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Tue Nov 23 13:15:06 UTC 2010
Last weekend, the Brazilian TV programme Fantástico presented a very nice feature about WorldFlight in general and the Coventry crew in particular. Now with English subtitles, you can enjoy our four minutes of international fame:

Sat Nov 13 15:01:25 UTC 2010
After a week of catching up with the real world, the crew of Speedbird 744 now is busy sorting out the thousands of photos and hours of video shot during the event. I'm particularly proud of the following two videos posted on YouTube which show in great detail what amount of work it takes to land 250 tonnes of aircraft safely.

For more WorldFlight 2010 videos, please visit

Thu Nov 11 21:01:25 UTC 2010
One of the prettiest photos yet: we witness sunrise at FL370 on our way into Darwin. Cpt. Hoppie left, F/O Spock right. This sunrise marked our final day, as we went from Darwin via the Gold Coast down to Sydney.

Jeroen and Jake welcome daylight at last

Mon Nov 8 14:53:23 UTC 2010
Back at home, I am still recovering from the sleep deprivation. Stay tuned to this blog for more videos and photos to come!

Sun Nov 7 10:31:55 UTC 2010
WorldFlight 2010 has arrived back in Sydney!

After the usual big sim gathering, formation flying, past-the-house, under-the-bridge, over-the-top, and touch-and-go (2x), we lined up with Sydney 34L and parked our trustworthy bird where we had picked her up nearly a week ago.

It has been our best WorldFlight yet, with no major malfunctions, no major operational screwups, excellent ATC cover, and great media coverage.

Most of our own footage and photos are still stacked onto SD cards and hard drives, and will be sorted out over the next days. We simply did not have the time to dump the machines and upload all media, also due to bandwidth restrictions (need to keep the sim running).

Thanks for all donations we've got -- it's money well spent.

The Coventry crew now drops into the usual black hole for a while. Getting the drone of the sim out of our ears taks days!

WorldFlight 2011 is just 358 days away ...

Not bad, 30 minutes delay on a 7-day schedule

Sun Nov 7 07:36:04 UTC 2010
We encountered serious instrument conditions on the foggy Gold Coast, so the BAW744 crew got excellent opportunities to prove their IMC capabililties. Now for the final leg into Sydney!

Sat Nov 6 23:42:24 UTC 2010
My last flight as captain has been completed with the aircraft safely parked in Darwin, Australia. We've entered the departure continent again and just three flights remain: to Townsville, Brisbane, and Sydney.

Out of Denpasar we quickly got settled in the cruise, enjoyed some fabulous Indian-style ATC cuisine, and received early directions for a visual approach to runway 11 at Darwin. From where we came this was nearly a straight-in from cruise altitude, one long glide to the threshold. Funnily enough there wasn't anything visual. We got recleared to the VOR approach to 11 while on intermediate final, and broke clouds around 1500 ft. An uneventful landing and long taxi back brought us to stand #2 and the next crew can take her to Townsville in about one hour.

In the mean time, weird sounds emerge from Coventry Base, as the media crew puts together our next video ... stay tuned!

Sat Nov 6 18:52:04 UTC 2010
A delayed takeoff from Singapore now brings BAW744 to dangerous skies. As the Worldflight convoy heads for Denpasar, we get close to the Merapi ash cloud...

The Merapi active volcano is scarily nearby

Sat Nov 6 17:41:33 UTC 2010
Speedbird 744 welcomed (real) 747-400 Captain Jon Bunting on the flight deck. Unfortunately his real-world schedules did not permit him to join the flight crew this year, but he found the time to drop by. The improvements that John Davis made on the sim last year strengthened Jon in his opinion that BAW744 really is an impressive piece of kit which easily gives a better operational ambiance than the real simulators. After all, the real sims are sweat boxes where pilots are tested to their limits. These simulators are never used to do full gate-to-gate flights. They fly from incident to incident, and skip all routine. BAW744 reverses it and offers "operations normal" highlights and boredom instead of sheer terror. John knew what his choice was.

Yet another TV crew visited Coventry Base to shoot BAW744 in operation. It will go out tomorrow (Sunday) on ITV Central TV. While Roddy sets up the aircraft for the flight from Singapore to Denpasar (Indonesia), the other crew members are worried over the Merapi volcano which lays nearly directly under the flight route. Will this significantly influence our journey...?

Captain Davis being shot for Central TV

Sat Nov 6 07:57:15 UTC 2010
It is Saturday morning, and the 744 base in Coventry can as well be called Tranquility Base. Downstairs the overnight crews are now fast asleep scattered over the floor and sofas, upstairs Jake and John are starting up the engines for the flight from Mumbai to Madras, and I am slowly recovering from my deadly schedule last 48 hours.

My flight this early morning from Karachi to Mumbai was uneventful, but already delayed at the start due to late arrival of the airplane and then a lot more due to a large queue of departure clearance requesters without radio discipline. BAW744 leaves Mumbai an hour late, and we will need to work efficiently during the stopovers to gain this time back.

As it is now weekend, we expect some more people to come aboard. Also online the difference is noticeable. The last legs into Australia are always very busy.

Some more photos and videos have been produced that should go online RSN.

Fri Nov 5 22:19:01 UTC 2010
After a day of nearly successive flights, I sign off with a big smile. The last two flights I have been guiding Jake, our "second officer customer" around. Although he has experience on the topic, Jake did not formally qualify as crewmember for BAW744 and was enrolled as "just" a second officer, assumed to be part of the crew but not independent. In two flights, the second of which he occupied the right hand seat all the time from startup to shutdown, Jake proved to be a worthy companion to say the least. We enjoyed a flight from Istanbul into Tel Aviv, and then on to Kuwait City. Traffic and general chaos were sufficient to put up a very realistic and challenging environment, in which Jake could pretty well hold his own. Chapeau!

Now off to bed. Up again at 03:30, this time hopefully my alarms and the fellow crew members will be able to actually wake me up ...

