Updated: Jun 22
I'm flying around the world via Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 using two aircraft. For most of the journey I'm flying a Daher TBM 930 turboprop. At some locations I explore low and slow in a Piper Cub which I magically keep stowed aboard the TBM!
My scintillating commentary, photographs and videos of my flight are shown below in reverse-chronological order. Best viewed on a big screen! Please leave a comment to let me know what you think!
June 21, 2021
I'll confess that my first departure from Atar to cross the Sahara ended in disaster due to my poor planning. Here I am about 75% of the way through the flight a few weeks ago:
With the plane's autopilot on, I left my computer cockpit for a few hours only to return and find this wreck with empty fuel tanks. So after a few weeks to make repairs, I returned to Atar and tried again today. I took off at dawn on my longest flight - from Atar to Tripoli, Libya. With proper planning this time, I requested FL290 where I was able to take advantage of a 70 knot direct tail wind. This gave me an average ground speed over 400 mph and let me cover the 1,800 miles to Tripoli without a fuel stop even though that's more than the rated range of the TBM!
Over eastern Mauritania, I passed near the amazing Eye of Sahara. Over 25 miles in diameter it was originally thought to be caused by a meteor strike. It's now known to be the result of a volcanic burp at the time that Pangea split apart 200 million years ago!
As I approached my destination and saw the waves of the Mediterranean splashing on "the shores of Tripoli," I got a lump in my throat thinking of the brave US Marines who fought Barbary Pirates there over 200 years ago.
May 23, 2021
The Portuguese island of Madeira off the coast of Western Africa is magnificent. I started the day circumnavigating this beautiful place which is actually the top of an ancient volcano. From the air it seems like everyone here lives either at sea-level or a mile up:
After circling Madeira I flew south to the Canary Islands of Spain. Here's a parting shot of me leaving lush Madeira behind:
You might think that the Canaries are named after the birds of the same name or vice versa, but get ready for a shock. Their name comes from the Latin word Canariae, meaning Dogs! Ancient inhabitants worshipped dogs and the place became known as "Islands of the Dogs!"
Low on fuel, I landed at the western-most island and refueled at La Palma. Then I headed due east to return to Africa. In the shot below, I had to climb to 7,000 feet to make it safely over the highest peak at the center of Grand Canary:
After another long water-crossing, I touched down during a gorgeous desert sunset at Laayoune Airport on the western edge of the Sahara Desert - my next exploration!
May 22, 2021
I decided to take a little detour today and headed west out over the Atlantic again to visit Madeira. I landed just after sunset. When I taxied over to my assigned parking area, there was my Savage Cub, parked and waiting for me to use for some sightseeing tomorrow.
May 13, 2021
From Barcelona, I bid Europe good-bye, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar into Africa! First stop just had to be where we left Rick and Louis over 80 years ago: Casablanca, Morocco.
May 12, 2021
Resumed my flight today after time off to do some some sightseeing around Europe. Did my longest and highest leg today, covering over 1,000 miles at FL310. The thin air allowed me to achieve my highest speed yet, showing one of the strengths of the TBM 930. Cabin pressurization couldn't keep up, however. Had to use oxygen masks for over an hour.
After landing in Barcelona, I borrowed this Cub to explore the city a bit before heading out, and to check out my favorite building in all the world:
And here's an interior shot I took when I was there (on the ground) a couple of years ago:
Mar 23, 2021
Wales - a beautiful, quiet, green, rainy country. Here's a look at my flight planning program showing the route I planned for today:
After entering the data into this program, I load it directly into my Garmin 3000 navigation computer onboard my plane. Then I can let the autopilot follow the route while I'm sightseeing out the window or from my drone. Or I can take the stick and refer to the moving map display in my instrument panel (scroll down to day 1 to see what that looks like) to keep me from getting lost. When I choose to file a flight plan with the authorities, I can do so directly from the Garmin as well! I flew down to Cardiff (the capital of Wales) first:
From Cardiff I turned north, first to the Caernarfon Castle - a huge 11th century medieval fortress:
...and from there on to the famed Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, another World Heritage Site. This 200 year-old waterway was to be part of a Welsh canal system that would service long, thin boats. It's the longest aqueduct in Great Britain.
From here I turned to the northwest to end my day at the top of England - my next exploration. This part of my day's flight was almost always obscured by heavy clouds with occasional breaks to give me glimpses of the countryside.
I mistakenly crossed the border back into Scotland rather than landing near Manchester where I had intended, landing at a small airfield in the town of Duns. Ready for England!
Mar 17, 2021
Ireland on St. Patrick's Day! What an incredibly beautiful country. This was my longest over-land flight, spending almost 3 hours crossing back and forth over the luscious green countryside. I took off from the Isle of Man this morning, crossing the Irish Sea to explore the coast of Northern Ireland first.
Then I turned south to see the capitals of the two Irelands: Belfast in Northern Ireland and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. In Belfast, I buzzed the Shipyards where the Titanic was built, having some fun with the massive Krupp-built Samson & Goliath cranes:
On the way south to Dublin, I passed over Newgrange, another of the World Heritage Sites on my itinerary. It's a Stone Age temple in the Boyne Valley, built over 5,000 years ago!
