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A Notable Qantas A380 & a War 40,000 ft Below

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

IMG_1761 - Nancy Bird Walton A380 542▲  Sometimes flights are interesting all the way. When I looked out from the Tullamarine Airport (Melbourne, Australia) terminal at the Qantas A380 I was about to board I could see its name just below the flight deck windows: Nancy-Bird Walton. It was the first Airbus A380 to be delivered to Qantas, named after a pioneering Australian aviator. In 2012 I posted on Qantas A380 names.

QF 32 Richard de CrespignyBack in 2010 Nancy-Bird Walton was the A380 which – as Qantas flight QF32 – soon after takeoff from Singapore had a catastrophic engine failure (an ‘uncontained failure’ in aircraft-engine-speak) which fired assorted pieces of shrapnel through the wing. The plane was nursed back to Singapore where it took more than a year to fix it, over 500 days in fact. I’ve posted on how long it takes to patch up damaged airliners as well!

So we flew to Dubai where the crew changed and who was on our new captain? Why Richard de Crespigny, the captain on that ill-starred flight in this same aircraft almost four years ago He’s even written a book about what went wrong and how he saved the day.  ►


We then had an aborted takeoff from Dubai – an unexpected computer error message – which meant we had to sit on the taxiway for half an hour while the brakes cooled down. And from there to London there was something to look at all the way.

IMG_6537 - Kuwait 542▲ First of all we flew just east of Kuwait, close enough to clearly check out the downtown area and waterfront. I visited Kuwait in 2012 and walked along that waterfront in the 40°C heat.

IMG_6543 - over Iraq▲ Then it was north over Iraq, passing close to Baghdad. Here’s the moving map on my screen.

IMG_6544 - Azwya on Tigris River, near Kirkuk 542▲ Frow where we flew north with the Tigris River just to the west of us. This bend in the river is at the town of Azwya, just west of Kirkuk. I travelled through the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq in 2006 and had some very uneasy moments as we drove through Kirkuk, a town partly under Kurdish control at that time. Azwya, and Mosul which we flew close by a few minutes later, have both been flashpoints for the ISIS takeover of parts of Iraq in recent weeks. It’s remarkable how peaceful everything looks from 40,000 feet. ‘Another glass of wine please, there’s a war going on directly below us? Oh really?’

IMG_6548 - Batman, Turkey 271◄  We continued north over eastern Turkey and there, directly below us, was the wonderfully named town of Batman.

I passed by Batman back in 2006, on my way from Diyarbarkir (just to the west) to Iraq and stopped to take a photograph of the Batman road sign. ▼Turkey, near Diyarbakir, Batman sign 542

We continued north, across the Black Sea and across Romania, close to Bucharest and just west of Transylvania – I visited both just a couple of months ago. Budapest and Vienna were just out of sight to the north, Frankfurt was obscured by cloud and finally we banked in across the English countryside to touch down at Heathrow. Nice flight!

IMG_6556 - approaching Heathrow - 542▲ Just east of London on approach to Heathrow. I really like the tail mounted Skycam which you can watch on your screen on Qantas A380s.

IMG_6556 - approaching Heathrow - 542

A Notable Qantas A380 & a War 40,000 ft Below

9 July 2014 | Transport

▲  Sometimes flights are interesting all the way. When I looked out from the Tullamarine Airport (Melbourne, Australia) terminal at the Qantas A380 I was about to board I could see its name just below the flight deck windows: Nancy-Bird Walton. It was the first Airbus...

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holiday-in-cambodia 271

Holiday in Cambodia

6 July 2014 | Media

There’s not much vacation time in Laura Jean McKay’s electric collection of short stories. Dark short stories, nobody is having a really good time whether they’re foreign visitors on a train heading for a Khmer Rouge ambush soon after Cambodia reopened in the early 19...

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Bluetooth Symbol 271

Harald Bluetooth & his Viking Phone

4 July 2014 | Living

I love the way one experience leads you to another. Surprisingly often I go somewhere and what I see instantly makes me want to see something else. Earlier this year, at the enormously popular Viking exhibit (it finished a couple of weeks ago) at the British Museum, I...

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IMG_6456 - Niyama, Maldives 542

Over the Maldives – fine stonework below (and maybe MH 370)

29 June 2014 | Places

In a recent posting on Istanbul I commented how on-the-ground reality could run well ahead of our up-to-the-minute internet, with a photograph from the Galata Tower of the Golden Horn, Istanbul’s historic inlet from the Bosphorus. The new (early 2014) Golden Horn Metr...

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IMG_4888 - Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) 271


26 June 2014 | Places

◄ My recent Turkey travels featured stops at assorted archaeological sites and museums – recently excavated Göbekli Tepe,  Nemrut Dağı, Gaziantep where the museum features wonderful mosaics from the Roman city of Belkıs-Zeugma, Catalhöyük, the amazing ruins at Sagalas...

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IMG_5892 - street art in Kaleiçi 271

Antalya & its fine museum

21 June 2014 | Places

A popular coastal resort Antalya was the jumping off point for visits to three nearby archaeological sites – Termessos, Aspendos and Perge. It’s also got some archaeology right in the town, the narrow streets of the old port area of Kaleiçi has remnants of the old Rom...

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IMG_5840 - Perge, Turke 271

Perge – ruins with a lot of columns

20 June 2014 | Places

Just 17 km north-west of Antalya and a stone’s throw off the freeway this is the most developed of the three archaeological sites close to the Mediterranean resort. It was also the last stop in my Global Heritage Fund circuit of Turkey’s sites, although there is one m...

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IMG_5820 - Aqueduct, Aspendos 542

Aspendos – a big theatre & a stunning aqueduct

16 June 2014 | Places

The great theatre at Aspendos, it seats 15,000 and is probably the best-preserved theatre from Roman times, is regularly used for performances. It was also undergoing some heavy-duty renovation work when I visited the site so it was not possible to go inside. Aspendos...

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IMG_5801 - Termessos 271

Termessos – big stones

14 June 2014 | Places

Antalya, the Turkish coastal resort town, has three nearby archaeological sites – Aspendos, Perge and Termessos. After the impressive restoration work I’d seen at Sagalassos, Termessos was a real contrast. This was a ruin in a truly ruined state. As we drove up to ...

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IMG_5759 - Arch of Claudius, Bouleuterion Columns & Ağlasun, Sagalassos 542

Sagalassos – an amazing Greek-Roman site in Turkey

12 June 2014 | Places

My circuit of Turkish archaeological sites continued to Sagalassos, about 120km inland from the resort city of Antalya. It’s a remarkable site because extensive work on the site only commenced in the mid-1980s, led by a team from Belgium under Marc Waelkens. So its de...

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