Fri Nov 5 13:59:31 UTC 2010
We now definitely are past the half of Worldflight 2010, both in air miles and in number of flights. As our Departures and Arrivals board scrolls down with each flight, the first Australian destinations pop up at the bottom. Always both a welcome and a sad moment. But the Middle and Far East will still bring the unexpected challenges, as usual.

Australia in sight

Thu Nov 4 19:46:17 UTC 2010
While approaching into Cairo, the BAW744 at Coventry Base welcomed a TV crew from the Brazilian channel GloboTV. They have followed us closely throughout the whole preparation for the next flight Cairo to Patras, and taped all departure procedures and other aspects of a "routine" operation.

When approaching Patras, our worries about the situation there grew. Patras (actually Araxos Air Force Base) is a no-radar airfield, which means there is just one VORDME procedure to get aircraft in, and separation is procedural. With the amount of traffic heading for the field, this promised long holding delays.

We entered the hold at FL120, 12,000 ft, and after two orbits Hoppie asked the controller for estimated time of further clearance. To our horror the answer was "expect six zero minutes in the hold" -- a full hour. The airfield can take one aircraft per 10 minutes. The poor guys entering the hold at FL300 should wait for three hours!

As captain of BAW744, Hoppie decided that even one hour holding was no option as there wasn't sufficient fuel aboard for that plus an approach to Araxos plus a deviation to Athens in case of some problem with the single runway. After consulting home base, BAW744 left the holding stack at Araxos and headed for Athens, where we simply got straight in and dropped our 300 passengers in a hotel.

It was fun to have to contact Athens Tower 80 nm out, and then see the controller team ramp up quickly as it became clear just how much traffic Athens would get Real Soon Now.

Malcolm and Roddy are just starting the engines for the next leg to Milano.

The Brazilians really got a good example of what WorldFlight is about!

Thu Nov 4 13:04:47 UTC 2010
A fellow team from Australia, flying a 737, managed to be in the landing sequence just before QF25, our 744 sister ship. Watch how the 737 crew skillfully fends off the big bird. :-)

You can hear Speedbird 744 (us) calling in around 1:00 into the video.

Also, there are more photos and videos of Speedbird 744, just visit the main sim site.

Wed Nov 3 22:13:57 UTC 2010
Late Wednesday night, and while we plough on into Johannesburg, I get my head down to get my last good night of sleep. Tomorrow at 08:40 a gruelling schedule kicks in that will keep me without proper rest for the best of 48 hours. Worldflight enters its fourth day and the real buzz is just to come: up towards North-Africa, a tour of Europe in daylight with a TV crew looking over our shoulders, the Middle-East, India, Oceania, and back to Oz.

It's a big planet, this.

Wed Nov 3 16:05:56 UTC 2010
The ocean is behind us and we've entered the African continent. An uneventful approach into Windhoek brought the Queen to a first-row stand right in front of the tower. While the crew gets a bit of rest, the aircraft patiently awaits her new assignment: Kaapstad!

All aircraft systems idle except electricals

Wed Nov 3 10:01:41 UTC 2010
A beautiful landing at Ascension Island after a looooooong shift for Malcolm. Next leg is Eastbound -- Africa!

Don't hit a Vulcan or Victor

Wed Nov 3 07:01:20 UTC 2010
Coventry Base wakes up to the dissonant sounds of SELCAL bi-tones as Speedbird 744 makes her way over the South Atlantic. Malcolm and Andy had signed up to take us from La Paz in Bolivia via Asuncion in Paraguay to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Operations resemble oceanic, as there is little radar cover in these vast expanses of rain forest, Mato Grosso do Sul. But the real oceanic is now upon us: from Rio to Georgetown, Ascension Island in the middle of the South Atlantic. 2031 nautical miles to go. Island fuel reserves seem pointless, as there simply is nothing around Ascension Island where we could go in case of runway trouble. Hopefully none of the Worldflight aircraft suffers a bad landing ... an increasingly realistic possibility, given that most crews by now get quite tired.

"Where are we?" "Wednesday."

Tue Nov 2 22:03:17 UTC 2010
La Paz is difficult. Not only is it a very high altitude airport which brings its own challenges, but the way the air traffic controllers organised the arrival wasn't making it easier. With no advance warning or suggestion at all, we had to hold overhead the airport, then fly outbound on a specific radial, turn inbound to intercept the ILS for runway 10, when visual abort the ILS and switch to a left hand circling approach for 28, land, don't burn up the brakes, backtrack, expedite to alpha and leave the runway for the next aircraft. All very doable, especially with a capable glider pilot like Roddy at the helm, but a challenge if you need to find it out 10 seconds before you have to execute it.

LOVE IT! :-)

Tue Nov 2 15:46:04 UTC 2010
I wrote up a nice feature article about Worldflight on Roger-Wilco, "the world's first air traffic management blog". It gives a brief overview of what is the technology under Worldflight and how it came into existence.

The flight from Cancun to Panama City was uneventful, except for some tropical storm that required us to deviate up to 10 nm left of track. It remains wonderful to see that the PS1 weather radar can actually show CB cloud formations way ahead that then materialise on a completely different visual system. ATC was very helpful and we got a straight-in to Panama City. As I write this, I hear the crew landing at Quito, always interesting due to the altitude of this airfield.

Speedbird 744 parked at Quito with other Worldflight aircraft

Carl and me swapped seats in the next flights, so I will be F/O into La Paz, "El Alto". Fun, another airfield that is as high up in the air as its runway is long.

Tue Nov 2 02:43:51 UTC 2010
"Houston, we have a problem"

Heading into Denver, at 12 miles out, it became apparent that we were not at all picking up any ILS, so we asked in a hurry for a visual which we did not really get in time. Nonetheless, Captain Hoppie decided to get a shot at the Space Shuttle approach: zero thrust, high-altitude airport, landing speed 165 knots with full flaps. The actual approach went fine, landing was a greaser spot on the airspeed, and centerline tracking was excellent. Reversers came out as required and then it was just waiting for the 165 knots to bleed off. Which took "a wee bit" longer than expected, due to (most likely) mishandling of the autobrakes and failure of the crew to detect this in time. BAW744 went straight through the approach lights (but perfectly on centerline) and came to a full stop 20 meters before the airport perimeter fence. Ok, this still counts as "landed at Denver". With the wheel brakes showing zero temperature accumulation, BAW744 leisurely ran back to the terminal and we could nicely view QFA25 coming in.

