Return to VATSIM….Sort of

Before my long multi-year hiatus from the hobby I was a regular on the VATSIM network.  In the short period of time from first joining VATSIM to my break from the hobby I had accumulated over 420 hours.  Keep in mind this was over a period of time from 2002 through 2004 and another brief stint around 2006.  Not bad for just a little over 2 years.  Of course I know other pilots could accumulate more hours, but during much of this time (2002 – 2004) I served in the capacity of either hub manager or VP of Operations at American Virtual Airlines (AvA). 

In those early days nothing was automated like it is today.  Pilots expected to see their flight hours updated on the roster every couple of days or even daily.  I managed the DFW hub and it was one of the most active hubs in the VA and I found it easier to take 15-20 minutes daily to tally up the hours, then spend an hour or more once or twice a week.  My philosophy back then was I would do all the admin duties BEFORE flying. 

When I started clawing my way back into the hobby a few months ago, the world of VATSIM and Virtual Airlines was NOT at the top of my list.  Due to PC issues in the past, I did find it sometimes to be a struggle to complete an online flight.  Either I would find no ATC online or the hit to the frame rates would cause the sim to run so sluggish or crash….it sort of took the fun out of flying online.

While I was on my Around the World – 2010 Journey, I began thinking about how cool it might be to do an around the world flight and do it online.  While I hope to do another around the world flight in 2011, I’m not sure it will be online.  But I will admit that just the thought of it did peak my interest in VATSIM again.

I did kick around the idea of returning to VATSIM online flying as an independent.  I would fly for whatever carrier I wanted to fly for and the rules would be my rules.  But I didn’t think that would be much fun.  Part of what I find so awesome about this hobby is the people you meet along the way.  By the way, two friends of mine that I’ve met since returning to the hobby both have Flight Sim Blogs.  Please check out Al’s Clear Left, and Onur’s Clear Right Flight Sim Blogs. 

Now what I’m going to say next is NOT a paid message.  But the very best virtual airline in existence really is American Virtual Airlines.   Perhaps I feel what I feel about AvA because I put so much effort into it.  Perhaps it was the way things ended when I left (yes there is a bit of a story here).  In a nutshell I had spent much of my free time helping to keep AvA going strong.  Both my life as well as the life of the CEO became very busy.  We agreed we had nothing else to give and would close the doors.  Thankfully….Thankfully……the other hub members gained control of AvA and kept the doors open and it is still going strong today. 

If I could go back in time I would not have walked away like I did.  My problem was I didn’t know how to ask for help.  I felt the CEO slipping away and he had founded the VA a few years prior to me joining.  The right thing to do would have been for me to ask for help from the rest of the management team and not walked away like I did.  But… can’t undo something that has already been done.  Like I said, the VA was taken over very quickly and has been in great hands ever since.

Anyway….when I realized I wanted to fly on-line again on the VATSIM network with my super fast and super reliable new PC, I knew I wanted to fly mostly with my real-world favorite airline (American Airlines) and didn’t bother looking if other VA’s were out there.  I knew I needed to return home to AvA…and I did. 

I joined AvA and am currently a Sr. Captain with a CAT IV rating and assigned to the best hub in their system, KDFW.  I am as happy as can be.  My first online VATSIM flight was held early this morning (couldn’t sleep) from KDEN to KDFW.  I feel I have a few tweaks to make with theSquawkbox client as it crashed my very fast and very reliable system once I landed in Dallas.  All had worked fine and once I switched it to squawk standby, it all crashed.  I think I’m going to fly a few more trips and see if I can reproduce the issue.  If it happens again, I’ll move SB over to another machine and run it in network mode.

Until next time,


Around the World – Update 10

If all goes as planned, this update (update 10) will be the final trip update for my Around the World – 2010 Adventure.  If by some chance you are just finding this blog.  I began an Around the World Journey on what feels like a really long time ago, but actually just on 30 September 2010.  As I stated in this blog post, I’ve done around the world flights before.  I’ve completed about as many as I’ve started.  But I’ve never completed an around the world flight in a single engine prop aircraft.  This all changes now as I’m just a few flight legs away from completing this adventure in a Mooney. 