Then over the sprawling city of Dublin and a low-level fly-by of Dublin Castle:
Now I turned inland from the Irish Sea and explored the diverse central part of the country, seeing farms, more castles and mountains:
At the Atlantic coast, I turned east once again to explore the southern part of the country before crossing St. George's Channel to my destination airport in Wales. Here are two of the many sights I saw in this final leg of today's flight:
That's the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge, named after JFK's mother. It's the longest bridge in Ireland. It crosses the River Barrow, and was just constructed in 2020! Next stop: Wales!
Mar 15, 2021
Ten days on the ground in frigid Kirkwall, Scotland while I rested up and waited for snow storms to abate. Today I explored a snow-covered Scottish landscape. Although the whole country is only 274 miles from north to south, I logged 653 miles zig-zagging all over. First down the North Sea Coast past the Hoy Cliffs, south to Edinburgh, then west to Glasgow (where I flew up the River Clyde at 200 mph, 100 feet above the water), way up north again to the beautiful Isle of Skye, and then south again, passing over the quaint village of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, and finally leaving Scotland to land on the Isle of Man - the British dependency that's not part of any country. Humans have lived there for over 8,000 years. It was the first government on the planet to give women the right to vote!
Mar 5, 2021
I filled the tanks to the brim this morning in anticipation of a lot of flying today. Then I headed northwest through the Rhineland, passing over Cologne on my way to Belgium.
As I neared the city center, I launched my drone cam and took this short video:
I passed over the famous Cologne Cathedral whose construction began 800 years ago! It's a World Heritage Site and the most-visited landmark in Germany. I took a shot from the cockpit and another from my drone.
Into Belgium where I did a low pass over Brussels, snapping this shot of the Atomium - a giant walk-through representation of an iron atom. The parking lot was pretty empty, I guess due to the Covid-19 virus.
I kept winging north, into The Netherlands. As I passed over the beautiful old portion of Amsterdam, I sent my drone way up to capture a large portion of this amazing canal-ringed city. Here's a challenge for you: See if you can find my plane in this photo, flying just above roof-top level (hint: easier on a big screen). Send me a comment if you can find it!
At last it was time to depart the European Continent (for now), and a long flight over the North Sea to Scotland - my first stop in the UK! Here's a shot of the Dutch coastline as I said goodbye to Northern Holland:
Mar 1, 2021
Today was my last day over Germany, crossing from east to west along the mountainous southern border with Austria. My first destination was the famous Hohensalzburg Fortress overlooking the city of Salzburg, Austria. I'm planning to really examine Austria in a few weeks, but the 1,000 year-old Fortress is only 5 miles over the German border, and I was in the neighborhood!
Next it was time to start climbing to reach Hitler's famous Eagle's Nest overlooking Berchtesgarden. The refuge was built by the Nazi's in 1937 on a 6,000 foot peak. Hitler didn't really like it because he was afraid of heights. Many of you may have seen it in the final episode of Band of Brothers depicting its capture by the soldiers of E Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Army in 1945. Here's some of the real E Company relaxing there near the end of the war:
And my overflight of the mountain-top aerie today:
I spent the rest of the day flying above the peaks of the Bavarian Alps on my way to my last stop in Germany - the Ramstein US Air Force Base. On the way I passed over the storybook 19th Century Neuschwanstein Castle. My picture from the air is followed here by a pic taken from below at exactly the same instant by the Castle's groundskeeper. You can see me passing overhead.
Feb 27, 2021
Another amazing day over Deutschland. I flew from Berlin in the north to Munich in the south. In between I passed over millions of acres of beautiful farmland and quaint small villages. Not a bomb crater to be seen.
After landing in Munich, I hangered the TBM for some minor maintenance and rented a pretty little Pipistrel for my most important overflight in Germany. My mother's family came from Munich where they built a home over 100 years ago, and then watched it confiscated by the Nazis before they fled to Switzerland, then to France, then Cuba and finally stopped in America. The house is still there! Armed with it's latitude and longitude I let the Pipistrel's GPS guide me there just before sunset, descended to 500 feet and took this picture. It's the house you see directly beneath the aircraft. I'm also posting a drawing of the house made by my mother when she was a little girl; before her world came crashing down.
Feb 25, 2021
I can feel that Germany is going to be an emotional part of my journey. This morning I flew up the Unter den Linden where my grandmother and mother both told me they had once strolled. My wife and I even planted a Linden tree in front of our house in honor of them. I flew east over the famous boulevard to the Brandenburg Gate, called Checkpoint Charlie during the Cold War, into former-Soviet East Berlin. My route was one that Hitler loved for parades. Here's a shot of the Feuhrer and the Gate taken during the 1936 Olympics, followed by a short clip from my flight today.
Finally, I flew over Germany's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The 2,711 concrete columns below me are intended to provide a somber place to walk through, remember and think.
I ended the day on a happier note flying towards a beautiful rising full moon.