A good practice for our next stop: Houston, Texas.

Mon Nov 1 21:48:57 UTC 2010
With over one hour delay due to technology and bad luck, the Coventry team is on its way to Regina, Canada. We know that we will have simulator limitations in Regina, so likely Moose Jaw will be our diversion airfield.

Speedbird 744 climbing out of Seattle

Mon Nov 1 20:27:17 UTC 2010
Captain Granville skillfully got us into a heavily clouded, rainy Seattle. The traffic was dense and the mostly native controllers had to vector us all over the place. ILS intercept was at 6000 ft, and when we finally broke clouds Granville greased her onto the 16C. After docking, captain Granville and first officer Hoppie toasted on Seattle's four main assets rolled into one sim: Boeing, Starbucks, Rain, and Microsoft.

Hoppie this year got a uniform; Malcolm provided the UK Worldflight shirts.

Mon Nov 1 16:08:52 UTC 2010
Food! John and Hoppie cooked up bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, baked beans and buttered toast for the six Worldflight crew members currently on Coventry base. Now the kitchen is spic & span again and the flight crew (Carl and Andy) bring us into San Francisco runway 28R. We are again ahead of schedule, so the preparation for the next flight still is an hour away. Granville and Hoppie get ready for their turn, into Seattle.

Mon Nov 1 13:33:10 UTC 2010
While the aircraft works its way from Hawaii to San Francisco, we are busy catering to the media. A photographer/videographer currently is on the flight deck to shoot material for a national news agency, and I write some articles for web sites all over the world. Which should remind the reader that the whole purpose of Worldflight is also to raise money for charities. Please look around your screen for the DONATE! buttons and consider making a contribution.

Granville and Malcolm take us to Honolulu

The new three-projector 180° visual system that John has built works great. When I was first confronted with the result, I actually got slightly ill by the attack of the system on my peripheral vision. Especially when the sim stopped during taxi, the effect was rather strong. Luckily I got used to it in the mean time.

Mon Nov 1 04:08:39 UTC 2010
It is now very early morning Coventry time, yet in Fiji it is midday and the Worldflight convoy gets ready to leave for Hawaii. Seven hours straight. Malcolm as F/O and Granville as Captain will take the bird across the Pacific, led by just their sense of direction and Radio Aloha. In the mean time I will try to get some sleep. Next door, the heavy noise of a 747-400 flight deck rumbles away. Oh yes, I remember. This is Worldflight. Just seven days to go...

Mon Nov 1 00:59:04 UTC 2010
Enroute to Nadi (Fiji), we pass Noumea and find ourselves nicely in the middle of the pack. The weather is fair, and an uneventful departure from Sydney is a good start of a new Worldflight.

Worldflight passing Noumea

Sun Oct 31 22:10:33 UTC 2010
The first crew, as usual PC and Hoppie, has entered the flight deck and the passengers are getting aboard. Worldflight 2010 is about to depart. Sydney is buzzing with traffic. The weather enroute to Nadi isn't all too good, but hey, we need to work for our money.

Sun Oct 31 09:16:10 UTC 2010
Waking up to a rainy Coventry, John and myself started to get everything in gear. By now, organising Worldflight is more or less routine, but it still remains a lot of work. In the mean time, the usual suspects start putting our their own shot at WF 2010. Martin Erdelen produced a wonderful puzzle that you may enjoy if you have donated to our charity! Please use the button in the left margin.

Martin's PICKS web site.

So, it got started. Just two days to go, and it is a thrill to see that several of the cog wheels that make up Worldflight have already found each other and cause traction. What many, many people have been working on for a year now comes together. People travel around to be at the right time at the right place, IT systems get linked, simulators get brushed off, logistics and catering drop in place. It is clear that Worldflight celebrates its tenth anniversary: much of the organisation is a well-greased machine, lovingly maintained by a shipload of volunteers.

I enjoy the traditional start of joining one of the UK teams in Coventry by boarding the Stena Brittanica, which happens to have been replaced by a brand-new ship under the same name lately. Hats off, honest. I spent the best part of last week near Paris for a business meeting, and the hut aboard the Brittanica is larger and more comfortable than my hotel room in Paris.

Tomorrow morning I disembark at 07:30 local British time, drive leisurely to Coventry, and meet John "PC" Davis who, again, hosts me in his house, home of Coventry Worldflight 2010. Sainsbury's is just around the corner...

Even just one week before Worldflight takes to the skies again, I decided to build yet another mashup gimmick. By now, the ACARS system has a direct bridge into Twitter. This means that all Worldflight planes now dump their status to the Worldflight time line on Twitter automatically. Pilots and air traffic controllers can use ACARS to directly inject tweets into the time line as well.

Hopefully, this small addition to our arsenal of online noise makers will lead to a few more donations for our charity. We do need it!

Tue Sep 14 17:39:38 UTC 2010
Guess what. I'm going to do it again...

Our route for 2010

Mon Dec 21 19:15:46 UTC 2009
Six weeks after, I spent some time gathering all produced media and putting all nicely together on one page. For more photos and information about the 2009 World Flight, just see the web site of John's wonderful 747-400 simulator.

The final figures are in from Accounting: World Flight 2009 as a whole, i.e., all international teams together, raised a staggering € 20,500 for our combined charities!

Next year's event will celebrate the tenth anniversary of World Flight as we know it. I'll try again to be part of it, for sure.

All cleared to go for 2010!