As my Mooney sits in Sitka, Alaska I’ve traveled 3 nm shy of 34,000 nm in 191.0 hours and burned 3,077 gallons of fuel.  I’m less than 2000 nm from Centennial, Colorado KAPA (my starting point).  According to Wiki Answers, the circumference of the Earth at the Equator is 24,901.46 miles.  While I’ve traveled over 50% of this trip north of the equator, I did fly down under to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.  The bottom line and I guess the point that I’m trying to make is I’ve traveled a long, long ways and have had fun along the way.

It is the early morning of Wednesday, 17 November and it is time to snuff out the fire in the cabin and ready the float plane for the trip back to Sitka.  The weather today is cloudy but with good visibility.  I expect no issues getting out of the Fjords surrounding the cabin location.  With the flight down to Sitka taking just about 45 minutes, I’ll still have a full day of flying to get me on down closer to home.  I arrived back at the Sitka float plane base to turn in my float plane and then head over to the neighboring PASI to pickup the Mooney. 

I had the Mooney serviced while I was on my float plane R&R adventure, so she is good to go all the way back to Denver.  I’ve really been impressed with how well this plane has performed on this long, long trip.  She has exceeded my expectations….but we’re not home yet.

I departed runway 29 at PASI and made the nice, slow turn to the south taking one more look at the surrounding area.  The first leg of today’s trip will be down to CYZT, Port Hardy.  I’m flying over the southern area of the Tongass Fjords scenery area and it’s just beautiful.  I really can’t wait to get back up here to explore all it has to offer. 

As I got closer to Port Hardy, the clouds began to fill in all around me and so did the rain.  The approach into CYZT was uneventful.  I just needed to remember this would not be a water landing.  :-)  Once on the ground I fueled the Mooney and myself and departed as quickly as I could and head down through Washington State and into Oregon.  Just 4 miles south of Hillsboro is Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark, 7S3.  This little slice of heaven is depicted very nicely by Bill Womack.  Check out his website for more information on this Orbx scenery. 

Final approach into Stark's Twin Oaks Airpark

It’s great to be back in the lower 48.  I’m going to spend the next day around Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark and will resume flying on Friday. 

It’s Friday and the final day of flying has arrived.  Today I will make it back home and complete my Around the World – 2010 Adventure.  As I depart Stark’s Twin Oaks Airpark, I will officially be starting the 73rd leg of my journey.  I plan to fly a long first leg followed by two shorter legs to finish out at 75 legs for the entire journey.

I departed Stark’s just as the sun was rising.  I’ve still got a long way to go and need a full day of flying to reach KAPA in Centennial, Colorado late this afternoon/evening.  Also this strategy will also allow me to carry less fuel as the Mooney just seems to struggle at higher altitudes when fully fueled.  I will need her to run smooth to get me over the Rockies. 

The overall weather and visibility today has been wonderful.  I’m flying a modified route from what I talked about in update 9.  I’m headed for Idaho Falls, Idaho and KIDA.  From KIDA I will head southeast to Glenwood Springs, Colorado KGWS then on to KAPA.

I landed in Idaho Falls, KIDA and loaded enough fuel for the short flight down to Glenwood Springs and grabbed a bite to eat.  The weather is holding, but winds along the mountain range coming into Wyoming is a little turbulent.  The Mooney is bouncing around a little, but I have a good strong tailwind and making great time.  I landed at KGWS and purchased the final few gallons needed to make it up and over the Rockies and into Denver.  I grabbed some food and I was in the air in no time. 

Final into Idaho Springs, Idaho

This final leg is perhaps the shortest of all the previous 74 legs on this trip.  At just 116 nm, I’ll be on the ground within an hour.  I suppose this last leg is somewhat bittersweet.  While I’m please I’ve managed to accomplish a task that many in the flight simulator hobby only dream of, I’m also thinking “what next”?  For the past seven weeks, I’ve known where I’ll fly and what aircraft I would fly in. 

