Black Sea just south of Ukraine.

We pass over Belgrade and arrive at Vidin Smurdan airport, near the Serbian - Romanian border.

Leg 6: Vidin Smurdan BG to Constanta RO 256 NM 01:47:00 ETE

We briefly remain in Bulgarian airspace before crossing the breadth of Romania and arrive at the Black Sea, passing over the Danube no less than four times as it curves across the countryside. It’s a great view from the near panoramic cockpit of the DA40 NG. One can only imagine Spider’s crew as they navigated back in the day just keeping the river in their sight as a guidepost headed east.

Leg 7: Constanta RO to Sabiha Golcen (Istanbul) TR 252 NM 0:46:00 ETE

An early morning launch has us travelling along the scenic western side of the great Black Sea, down past Varna in Bulgaria and crossing east over the famous Bosporus Straits, which links Western Europe with the Orient, and sits astride a crossroads of civilization - the famous city of Istanbul in Turkey.

Leg 8: Sabiha Golcen (Istanbul) TR to Kapadokya TR 298 NM 00:52:00 ETE

The day starts with a Max Performance takeoff and climbout - as we trek east, leaving Istanbul behind. To the south we see the white-capped ranges of Koroglu Mountains, the capital city of Ankara and the enormous inland salt lake Luz on the way to Cappadocia. The terrain steeply rises in this part of the country, with MEA at around 7,000’ AGL.

Leg 9: Kapadokya TR to Oguzeli TR 237 NM 00:42:00 ETE

An early morning departure out of Cappadocia (Western spelling) - it is beautifully serene watching the sunrise at altitude - everything is slowly revealed in the coming light, but in the meantime you get shades of pastels and ethereal low angle lighting that softly illuminates the ground.

We cut south and finally meet the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea near Aldana. There is a low hanging cloudbase at 3000’ that makes it feel like we’re sailing across a sea of mist. The Vertigo makes short work of this trip and we arrive at the Provincial Capital of Gaziantep, just across the border from Syria. We even have time for a second breakfast!

Leg 10: Oguzeli TR to Hadithah Airport IQ 329 NM 00:59:00 ETE

For this leg, we are back to following a famous river as a guidepost - The Euphrates - as it winds Southeast across Syria. Not surprisingly, many beginnings of civilization began by the banks of these water bodies, and it’s apparent even today with numerous population centers next to and astride the river - and the lush green of cultivation and agriculture it sustains thanks to the large headwaters from which the river flows. We end the leg at a rough unlit airfield near the Syrian-Iraqi border, fortunately before sun down.

Leg 11: Hadithah Airport IQ to Ali Base IQ 293 NM 02:36:00 ETE

It’s clear by now that during the Duchess of Bedford’s journey, navigation aids were few and far in-between. The heavy reliance on old-fashioned VFR would have been supplemented somewhat by wireless stations and far-flung outposts of the British Empire, especially in this area of SouthWest Asia. As we follow the Euphrates, it points like an arrow straight across ancient Iraq, and we pass well known cities such as Nasiriyah and Basrah. It is at the latter location, the Euphrates meets yet another famous river in history, the Tigris, as it winds it’s way down south from Turkey. The two great travel routes form the Shatt Al-Arab, before emptying into the the Persian Gulf.

Leg 12: Ali Base IQ to Bushehr IR 307 NM 01:57:00 ETE

From the English Channel to the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, and now the Persian Gulf. We leave Iraq behind turning hard east at Al Faw and follow the rugged mountainous Iranian coastline to the city of Bushehr, arriving just before sundown.

Leg 13: Bushehr IR to Bandar Lengeh IR 266 NM 02:02:00 ETE

Continuing our trek down the Eastern side of the Persian Gulf, we follow Highway 56 along the Iranian shoreline, transiting between the major port towns of Bushehr to Bandar Lengeh. One of the hairer moments of our trip came with a near miss with an Air Emirates liner halfway through the leg. While the setting sun makes for a gorgeous evening arrival, low hanging haze and an unlit airfield make it a hazardous approach.

Leg 14: Bandar Lengeh IR to Jask IR 217 NM 00:43:00 ETE

This segment sees us passing over the well-known Straits of Hormuz, where nearly twenty percent of the world’s oil supply passes through annually. From our launch position at Bandar Lengeh, it’s less than a half-hour’s flying time to the fabulous and majestic city-state of Dubai, but we’re continuing East. It’s definitely hot, and has been so since Bushehr - typica OAT on the ramp is in the high 80s, only dropping down into the low 70s at cruise. Once again, an unlit arrival field makes our sunset timing very hazardous.

Leg 15: Jask IR to Jiwani PK 220 NM 01:25:00 ETE

We depart Iran for the last time on this trip, taking a straight line shot down the coast to cross over into Pakistan. It’s a gorgeously hot day, once again in the high 80s on the ground, not much cooler at 5,000’. Hazy conditions abound for most of the trip, and our arrival field is a very unfinished strip just across the border at Jiwani. There’s not even a taxiway to the ramp.

Leg 16: Jiwani PK to Karachi PK 295 NM 00:52:00 ETE

“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.”

Our final leg takes us from the Iranian-Pakistani border to the Provincial Capital and Economic Powerhouse City of Karachi. It’s been a long road to get here, and the ending is just as scenic and exhilarating as when we stepped off at Pent Farm in the UK 4,301 NM ago.

Despite the hot and clear day, a haze has built up as we arrive at the Cape Monze NDB, and the arrivals are piling up. On the turnout, a PIA liner and I are briefly nose-to-nose as a gaffe over taxiing instructions nearly leads to a ground incursion, but we make it safely to the ramp. What a trip!