Fri Nov 6 12:23:30 UTC 2009
Together with dozens of pilots, WorldFlight has a number of air traffic controllers who guide the planes in and out of the airports. Many local controllers join in from over the whole world to make the event a success. Traffic levels are consistently high, and squeezing planes in can lead to scary situations.

One in, one out...

Fri Nov 6 10:12:26 UTC 2009
A bit sad: I handed in the keys to the Boeing 747-400 as the flight into Anchorage was my last one for World Flight 2009. Real world commitments prevent me from joining the crew during the rest of their journey into Sydney. The flight board already shows this final destination...

The end of the journey is in sight.

However, I am positive that the crew will successfully complete the trip and raise money for the Air Ambulance in the process! I will be taking a boat back to the Netherlands late tonight, but World Flight goes on. This blog will be updated as news trickles through.

Fri Nov 6 08:10:05 UTC 2009
Aboard BAW744 from Edmonton to Anchorage, we (again) try to make up for lost time during our previous two flights. There is a pattern: we are nicely in time with the departure, then a silly technical problem develops which delays us 20 minutes, after which we end up at the tail of the queue and ATC sends us around the block. For the arrival in Great Falls, we got a 150nm downwind at 220 knots. Hurray.

We should have a red 'end of convoy' tail light.

Thu Nov 5 16:15:52 UTC 2009
Barely recovered, I set out helping John in getting yet another round of English breakfast out the door. We are late out of Washington DC after some tech problems, and need to hurry up. Bruce Cobb, F/O on the real machine, joined us to fly two legs into Kansas City and Fargo. We will get there!

Here we go again.

Thu Nov 5 11:16:24 UTC 2009
Wow... over ten hours on the flight deck straight. According to the Rules I now have to rest for at least eleven hours... will not happen...

Thu Nov 5 03:41:57 UTC 2009
Just beyond NAVIX over the Atlantic Ocean, still 420 miles to go to Santa Maria, we are nicely in trail with the other planes as we head West.

Heading Out of Africa, ready for new discoveries.

Thu Nov 5 01:42:02 UTC 2009
While the current crew tries to get the plane into Rabat and is confronted with ATC that is struggling with the traffic, I get ready for a full night of oceanic. From Rabat to Santa Maria (Azores) as first officer, and then on to Bermuda as Captain. Who said that the life of long-haul pilots was easy?

Wed Nov 4 10:43:52 UTC 2009
After a few flights of running slightly behind schedule, entering Europe marks BAW744 as 20 minutes early. Well done, crew! Next stop: Vienna, then on to the UK. Follow our progress using all the telemetry we provide.

We are nicely in time.

Wed Nov 4 10:25:45 UTC 2009
Feeding the crews is a major challenge, especially deep into the night and flying with a rumbling stomach does not make you feel very good. Thanks to LSG Sky Chefs we have nice inflight food, but nothing beats the smell of bacon and eggs drifting up the stairs to the flight deck.

Chef John cooks up flight crew support.

One of our F/Os practices his hostie skills as he contemplates to take a major career step.

Wed Nov 4 09:24:07 UTC 2009
We had the great pleasure to have Jon Bunting, current captain for Virgin on the 747-400, as active crew member on our flight from Diego Garcia into Colombo. With me as Captain and Jon as First Officer, I felt a bit uneasy at first, but Jon's attitude towards the event has been wonderful. With his expert operation of the radios and great skills in maintaining the global picture, we got the plane straight into Colombo.

John (R) explains to Jon (L) how we do the planning.

Mon Nov 2 09:59:00 UTC 2009
Simulators are complex machines and when you push them hard, such as with World Flight, they are more likely to misbehave in interesting ways. At Learmonth, we encountered strange ground effects, and had to find creative workarounds. The resulting delay was quite impressive. However, with over six hours of Indian Ocean ahead on our way to Diego Garcia, we can make up for some of the lost time.

We will most certainly not overfly the destination by 150 miles.

Mon Nov 2 01:18:18 UTC 2009
From overhead Griffith at flight level 350, we speed towards Perth at a ground speed of 507 knots and are about half an hour behind QFA25, the reference plane for the whole World Flight pack.

As always the departure from Sydney was a bit hectic with so many planes and software dropping off once in a while, but we pushed through it all and now join the beautiful queue in the blue Australian skies.

The Hairy Bikers visit the sim!

Sun Nov 1 20:14:37 UTC 2009
It is now two hours before boarding, and we are so relaxed we spend time on creating a nice inflight crew menu instead of frantically fixing things or moving stuff around. Crew members start trickling into World Flight Base, and we all feel ready to go.

Click to enlarge.

Sun Nov 1 17:25:32 UTC 2009
LSG SkyChefs have been very generous again: we got a wonderful supply of food and beverages from their base at Birmingham Airport. This will get our crews through the long nights over the ocean without any problem. Having real airline food adds to the authenticity of the event. Thanks, LSG!

John tries to stuff yet another box with airline meals into our catering shuttle.

Sat Oct 31 08:52:52 UTC 2009
We're making final adjustments to the simulator. John got a new Captain's MCDU and I put new MCDU software under it, so that we now have two independent MCDUs on the flight deck.

Today we need to get some supplies for the operation, fix up a keyboard that can do better, and do a training flight or two. On Sunday we go to pick up our donation of airline meals from LSG SkyChefs at Birmingham Airport, and set up the whole house for another edition of World Flight.

Stay tuned!

Tue Oct 27 08:17:57 UTC 2009
World Flight 2009 starts up... while last-minute engineering takes place on the simulator hardware, pilot rosters get drafted and redrafted, and heaps of supplies pile up at Dispatch, we all flex our fingers to face the challenge.

Enjoy the 2009 promo video that was put together from last year's footage!

Mon Sep 28 11:25:10 UTC 2009
This year's route will bring us from Sydney via India, Russia, Eastern-Europe and Western-Europe to the mid-Atlantic archipelago of the Azores. Then Westwards to the United States, via the Bering Strait to Russia, down through the Far East and then back to Australia. Click on the map to enlarge.