Of course the sweet part of this is the journey is complete and I can do whatever I want to do.  As much fun as I’ve had flying low and slow, I do miss the “big iron” and will soon fly an American Airlines/American Eagle trip which I will also be flying in real life in the next few weeks.  What I’m fairly confident about is I’ll return to a low and slow journey again very soon. 

The flight from Glenwood Springs to Centennial (Denver) went really fast.  I spent some time flying over the area gaining altitude before I headed east and followed fairly close the route of Interstate 70 as it winds through the mountains.    Once I was on the eastern side of the Rockies, the downtown skyline of Denver came into view. 

The Mile High City

Weather conditions had KAPA operating landing north to south and Centennial Tower gave me runway 17R.  I had a Cessna ahead of me and another behind me.  Plus lots of traffic on the ground.  It’s a beautiful day to return home.  I’m glad to be here.

Final into KAPA and Rwy 17R.  I'm home

So what was the final breakdown of statistics?  Well, the journey began on 30 September 2010 and finished today, 19 November 2010.  I was away from home for 51 days and of those 51 days, 30 were actual flying days.  The number of flying hours total 201.5.  This averages out to 6.7 hours per flight day.  I completed the trip in 75 flight segments and traveled in both the northern and southern hemisphere.  The total number of miles flown was 35,816 and I burned a total of 3,235 gallons of fuel.  If you want to view my route on Google maps, just click here

When I first began flying computer simulators back in the early 80’s, the concept of going anywhere other than around Chicago Meig’s Field was simply unheard of.  Now today I’ve completed something that I’ve always wanted to do.  Like I’ve said, I have circled the globe several times in heavy iron and I’ve attempted the task in smaller planes many times only to burn out and simply give up.  I look forward to the next time I can circle the globe.

Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey.


Around the World – Update 9

As in previous updates, I’ve talked about what course I would take once I reached this point in the journey.  I decided a while back that I would head out across the Aleutian Islands if it was possible.  I spent some time researching all my alternatives while on the ground in Tokyo and determined if the weather was cooperating once I reached UHSS, I could safely head east to UHPP.  This is a distance of just a little over 700nm.  While it is pushing my personal comfort level, I have traveled this distance before without issue.

In most of the planning for this trip I have relied on equal parts of luck and judgment.  While I would never take unnecessary chances, I have plenty of good data on what my Mooney can and can’t do.  Best of all, I know when the Mooney turns from an airplane into an expensive glider.  :-)

The day arrived to make the long 712 nm crossing to UHPP.  The weather was better than perfect.  Weather reports showed winds aloft at 260 @40.  This was exactly what I needed.  I departed UHSS and headed for UHPP.  This would be the final leg of a very long day (partially covered inupdate 8).  I knew it would be late in the evening when I arrived, but I had to keep going as the weather was perfect for the crossing.

The fuel capacity on my Mooney is 66 gallons.  I made the crossing to UHPP on 62 gallons with 4 gallons to spare.  Not bad…but I’m glad this is the last of the long distance water crossings.  The remaining sections across the Aleutians will be in the neighborhood of 450-550 nm legs.  But now that I’m safely on the ground, it is time for bed.  My ride to the hotel awaits.

My ride is here.

The next flying day has arrived.  I departed UHPP headed to ATU on the Alaskan Island of Attu.  I departed North America on 1 October when I flew from northeastern Canada to Greenland.  Now almost six weeks later, I’m officially back in North America and have crossed the international date line.

Winter weather along the Aleutian Islands

My travels continue east from ATU to PADK, Adak Airport on Adak Island, Alaska.  After a brief stop for fuel, I pushed on to PADU in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.  Dutch Harbor has been made somewhat famous from the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch.  My wife and I both love this show and is pretty much the only reality tv show we watch.  I wanted to spend a little more time in Dutch so I checked into the local motel for the night.

