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TOPIC: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey...

Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 8 months ago #31354

  • Okami
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While their plans called for grabbing a quick bite to eat and refuelling their plane, the trio instead find themselves delayed at Tunis due to customs and all other kinds of formalities. After a gruelling three hours of filling in documents and showing certificates, the Proctor finally takes off against a setting sun. They know they will have to fly part of this flight in total darkness, but the trio is certified for night flying.



Soon their Proctor is climbing out of Tunis. The trio turn their plane to the South, as they plan to follow the coast.



Heading out over the Gulf of Hammamet, the trio can't help but notice the beauty of the clouds in the diminishing light.



As they reach Sousse, darkness has set in. The trio wonder at the star-studded skies above them, so much more clear than they are used to. Past Sousse, the Proctor is turned East over the Gulf of Gab├Ęs.



Soon, the coast disappears from their view. They only have their compass and artificial... wait, the artificial horizon has failed! What a time for such a thing to happen! Luckily, the skies are clear and the moon is out, so they are able to orientate themselves by watching the horizon.



After a tense hour, the trio suddenly notices a glow at the horizon. A short radio relay later, they get a confirmation from the radar station at Wheelus Air Force Base that they are about fifty miles out of Tripoli.



And about a quarter of an hour later, they can clearly see the lights of the city and the coastline. From there, it's only a short distance to Tripoli's Idris airport.



And so, about two and three quarters of an hour after they left Tunis, the trio's Proctor touches down at Tripoli airport. They are relieved to be on terra firma; luckily they know that at the RAF base, they are likely to find a replacement for their failed dashboard instrument...



To be continued...

Flight:
Leg 10: Tunis (DTTA) to Tripoli (HLLT)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 17:14:30
Landing: 20:02:09
Flight time: 2 hours 48 minutes
Fuel used: 164.1 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31383

  • Okami
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At dawn the following morning, the trio arrives at the RAF base of Tripoli Idris airport, where the Proctor has been wheeled into one of the maintenance hangars. The technicians, having heard about the faulty artificial horizon, search among the reserve parts, and after about a half hour they manage to locate the same make of instrument. While it is being installed, the aircraft receives some other quick checks, and is given a clean bill of health. The base commander agrees to lend the artificial horizon to the trio, on the condition they return it on their return journey.



It is already past eleven in the morning by the time their plane is ready to take off. The trio intend to reach Benghazi airport, but as they have to follow the coast, they know their Proctor quite possibly hasn't the range to reach it in one single leg. Their plans call for a refuelling stop at Marble Arch, however as the strip is closed, they will have to take the fuel inside the plane. With three five gallon tins resting on the rear seats, the Proctor receives clearance for its take off some twenty minutes to noon.



The trio can feel the Proctor is rather more heavily loaded than it usually is, but it takes off without a hitch, and soon it is climbing to its cruise altitude.



After reaching its cruise altitude, the Proctor levels off. The skies are clear and the weather is fine, unlike on their previous legs. Navigating turns out to be rather more easy, too: from Idris, the trio follows the road leading them to Homs, and then they follow the coastal road to Misratah.



Once past Misratah, they reach the Gulf of Sydra. Cutting across the Gulf, they head for the city of Surt. By now, the green landscapes of Tunis and Tripoli have given way for the barren sands of the Libyan Desert. In awe, they look at the yellow flats on their right side, which stretch out for miles and miles...



At times, they notice what seem to be pools and lakes in the desert, which disappear as suddenly as they appear. "Fata Morgana", one of them remarks.



Some two hours into their flight, the trio notices the deserted strip of Marble Arch. In the distance, they can see the large Arch itself, towering high over the coastal road, one of Mussolini's follies (NOTE: Built in the 1930s, it was demolished by the Libyans in 1970). Touching down at the far end of the runway, the Proctor stops not even halfway the sandblown strip. Quickly, the trio gets out of their plane. Within minutes, they start to fill the aircraft's tanks, hoping to get back on their way as soon as they possibly can.



To be continued...

Flight:
Leg 11: Tripoli (HLLT) to Marble Arch (HLNF)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 11:39:24
Landing: 14:07:43
Flight time: 2 hours 28 minutes
Fuel used: 183.5 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31387

  • Okami
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After a quick splash at the abandoned airstrip of Marble Arch, the crew give their Proctor a check before taking off once again. They are a little over halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi, and hope to reach the latter place by roughly following the coastline.



Soon after take-off they pass the Marble Arch, a remnant of Italy's attempt at colonising Africa. The collossal structure, in the middle of the desert, spans high over the windswept and deserted road.



A couple of miles further, they pass a number of pools. First the trio dismiss them as fata morganas, but these turn out to be real. Water in the desert...