Thu Nov 13 09:31:40 UTC 2008
The third video of UK World Flight 2008 is available. It shows our departure from Brisbane, the gathering of the Seven Deadly Sims at Williamstown, the formation flying to the Sydney Harbour and the final Bridge and Barrel Roll events. Enjoy the show, and see you back next year!

Notice: the embedded player below might not work; but the "Enjoy the show" link just above does.

Mon Nov 10 09:53:53 UTC 2008
Our resident World Flight virtual photographer Martin Erdelen has kindly provided a number of great shots of our approach to Sydney, including the traditional group arrival of the large sims and the airliner aerobatics. Please go to his web site for all photos.

BAW744 going under the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 300 knots, reaching a minimum altitude over the sea of 16 feet.

Mon Nov 10 09:23:27 UTC 2008
As usual, the whole trip ends on another vessel, in this case the Stena Brittanica. For fun I keep the Speedbird 744 position updated... see Current Flight for the progress towards Hoek van Holland. Our ETA is 15:00 UTC. We're picking up a stiff tail wind and the weather is not going to improve.

Hoppie tries to relive the excitement and challenges of the 744 flight deck...

Sun Nov 9 11:11:53 UTC 2008
World Flight 2008 ended in Sydney as planned. After the formations leaving Williamstown went over the House, under the Bridge, over the Top, and back to Sydney International, we did a 34R touch and go, followed by a leisurely right turn and back into 34R for full stop landing.

Thanks to all our donators, for the nice amount of money we raised for the Air Ambulance (of course, more is always welcome -- this page stays open until February 2009), and maybe meet you all again next year.

We have some extra photos and videos to upload, so please come back to this blog a few more times to check out the goodies.

Cristina finally gets to eat...

... while John and Steve look slightly worn out.

Sun Nov 9 07:07:01 UTC 2008
While Steve and Andy lower the gear for the arrival in Brisbane, John is preparing to set up the sim after landing and I do the paperwork for our special return to Sydney via Williamstown.

Sat Nov 8 18:41:15 UTC 2008
Saturday, the last full day of World Flight 2008. We went through the Southern part of the Far East, via India, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam (both North and South), and Brunei. Traffic levels kept up very high, though controller availability varied. I flew the leg into Brunei with Andrew, and we were down to the Mk II Eyeball for much of the flight. Getting into Brunei proved to be a challenge, with severe thunderstorms underway, and neither enroute nor approach radar control. We got ourselves into the hold overhead the airfield and had tower talk us down until we could do the full course procedure outbound and back into the ILS. On final Andrew took over manually and brought us very smooooothly into Brunei International Airport.

Tomorrow morning (UTC) we will fly the final leg, from Brisbane into Sydney. As always, the large full-size flight decks will perform a separate stunt, for which this year Carolina has provided the plan.

Carolina carefully works out the operational details of the Sydney Final.

Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, then cut it with an axe... or actually seven axes!

We will fly to an airbase North of Sydney, where all large sims will wait for each other. Then we will fly out in formation (with airliners, that is not exactly standard procedure) and one by one do the basic Sydney Harbour Run: past the House, under the Bridge, and then a barrel roll or two. We will then be picked up by Sydney Director and guided towards the airport where we left seven days ago... it actually does not seem that long!

Fri Nov 7 20:26:51 UTC 2008
It is a very busy day for me. My first flight at three o'clock locally in Coventry, and now preparing for my fourth. We went all the way from Casablanca via Porto/Lisbon, Dublin, Innsbruck, Istanbul, Tiblisi, Ashgabat, and now on to Tashkent. In this part of the world, familiar aviation terms and units (feet, knots, nautical miles) are rigorously replaced by metric units (meters, kilometers, kilometers per hour). This plus native air traffic controllers and a mixed-language environment makes for "interesting" flight experiences. With the flight into Ashgabat stuck in the hold at 5000 meters, Steve and I study the papers for the flight to the unfamiliar town of Tashkent. In pitch black dark night, of course.

Fri Nov 7 12:43:08 UTC 2008
On the way to Innsbruck, we passed very close nearby Coventry, and got a clearance to deviate 5 nm left of course to blast overhead UK World Flight headquarters!

Spot on! Just one wingspan off, due to waypoint turn anticipation.

Fri Nov 7 09:12:11 UTC 2008
With the pantry downstairs trembling while BAW744 upstairs starts the engines for the flight to Innsbruck, we see the other planes of the group slowly taxiing out and departing from Dublin. The weather in Coventry is shiny sunny -- what will await us in Innsbruck, with an airfield that most definitely does not accomodate heavy jets?!

Dublin Airport buzzing with World Flight traffic.

Fri Nov 7 06:42:38 UTC 2008
A routine flight Casablanca-Porto got an interesting twist when the weather in Porto deteriorated quickly. Lisbon was nominated as our diversion airfield just in case. When overhead Espichel, Porto indeed dropped below minima and after a brief hold overhead Fatima we turned to the South-West to drive into Lisbon for an early morning coffee with friends and family.

Here's the Porto weather report:
LPPR 070530Z 35002KT 0200 R17/0450V0650D R35/0450V0750D FG VV000 12/12 Q1018
The 0200 part means 200 meters visibility; VV000 means no vertical visibility. For Porto, with no CAT III landing facilities, this means closed.

Currently tracking from Lisbon to Dublin, with a bit of delay due to a late departure of our sister ship QF25 in Casablanca (we try to stay close to her to facilitate the air traffic controller's job).

The Australian team has a dedicated ATC group with their own extensive setup, providing cover for the whole event in case there is no local ATC online.

Thu Nov 6 17:48:41 UTC 2008
Actual jet lag now sets in. With a couple of flights in the middle of the Coventry night, and little sleep during daytime in an overcrowded house, many pilots feel drowsy and start to make errors. This is the time you really want to have two if not three people on the flight deck, all aware of the operational details of the flight, covering each other's hiccups as a team.

