was a nice stay, what with its dinner in the great room overlooking the Firth, and cozy ambiance. But what’s with the towel heater? Never could figure that out. Yesterday we took a gander at Loch Ness
, then went to Cawdor Castle
–supposedly the geographic locale in mind when Shakespeare wrote Macbeth. Only banged my head on the door sill once!
Back at Bunchrew, it was time to sit around the coal-fed fireplace and shoot the bull about things aviation. In all, a great stay–just like all the others. And it was the third place the group stayed that wasn’t on the original itinerary; weather and a strike by airport workers at Bergen, Norway kept us from our planned stays. Many thanks are owed to Sophie Pouille–the wife of Air Journey owner Thierry Pouille. She made all the hotel and other changes, sometimes in as little as three hours! And all from Jupiter, Florida.
I’ve gotten quite good at washing in the sink. Who knew that a mini-bar of Heather Vegetable soap could do such a good job on a shirt and some other things? And hey, that towel-heater doubles as a clothes dryer!
Today was my day to accompany Tracy Forrest and and John Hayes in Forrest’s Cessna Mustang for the 580-nm trip to Paris. It took us a mere two hours to make the trip. We cruised at FL410 while burning just 71 gph (both engines). At times our groundspeed reached 335 knots. The G1000′s VNAV functions were put to good use: Forrest loaded the entire route and its vertical profile–while still on the ramp waiting for takeoff from Inverness!
At about FL380, the air temperatures started moving to the ISA +2- to 3-degree Celsius level. For such a small rise in temperature, there was a big effect on climb rate. In the mid-30′s, where temperatures were just below ISA, the Mustang was climbing at a healthy 1,000 fpm at an indicated airspeed of 160-170 knots. But at FL380, climb rate sank to 400 fpm, and to keep that we had to fly at 140 KIAS. Even so, we made it to FL410 in 27 minutes. Not bad at all. This is how one becomes spoiled.
We landed at the Pontoise, France, airport (LFPT) and Thierry was there to greet us. But first, it was time for lunch at the Pontoise Flying Club’s restaurant (this is France, after all). I had the duck confit and a boilermaker–just kidding!! Yes, there was wine, and when in Rome…. besides, for Hayes and me this would be our last leg with the group, so it was a celebration of sorts.
The Pontoise club has 450 members, by the way. A whole flock of Cessnas were parked near the club restaurant, and on weekends I’m told that the place is a popular destination for pilots and non-pilots alike. There are even swing sets for kids. After taking a look at some of the planes based here, we took cabs to Paris.
Right now, I’m in the Hotel Plaza Athenee in downtown Paris. Like I said, this Air Journey trip is first-class all the way. (It should be, at some $55,000 per head for the “Around The World Trip” participants). I have a doorbell and a suite of three rooms, and pretty soon I’m going to jump on the Metro and go down to St. Germain des Pres.
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So it’s no more North Atlantic blogging for me… I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And please don’t be jealous, I’ll be back tomorrow at my more mundane duties. This means changing planes at London Heathrow–one of the worst fates that can happen to a traveler. There’s a new terminal there (terminal 5). They spent millions and millions on this thing, and still you have to wait to go through security (again! The concept of a secure side for connecting passengers apparently evades the British mind), then hike like a maniac to change airlines. If you don’t have two or more hours between flights, you won’t make your connection.
But while my work here is finished, Air Journey moves on. The group goes to Gibraltar in a few days, then Marrakech, Morocco, then …. well, check their website for details and blogs from the participants. The trip doesn’t end until July 20, when the pilots and their passengers finish up by going to EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
And the RTW trip isn’t the only iron in Air Journey’s fire. There’s another group in Gautemala now, another trans-Atlantic trip in June, and a trip to Alaska as well. That’s a lot of work for the company’s three employees! Next time you feel like some adventure with a minimum of flying and travelling risks, check out Air Journey–even if you use them solely for lodging arrangements. They know general aviation, and they know their way around the world.