What's the best way to see the United Kingdom? From the air of course! Starting today, the MoMI proudly presents a pictorial tour of the UK as seen from the air...or at least the simulated air of Flight Simulator X.
Flying a Beechcraft King Air of the Royal Air Force, we commence a realtime clockwise circumnavigation of England, Wales, and Scotland. Flying low and slow, we'll hug the coast as we explore the diverse geography of this fascinating country.
Day 1 (18 April 2013): London City Airport - Southampton Airport
|Royal Air Force Beechcraft King Air on the runway at London City Airport.|
|Flying over the heart of London.|
Heading east over the Thames, the O2 Centre and Canary Wharf in the background.
Cruising southbound over the mouth of the Thames between Shoeburyness and Sheerness.
Dusk in Southampton, making a low pass over the ocean liner Queen Mary 2 in Southampton Water.
Parked at the gate at Southampton Airport after dark.
Day 2 (20 April 2013): Southampton Airport - Land's End Airport
Heading west from Southampton after skirting the south coast of the Isle of Wight and flying over The Needles, a jagged rocky outcrop extending from the western end of the island.
Flying past the estuary of the River Dart, near Dartmouth.
Flying low over Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 1859 Royal Albert Bridge (foreground) and the 1961-built Tamar Bridge (background), spanning the River Tamar in Saltash.
Parked at Land's End Airport on the Penwith Peninsula of southwestern Cornwall, south of the village of St. Just and west of the town of Penzance.
Day 3 (21 April 2013): Land's End Airport - West Wales Airport
Flying east up the Bristol Channel. The cliffs of Exmoor National Park can be seen in the background.
Flying over the Second Severn Crossing (foreground) and the Severn Bridge (background) connecting England and Wales.
|Flying past Cardiff International Airport in Wales.|
Rounding Ramsey Island off the St. David's peninsula in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Parked and refuelling at the tiny West Wales Airport, located off the A487 road south of the village of Aberporth.
Day 4 (22 April 2013): West Wales Airport - Carlisle Airport
Flying past the town of Barmouth, Wales on the estuary of the Afon Mawddach (River Mawddach) in the county of Gwynned. The Mawddach empties into Cardigan Bay off the Irish Sea.
Banking left over the eastern end of the Menai Strait separating mainland Wales and the island of Anglesey.
Flying over the Silver Jubilee Bridge (also known as the Runcorn-Widnes Bridge) crossing the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal at the Runcorn Gap near Liverpool. The bridge opened in 1961 and carries the A533 road.
Flying over Liverpool John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, England. The airport, located along the River Mersey, is 12 kilometres southeast of the city centre and is the 10th busiest airport in the UK.
Day 5 (23 April 2013): Carlisle Airport - Benbecula Airport
|Flying over the Garvellachs (or Isles of the Sea) |
while proceeding up the Firth of Lorn in Scotland.
The Isle of Mull is on the far left.
|Flying northwest through the Sound of Mull |
separating the Isle of Mull from the mainland
Scottish Highland region of Lochaber.
|Parked at Benbecula Airport, located on Benbecula |
Island in the Outer Hebrides chain. The airport
services the Scottish mainland and other
Day 6 (24 April 2013): Benbecula Airport - Sumburgh Airport
|Cruising along the coast of northwestern Scotland.|
|Rounding Cape Wrath, the most northwesterly |
point in the mainland UK. Most of Cape Wrath
is owned by the UK Ministry of Defence and is
used for military exercises, including as a live
|Flying north up the inner leads in the Orkney Islands.|
|Looking out the cockpit while flying south |
down the channel separating the mainland of
Shetland and the island of East Burra.
|Parked at the gate at Sumburgh Airport, the |
main airport serving the Shetland Islands.
Originally RAF Sumburgh, a military airfield,
the current civilian airport features two
asphalt runways over 4,000 feet in length.
Day 7 (25 April 2013): Sumburgh Airport
Delayed at Sumburgh Airport due to mechanical issues. Spare parts flown up from RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire and repairs carried out overnight.
Day 8 (26 April 2013): Sumburgh Airport - Edinburgh Airport
Flying south over Fair Isle, located midway between mainland Shetland and the Orkney Islands. The island is renowned as a migratory bird habitat and is home to a famous bird observatory.
|Cruising along the cliffs of northern Scotland's east coast.|
Flying over RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland. This Royal Air Force station is the main base for the RAF's Tornado GR4 fighter and, with the closure of RAF Leuchars in 2013, RAF Lossiemouth remains as the only operational RAF station in Scotland.
A cockpit view of the bridges over the Firth of Forth, linking Edinburgh on the south shore (right) with Fife on the north shore (left).
The bridges over the Firth of Forth: the Forth Road Bridge, carrying the A90 road, in the foreground, and the 8,296-foot long cantilevered Forth Bridge in the background.
The iconic Forth Bridge, a railway bridge, opened on 4 March 1890 after 7 years of construction.
Flying over Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh's west end. The stadium built in 1925 and renovated in 1995, seats 67,144 people and is home to the Scottish Rugby Union.
Flying low over Barclay Viewforth Church, opened in 1864, and a parish church of the Church of Scotland. The church's spire reaches to 250 feet, making it one of the tallest landmarks in Edinburgh.
Buzzing St. Mary's Cathedral, a Gothic-style cathedral of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, built in the late-19th century.
