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Israel to Malta   Jordan to Israel   Oman to Jordon

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Satellite data provided by The Living Earth Inc./Earth Imaging 1996, All Rights Reserved.


LEG 12: Amman, Jordan (OJAM) to Tel Aviv, Israel (LLBG): 10 August 98, 0.8 hours


On the ground in Jordan, we were at Marka International, the combined military/civilian field used by King Hussein and private flights. We took on some wing fuel to be polite (we still had several hours of fuel left, and only a 30 minute flight to Ben Gurion International in Tel Aviv), and considered our options. Should we tell the tower that we had an inop transponder, and ask them to try to coordinate special permission with Israel for us to make the flight? What if they said no, or they couldn’t coordinate with Tel Aviv? Or should we just take off, hope the transponder worked long enough for us to be radar identified, and take our chances?

In the end, we were hot and tired, and felt that we could really use some friendly family faces. So we opted for the path of least resistance, called for our clearance, and took off. Amman tower immediately told us to contact Tel Aviv and report back when we’d established communications. We raised Tel Aviv immediately, signed off from Amman, and were across the Jordan river in just a few minutes.

"A settlement on the West Bank."


The transponder quit after the first minute, and Tel Aviv told us they were not receiving our transponder. We told them we’d had intermittent problems, and they never mentioned it again. Over the West Bank, they told us we would be number four for landing, behind a 747, and told us to make a right 360 for spacing (perhaps they also wanted a positive primary radar ID?). We had some great views of the hills and towns in the West Bank, and hoped we could make another 360 for more pictures. Tel Aviv must have had the same thing in mind, and had us make two more circles before giving us headings to fly to set us up for a straight-in visual to Runway 30. With all the haze, we didn’t see the field until about five miles out, then came in and landed.

"A Palestinian village in the West Bank."


As we pulled off the runway and were told to wait for the "Follow Me" truck to guide us to parking, the controller came on and told us, professionally but firmly, that flight in Israeli airspace without an operative transponder was NOT permitted, and that we must have it fixed before we would be allowed to take off again.

"On final approach into Ben Gurion International, Tel Aviv, Israel."


After shutting down the engines, we opened the door, and a young, nice-looking guy dressed casually in jeans with an open vest over a polo shirt strolled over to take a look at us. We introduced ourselves, he smiled, looked once at us, glanced into the plane and walked off. We stood around for the next 15 minutes with no one around: no handlers, no customs, no immigration, nothing! We were kind of surprised, since Israeli security is famous but no one was supervising us. Most other countries had armed guards stay with you every step of the way to make sure you don’t wander off.

We later learned that that young guy was security, and that he had apparently determined that we were OK and was no longer concerned. Julie told us that throughout Ben Gurion airport, if you saw young guys in jeans and a vest or jacket, that they were security. They check every trash can, and every rest room, and all luggage not obviously attached to a person, at least every 15 minutes. As we later spent lots of time waiting in various parts of the airport, we learned to see them, and sure enough, no bag or trash can went unchecked for more than a few minutes. And unlike what you see in so many other places, these guys were not just going through the motions: they were quite intent and looking seriously at everything, all the time.

It took about an hour from engine shutdown until we were finished with formalities, and our handlers, Laufer Aviation, we were in communication with John’s sister Julie, who was still driving out to meet us (we had gotten in early). So we waited in the cafeteria until Julie arrived, with 5 kids in tow. We had some drinks together, and then she drove us the hour drive back to her town of Ely in the West Bank. It was dark early into the trip, so we couldn’t see much until the morning, but we were safe, and had made it through the Gulf to Israel.

We spent most of our first day here in Israel trying to work the transponder problem. That first night, despite being dead tired at midnight local time, we called LAC Avionics to get them trying to find a replacement Wilcox transponder for us. The next morning, we took the hour drive back to the airport to meet an avionics technician to see if we could find the problems. Two hours spent on the scalding hot ramping sweating bullets and trying to test avionics. Transponder #1 tested fine at first, and #2 failed immediately. We couldn’t get ground power to work, and so couldn’t operate #1 for more than a few minutes. We had the avionics guy take both units back to his shop to test them on the bench overnight, while we tried to get transport back to Ely.

"N898WW opened up for transponder surgery on the ramp at Ben Gurion."


After waiting an hour and a half for our arranged transport back, they dumped us in an ordinary cab with an old driver with an automatic pistol stuck in his belt who spoke no English and didn’t know where Ely was. He drove us around in the wrong directions, shouting to various people over his telephone, picking up hitchhikers to ask them directions, yanking his gun out of his belt tensely as we drove through some of the Palestinian villages, but eventually got us back to Julie’s. That night, we learned that LAC had located a transponder, and organized delivery directly to the head of the FedEx station in Tel Aviv, and started the part on its way from Memphis via Paris. With luck, it should be here tomorrow night, and we’ll only have to delay our departure by one day.

Meanwhile, we’re trying our best to stay cool (difficult in the major heat wave here, which seems to be following us wherever we go). At least it’s not as bad as Kuwait was on the day we arrived in Oman (49C, or 120F!), or Muscat on our departure (41C, 106F at 9am). John’s loving seeing his family, and Julie and her kids seem ecstatic to have John with them, and are delighted by our delay.

Meanwhile, we’re trying to figure out our next steps and how best to revise our itinerary and schedule. More when we know it. –D.



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Satellite data provided by The Living Earth Inc./Earth Imaging 1996, All Rights Reserved.

Click near each end of the red arrows for progressive reports


Click the following Legs for Progressive Reports

Departure San Jose, CA
Leg1 San Jose, CA to Honolulu, HI
Leg2 Honolulu, HI to Christmas Island, Kiribati
Leg3 Christmas Island, Kiribati to Apia, Western Samoa
Leg4 Apia, Western Samoa to Nadi & Matei, Fiji
Leg5 Nadi & Matei, Fiji to Port Vila, Vanuatu
Leg6 Port Vila, Vanuatu to Cairns, Australia
Leg7 Cairns, Australia to Darwin, Australia
Leg8 Darwin, Australia to Singapore
Leg9 Singapore to Male, Maldives
Leg10 Male, Maldives to Muscat, Oman
Leg11 Muscat, Oman to Amman, Jordan
Leg12 Amman, Jordan to Tel Aviv, Israel
Leg13 Tel Aviv, Israel to Valletta, Malta
Leg14 Valletta, Malta to Gibraltar
Leg15 Gibraltar to Cascais, Portugal
Leg16 Cascais, Portugal to Santa Maria, Azores
Leg17 Santa Maria, Azores to St. John, Newfoundland, Canada
Leg18 St. John, Newfoundland, Canada to Bangor, ME
Leg19 Bangor, ME to Danbury, CT (to see Doug's folks)
Leg20 Danbury, CT to Meadville, PA (to see John's folks)
Leg21 Meadville, PA to Boulder, CO
Leg22 Boulder, CO to San Jose, CA
Epilogue Epilogue
  Current position of Ponceby.

Satellite data provided by The Living Earth
Inc./Earth Imaging 1996, All Rights Reserved

The E90 King Air "Ponceby"

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