Final into Dutch Harbor, Alaska

The next day started early.  I departed Dutch and continued northeast through the Aleutian Islands.  This has been a fun route.  I’ve tried to keep the legs short and have enjoyed flying into the small island airports.  I plan to continue this northeast direction on through the Aleutians until I reach the southwest corner of Alaska.  At this point I plan to continue somewhat around the southern Alaska coastline and will spend a little time exploring around the Pacific Fjords.  I now own the Orbx Pacific Fjords scenery and will visit some of the smaller airfields represented in this software package.  I’m thinking of adding the Tongass Fjords X scenery as well.  Ok…well when I looked at the website I couldn’t resist.  So I will now have plenty of eye candy to keep my entertained as I fly through southeast Alaska and northwest British Columbia.  :-)  Once I return to Colorado, I think I’ll take a vacation to this area of Alaska and British Columbia and rent a float plane and really explore this region.

From Dutch I headed towards Kodiak Island and PADQ.  The weather was nice which made for great flying weather out of Dutch.  I did fly over the Dutch Harbor area and it looked like several crab boats were getting ready to head back out.  I look forward to watching their adventures next Spring on Deadliest Catch.

I think if all goes well I can be back in Colorado just before Thanksgiving (about 10 days from now).  When I started this journey I really had no idea how long it would take. I’ve done around the world flights before but never in a single engine prop plane.  A few things I really didn’t know when I started this journey as just how frequently I would be able to fly.  So I honestly thought it would be sometime after the first of the year before I arrived back home.  But I’ve made great time and have been able to fly a lot more days than I thought. 

Oh by the way, how do you like the Polaroid’s?  I had been blogging directly to my WordPress site via a web browser.  This had worked fine up until just a few days ago when the text of a draft blog article completely disappeared.  Ouch that really hurt as I had been working on it for several days.  So I started looking for offline options.  I wanted something I could work on draft articles which would be saved locally to my hard drive and then I could upload them to my WordPress blog site.  Voila….Microsoft to the rescue.  Windows Live Writer to the rescue.  WLW allows me to do just what I wanted.  I can upload the draft versions so they are backed up to my site.   The Polaroid frames are just some of the features of WLW.  But enough about this.

After refueling I departed Kodiak Island and headed north to fly over Homer, Alaska then turned east towards Chenega Bay, Alaska and a small gravel airfield C05 where I’ll fuel and continue on towards the south to Sitka, Alaska.  Sitka will position me to spend a little time exploring the Tongass Fjords and Pacific Fjords add-on scenery software I spoke about earlier.  Before leaving Sitka, I plan to look into float plane rentals and will certainly be back up this direction to explore all this area has to offer very soon.

Final into C05 Chenega Bay, Alaska

Once I finish my quick exploration of Tongass Fjords and Pacific Fjords I’ll continue heading south through British Columbia, Canada towards Washington State and Starks Twin Oaks Airpark (7S3) for which I have the add-on scenery from Bill Womack.  I think my general direction will be a fairly direct route on down to Colorado passing through northeast Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and then into my home state of Colorado.  From Starks I estimate it to be at least two flight legs which is certainly doable in one day.   

Final into Sitka, Alaska

I arrived in Sitka, Alaska on a very overcast afternoon as you can tell from the photograph above.  But I’m done for the day and plan to ask around to see what might be available for rental now as I’m eager to explore for a few days.  I talked to the guy down at the float plane area and he told me he had a very nice C185 Amphibian model.  I could pick it up immediately and keep it for as long as I wanted.  With the weather being what it was I opted to wait until the next day as I heard the weather would be clearing.

Nice rental available immediately

The next day arrived and it was time for me to go down and pickup the rental.  I left my Mooney in safe hands and signed out the C185 Amphibian and departed for a day or two of discovery around the Tongass Fjords.  I thought it would be nice to spend a night or two at one of the many US Forest Service cabins in the area.  Most are accessible only via float plane or by boat with some hiking.  I’m not opposed to some hiking, but this is a flight sim blog, so I’ll stick to float planes.  :-)  I’ve picked a few areas I wanted to visit.  These are all in the vicinity of Sitka.

