Around the World in 70 Days, Week 3: The Mediterranean
The RTW pilots left Paris behind them and took off for Marrakech, in Morrocco, on the northwestern coast of Africa. The distance of about 1,100 nm meant only the PC-12 and the Cessna Conquest could fly nonstop. The TBM 700 and Cessna Mustang crews planned a stop in Gibraltar, near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The Gibraltar runway intersects a busy road -- when an airplane approaches, air traffic control radios to guards to close off the road until the airplane has landed.
In Marrakech, the group enjoyed a Morroccan dinner complete with belly dancers, and spent two days touring the city. Next was a stop in Malta, then onward to spend some relaxing time on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini. "From the air, the island looks rather desolate, but the white houses anchored to the rigid cliffs, set upon the grey rocks and blue ocean, fills the area with much charm," says tour leader Thierry Pouille.
The next stop was Istanbul, Turkey, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. "It is fair to say that Istanbul is a complex city," said Pouille, with neighborhoods ancient and modern, European and Asian. "The entire group was pleasantly surprised with Istanbul, a country rich in tradition and influenced by many cultures." From Istanbul, the group flew on to Sharm el Sheikh, at the edge of the Red Sea.
"We've had great flying so far," Pouille told AVweb on Wednesday. "We've had no major problems, just blue skies and tail winds." Pilot briefings include Powerpoint presentations that provide weather updates, route maps, navigation details, and even a photo of the destination runway from approach. "We're very well prepared," Pouille said, "and tomorrow, we are flying up the Nile to Luxor, to see the pyramids and the temples."