Thu Nov 6 14:23:20 UTC 2008
Deep inside Africa, we track towards Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. The absence of any traffic except the core World Flight group, the unusually thin binders of the airport charts (sometimes with just three pages, one of which is intentionally left blank) and the lack of facilities such as taxiways make for a very interesting trip. It has a drawback as well: no radar means lengthy procedural separation, no taxiways means lengthy backtrack procedures, and all together we run late. Luckily everybody runs late, so the group still stays more or less together.

The amount of planning paperwork to get World Flight going is staggering. Flight plans, weather charts, pilot rosters, layover slots... it all needs to match up.

Thu Nov 6 07:38:37 UTC 2008
At the shores of Lake Victoria, we have parked our ship on Entebbe International. Due to excessive ATC delays we are running late, but do not want to hurry (hey, this is Africa!). While the sim cools down for half an hour, you may watch more photos of UK World Flight and even our second video!

Captain Carl Beeby and First Office Ryan Ashmore Plan the Descent.

Wed Nov 5 19:26:58 UTC 2008
Underway to Cape Town, we have been waiting for QF25 as they appeared to have a TV camera (professional style) on the flight deck and delayed their departure from Windhoek. Five minutes behind we're now cruising along, hoping for our 1/2 a second of fame as we may appear on voice or even out of their wind shield...

Wed Nov 5 15:19:53 UTC 2008
Our sister ship QF25 in Sydney apparently has some technical issues, as we see Sim Doctor Ivan the Great and Rodney "Go Around!" Redwin open the overhead panel on the Australian live video link. Our own soda straw DSL line won't support such a live link, but we do have Sim TV in the living room.

Ivan and Rodney poke into the sim internals while Matt isn't watching.

Wed Nov 5 12:24:40 UTC 2008
With just four minutes delay after a very crowded crossing in which we had to slow down to M0.75 (737 speeds, shame!), we are now parking our aircraft in Luanda, Angola. The airport infrastructure isn't stellar: as you can see there are no taxiways and every airplane has to backtrack all the way over the runway. We landed and temporarily parked off the runway at the midway turning point, after which a Qantas 767 landed and made it to the far end. We then raced our way over the runway back to the terminal with another plane on final, we reached over 80 knots (!) and made it just in time for the arrival.

Holding position at the midway turning point, ready to backtrack.

Wed Nov 5 10:00:00 UTC 2008
After another oceanic crossing we have left Ascension Island and set course for Luanda, Angola. The island probably has not seen this amount of heavy traffic since the British mounted their attack on the Falklands in 1982.

Our pantry is working at full capacity (even setting off the smoke-in-the-cabin alert!) creating a fabulous full cooked English breakfast for the flight crew.

Our own Sky Chef Cristina keeps the operation going!

The result, ready for dispatch...

... which goes without any problem...

... and assures a succesful arrival at Luanda.

Tue Nov 4 19:09:02 UTC 2008
Some Google Maps shots out of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Late, but within ten minutes of QF25, so okay. ATC seems to keep the big sims together this time.

Lining up and holding on the Santa Cruz runway.

Out of Santa Cruz and heading for Asunción, Paraguay.

Tue Nov 4 18:33:02 UTC 2008
Tuesday traditionally is the heaviest day of World Flight, as lack of sleep and ruthless schedules start taking their toll. This year is no different. However the operation itself runs like clockwork. No major simulator malfunctions, no major operational issues. The only reason why we are behind schedule is that the sheer amount of traffic causes delays just as in the real world. Spending 30 minutes in a holding pattern before allowed into Quito is not good for the schedule, but great for World Flight!

Mon Nov 3 23:36:43 UTC 2008
The uneventful but very nice flight to Monterrey leaves us free to go to sleep at a reasonable time for a change. The crews are well taken care of by the Sky Chefs catering we've received as a donation, the simulator is working quite nicely, ATC and traffic is good, and technology-wise everything seems to cooperate. Some people even claim this isn't the real World Flight because the major emergencies such as broken throttles and blown projector bulbs have not happened yet. But we still have five days to go...

Our first update video is done: get at it at YouTube.

Mon Nov 3 19:54:04 UTC 2008
My second flight this year takes us from Tucson, Arizona to Monterrey, Mexico, a short trip of about one hour and 15 minutes. I am studying the weather forecasts and the airports while waiting for the other crew to bring the Queen in from San Francisco. We're a bit late (though only 10 minutes behind QF25) so every minute I can scrape off the turnaround is good.

Mon Nov 3 13:45:53 UTC 2008
While Steve and Toby get us from Hawaii to San Francisco, we are reminded that a powerful impressive machine such as a 747-400 (even simulated) can be brought to a screeching halt by two empty penlite batteries. A quick rush to the local corner shop causes 15 minutes delay while all aircraft try to squeeze out of the airport. We're running late, but not by far as late as last year!

Mon Nov 3 04:41:58 UTC 2008
Hello Pacific! Another beautiful tropical island with a 3km runway and parking space for two medium-sized jet aircraft. And here we come in with about 40. Add in the difficulties clearing the runway due to the inadequate taxiway structure at Faleolo and hey presto, the first major traffic jam around Samoa since last time World Flight was here.

And this is just a handful of aircraft (not all of them use ACARS for position reporting)

Mon Nov 3 00:44:19 UTC 2008
Approaching Norfolk Island, our crossing from Sydney to Apia is well underway and we are very happy to report all systems okay. ATC is great, we have a lot of planes airborne, and for once BAW744 is ahead of QF25.

Sun Nov 2 21:21:00 UTC 2008
As the first major activity for World Flight 2008, Steve took a car full of catering provided by LSG Sky Chefs to Coventry! We have a ton of real airline stuff to keep us fed during the long and hard days and nights to come. Hats off to the people at LSG for this excellent start of WF 2008.

This is no simulation... the real stuff came in!

Sun Nov 2 16:21:41 UTC 2008
Six hours to go... while the house is filled with the sounds of heavy hammering as John makes a last-minute modification to the Captain's seat, Cristina and Carolina have hauled in a heavy load of snacks for the crews, Steve is picking up 30 real airline meals from the local airport, and I fix up all tiny loose ends that World Flight brings.

