The Long Journey Home
May 15, 2008 - Dubai
A few hours in Dubai then home sweet home! When you look up “Long Day” in the dictionary this is it. Bob and Chris leave our great hotel in Cairo at 06:30 to get the airplane ready for our 09:00 departure to Dubai.
As with every leg so far, our crew (whichever team is up front with help from our handlers at Universal Weather and Aviation) manage things perfectly. This is complicated stuff and I am amazed at the logistics required to pass through so many countries and clear customs in a new world every few days. At this point my mind is incapable of converting time zones and my body, God bless it, is beginning to get a little confused also.
We arrive in Dubai with an 11 hour layover before our Delta flight home for our break. We get day rooms at the Marriott which help a lot. Showers and good food. Jim and I blow off the rest period and head for the malls. First we get misdirected to a kind of general purpose suburban mall. Our taxi a (brand new stretched Lexus) and our driver let us out. The driver says a taxi home may be a problem so thank God we get his number. Lots of hustle and bustle, lots of prosperous and well dressed expats and locals are everywhere. After 10 minutes in this mall we realize we are in the wrong place. No Chanel store. Jim and I look for the taxi stand. We find it. It is in front of a two hour line of people. We quickly call our driver and hire him for the rest of the day.
The next mall is all Dubai. Every high end store and the people are gorgeous. Some of the women are in traditional black, burka but with gold trim and $1,000 shoes. Some of these women, (you can only see their eyes) have on amazing eye makeup that will shiver your timbers! The building boom is alive and well here.
I am looking forward to getting the building tour when we come back in June. For my wonderful clients that have let me take this time off please note we will have to talk about our construction budgets when I get back. I have come up with a few ideas to kick our projects up a notch. We will have to push out the ROI calculation a few decades, however.
11:45pm we load up the 777 with hundreds others. Delta and the crew do a great job but I miss our CJ3.
Sixteen hours later I am home but my buddies have one last leg to Orlando. This first part of our “Around The World” adventure is over and it has been great. I am grateful to have been a part of it. Thanks, Jim! Thank you all for following along. The pictures on these blogs are limited. I look forward to sharing more with you all later.
Cheers until next leg. - Mercer
May 16, 2008 - End of leg one
Home again! As Mercer posted first above, we had an uneventful trip back. After some sleep last night, I sent a few pictures from my Blackberry to the laptop to try to add a little to Mercer's excellent work. It WAS a long day, but the excellent international experience that Chris Hall brings to the party shown at its brightest as we flew for 3.7 hours from Cairo to Dubai. Going past the tinderbox places like Lebanon, Israel, Iran, Pakistan and then on over Saudi, Bahrain, Qatar and then U.A.E. airspace, the Flight Management system and the communication requirements to report waypoints and estimates made the flight, done mostly at 45,000 feet above any other traffic, an aerobic experience.
What a pilot Chris Hall is! His understanding all of the nuances that we never see flying in the States has been essential to our successes in making every flight to date on time and a non event to the passengers! While we were busy communicating and navigating, it was interesting that we went the first 1000 miles of our trip without seeing another aircraft up there with us!
Another kudos has to be to Juliet Papa, the magnificent aircraft Citation CJ3 built by our friends in Kansas at Cessna Aircraft. The plane to date has flown 24.1 hours in every temperature from plus 115 degrees to over 65 degrees below zero at altitude and has flown without a single maintenance issue. Magnificent!
Lastly, the folks at Universal Weather, the Houston based aircraft handling and flight planning experts we have contracted for this trip, have done an outstanding job. Our assigned contact guy, Richard Cook, was talking or emailing with us each and every day of the trip over one detail or another. Thanks, Richard!
As Mercer blogged above, the folks at Delta did an outstanding job of getting us home. For you pilots, the Boeing 777-200ER we flew in had ONE empty seat. On takeoff at midnight Dubai time, it was still 91 degrees. The takeoff roll was 54 seconds (versus about 9 or 10 for the CJ) and consumed some 9,000 feet of runway (vs. 2500 or so for the CJ). The first 5,000 feet climbing out with our 17 hour fuel load took about 10 minutes (the CJ would do it in 2, but holds only 6 hours of fuel at max) and our initial cruising altitude was 32,000 feet due to its incredibly heavy load.
Later in the flight, passing London, we climbed to 36,000 and then 38,000 over Canada as the craft was easily 100 tons lighter on landing than on takeoff as it burned the fuel off. The 777 is truly a magnificent tribute. Wilbur and Orville would be speechless at its capabilities and the smooth quiet environment it provided us for the 15 hour and 3 minute non stop flight it made. For the flight, there were 6 Delta pilots on board that took turns flying and then resting as we crossed almost third of the Earth on a single flight.
Well, JP is resting, the ATW crew is now happily with their respective families for our 23 day "respite" from the wonderful journey we have all been blessed to be a part of.
We will cherish the memories behind us and, once we get over a little bit of jet lag, enjoy our time at home and continue building the plan for part two of our adventure.
Thanks to all of you for your comments and your support of our blog, it has been such an interesting and rewarding first experience for us in this part of the internet world. The next departure is on the afternoon of Sunday, June 8th, as once again we hand ourselves over to Delta to get us the 7,700 miles back to Dubai where JP will be waiting to take us on to India, Vietnam, China, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Alaska, Seattle and home to ORL at 1654 local time on June 25th, 2008!
Thanks for coming along with us! - Bob