The first area I thought I would visit was about 12 miles from Sitka called Salmon Lake.  It was a little hard to find but I found it and managed to land on the lake without issue.  I pulled the C185 up on the bank and was in the process of getting out when a brown bear walked up.    I decided to quickly close the door and let the bear have salmon lake.  I would go elsewhere and I did. 

It might be time to go.  BEAR!!!

I decided to fly up north of Sitka as there are several cabin locations to choose from and I would visit a couple and decide which one I liked the best for this trip.  Of course I would also be researching for future trips as well.  But bottom line is I’m having fun exploring this beautiful area of Alaska.  I will say, I hadn’t done much float plane operations until now.  Sure I’ve played around with the default models…but have never done this type of adventure flying.  Some of these cabin locations are situated in small bodies of water and in tight coves.  It might look like trying to land a 747 in a bath tub, but with practice you can ace these water landings with ease.

Will it fit down there?

After visiting about a half dozen of the cabin locations near and north of Sitka, I’m going to head up and check out the Glacier Bay National Park area.  The glacier I’m going to explore today is in Taylor Bay (fitting huh).  Flying along the glacier was an awesome experience.  Perhaps on my next trip to Alaska I’ll rent a plane with skis and land on a glacier.  Of course I need to read up on my rules and regs to make sure that doesn’t break the law. :-)

Glacier near Taylor Bay.

After exploring the glacier a little more (from the air) I decided it was time to head back to the cabin I selected.  The cabin is Goulding Lake Cabin, located about 60 nm northwest of Sitka. The cabin is nice and secluded with a canoe.  I’m just hoping the bear stays away this time.

Nice water landing.  Cabin just in background.

Home Sweet Home for the night.

Well I’m going to publish this update and spend a few days here in this cabin doing some fishing and relaxing.  I’ll pick the story up again once I return to Sitka, Alaska and pickup the Mooney.  This will start the final update, update 10 which will take me all the way back to Colorado.

Around the World – Update 8

As my 8th update begins to unfold in front of your eyes, I have been on this journey for over one month, have flown over 27,000 nm in just over 152 hours.  On this trip, I have visited many old favorites and just as many brand new destinations.  The one element I’ve realized from this trip is just how much fun it is to fly low and slow. 

The first few legs of this update will have me departing Manado, Indonesia and flying north to and through the Philippines and up to Taiwan then across to mainland China.  Once I arrive in China I plan to fly up the east coast to Shanghai then cross over to Japan.  I plan to fly up and through Japan.  I’m sure at this stage update 9 will take over.  I haven’t decided how I’m going to cross from Asia over to North America.  I haven’t had time to research the possibility of island hopping my way across the Aleutians or just continuing up through Asiatic Russia and cross directly into Alaska via the Bering Strait.

The day began much like the others.  I only have a limited amount of time to fly and will only complete two legs to position myself in northern Philippines.  I departed WAMM for RPVA in Tacloban City.  A quick re-fuel and I was back in the air headed to RPUT in Tuguegarao in northern Philippines.  This is where I’ll stop for the day and resume my journey in hopefully a few days.

Well I’m back in the cockpit of my Carenado Mooney for what I hope will be a long day of flying.  My hope for this day is to make it from the northern Philippines across the Philippine Sea to Taiwan then across the East China Sea to mainland China.  I’ll travel up the east coast of China to Shangai where it will position me to head back across the East China Sea to Japan. 

The day began early with weather and atmosphere briefings.  While I can expect some clouds with a few chances of rain along today’s journey, the dust from the volcano down in Indonesia should not be a factor.  I departed RPUT just after sunrise headed for RCYU in Hualien, Taiwan.  This would be a quick fuel stop then onto mainland China.

Final into RCYU

From RCYU, I headed west across Taiwan and across the East China Sea to mainland China.  I traveled up the east coast of China to the outskirts of Shangai to ZSSS.  ZSSS is the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and one of two major airports in Shanghai, China.  I grabbed a late lunch and then resumed my flight back across the East China Sea to the southern tip of Japan and RJFA.