Flying over a couple of freighters docked at Edinburgh's port in the city's east end.
|Parked and refuelling at Edinburgh Airport.|
Hailing one of Edinburgh's "Black Cabs" at the UK Arrivals end of the airport terminal, we drive 25 minutes into the city to the 5-star Balmoral Hotel at 1 Princes Street, located near Edinburgh Waverley railway station and in the heart of the city's shopping district. Checking in, we deposit our bags, change, and freshen up before heading down to the hotel's stylish brasserie, Hadrian's, for dinner: terrine of Scottish game with mascerated grapes; Blairgowrie Rib Eye steak served with hand cut chips, watercress and bearnaise sauce; classic bourbon vanilla creme brule with almond biscuit for dessert, and a lovely cheese plate of Isle of Mull cheddar with Scottish oatcakes and homemade apple chutney. Following dinner, we retire to the hotel's Balmoral Bar for a Lemon Breeze Champagne cocktail (Tanqueray, Limoncello, Elderflower Cordial, Moet & Chandon Brut) and, in a nod to our flying tour of the UK, a signature cocktail named The Aviation (Tanqueray Gin, Lemon Juice, Maraschino Liqueur & Crème de Violette). A final non-alcoholic cocktail, the Apple Twist (cloudy apple juice shaken with pineapple juice & peach puree) ends our stay at the Balmoral Bar, and we head out west along Princes Street to the charming Kenilworth pub on Rose Street to enjoy a glass or two of draught Wyld Wood cider (organic cider apples aged in old oak casks) by the Aspall Suffolk Cyder company. Accompanying our cider, we enjoy a warming bowl of Tomato and Davidstow Cheddar soup and a scotch egg, before returning to the Balmoral Hotel.
Day 9 (27 April 2013): Edinburgh Airport - Humberside Airport
Flying past Berwick-on-Tweed, the northernmost town in England, located on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed in the county of Northumberland.
Flying past the estuary of the River Tees and the city of Middlesbrough in North Yorkshire, England.
Flying low alongside the steep cliffs lining the North Sea coast of the North York Moors National Park in North Yorkshire, England. This section of coast lies between the towns of Whitby, in the north, and Scarborough, in the south.
Flying directly over the rocky, limestone headland of the town of Scarborough in North Yorkshire. Scarborough is the most popular holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast, and has been dubbed 'the Brighton of the North'.
Flying over a car ferry destined for Zeebrugge or Rotterdam. The land mass in the background is the Holderness area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. A rich agricultural area, Holderness was marshland until drained in the Middle Ages.
Flying over the Humber Bridge, the 7,280 foot long suspension bridge crossing the River Humber. The bridge opened in June 1981 and connects Barton-upon-Humber on the river's south shore with Hessle on the north shore, carrying the A15 road.
Touching down on Runway 03 at Humberside Airport, located near the town of Kirmington in North Lincolnshire. The city of Grimsby lies 19km to the east and Hull is about 24km to the north.
|Parked at Humberside Airport for the night.|
Day 10 (28 April 2013): Humberside Airport
All departures and arrivals cancelled by Humberside Police and security intelligence officials following reports of two suspicious South Asian men loitering around the airport's WHSmith newsstand. Although the men were speaking Arabic, an unidentified local witness stated that he heard them use the words 'dirka dirka Mohammed jihad' and 'Allahu Ackbar'; police arrested the men shortly after under a protective custody order and they are now being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location pending formal charges, which should be laid in the next 7 to 30 days. The airport has been cleared to resume flights on 29 April.
Day 11 (29 April 2013): Humberside Airport - Norwich International Airport
|Flying south along the Lincolnshire coast.|
Cruising along the topographically unremarkable Norfolk coast as dusk sets in.
Landing on Runway 27 at Norwich International Airport, we taxi to the fuelling station and, having topped up our tanks, we proceed four miles by taxi to the Premier Inn Nelson Norwich City Centre on Prince of Wales Road. After checking into the hotel, conveniently located in the heart of historic Norwich on the bank of the River Wensum, we grab a quick dinner at the hotel's Table Table Restaurant: ham, egg & chips and, for dessert, Eton Mess (fresh strawberries, crumbled meringue, and whipped cream folded together with a blackcurrant coulis). Following dinner, we embark on the Alan Partridge Walking Tour of Norwich, visiting such famous landmarks as Norwich Town Hall, from where Adolph Hitler was to have delivered his victory address had the Nazis conquered Britain; Norwich Cathedral; and Norwich Market. The Alan Partridge Walking Tour of Norwich ends with a 2.4km walk to the BP gas station at the intersection of the A146 road and Hall Road, where we enjoy a styrofoam cup of hot tea and a microwaved Bramble apple turnover while we converse with the dimwitted Geordie cashier. Following a mediocre tour of a mediocre city, we return to the hotel to turn in for the night.
Day 12 (30 April 2013): Norwich International Airport - London City Airport
|Cruising along the Suffolk coast near Lowestoft.|
|Heading southwest along the Suffolk coast near Felixstowe.|
Passing over the town of Harwich, at the mouth of the rivers Stour and Orwell in Essex.
|Commencing our flight up the River Thames.|
Banking over the Port of Tilbury, London's principal port, located on the Thames.
|Flying over the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge over the Thames near Dartford.|
|A low pass over Tower Bridge and, on the left, the Tower of London.|
|St. Paul's Cathedral.|
|Flying over the old Battersea Power Station in London.|
|A wild, low-level ride through Westminster.|
Making a requested flyover of Hertfordshire, northwest of London, we buzz cottages - and their terrified residents - near the town of Letchworth Garden City.
A highly illegal low pass over the runway at London Luton Airport in Bedfordshire.
|Final approach to Runway 10 at London City Airport.|
|Touching down at London City airport at dusk.|
Engines off, parked at the gate at London City airport. A setting sun and dusky, purple sky caps off a successful circumnavigation of England, Wales, and Scotland.
Thanks for Flying with Us!