Sun Nov 11 12:22:49 UTC 2007
We're in! World Flight 2007 has ended at Sydney Kingsford Smith with all participating aircraft gathered at the international terminal.

During the descent into Sydney, all large sims were picked off the normal arrival route and deviated to Richmond, an airforce base nearby. When all planes were together, engines running and ready to go, World Flight Formation was cleared for the Harbour Run. Visually we thundered out at 350 knots below 1000 ft, dived under the Bridge, down to 3 ft radar altitude (!), pulled up in a barrel roll perfectly executed by John "PC" Davis and then headed out over sea to be sequenced in for the 34R landing.

Huge thanks to all people involved in World Flight 2007, and to all our sponsors who brought a considerable amount of money in for the Air Ambulance.

See you next year at World Flight!

Fri Nov 9 23:40:48 UTC 2007
Nearly midnight locally in Coventry, but bright daylight in the sim, approaching Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky -- yes we are back in Russia, this time via the Bering Street over from Alaska. Breathtaking views of volcanous mountain ranges fill the sim's windshield while Carl and John guide the Queen down. Unfortunately our DSL line is gone again, so we cannot share these moments with the world, except for this soda straw line via the neighbour's WiFi.

Approaching the end of the world, see you at the other end

On the positive side, we are back with the World Flight group. We had to skip the leg Vancouver-Anchorage for it, but being back under the ATC umbrella was considered more important. VATSIM has been offering great services, only interrupted by the @£$%@£!@ DSL line going flat.

Fri Nov 9 08:03:30 UTC 2007
Pushing on through the night takes its toll. One by one, the all-nighters drop off. Luckily we do have sufficient pilots to keep going... and going... and going...

This is your captain snoring

Andy dozes off in between flights

And Andy even dozes off DURING flight, left seat no less

Fri Nov 9 04:45:52 UTC 2007
Blogging from the flight deck, underway from Aruba to Mexico City. Long night flight over deep water... just my style! I could in any case replace some flight deck equipment. One hour to go.

Thu Nov 8 23:23:01 UTC 2007
Ok, it was becoming a running joke in World Flight, but our Canadian colleague Tim claimed he sent us (and others) smoked Pacific salmon about three months ago. Of course it never showed up and everybody was convinced it was a prank... and guess whom we encountered this morning on our doorstep?

Incredible, but there it was!

No wonder it took so long to get here!

But the contents makes up for all past pranking! Huge thanks, Tim!

Thu Nov 8 17:17:41 UTC 2007
Just landed in Miami. More photos coming up soon... watch this channel.

Thu Nov 8 01:00:05 UTC 2007
We're in! Next stop is Gander, Newfoundland. Atlantic Ocean, here we come.

The crew doing preflight, shot from the TV screen downstairs in John's living room.

The flight board shows our progress, not too bad really.

Thu Nov 8 00:43:05 UTC 2007
While the night settles over the Atlantic Ocean, the relief crew ploughs on to Kevlavik, Iceland.

We are late, but not too late. Not bad after a diversion to Newcastle for performance problems!

Even SimGods need to sleep once in a while

Wed Nov 7 21:50:02 UTC 2007
We're in Newcastle. ?!?!? Yes, Newcastle. Enroute from Birmingham to Glasgow the crew noticed a worrying tendency of the plane to not want to climb. 700 fpm below FL100 is bad, period. They decided to deviate to Newcastle, and Roddy Maddocks made the most perfect brilliant steady manual landing ever performed on UK WorldFlight. We're now deciding whether to go to Glasgow or directly to Kevlavik, assuming we can fix the problem.

Wed Nov 7 18:57:17 UTC 2007
We had to fly Lisbon-Prague without ATC, had ATC from Prague to Amsterdam, no ATC from Amsterdam to Birmingham, and now ATC is back up. While we dive into the fish and chips provided by our local sponsor Beech Tree Fish Bar, the next crew already is aboard and prepares for Glasgow.

Wed Nov 7 16:20:00 UTC 2007
Nearly a year after the passing away of our good friend and World Flight pilot Jörg Löhnig, World Flight 2007 routes in its entirety overhead the new waypoint JOERG in honour of Jörg and his final resting place. While everybody gathers on the flight decks of the various flights, several special routines are performed.

The whole familiy gathers (Cristina takes the photo)

A low-pass below 2000 ft at 350 knots...

... followed by a steep climb of more than 11,000 ft/min at one time... God Speed, Jörg!

Wed Nov 7 14:02:21 UTC 2007
Well. The guy from British Telecom showed up and decided to replace the full phone wiring from the overhead drop down to the junction box. While he is busy, obviously our thin soda straw to the world is severed... we are currently parasiting on a neighbour's modem... which actually offers 'interesting options' to keep going... back for more soon!

The BT guy literally went onto the roof to fix the line break (also known as 'a dis')

Real wires... real technology...

And then some higher tech to decode the error messages of the test equipment while the sim just carries on flying World Flight

But we just go on... the Alps on our way to Prague

Wed Nov 7 11:31:33 UTC 2007
Lisbon! After catching a nasty windshear overhead the city on approach, we are now safely parked on midfield and can get some real coffee.

Our catering department keeps our passengers happy

Printing tickets and assigning seats to our paying passengers

Wed Nov 7 10:37:19 UTC 2007
Leaving Moscow for Odessa several flights ago, we decided to tank up 150 tonnes of fuel to keep our options open to skip a stopover or two (or six) to catch up. Although quite common for a 744 (with a maximum takeoff weight of nearly 400 tonnes), the extra fuel load required some attention during takeoff, which was long and slow. After Odessa we headed for Amman and it became clear that that would put us in the middle of the pack. We even ended up having too much fuel aboard for our maximum landing weight! So here came a World Flight Special: dumping fuel for real. We made shots of the panels during the dump (unique indications coming on) and even have photos made from the cabin showing the fuel spraying out of the nozzles...

