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RonTom's Most Epic Adventure

RonTom's Most Epic Adventure

By Ron B and Tom O





What is RonTom?

What are the RonTom Adventures? Ron and Tom are a couple of "old-time flight simmers" who, are entertained by telling stories and intrigued by exploring new places. So, we've combined these loves in this feature, taking simmers to real world locations that we think are completely worth visiting! If we had unlimited funds (and empty passports) we would most certainly be visiting the locations offered in this feature but in the meantime, we are left with Google Earth and Wikipedia and Flightsim.


Previously, we offered a huge RonTom feature across the US, from Chicago to Santa Monica ... Route 66! This feature makes Route 66 look like a stroll around the park. Dating back to the BC era, "The Silk Road" wasn't actually A ROAD but a series of routes from the Mediterranean Basin to SE Asia! These trade routes were used by the Babylonian, Greek and Roman Empires.






There are so many places, so many highlights along this route that I'm not going to even attempt to "recommend" where you should fly. The ancient city of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) is beautiful and welcoming. The new Istanbul Airport signifies that the region is still a major world crossroads.






You could start your flight from there. In college, I had a roommate from Beirut and I have been intrigued with Lebanon (and its scenic location) for decades so I'll start my FS videos from there.






But, these suggestions are only the beginning of the land route. Perhaps you'd rather check out northern Iran in your sim.






Perhaps you'd like to explore your sim-version of Tibet or explore around Kabul.






What we are asking is for you to check out ANYTHING along this route!






There are options for you to explore from Turkmenistan to Hong Kong.






Because this feature is so huge, we'd never expect you to fly the entire route in your sims but we would like to see you fly SOMETHING (I don't even have a clue what Tom is going to do).


So, how about you take a little tour ALONG THE SILK road and then share that with us at: rontomsimmers@gmail.com.


For Ron's part of this, as noted above, I'm starting my first option from Beirut: Beirut, Aleppo, Uromiyeh, Dasht-E-Naz (OINZ) which is about 1100 miles.





Okay, that was fun, let's continue on: Dasht-E-Naz (OINZ) to Kabul (OAKB) is about 1000 miles.





Like I said, if you'd just like to fly some laps around the Southern Caspian or buzz downtown Hong Kong it's totally up to you but we encourage you to, check out the map above and pick somewhere to fly.


Tom, Where Did You Go?

Islamabad, Delhi, Kolkata. The Silk Road (Routes) in all of its manifestations remains a metaphor for the exchange of goods and ideas between diverse cultures, times and places. The network of routes used by traders for more than 1500 years remain with us today and have expanded with our global economy.


In my research for this adventure, I envisioned those merchants starting in China and ending up in Turkey after who knows how many years but, although there may have been a few Marco Polo's in the crowd the majority functioned very differently.


Caravanserais were located all along the Silk Road. These facilities served two main functions: to provide travelers with a safe place to rest, and to house a marketplace where merchants could sell and trade their goods. Generally situated within one day's travel of each other, caravanserais were often built by either a local government or a private business, and had a caretaker (and staff) who oversaw the day-to-day activities.






It was rare that a merchant or caravan would travel the entire trade route. Instead, caravans would journey a specific segment of the route where they would stop and rest at the caravanserais to trade and or replenish their supplies for the return trip. The caravanserais provided shelter, security, supplies, storage, meeting places (courtyards) and a marketplace. Think of it as a convention center/hotel complex of sorts for the exchange of goods and services.


As so today, an international airport provides for many of the same features, especially with the influx of the general flying public. So, let's take a look at the three major hubs along my segment of the Silk Road.






Islamabad International (OPIS) serves the capital city of Pakistan. The new airport commenced full operations in May 2018, replacing the defunct Benazir Bhutto International Airport which now serves as a PAF Base.










It is the largest cargo and passenger capacity airport in Pakistan, designed to serve 9 million passengers a year and was the first and only airport in Pakistan capable of handling the Airbus A380. A metrobus rapid transit service will soon connect the airport with Islamabad for commuters, scheduled to be completed this year.


The numbers are expected to reach 25 million passengers by 2024 and as with many new facilities a significant portion of the land has been earmarked for expansion as well as commercial purposes such as duty-free shops, hotel and convention center, air malls, a business center, food courts, leisure and cinema facilities. Sound familiar?






My next stop is Indira Gandhi International (VIDP). The airport, spread over an area of 5106 acres (2066 ha), is 16 km (9.9 mi) from the New Delhi city center. It has been the busiest airport in India in terms of passenger traffic since 2009. It is also the busiest airport in the country in terms of cargo traffic, overtaking Mumbai in 2015. As of now, it is the 17th busiest airport in the world and 6th busiest airport in Asia by passenger traffic handling nearly 70 million passengers per year. The expansion program will increase the airport's capacity to handle 100 million passengers by the year 2030.


The air cargo complex consists of separate brownfield and greenfield cargo terminals spread over an area of 150 acres comprising state-of-the-art infrastructure, two integrated cargo terminals, and on-airport logistics center.










In addition to the existing terminals, a new Greenfield facility is being developed in phases. Once the entire project is completed, the complex will have an annual handling capacity of 1.25 million tons. The cargo operations alone connect 75 international and 69 domestic destinations, served by 63 air carriers and 17 freighter operations. All in all, Indira Gandhi International Airport is one of the largest, and also one of the very best.


Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (VECC) is the aviation hub for eastern and northeastern India. The airport was locally known as Kolkata Airport before being renamed in 1995. The airport is one of the oldest in India, established back in 1924.










As with many older facilities (as well as new), planning and construction activities are continuous. The new terminal (T2) inaugurated in 2013 is already on the verge of reaching its annual capacity of 24 million passengers (four years ahead of the initial projections). To tackle this, there are plans to upgrade and expand the airport and increase its passenger capacity by 100%. The new expansion plan will be carried out in two phases and the number of parking bays will be increased to 105 by 2024.


The International air cargo terminal at Kolkata Airport was the first air cargo terminal in the country, and dates back to October 1975. The building contains three wings for the processing of import, export, unaccompanied pax baggage and domestic cargo. In September 2012, the complex was upgraded enabling the operation to cater to ever increasing demands.










There are four bays exclusively for the larger members of the freighter fleet, and can accommodate the 747's. In international freight transactions it connects six regions (South Asia, South-East Asia, Middle-East, Central Asia, and the West) of the global marketplace.


With that, it's your turn. Take a little tour of your own making along the Silk Road and tell us about it at rontomsimmers@gmail.com. You won't be disappointed. In the end, Ron flew back, westbound, from Hong Kong to Beirut. Hong Kong, Hanoi, Mandalay, Calcutta, Delhi, Islamabad, Kabul, Termez, Rasht, Uromiyeh, Aleppo, Beirut. Here is that video:




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