The richly furnished waiting room at the Al Bateen executive airport in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
On final approach to the Al Bateen airport, you pass the spectacular and blindingly white Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Photo Credit: Sam Chui
From Abu Dhabi, I was cleared to climb up to 13,000 ft over the mountains of Oman. The air quality remained very poor due to dust until I was hundreds of miles out over the Indian Ocean. To the north of my flight path lay Iran and Afghanistan, two countries that would not welcome a visiting pilot from the United States.
Two hundred miles from Karachi, Pakistan, I reviewed all the approach plates and confirmed what procedures to expect with air traffic control. Every instrument approach is different and requires vigilance and attention to detail. By now, the desert crossings were just a memory, as the dry climate had turned to sweltering monsoon. I descended through the clouds to minimums and landed at Karachi international airport. What a busy place! Two minutes after landing, a Boeing 777 landed in my wake.
I was warned by Eddie Gould from GASE to expect a large crowd forming around the plane upon engine shutdown. Nevertheless, it was a bit overwhelming trying to keep track of twenty people touching the plane and all asking questions at the same time. One fellow grabbed a screwdriver from his pocket and pried off my freshly painted fuel cap to check on the fuel level. Another guy was the entertainer and told non-stop jokes and another stared at me with his obvious hatred of Americans. It was a bit unnerving to take all of this in while securing my aircraft.
Once I passed through customs, I was whisked to the heavily guarded and fortress-like hotel. I would have liked to explore Karachi, but was advised by many people that it was too dangerous to leave the compound.
I was lucky up to this point with my health. Whether it was the air, the exotic food, or just the anxiety of being in such a strange place, I would not feel well for another 3 weeks until passing through Australia.