Amman is a bustling and beautiful city. Spent the night at the really nice and inexpensive ($80/night) Century Park hotel. In the morning, the ground handler for my plane came to pick me up. Before starting from the hotel he wanted me to settle the bill (no credit card but cash only). The invoice was for $1200 (excluding hotel and fuel), most of the charges I did not understand but what stood out was a $200 charge for transporting me to the hotel and back. The hotel was only 6 KM away from the airport. Not much I could do but to pay the invoice. Feeling a bit ripped off I headed for the Airport.
The Marka Internationals Airport is one of the two International airports in Amman. Queen Alia being the main one. Marka is not much in use and I was the only one passing through this morning. With lots of security people around, I had to go through three separate security check stations with metal detector doors and x-ray machines. These security checkpoints were within 10 yards of each other. It was hard to understand why I and my luggage had to go through metal detectors and x-ray machines three times and swabbed, but they cleared me and I am ready to leave for Bahrain.
It was an 875 NM long flight. As I reached at my assigned altitude of 17,000 feet, I encountered head winds. With these headwinds I was barely going to make it to Bahrain, not a comforting thought. I texted the situation to my logistic company in Egypt. They checked weather information available to them and determined that if I climbed to 19000 feet I would have tail winds instead of headwinds. It is hard to believe but sure enough when I climbed to 19000 feet, the headwinds became tailwinds (I probably caught the jet stream prevalent due to easterly rotation of the Earth) and I had no problem making it to Bahrain comfortably. All of my flight was over Saudi desert. There was nothing I could see except a line in the sand that is the highway crossing the desert. I wondered how the Bedouins ever crossed such a vast desert on camels!
It is sunny and over 100 degrees. The desert heat in Bahrain is stifling and I am happy to be at the hotel.
Next stop Muscat, Oman!
The strict Air Traffic Control at Crete gave me 25 minutes slot to depart. If I did not leave with in that slot, I will have to file a delayed flight plan and wait for a slot to open up.
I got to the airport in plenty of time, at least so I thought, but Crete airport is a fairly large international airport teeming with tourists and is pretty busy. By the time I cleared customs, fueled up the plane, paid my bills and got ready to go, I had less than 10 min left in my slotted time. Again, somehow I manged to take off in the allotted time. But It is only after take off I got the real surprise when ATC radioed me an amended routing to Amman. It was even more crooked than what I had earlier. This long and winding route had me flying around Israel and crossing way points that were really not on the way to Amman. The total distance turned out to be over 1050 NM. The straight distance from Crete to Amman is only 577 NM!
I had really no choice but to carry on. Unlike yesterday, when I had dream tail winds that I did not want, today I really needed tailwinds, but had headwinds or no winds all the way. it took over six hours to reach Amman. Moreover, all of my flight was either over the water or the desert, there was nothing really to look at. As I crossed the Mediterranean and entered Egypt, it felt like I was about to enter a sand storm. Fortunately, I was pretty high and had no problems. Tired but happy to be in Amman.
Next stop Bahrain
Had my plane serviced in Bologna, so while flying to Crete, the first order of business was to map out the performance of the plane and all relevant temperatures at various power levels to make sure all was OK. It was a relief to find that all is OK and I can continue as planned.
I had pilot’s dream tail winds today and plane was going real fast. However, for landing in Crete I had been allotted a 30 min slot. If I got there early, I would be put on a hold somewhere near the airport, if late there could be a fine. So to make it on time, I had to deliberately try to slow my plane down. Goes to show, sometime a good thing is not a good thing. I did all I could, even flew the plane at 40 % power, the lowest I have ever flown it in cruise mode, still the speed was too fast. Somehow, I managed to get appropriate speed and landed at Crete exactly at 13:30 UTC my ETA as filed. Felt real proud of my time management accomplishment.
Flew past Greek Islands, including Santorini, my most favorite one. But due to haze, could not take decent pictures. Sorry!
Tomorrow I fly to Amman, Jordan. The direct route to Amman is only 580 NM, but the flight route provided by Air Traffic Control, does not to go over Israel but around it instead. So, I must fly 900 NM. Go figure !
After a great stay with my friends Qutub/Mubeen (they were wonderful hosts indeed) in Liverpool, I flew over France, Switzerland and the breathtaking peaks/valleys of Alps to Bologna, Italy. Giuseppe Berardo, my fellow International Fellowship of Flying Rotarians (IFFR) member, received me at the airport and drove me to the dinner meeting of Bologna Rotarians. My welcome by Bologna Rotarians was simply incredible and elegant. Bologna TV then came out to the airport for an interview this morning. I will just let the picture and news video tell the story.
Bologna is also one of my planned service/maintenance stops for the trip. After getting the oil changed and a problematic temperature probe fixed, I test flew the airplane. All seems fine and ready to go for tomorrow.
Next stop Crete, Greece.
Landed at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool. As a lifelong Beatles fan, I can still hear Lennon singing to the world, “All you need is love, love. Love is all you need” So, true!
It is the love for our fellow beings and “Service above Self” that makes this world a better place for all. But friends, I am falling behind in achieving my goal. With 20% of my journey completed, I have not reached 20% of my goal to raise $750,000.
As Lennon would probably sing “Help me if you can I am falling behind. And I do appreciate you being around. Help me get my mission back turned around. Won’t you please, please help me“. I am counting on you friends to not fail me now. Please continue to donate,
I have crossed the deepest oceans, I am now ready to cross the highest mountains. Next stop across the Alps, Bologna, Italy!
Did not get any angry tweets from the POTUS, I guess he does not read my blogs!
Walked around Reykjavik yesterday. What can I say, it is simply a gorgeous place to visit. Took the Golden Circle bus tour today. Lava fields, hot springs, geysers, active volcanoes, shrinking glaciers and North America-Eurasia tectonic plates tearing apart, it is all there to see. Iceland is a Geological wonder of Nature!
People of Iceland are proud people, they built a museum wholly dedicated to their penis (The Icelandic Phallological Museum). I am not kidding! It is the only museum of its kind in the world. All you macho men out there, come see, you will be humbled!
Well, back to reality, I now have to focus on my longest over water flight ever tomorrow, Reykjavik to Liverpool (900 NM)!
On my way from Nuuk to Reykjavik, I flew over miles deep ice sheet of Greenland, one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth. Seeing it melting in places, I could not help but think, that Mr. Trump, our president better start listening to the scientists and help them keep it frozen as it is meant to be, or he soon will be watching his beloved Mar-a-Lago float away into the sea!!!!
I hope POTUS reads my blog!