Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Flying The Middle East

These days, the most intelligent advice might be simply, “Don’t”

There were only four other U.S.-registered airplanes at Abu Dhabi: a Learjet, a Cessna 210, a Bonanza and a Saratoga. All four crews were staying at the same hotel, and after three days, the consensus seemed to be that we were all going to be there for a while.

On the premise that perhaps the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing, I called flight service and filed an IFR flight plan for Luxor, Egypt. The flight plan was accepted without question. I checked out of the hotel, grabbed a cab to the airport, arriving just after noon and told the service manager at the FBO that I was going to do some engine run ups. He was a burly Canadian with a sense of humor. He smiled and winked, reminding me that I wasn't allowed to depart. I told him I wouldn't think of it; he grinned and went to lunch.

The airplane was serviced and ready to go. I climbed aboard, started the engines and called clearance delivery for my clearance, expecting at any moment to be told to shut down. Instead, I was cleared as filed via Bahrain, Riyadh, and on to Luxor. I taxied to the holding point, did my run up and called the tower for takeoff clearance.

Again, I assumed I'd be directed to return to the ramp, but after some delay, the tower finally cleared me for takeoff. Just over an hour later, long after I had left UAE airspace and was working Bahrain Center, the Bahrain controller, a retired American, said he had received a message from Abu Dhabi that there was "something irregular" about my flight plan. He asked if I wanted to return to Abu Dhabi, I said no, and he commented, "Yeah, I didn't think so. You're cleared as filed, flight level 200, Riyadh and direct Luxor."

After I landed in Luxor, this time with both engines running, and checked into the hotel, I waited for the phone to ring, but it never did.


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