As the Proctor passes Marsa El-Brega, the Gulf of Surt starts to curve northwards. Still following the coast and coastal road, the crew relaxes a bit, and enjoy the views.



About twenty minutes after overflying Brega, the Proctor passes the city of Ajdabiyah, the last great city before reaching Benghazi.



Before that, though, the crew have to pass a large stretch of desert. Minutes pass as the Proctor overflies the deserted coasts...



And then, after what appears to be an eternity, they spot the city of Benghazi in the distance. Soon they crossing the city, flying towards the airport of Benina...



... and minutes later, their Proctor touches down. However, they are not yet done for the day, and as they stop near the terminal, they gesture towards one of the tanker crews...

To be continued...

Flight:
Leg 12: Marble Arch (HLNF) to Benina (HLLB)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 14:20:00
Landing: 15:58:37
Flight time: 1 hours 39 minutes
Fuel used: 86.6 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31388

  • LeifH
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really good stuff Nikko

Thank you
<<In the early morning rain, with a dollar in my hand>>
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31389

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Thanks Leif - however, they still had one leg to fly that day.;)

By the time they are airborne again, the sun has already set. However, this doesn't stop the trio from continuing their journey.



With their tanks filled up for the leg and the third pilot taking his turn behind the controls, the Proctor speeds off into the night. Soon they leave the lights of Benghazi behind them. In front of them is the empty desert.



Climbing to their cruising height, the trio notices they have to contend with a bit of turbulence. The rising air from the warm desert sands, mixing with the cool air of the desert night makes for quite an interesting, but not all too smooth ride...



Luckily, though, the turbulence isn't anywhere near as bad as some of the weather they had since their departure out of Coventry. With nearly clear skies above them, the trio occasionally gazes up towards the stars. Only once do they see something resembling an aircraft: based on the few radio messages they receive, it is a Misrair Viscount high above them on its way to Cairo...



About an hour and a quarter after taking off, the trio spot a faint light in the desert ahead of them. As they close in, it increases in intensity to the point they are able to recognise it: it is the RAF base at El Adem. Switching frequencies, the trio requests their permission to land, which they soon receive.



A little past 8'o clock local time, the Proctor touches down at the RAF airbase, and minutes later the trio halt on the apron in front of the barracks. Warned in advance by their colleagues at RAF Tripoli, the trio are given a hearty welcome by the base personnel.

Flight:
Leg 13: Benina (HLLB) to RAF El Adem (HLGN)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 18:30:00
Landing: 20:06:18
Flight time: 1 hours 36 minutes
Fuel used: 118.9 lbs
Last Edit: 4 years 7 months ago by Okami.
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31401

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The last day of 1960 saw our boys take off from the RAF base of El Adem into Egypt. Despite a pleasurable evening courtesy of the Royal Air Force, they decided to hit the sack early, so they could start their day's journey well rested.



As they start out, the visibility is rather poorly, with fog from the Med covering the desert sands. Still, they see enough to navigate their way to their next destination - they only need to follow the coastline.



After a couple of minutes, one of the men remarks "we should be crossing the border into Egypt right now." A moment of doubt arises among the men: this part of the journey could make or break their voyage. It is only four years since the ill-fated Suez campaign, and most British carriers are still prohibited from overflying Egypt, so the trio can only guess at the kind of reception they will have. Even so, they have been cleared to fly through the country...



Things have also moved on since Suez: Egypt now officially calls itself the "United Arab Republic", ever since their union with Syria in '58. A far cry from how things were only a decade or so earlier...



About halfway into their flight, the fog starts to lift, and the visibility markedly improves. Not that there is anything interesting to look at - on the one side it's desert all around, as far as the eye can see; at the other one, the Mediterrean.



Soon, though, the trio spot the airfield of Matruh. They are cleared for their landing, and a couple of minutes later, they touch down. As they taxi towards the apron, their doubts about the nature of their reception arise for a moment...



... but as it turns out, the Egyptian airmen are above anything curious about the English trio - did they really come all this way from England in this little airplane?

To be continued...

Flight:
Leg 14: RAF El Adem (HLGN) to Mersa Matruh (HEMM)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 08:15:23
Landing: 09:49:16
Flight time: 1 hours 34 minutes
Fuel used: 111.9 lbs
Last Edit: 4 years 7 months ago by Okami.
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31403

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About an hour and a half later, the trio once again sets off on their journey. As things turned out, the Egyptians were a rather more friendly bunch than they expected them to be, showing interest in the trio and their exploits.



However, the trio still have some worries. When they left Coventry, they hadn't yet received all the necessary visas. The Libyan and Egyptian ones were relatively easy, however the other visas they required were delayed due to political unrest.



Eventually they had to make a decision, so they left England in the hope these visas would be waiting for them in Cairo by the time they got there. And hopefully they are, otherwise their entire journey might well derail...



