Just beautiful being in the Arabian Gulf- sunshine, warmth (on the ground at least!) and great hospitality!Jet Aviation Services in Dubai looked after us so well this morning (many thanks again to Marcus and his great staff), who not only did not charge us a penny for parking our machine in their hangar, but very kindly also paid our fuel bill for us.This saving means more blind children and adults around the world will receive the priceless gift of sight through the significant savings made here.Simply life-changing stuff.Marcus and Jet Aviation, you may never get to meet or even know about these individuals, families and communities you have touched around the world through your generosity today, so we thank you most sincerely on their behalf…Dubai air traffic control were very supportive to us as we were directed out onto the huge runways amidst all the giant aircraft around us, and vectored us safely away down the coast towards Oman and Muscat.
I have spoken at several conferences in Dubai recently- the last just about seven weeks ago. Just exhillarating to realise this morning that I was now actually at 3,000 feet flying past the very hotel in the microlight!
We may have been the smallest aircraft ever to use their giant runway, but somehow I don't think it was the least significant flight to do so, through the generosity of people supporting our Seeing Is Believing flight for sight.
It still makes me smile and pinch myself whenever we pass through the normal departure formalities at big airports like Dubai, with our kit going through the x-ray equipment, showing up an array of dodgy items including dangerous looking knives, that we explain we need with us in case we crash into the sea and need to cut our way out. They seem to look at us like we are pranksters pulling their legs, but start to realise we are serious when we have no boarding cards, and, when they ask us what time our flight departs we tell them, "when we are ready"- and remember they are talking to a man with the shorn remains of a shaggy beard and a blind guy with a white stick, andwe are both are introduced as the pilots.
When we then show them a picture of the microlight, and explain it has taken us not 5.5 hours to fly from London but 14 days, and we are on our way to Australia they start looking at the big knives again and start wondering if we are serious- it makes me laugh and shake my head, as, somehow, it seems as ludicrous to me as it must do to them!
We had to be cleared by Executive Flight Services today, the handling agents for all private flights out of Dubai, and, when meeting other pilots chatting together about their flights coming up in their Gulf Stream, Leer Jets and other business jets to the States, Hong Kong etc, it seems a bit of a let-down to admit that we are flying a microlight, with the two of us not only being the full compliment of crew, but all the passengers as well, with our entire aircraft, fully loaded with us on board, weighing less than the luggage for a small business jet.
We seem to leave a trail of silence behind us whenever we explain what we are doing.
Our flight today was a really beautiful route nearly 200 miles all the way down the Arabian Gulf coastline from Dubai to Muscat, mostly at 4,00 feet or lower.
Richard described the scenery below, that included small fishing boats with enclosed circular nets pulling in their catch, with seagulls diving into the harvest to the beautiful homes and gardens all down the coast, with big circular watered vegetable gardens behind them.
I ended up geting a bit of a migrane headache on one side of my head, that I think was caused by the volume of sound that erupts from one headphone from powerful radio transmissions from other aircraft or ATC at times.
It was fairly cool up there, and I was pleased to have my heated gloves plugged in and two fleeces underneath my flying suit, along with three pairs of socks!
Muscat airport opened their arms and hospitality to us, and we were immediately offered hangar acommodation for the microlight for the four nights we will be here- Jet Aviation again opening doors for us!
We were treated to a great sea-food dinner tonight by Imram and his cousin from the Standard Chartered Bank, both of them also pilots!
Tomorrow I speak to the staff of the Bank here in the early afternoon, whilst Richard works on the microlight, sorting out a few things regarding our camera equipment etc.
Tomorrow evening we will both attend a corporate dinner hosted by the Bank, where I trust I can be a vehicle through my presentation to encourage the businessmen and their wives attending to give generously to the amazing Seeing Is Believing charity.
I am very tired tonight, now having flown continuously for the last 14 days with long nights as well updating the website material, so I am heaing for bed now, knowing I don't need to listen to my 0600 hours alarm going off for once! Sleep is a wonderful gift, isn't it?!
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