One More Orbit

Route map for One More Orbit, a successful attempt to break the world record in circumnavigating the globe via both poles. They did it in 46 hours, 39 minutes and 38 seconds

Photo A Day: Back in the Air

First trip in an Airbus A500-900. No overhead bins in the middle, only on the sides. Makes for a roomy feel. Here’s the route, BKK – HEL:

A great feature of this Finnair Airbus is the tail-mounted live camera. Here, in the queue to leave Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport:

Here, jukin’ out over the Gulf of Thailand:

Here, over the Gobi Desert:

Collected photos from this slow trip around the world here.

Arctic Route

Travel Time, two posts back, had it about right. Regulatory confidence in Boeing’s abilities to fly on two jet engines over the pole produced this flight path for us on Tuesday/Wednesday. The flight was Air China CA818 Dulles to Beijing, fourteen hours in a Boeing 777.

Never having seen Hudson Bay in mid-April, I’m here to testify that there’s not a thing down there, no sign of Churchill and polar bears, just icy patches with streams to the bay and snow fields beyond.

Washington Dulles to Beijing was followed by Beijing to HCMC where everybody is wilting after several 97 degree days.

Star Alliance IAD

Enjoying the Star Alliance lounge at IAD. Pretty generic lounge but it’s branded as Turkish Airlines and serves pita, hummus, baba ganoush, a Moroccan vegetable soup and some nice vegetarian sides. Pleasure to touch with Turkey-world on the way to Southeast Asia.

Road Trip Photo a Day

Our countdown is on now toward a three month+ round the world trip starting in mid-April. I’ll be traveling with my wife, the fearless Finn Mirja Murray. She and I will set out next month bound first for Saigon, ATL-IAD-BJS-Saigon. We’ve rented an apartment for three weeks:

It’s just off Le Loi and just above the Ben Thanh Market. We are coming from the ethnic food-constrained southern Appalachians and looking forward to eating well. Destinations beyond Saigon are up in the air for now. While we’re in Vietnam we hope to get up to Hue for a look at the work my friend Chuck Searcy is doing with Project RENEW. Chuck says, “A visit there brings into sharp focus the continuing legacies of the war that we’re trying to mitigate, unexploded bombs and mines (UXO) and Agent Orange / dioxin.”

Our ultimate mission is to make it to Finland by the time it’s summer there, sometime in June. We have a mökki, a cottage by the lake there. We’ll have to work out the route between Southeast Asia and Northern Europe. Just now I’m keen on flying HAN-IST-Tbilisi and enjoying some fine Georgian hospitality while we wait another few weeks for Finland to warm up, but that is subject to, even likely to change. Any other suggestions?

Meanwhile, from now to then, we’ll try to post a photo a day from previous trips to Vietnam on Twitter, where I am @BMurrayWriter, please follow, and all the photos we post will propagate day by day on Earthphotos.com, too, at this URL: https://www.earthphotos.com/Other/Around-the-World-Slowly-2019/.

This is a wide open, open ended trip. Please help us by lending your expertise. Do weigh in. Or, if you’re local in any of our destinations, please allow me to buy you a beer.

 

Best Pilot Stories

Special Livery Won’t Last

Cathay Pacific aeroplane gets new paint job.

Shortest Flight Anywhere. Almost.

Some time ago I posted video of the flight from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland – the whole flight. In favorable conditions it can take all of 47 seconds.

Here is another, as presented on Vimeo,

“At just over one nautical mile between them, Kegata and Apowo airstrips in Papua, Indonesia are separated by a deep valley making aircraft an ideal mode of transport between the two villages.”

It’s a close second to the Scottish flight, coming in at 73 seconds. Take the whole flight here:

Addis & Asmara Reconnected

Thawing of Ethiopian/Eritrean relations will make a visit to Eritrea theoretically much easier, assuming Eritrean officials’ willingness to pony up tourist visas.

The Eritrean capital has been downright awkward to get to, with flights only from Sharjah and Dubai in the UAE, Cairo, Egypt, Istanbul, Turkey, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Khartoum, Sudan. It looks like Eritrean Airlines runs a flight up to Milan-Malpensa, too.

Yesterday’s resumption of flights from Addis by one of Africa’s biggest and best-connected airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, marks real progress in reopening the Eritrean capital, Asmara, to the world.

A little like Havana, Asmara is a city frozen in time. As Quartz explains:

“It goes back to Benito Mussolini. When the Italian fascist leader decided to invade Ethiopia in the 1930s, he chose the country’s small northern neighbor Eritrea as a base from which to launch his operation. Thousands of Italians ended up migrating there to help with the effort. By 1939, half of Asmara’s population was made up of Italians.

“Petrol stations mimicking aeroplanes and boats, commercial buildings designed as trains, cavernous cinemas with fine period plasterwork and Art Dem interiors, fine ultra-modern hotels and offices, and government buildings with highly politicised monumental designs.”

Check out these photos from Asmara.

Africa Vignette 10: Over Namibia

Late in the afternoon, as the light over the Sossusvlei turns sideways, a Cessna gains speed, pounding along the grass strip as a pilot named Lindy, an unsettlingly young girl with blond hair and blazing blue eyes, lifts us into the air for a trip out over the Namibian dunes.

Sometimes they run safaris on the beach (55 kilometers away), she explains, and it is most vital that if we see any cars we must let her know immediately!

That’s curious. Why?

They could spoil our fun, she grins. We are required to fly at 3000 feet, but out there we will joy ride at 500. Where in all this world can you flaunt the rules if not on the desolate coast of bloody Namibia?

They’ve numbered the dunes 1 to 70 or 80 by the road from the Sesreim gate to Sossusvlei. Lindy pinwheels the Cessna around Dune 45, a star dune that like certain celebrities has become famous for being famous. While Dune 45 is tall and striking in its own right, it is best known because it is close to the road and lots of people climb it.

Dune 45

Bernard, driving this morning, stopped for us to see it, too, and indeed, folks had already scaled Dune 45 and were clamoring back down. Before sundown though, dune 45 and all of the other dunes stand deserted. Everyone must leave the park at night.

We do a long turn around “Big Daddy,” which they repute to be the world’s tallest sand dune, and in the same sweep, take in the dead vlei and Sossusvlei, and the dune we climbed that morning. They call that one “Big Mama.”

The road ends here. Here to the shore, nothing but dunes, horizon to horizon. No place for engine trouble.

The coast gains focus, and in time we cruise over a fallen-in diamond mining settlement, its man-made perpendiculars entirely out of sorts with the natural swirls of the desert that resemble nothing more organized than crumpled bed sheets.

We swoop down low along the water’s edge above seal colonies, thousands of seals lounging for miles up the coast, up to the wreck of the Eduard Bohlen, a cargo ship that ran aground in fog back 1909 and still lies in place, four hundred meters from the coast.

The Eduard Bohlen

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See more photos from Namibia in the Namibia Gallery at Earthphotos.com.

Africa Vignettes is a weekly series most Mondays this summer on CS&W.