However, they know they shouldn't worry too much - nothing can be done about it now. Instead, the trio start looking at the desert below them. First there is nothing but sand as far as the eye can see, but soon they notice a green strip in the distance: the Nile delta.



As the seemingly unending browns and yellows of the desert rock and sand are replaced by the lush greens of cultivated crops, the trio can't help but marvel at the sight. They have truly arrived in the lands of the Pharaos. However, to reach their destination, they once again have to turn away, back into the deserts...



Keeping the green to their left, the trio navigate their Proctor over the desert sands, following one of the roads. It should take them straight to Cairo - at least, that's what their maps say...



... but luckily, their maps turn out to be right. Soon they can see the Pyramids and the Nile in the distance. Setting out their course, they soon see their destination: Cairo's International airfield.



After their landing, the trio disembark their Proctor. It looks like they won't be flying anymore: by the time they reach the city itself, it will probably be late in the afternoon. The only thing they can hope for now, is that their visas will be there.

To be continued?

Flight:
Leg 15: Mersa Matruh (HEMM) to Cairo Intl. (HECA)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 11:12:27
Landing: 13:16:28
Flight time: 2 hours 4 minutes
Fuel used: 180.3 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31438

  • Keith Paine
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Did you know that you can have the Instrument panel light ON without the Nav lights being ON?
Switch the panel lights on using one of the rotary switches & then turn off the Nav lights toggle on the electrical panel.
Just remember that when you switch the panel lights off, the Nav lights will come on - its a quirk in the Gmax xml coding that I could not change.
Its a very nice story with pictures - lovely keep it up - to Australia?
Keith
Upside Down In Cloud.....
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31450

Yes, a very entertaining read!

Cheers,
Scott
KJMS (or thereabouts)


"...now let's get this thing on the hump - we've got some flyin' to do!" ~ Major Kong
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31484

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Many thanks for the kind words! :D

Keith, it won't be Australia, I'm afraid, even though I know at least one Proctor flew that route. Maybe something for another time.;)

It is the 2nd of January 1961, and as things turned out, the required visas were awaiting our trio in Cairo. With this behind their backs, they decided to remain in Cairo for the New Year... Goodbye 1960, hello 1961!

It is noon by the time the trio arrive at the airport, and after some last checks and filling in paperwork, they board their Proctor. After receiving the permission to taxi, they head out for the runway...



... past a rather impressive row of aircraft, ranging from the familiar DC-3, to new types such as the Lockheed Electra, and the Boeing 707. Barely comparable to their trusty Proctor.



Soon the Proctor is airborne, and the journey begins. After days of going East, the trio now firmly heads South, following the sacred Nile. First they head out over the busy city of Cairo, but soon they reach its ourskirts, and the busy streets and quarters make way for the vast expanses of fertile farmland...



Unavoidably, the three men's minds wander, thinking back to the things they were taught about ancient Egypt, but also about the many stories of adventurers, Pharao tombs and treasures. It seems so hard to believe that they are flying over the ancient lands, so close to the stuff of countless stories and legends...



But of course, that is not what they are here for - and even if they were, nowadays it is far more difficult to do such things. The days of reckless adventurers are over, Egyptology has become the field of scientific experts.
By now, the men reach Asyut, a little over half into this leg. Below them, in front of them, the Nile continues to stretch as far as the eye can see...



Half an hour later, the Proctor reaches a bend in the Nile, where the sacred river curves around the Valley of the Kings. The trio knows they are now close to Luxor...



And about a quarter of an hour later, the Proctor touches down at Luxor airfield. Parking their plane near the terminal, the trio already starts preparing their next leg...



Flight:
Leg 16: Cairo Intl. (HECA) to Luxor (HELX)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 12:42:39
Landing: 15:35:35
Flight time: 2 hours 53 minutes
Fuel used: 237.5 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31486

  • Okami
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By the time the Proctor is ready to fly again, the sun is already beginning to set. This is a bit of a setback, as the trio expected to be able to depart earlier.



Soon, though, they are airborne again. Even the fading light can't obscure their one navigational fix: the Nile river. It's just the last few miles that might prove a bit of a worry now.



From Luxor, the trio follow the Nile further South: past Isna, past Infu...



By the time they reach Aswan, the sun has already disappeared below the horizon, and darkness is beginning to fall. The bright lights of the city offer a huge contrast...



But past Aswan, the banks of the Nile turn dark. Only the surface of the Nile reflects the light of the moon, other than that there are few signs of life on either side of the river...



About forty minutes after passing Aswan, a small light becomes visible in the distance. It is the beacon of Wadi Halfa airport, the Proctor's destination. As the trio near, they realise the airport has no runway lighting, making for a very tricky landing...



But a few hairraising moments later, the little plane safely touches the ground. Disembarking the Proctor, the trio decide to set up camp next to their plane, so they can make an early start...

