2010-06-16 -- Muscat to Agra

Another long, long day of flying.

Airport security was fun:

The variety of stuff being checked through security was amusing. One guy checked two car tires. One guy had a huge pile of large boxes covered in packing tape. Jeffrey had a knife and large sword (see dinner last night). The knife and sword made it through with no problem, but his belt buckle set off the metal detector a few times, and Jeffrey got a thorough pat down....only to find nothing. He then picked up the knife and sword and continued on. I never saw if the tires made it through.

We saw the Oman Royal Flight 747 tail number A40-SO (also seen in Sharm El Sheik on the 11th) again today. The pictures weren't terribly good, shot from the back window of the plane as we taxied by, so I won't post them.

The flight was on the long side. 4 hours 10 minutes. We had tail winds all the way, but only minor ones up until the last 45 minutes when they jumped to 40 knots. It was hot all the way; bad for mileage. Unlike the last hot flight, this was long and at 31,000 feet, so it cooled down nicely -- far too much. Our drinks had ice in them.

Agra, a military base, was super easy to get through. We were second in, so the fuel was already there (Steve and Thierry -- first in -- reported that nobody was out to greet them, and they had a little trouble finding the parking area; the airport isn't used much, and parking was hidden; we just needed to find them :-)). The airport was empty; just us. No bus to get to the terminal, it was a few hundred feet away. The handler did a great job at...handling; customs/immigration took only a few minutes. The biggest problem was filling out the forms.

The drive to the hotel was...sad. Far too many people and far too few resources. Maybe I'll take some photos later.


A couple of curious things in this flight plan. First, ALPOR is listed twice -- that is not a typo here. Second, the flight plan did not meet the expectations of the Pakistani controller at Karachi. He instead wanted us to fly A791 from LATEM to TELEM, not N894 as on the flight plan. His explanation was that it was "too dangerous" there -- and, indeed, there are a couple of restricted areas ("AREA BRAVO" and "AREA FOXTROT") and a dumping area. Interestingly, A791 goes through something called the "AGHORE WEAPON TEST RANGE". See the chart.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/200 sec, f/3.2, ISO 800
What a controller screw up! Immediately after leaving Muscat (OMCT on the picture, I think) the controller turned us a few degrees to the left, probably to get us off the flight plan route (the pink line) so other larger and faster planes could depart. The white dashed line is the path we flew. This path flew us right into a restricted area (the blue box) at which time the controller had us make a sharp turn (perpendicular to the flight plan route) to get us around it. Thanks.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 9.4 mm; 1/200 sec, f/3.2, ISO 800
Then, almost as soon as we finished turning, he turned us back parallel to the flight plan, barely inside the area.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/320 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Our route took us by a couple of not-so-friendly spots.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/800 sec, f/8.0, ISO 800
The military base at Agra, where we landed (see also Airports Authority of India). No photos allowed on the base, so we had to get them before we got there. Note the ContourHD, handheld. I didn't want to risk mounting it to the windshield today. Good thing I didn't; there were a handful of armed guards at parking, and a generous helping of guys watching.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 13.8 mm; 1/500 sec, f/11.0, ISO 800
Final into Agra.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 13.8 mm; 1/50 sec, f/4.0, ISO 800
Watermelon juice and a flower necklace, at the Oberoi Amarvilas.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/125 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
A flower necklace, at the Oberoi Amarvilas.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS at 65.0 mm; 1/400 sec, f/8.0, ISO 400
Sunset in Agra; the Taj Mahal on the right.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/20 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Dinner was at the Indian Restaurant at the hotel. Local food, huh. It was empty. The other one across the hall (no clue what kind of food, I'd guess the usual boring hotel fare) was crowded. Anyway, this is the 'vegetarian appetizer' -- a spinach and lentil disk, mushrooms, and a chunk of cheese.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/20 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
The 'main course' was a buffet in miniature. Not really miniature, as nobody could eat this much food.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/25 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Dinner was accompanied by a sitar and tabla.

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS at 6.2 mm; 1/15 sec, f/2.7, ISO 800
Anais got a special welcome back cake. We were all stuffed and saved it for tomorrow.

anyone@walenz.org. Last touched on Thursday, July 8, 2010.
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