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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.