To be continued...

Flight:
Leg 17: Luxor (HELX) to Wadi Halfa (HSSW)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 16:59:35
Landing: 19:11:35
Flight time: 2 hours 12 minutes
Fuel used: 182.4 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31500

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January 3rd 1961 saw the boys undertake one of their longer sectors, as they began to approach their final destination. The day started with a pre-dawn take-off out of Wadi Halfa:



The first part of their flight was flown in near darkness, as the trio followed the railway line from Wadi Halfa to Atbara. Except for some occasional campfires in the desert, the railway line was just about the only sign of civilisation in the barren lands of the Nubian desert.



By the time the sun rose over the horizon, the trio could see the Nile in the far distance. They knew that if they followed the railway, they would reach the river near the town of Abu Hamad.



By the time they finally reach Abu Hamad, the sun is well and truly up, even though it is only about 6:30 AM. They are still about an hour away from Atbara.



Miles and miles on end they fly over the river, occasionally passing smaller and larger towns....



Until they finally reach Atbara. After receiving clearance, the Proctor swoops in, landing at the small airport.



Once on the ground, the trio wastes little time, as they prepare to fly their next leg.

Flight:
Leg 18: Wadi Halfa (HSSW) to Atbara (HSAT)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 05:03:11
Landing: 07:36:51
Flight time: 2 hours 34 minutes
Fuel used: 184.5 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31501

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About an hour after arriving at Atbara, the trio take off once again. This time their journey takes them in a south-easterly direction, meaning they leave the Nile behind them.



Instead, they follow another river: the Atbarah. This is a seasonal river, which for much of the year is nothing else but a dry riverbed.



Luckily, it has just been the wet season, so the river is flowing through the otherwise dry landscape. The patches of green of scrubs growing at its banks make it a highly recognisable, aiding the trio to navigate their way through the deserted flatlands.



For well over an hour, the little plane flies high over the flat sands. Except for the river below them, the landscape looks pretty much the same on all sides, nothing but sand, dust, rocks and dirt. The trio starts to become a little nervous, the thought of a forced landing in this hostile environment starts to play through their minds...



Then, in the far distance, they see a change in landscape. At first they can barely make out the shapes in the blur of the heat, but as they start to close the trio see mountains in the distance. At first they seem very small...



But soon they reveal their true magnitude. Flying at 6000 feet, the trio can see most of the mountains tower high above their flight level. A truly hostile environment.



However, the trio still has to make one stop before they start to head into these mountains. At their foot, the three men can see the city of Kassala. In the distance, to their right, they see the town's airport. Starting their descend, they radio the airport and request clearance for landing...



Soon after, they touch down at the small airport. Not quite sure what to expect on their next leg, the trio try their best to prepare themselves and their little plane...



To be continued...

Flight:
Leg 19: Atbara (HSAT) to Kassala (HSKA)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 08:40:31
Landing: 10:33:59
Flight time: 1 hour 53 minutes
Fuel used: 115.1 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31502

  • Okami
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About three quarters of an hour later, the trio are airborne again for their next leg. This will take them into Ethiopia, however they will have to cross some very mountainous terrain...



Still following their maps, the trio navigate their way past Kassala, following the road to Teseney, across the border. From there, they head due East.



All the way, the trio coax their Proctor into a climb. For the first time during their journey, they take their plane above 6000 feet. Despite the altitude, the terrain looks rather flat...



The engine readings tell differently, though. Even on full throttle, the engine barely delivers a boost of -4, where it usually gives -3/4 at sealevel.



Following the road, the trio find their way past Aykota. With the mid-day sun over their plane, the trio has no other choice than to open the windows: the heat is giving them quite some trouble.



Soon after, though, they notice the terrain is becoming even more difficult. In front of them, they see quite a number of high mountain ridges, some apparently some 8 to 9000 feet high. The trio knows they must climb over these mountains to get to Asmara. All of a sudden this trip doesn't seem to have been such a good idea after all...



But the little plane makes it. Climbing higher than it ever did before, the Proctor clears the mountains. The trio thank their luck that there was no turbulence, and the visibility was at its best. In the distance, they can already see Asmara.



Rather relieved, the trio get out of their plane once they taxi to their parking spot at Asmara. It seems like they have gotten through the worst. They couldn't have been more wrong...

To be continued...

Flight:
Leg 20: Kassala (HSKA) to Asmara (HAAS)
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Take-off: 11:20:12
Landing: 12:41:17
Flight time: 1 hour 21 minutes
Fuel used: 113.2 lbs
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Re: 50 years ago: a Proctor's wonderful journey... 4 years 7 months ago #31503

  • LeifH
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Nairobi Wilson as a destination?
<<In the early morning rain, with a dollar in my hand>>
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