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.

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.