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Tuesday, 30 April 2013 17:20

Wings Over Oman – India – Thailand; Part One - Oman, Muscat to Ahmedadbad

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Wings
I
had been invited to join CarolAnn Garratt, three-time around-the-world pilot, in flying through Oman, India, and Thailand. I was one of several pilots who accompanied Garratt for portions of her global flight enhancing public understanding of Lou Gehrig’s disease. I chose India for my portion to prepare for completing my own later global flight because it is known as one the most difficult countries for general aviation pilots to transit. An additional challenge will be for two female pilots to operate in an aviation environment and culture dominated by men.

My second goal was to connect classrooms across the globe by sharing my passion for aviation education, building a cadre of educators for my future around-the-world flight called ‘ThinkGlobal Flight’. Educators from across the nation, as well as in India followed the Oman – India -Thailand flight, sharing their comments on the ThinkGlobal Flight web site. Teachers prepared their students by sharing their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) aviation-related lesson plans
on the site.

On December 13th I departed Jacksonville International on a commercial airline. My adventures began when I arrived in Muscat, Oman. I shared in flying CarolAnn’s Mooney from Muscat into the northern half of India, through Thailand, and then departed on Christmas Day. We spent several days in each location learning more about the people and
their countries.

My preparations began long before our flight with CarolAnn in regular communication. As excerpts from my travel diary, I began polishing the final details the summer of 2011.

Preparations—2011

July—My commercial flight is now confirmed! My flight departs Jacksonville on December 13th with a transfer in Frankfurt, Germany and then I arrive Muscat Oman on December 14th.

I am preparing for my adventure with a pile of “must-take” growing in the corner of my closet. My must-takes include my pilot shirt and epaulets along with zipper-leg pants. CarolAnn said we must look like airline pilots traveling through India even though we are flying her Mooney. She said pilot uniforms make for a smoother transition through customs.

October—I have rolled up my sleeves, turned my head away from the needles, and focused on the adventures I am about to undertake! I am at the Florida Health Department for International Travel office with their experts providing guidance on what I needed for my adventures. One item on the list is to update all my routine shots plus the flu shot with a total five shots. I decided I might as well have sore arms and perhaps some adverse reactions all at one time so I got all five shots during this visit.

I had concerns for taking the malaria medicine because of adverse reactions to the medicine. However, I had to use common sense on the possibility of being bitten by a mosquitoes carrying malaria. As an alternative to malaria medicine, the Health Department experts provided resources for repellents and mosquito netting. I discovered that there is a difference between what would be effective repellents and mosquito netting in the United States compared to other countries. Mosquito netting for international travel should have a fine mesh of 156 holes per square inch compared to a standard American camping net of 500 holes per square inch. Repellents must have DEET and permethrin. If I have any symptoms of malaria I am to immediately go to a hospital.

Then there is “Traveler’s Diarrhea” that is an unpleasant thought. I was provided an excellent do and don’t list of what to eat, drink, and how to prepare food. The Health Department experts said, “If it is steaming, you are safe.” She added, “Drink bottled water. Wash food and brush your teeth with bottled water. Do not eat food from street markets.” She gave me a prescription for Traveler’s Diarrhea just in case.

November—CarolAnn coached me on American and India currency. The India Rupee is not common currency most American banks have on-hand. Therefore my bank ordered the amount I requested. All American currency must look new with no bends, markings, or folds otherwise our dollars might be perceived as counterfeit. American currency must have a date of 2000 or newer. The bank tellers said this is a common request by those traveling internationally and provided American currency that looked fresh off the printing presses.

Thanksgiving—I spent part of my day spraying my clothing with the permethrin allowing time to air before packing. The spray amazingly lasts up to six weeks with multiple washings. I carefully pre-packed my one small bag for the two weeks.

As I prepared for my travels, I considered the limited weight and size. Another considerati

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