The reception in Kuwait was great and the airport gets some interesting visitors too. The GA ramp, that’s oddly also used by FlyDubai, lies right next to the USAF base and also houses a few nice retro jets like an immaculate 727 (big fan as you know).
The air was unusually humid due to a day of rare thunderstorms that brought the yearly rain supply 24 hours before. Apparently it was so bad the streets were flooded. The same happened in Yemen that day. Odd times. In any case, it hits you hard after a smooth (well, considering) 3.5 hour flight in air conditioned luxury.
The rampie told me I had to get local cash currency to purchase the fuel. However due to the large amount (600 KD / 2000 EUR for 2 barrels (no not a typo!)) I could not get enough cash out of the ATM, only 150. I tried to get cash through overcharging at the handler but they also didn’t have enough cash at hand, also just 150. The client and the operator were not able or willing to provide or send cash. In the end I was left with only one option: call mommy 😀 She was able to send 300; so togheter wih my cash and a smallish overcharge I was able to get all the Oryxes (national symbol) to pay for the fuel.
By the time I got to refueling it was a few hours later and dark. Luckily they (Kuwait, Bahrain and the UAE) accepted me IFR on FL110.
With 5 mins to EOBT, full tanks and 120L of AVGAS in the back I was ready to go. I had my suspicion this would be the final flight for me. All the delays and the expensive handling and fuel slashed my budget like the sword slashes fruit in fruit ninja ®™.
Anyhow, ‘t was a while since I last did a night IFR flight. The green flood lights and yellow lit instruments and the night lighting on the airport create a dreamy atmosphere that calmed me right down after another stressy and delayed ‘tech stop’. What a joy to just get going on these trips.
However, soon after taking off with the rolling thunder of the 550 awakening my tiredness behind my comfy ANR headset, the shear risk of this kind of flying hit me. Not that I didn’t know what I was getting into, but there is always a big difference between knowing whats coming and actually being in a situation. I think it’s called adrenaline.
There I was. Pitch dark outside, in the middle of the Persian Gulf only broken by a bright gigantic flame on an oil rig every now and then. ‘Could I make it? At least I can make out the surface there.’ Especially knowing the only engine is loosing some oil (dipping in at only .5 qts in 15 hrs though) gets you on edge. Watch those needles like a hawk. I knew the exact position of temp and pressure to the millimeter, and lucky for me they didn’t move. Every bump you think ‘Was that the engine? It’s so smooth out there…’ And so cutting the blue at 300 km/hour feels like slowly circumnavigating a giant black hole in outer space. Only without the rocket science.
The slowly passing calm voices of American, Australian, British and local air traffic controllers eventually kept me awake after my body adjusted to slightly higher alertness then usual and reminded me the end was approaching. Not that I was longing for it per se, but still.
I couldn’t help but feel relieved to see Dubai’s glow in the distance and hear and see traffic getting busier. Not much later I got my first aerial view of the palm and the skyline with the Burj Kalifa blinking high above it all.
To avoid the busy Dubai airspace I had to route north over the city and descend over the mountains as I came back down to Fujairah. My smartphone didn’t want to cooperate and refused to give me the approach plates. The kind man at the other end of the radio briefed me how to fly the ILS and soon I was established to land on what later would prove to be the final destination.
A row of IL-76TD/MD’s and a very rare IL-18 were a nice sight as I taxied the Bonanza in to stand 3 and the 550 (and me!) finally got to rest for the day.
The clerks at the airport didn’t hold me very long and soon I was on my way to Dubai to meet a friend and very happy to be in a first world country, but oh so tired! By the time I got to his place I was on the road for 19 hours. All you can still manage to do then is lift your arm to enjoy a cold beer.