A Slow Flight to India – Day 3 –Hurghada-Kuwait

We got in our hotel very late, and without dinner last night. That morning we woke up very early in order to get the reasonably cold air of the morning for our desert trip from Hurghada, Egypt (HEGN) over the Red Sea and Saudi-Arabia to Kuwait City (OKKK). The waking up was painful, but the excitement grew with the minute ! The moment we left the airconditioned hotel, the heat hit us already at full force. I was happy to have been able to make some coffee for myself. That with the snacks on board would keep me going.

After the necessary paperwork issues, we took off from runway 34R at Hurghada and got cleared to the right over the Red Sea. The turquoise diving spots of the Hurghada Resorts immediately came in view and showed us its morning glory: what a beautiful sight !

Hurghada Approach passed us off to Cairo Control and they refused to give us a direct to the first Saudi VOR WEJ at the east side of the Red Sea due to unknown reasons. We started to climb to catch the promised tailwinds and to get cooler air. But as you climb, the air gets thinner and thinner as well !

We coasted into mainland of Saudi-Arabia near the WEJ VOR and continued onwards to Al Ula. The desert landscaped changed from hills to mountains to plains to sand dunes. It was never dull or boring, it constantly changed but it was clearly inhospitable, dry and devoid of meaningful vegetation. Every now and then we saw asphalt road stretching for miles and miles below us.

Before the Al Ula VOR, we were asked to deconflict ourselves without the help of ATC on the TIBA (Traffic Information Broadcast by Aircraft) frequency of 122.8 MHz with an airliner taking off from there: that was new !

And then we droned on from VOR to VOR over the desert. We flew very high, and the heat (ISA +23°C) that further drove up our Density Altitude did not help for the oxygen saturation in our blood. I developed a headache due to the onset of hypoxia, so I descended back down to 8000ft. That and drinking somewhat helped fighting the headache.

We could monitor the tailwinds on the Wind Aloft data of Foreflight which proved to be a good tool. I could download the meteo report from Kuwait through my Garmin InReach and the temperature in Kuwait had reached 47°C ! We flew from HIL to HFR VOR and after many hours, we came in range of Kuwait Control so we knew that our hot day would soon be ended. Luckily the temperature had dropped to 39°C already there.

In Kuwait, we were told to expect the ILS of runway 33R approach, but when getting near to the ILS, Approach kept us high and even vectored us through the final approach course. I questioned ATC because of this and they made us descend parallel and 2 miles to the east of the 33R approach course so an airliner could descend next to us at our left: very unusual ! Finally they vectored us again onto the localiser and we received a very late landing clearance from Kuwait Tower about 2 miles out. Never had such a bizarre approach … I guess it was safe !?

After being 8,5hrs in the air, we landed and had our planes refuelled while it was still 39°C outside. The red tape was acceptable and we soon got into a cab towards our hotel. I got very grumpy for lack of food and because it was already after 10:00pm local, we only found food at a foodcourt in a mall … but the Asian noodles were fantastic and our spirits lifted towards excitement for the next day’s flight to Muscat, Oman over the Persian Golf. Somehow we knew this ferry would work out in time as planned…

Stay tuned !

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