Getting rid of excess fuel on the way to Amman

The fuel spraying out of the wing tip nozzle

Wed Nov 7 10:08:37 UTC 2007
Underway from Tripoli to Lisbon, all systems still work! Andy "Occy" Keeney and Mathew Davey will fly both this leg and the next one to Prague, trying to stay as close to QF25 as possible.

Brian & Miriam Woodward and Morgan Taylor visit the sim

Tue Nov 6 23:21:16 UTC 2007
Pfffff... Amman-Riyadh proved to be a challenge. The first flight with full ATC caused some getting-used-to as our equipment is not yet totally up to specs yet. A few sim malfunctions and a few weather-induced 'real' malfunctions made for some true fun. Near the end of the flight the sim started to pick up irritating quirks and we are now rebooting the whole lot for the flight to Jedda.

And oh, hey, DSL still wor gfhfrtrsdustsss NO CARRIER

Tue Nov 6 17:31:49 UTC 2007
BAW744 now decided to cut off a few legs. We are currently enroute directly from Moscow via Odessa to Amman, skipping Limnos completely. This will bring us back under the ATC umbrella for World Flight, and if our #$#%$@#@ DSL line does not drop off again, we might actually join the rest of the crowd.

Tue Nov 6 14:47:55 UTC 2007
Exciting events in Moscow... during takeoff, the throttle driver failed (hard) and throttled down three engines. Fun, since this provided the crew with a unique opportunity to test their aborted takeoff skills! They ended up at the far end of the runway, everything still in one piece, tyres not smoking... chapeau!

However we are still on the ground in Moscow...

Tue Nov 6 13:21:17 UTC 2007
DSL! DSL! We have DSL! While PC powers the sim totally down to clear up some nagging 'features' such as a partially defunct MCP/EFIS panel, Hoppie updates the outside world of our progress. Well, progress. We are still stuck in Moscow. Luckily the World Flight route goes from Moscow to Odessa and then takes a long Eastbound turn, followed a few legs later by a Westbound parallel route. BAW744 may skip over to make up several lost hours at once. We fueled 150 tonned just in case we need them...

Tue Nov 6 07:03:06 UTC 2007
Although our online performance is shakey, we are not exactly doing nothing over here. Steve has produced a great video of UK World Flight, and it won't be the last one! Get it here (13Mb WMV).

Tue Nov 6 05:50:09 UTC 2007
Back online in Novosibirsk, playing catch-up with the rest again.

Tue Nov 6 04:45:14 UTC 2007
It all went very well. We caught up nicely, and even got SquawkBox up and running on my notebook so we finally appeared online with ATC. Just as we set out in Yakutsk, with all the chattering around us that goes with WorldFlight, the inevitable happened: the well-known total failure of John's DSL line to the world. After a few phone calls, the phone (wire) company acknowledged a problem with a line essentially feeding the whole street... disappointed but not yet defeated we went to eat a great curry from one of John's neighbours and then slowly to bed. During the night the line came back on, and here we are again...

Mon Nov 5 13:50:29 UTC 2007
When making landfall in South-West China, it becomes apparent that no normal routine can get us back under the moving ATC umbrella of the rest of World Flight. We are now considering to tanker up in Nanjing, and letting the Queen do what she does best: long-haul non-stop. We'll pass overhead various planned cities instead of stopping over, making at least 60-70 minutes per skip.

BAW744 trying to catch up with the moving ATC umbrella

Mon Nov 5 11:52:02 UTC 2007
Somewhere overhead Indonesia we managed to revive an old, deceased program called SB747. Unlike more modern incarnations of the concept, SB747 does not crash out at all. It just works... and reveals how much of the tail we are...

Mon Nov 5 04:56:39 UTC 2007
After a rather uneventful flight, we finally landed in Darwin around 04:30 which means we are royally late. While the new crew settles in, John tries to get SquawkBox running again, which fails miserably. Hopefully we won't be grounded for too long... we are already one hour late again...

Mon Nov 5 00:20:13 UTC 2007
OUT 1155Z, OFF 0004Z. That means a full hour delay. But we still will be in Darwin before our scheduled departure time for the next leg, so this isn't going to be a disaster. In the mean time we try to make the best of it and drink our misery away.

Sun Nov 4 23:41:54 UTC 2007
The standard problems for WorldFlight apply: your ISP drops your line, your router breaks down, and then your visual system refuses to go to full screen without also crashing to BIOS. Nice. With 45 minutes delay and no radio contact (i.e., invisible online) we try to get into the air for the first leg in order not to fall too much behind. At least ACARS works properly, so we can be followed via the trackers.

Sun Nov 4 09:17:24 UTC 2007
We have safely arrived in Britain and are enjoying a leisurely sunny morning, getting ready for the major event of the day: Sunday Morning Shopping at Sainsbury's! While our chef is out, Hoppie hacks up some new items such as the sponsor logos in the AirShow.

Sat Nov 3 15:03:29 UTC 2007
Trying to pass the time aboard a nearly deserted ferry boat on the North Sea, we have a really good warmup for World Flight. Luckily for the crews, most flights last only a few hours because we avoid the long oceanic crossings as much as possible. In previous years, this was not always the case. Some people spent half a day locked up on a flight deck doing a night flight.

Last year it went faster, this year it takes seven hours.

Sat Nov 3 10:32:05 UTC 2007
We're off to Hoek van Holland... see you at the other end.

Fri Nov 2 17:03:44 UTC 2007
While we all are preparing for World Flight, you can already feel the organization pressure cooker getting warm... People don't notice how much effort goes into this event until they are in the middle of it.

The sim is ready to go... just need the passengers and the crew...

All WorldFlight Teams

All teams have their own web site, united under the Worldflight Group banner. Click the logo above for the group site. Click the flight deck below for our own Boeing 747-400 simulator.

© 2023 Jeroen Hoppenbrouwers For more information, mail to