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Sunday, September 1, 2013: Day 8 - Muscat-Colombo, Sri Lanka
The alarm went of at 0345--that is because we set it based on our planned 0600 departure. The driver picked us up at the hotel at 0445, and once arriving at the airport we were through customs very quickly--just like real pilots. We were at the aircraft, ready for 090113 Dawn in Oman 1IFR clearance and startup clearance for an on-time departure, but the tower advised us that the runway was closed until 0630. This 30 minute wait gave me time to reflect on the overwhelming support and kind gestures and messages I have received. I am continually asked why am I doing this, and I think the answer is simple. Travel and adventures broaden your mind, and what better way to broaden your mind than to fly around the world in an aircraft we love and respect--the MU-2--to celebrate a milestone of 50 years in service. (photo right: Dawn in Muscat, Oman - waiting on an unexpected runway closure)

We were airborne at 0638 and climbing to 25,001 feet; during the climb I decided to level at 23,000 feet due to the high temps at ISA +20. In cruise we pulled back the power and had 285 knots TAS and a fuel flow of 66 090113 Pushing out the MU-2 in Mumbai1gallons total. Crossing the FIR boundary from Muscat to Mumbai we were back on the HF radio, which we have not used since crossing the North Atlantic. By using 23,000 feet we picked up 20 of the 30 minutes we lost on departure from Muscat. Bombay International was a very easy stop. Our handler Sashi Bhushan, from Freedom Air Services, knew all of the short cuts to get us in and out of this bureaucratic country. Although there was an electronic flight plan in the system, they filled out by hand the same details on another flight plan to have it stamped by Immigration, Customs, Gov. of India and the Airport Authority, but this was all handled in a very pleasant and courteous manner. Mike Collins has become an expert on supervising the fueling of the MU-2 while I deal with the paperwork. (photo above left: ramp crew at Mumbai pushing out N50ET)

After a quick 1 hour tech stop we were on our way. This time we climbed all the way up to 25,011 feet. We pulled our fuel flow back to the standard 66 gallons total and saw a generous 285 knots at ISA +20 and pushing a 20 knot headwind, but we are just happy to be here. As we move south we are starting to see the effects of monsoon season, towering clouds to the left and right of our track. When we land in Colombo, Sri Lanka we will be just 7 degrees north of the equator.

After landing in Colombo, we found everyone was helpful and eager to please. We moved through the international terminal along with the airline pilots, who I am sure were thinking this was a joke.

Saturday, August 31, 2013: Day 7 - Kuwait City-Muscat
Handler in Kuwait 9147Kuwait has been such an easy stop; the GA (general aviation) facility was beautiful, and everyone was so easy to deal with (photo left: one of the handlers at the Kuwait International Airport). This morning again, we lifted off at our flight planned time of 0830. We climbed up to 25,000 feet, fuel burn 68 GPH and TAS is 285--5 knots short of our flight planned speed from Baseops--but we will pick that up after a short time. One thing I have learned on this trip is that if I set up the flight planned cruise speed, my estimates are within a few minutes over the entire route. In the six months preceeding this trip, I worked closely with BaseOps to get the true air speeds (TAS) and fuel burns for both normal cruise and long range cruise for N50ET very accurate, and that has really helped for the flight planning.

We are now at 25,000 feet and flying over the middle of the Persian Gulf--our route follows the Iran airspace border which is just 5 miles way--I hope this Garmin GPS is accurate! (photo right: navigating over the Persian Gulf)  After 1.5 hours, we are 083113 Persian Gulf navigation displaystarting to move away from the Iran border and our track now takes us over Dubai and into Oman. We landed in Muscat after a short flying day of just 2.7 hours. The fueler was there to meet us, so after refueling we moved through customs in the International Terminal then straight to the hotel. In reflecting back on our journey thus far, I can say that flying through Europe and the Middle East has been so easy. The controllers have been so courteous and polite, which has made it so easy and such a pleasure.

I am very lucky to have Mike Collins from AOPA magazine with me. Mike has done an incredible job of documenting the trip, and his photography is fantastic. Mike is so much fun to travel with and is ready to help in any and every way. Thank you to Mike and AOPA for supporting me in this trip.

Friday, August 30, 2013: Day 6 - Salzburg-Kuwait City
083013 Tea with the airport crew in AnkaraThis morning we rose at 0430 and were off to the airport for an early 0700 departure in order to make it to Ankara, Turkey prior to a military exercise. After our security check and fueling the aircraft, we were allowed startup and taxi at 0650.083013 Route through Iraq Salzburg Tower cleared us for takeoff at 0659 on a beautiful clear morning. Everyone in Salzburg and Austria was so polite and respectful, making it such a pleasure to fly through Europe. From our 0700 takeoff roll we were at 25,000 feet in 17 minutes, and our total fuel burn was 39 gallons. BaseOps had flight planned us at 298 TAS so we powered back to 470 EGT, giving us a total fuel burn of 72 GPH. After leaving Austria we crossed over Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and then into Turkey crossing the Black Sea just to the north of Istanbul. When we landed in Ankara, we where greeted by Murat from Gozen Air Service, our handling agent. Everything was arranged and the fuel truck was standing by to top us off. When we finished fueling, Murat took us over to outside his office for a cup of tea while we waited for the military operation to finish (photo above left). During that time we learned it was Independence Day in Turkey, and that was the purpose of the military operation as Ankara is the capital.  

After a farewell handshake, we cranked up N50ET and launched for Kuwait. This time we climbed to 25,000 feet which took 21 minutes and we burned 41 gallons total including taxi. We are flight planned for LRC at 260 kts, that gave us a fuel burn of 56 GPH total which will give us ample fuel for this 1142 nautical mile leg. After 2 hours in flight we are now entering Iraq, and only a few miles from the Syrian border on one side and the Iran border on the other side (photo above right: route through Iraq). There is a huge storm sitting over this area, and with both Ankara Radar and Baghdad Radar assisting us with deviations, nothing seemed to be a problem. The weather is now perfect again, and we have a slight tailwind. It's hard to believe that I am actually here flying over Iraq. The Garmin radios, GTN-750 and 650, are perfect with the worldwide data base--also, the G-600 with synthetic vision has been amazing.

When we landed in Kuwait, the handler rushed us through immigration and customs, and everyone was so pleasant and easy to deal with. The second leg was 4.3 hours and 275 gallons--what an amazing aircraft! To see more photos from Day 6, please go to the RTW Photo Gallery

Thursday, August 29, 2013:  Day 5 - Salzburg
082913 Red Bull Air MuseumToday was a great day at the Red Bull Hangar 7 Museum, and thanks to Mike Collins being with the AOPA press, we were given access to Hangar 8-- the maintenance hangar--as well. The Hangar 7 structure is in the shape of a wing but with all glass panels. Walking through the hangar is like being in another world or atmosphere. Red Bull has 25 unique aircraft including vintage, aerobatic, warbirds, fighter jets, transport aircraft, and helicopters in additon to NASCAR and formula one race cars. They also display an art exhibit and feature several restaurants that alternate among the world's top chiefs every few weeks. So if you like fine food, fine art, and exotic aircraft then the Red Bull Hangar 7 Museum is a must.

For the remaining few hours of the day, Mike and I took a walking tour of Salzburg and through Old Town. Salzburg is a beautiful, small city set amongst the Austrian Alps. Tomorrow it's back in the air, heading for Turkey and then Kuwait.