Holding short runway 18 ZSSS in Shanghai, China

The flight over to Japan was uneventful.  I landed at RJFA located in Ashiya, Japan and will call it a day.  From here I’ll fly up to the Tokyo area then on up to northern Japan.  I’ll make the decision for the next few flight legs prior to departing northern Japan.  I’m favoring the island hopping I’ve talked about before.

I had a brief amount of free time on Saturday and decided to fly on up to Tokyo.  The weather was cloudy, but overall very good.  I left late in the afternoon and would be flying after dark.  The sunset was beautiful over southeastern Japan.

Sunset over the Sea of Japan.

I flew into RJTY, Yokota Air Base located in western Tokyo.  I’ll spend the next few days in Tokyo and hopefully resume my travels next week.

Well I’m back in the saddle again…or er….back in the cockpit.   I departed Tokyo before sunrise on what is planned to be a great day of flying.  I’m headed north up through Japan to RJEB, located in Monbetsu, Japan.  From RJEB I plan to turn slightly northwest and head to UHSS.  UHSS is located on the Russian island of Sakhalinsk. 

I’m going to close this update out and post it on the web.  Update 9 will document my crossing from Asiatic Russia back into North America.  I have options….plenty of options mapped out.  Most of these options will just depend on weather conditions.  Time will tell. 

Thank you for reading. 


Around the World – Update 7

My position as of this posting is WAMM (Manado, Indonesia)
I’ve traveled a total of 27,709 nm
I’ve burned a total of 2,448 gallons of fuel
I’ve flown a total of 152.25 hours
My next destination is Philippines

The day begins with what hopefully will be a long day of island hopping from the Australian mainland to New Zealand.  Getting from Australia to New Zealand in one leg is just not doable in my Mooney as the distance is over 1000 nm.  At first glance I really didn’t think it was doable until I began looking into the islands which are located just to the west and north of New Zealand.

The comfortable range in my Carenado Mooney is approx. 6oo nm.  With a good strong tail-wind I can stretch that, but it starts to get outside my comfort level.  When flying over populated areas in Europe I did push this as I had many backup locations to land to refuel.  But flying across open water, especially shark infested waters, I’m not willing to take those chances.  :-)

Thankfully, there are two islands which are heavily used in the real-world for smaller GA aircraft to fly between Australia and New Zealand.  The first is Lord Howe Island and YLHI airport.  The airport is 462 nm from Sydney and will be the first leg.  From YLHI, it is still over 700 nm to NZ.  So I will depart YLHI and head northeast to Norfolk Island and YSNF.  This leg is approx. 486 nm and will position me for a third leg of 460 nm to NZKT and the northern most airport in New Zealand, Kaitaia Airport.

This trip has been so much fun.  As I’ve stated before, I’m really not sure what I enjoy the most….the flying or the planning.  Perhaps the answer is equal parts of both.   As I mentioned in my introduction blog post about my plans to complete an around the world flight, for much of my simming time in the past 10-12 years, it has been done in jets.   Flying fast and high, you see the flight sim world differently. 

Now there is nothing wrong with flying heavy jets.  I’m looking forward to when I return home and can resume flying some of my favs including the Boeing 747, 777, MD-80 and Fokker 100.  But I love flying low and slow and plan to intermix the two a lot more than I have in the past.  Until then I will continue my Around the World Adventure and continue sharing my updates with those of you who read my blog.

On final into Lord Howe Island Airport

Final approach into Norfolk Island.

On final into Kaitaia, New Zealand. A long day of island hopping comes to an end.

Today was a long day of flying covering over 1400 nm in a little over 9 hours.  It was great to do the two island hops to get from Australia to New Zealand.  I will spend a few days flying south down through New Zealand.  I’m looking forward to it.

Well the journey continues.  The next few flying segments will take me down through New Zealand.  I departed NZKT and headed for Wellington (NZWN).  This is the 45th leg of my around the world journey.  From Wellington I flew down to Wanaka and NZWF.  I decided to visit Wanaka from some screenshots I saw of the airport on The Flight Simulator Network.  I will depart Wanaka and head back north to the north coast of New Zealand and begin another series of island hopping flight legs.  I will re-visit Norfolk Island and then continue heading north hopping from one island to another up to Papua New Guinea.

The day of more island hopping has arrived.  I departed NZWR in Whangarei, New Zealand for Norfolk Island Airport YSNF.  Of the almost 50 flight legs completed and an approx. 20 or so to go, YSNF will be the only airport I will have visited twice in my trip (other than my home airport of KAPA).  Unfortunately there’s just no other way.

After re-fueling and grabbing a bite to eat, I departed Norfolk Island for a new destination of Noumea, on New Caledonia NWWW.  The island has a rich history which includes Captain Cookand much more.  I’ve really enjoyed reading about all the destinations I’ve visited along the way and sharing as much as possible with each of you.

As my journey begins to wind down, I’m already thinking about the next Around the World flight I want to do.  What I’m thinking about now is doing a flight that somewhat traces the coastline of all the continents.  As an example, I would depart the west coast of the US and fly south into South America, then down to Antarctica and back up the east coast of South America and up to some island hopping across the Caribbean then up along the eastern seaboard of the US etc.  The adventure would take me along some of the same destinations as this adventure, but also many others. 

The decisions that lay in front of me for this new adventure is when and what type of aircraft.  No decisions have been made but I am leaning towards upgrading the Mooney for a twin engine prop model. 

Continuing on my journey today of island hopping through the south pacific, I departed NWWW for NVVV and Port Vila, Vanuatu.  This was a shorter leg compared to the previous two for today but designed to position me for a long first leg tomorrow to fly up to Guadalcanal Island.

As today begins it also marks one month of my journey.  I departed KAPA on September 30 and hopefully today I’ll make it to Papua New Guinea.  It’s been a tough “up hill” climb from southern New Zealand and I’m very close to the equator.  Unfortunately the “up hill” climb will continue, but I’m having so much fun.

I departed early Saturday morning from Port Vila headed on a long leg to Honiara International Airport, AGGH on Guadalcanal Island.  Guadalcanal is also rich in history and played an important role in WWII.  After grabbing lunch and re-fueling the Mooney, I departed AGGH for WGL in Wanigela, Papua New Guinea.  WGL is located on the southeastern coast of PNG and is a small grass strip.  I will stop for the night here and resume my flight up through the heart of PNG tomorrow.

The day started bright and early.  The weather is just simply gorgeous today.  The past few days I’ve had thick cloud cover with a ceiling of 5,000 – 6,000 feet and cloud tops extending through 8 and 9K.  But today the clouds (what little there are) are light and visibility is great.  My journey today will take me up through the heart of Papua New Guinea.  I installed the PNG mesh scenery for FSX from OZx.  This is beautiful freeware scenery for this region and I’m enjoying flying over it. 

I departed WGL for AYMH located in Mount Hagen, PNG.  Much of my journey for today will be in a northwest direction up through PNG towards Borneo then turning north to the Philippines.  While I haven’t set many goals for this trip, I would like to be north of the equator by the end of today.   While I’ve enjoyed the virtual spring like weather of flying south of the equator, I’m ready to return back to fall conditions.

AYMH was a little more tricky than most airports I’ve visited along the trip.  Like Kathmandu, it also reminded me of some of the airports in the Rocky Mountains.  The airport is at an altitude of 5361 with peaks around it topping out around 8,500 or so.  I was pleased the visibility was clear.  I fueled and quickly departed.  I needed to circle the airfield a few times while gaining altitude to be sure I’d clear the mountains to the northwest.  This put me en route to WABI in Nabire, Indonesia.  Taking on fuel, I departed for WAMM in Manado, Indonesia.  I’m officially north of the equator.  Yea!!!

I plan to take a few days off from flying.  When I resume, I’ll depart WAMM and head north to the Philippines, Taiwan then mainland China.  I’m easily on track to complete this journey prior to the end of November (perhaps even prior to mid-November).  I’m well over 75% complete.

Until next time,



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