The flight to Oman was projected to be only two hours and forty minutes so we decided to leave Bahrain about an hour later than usual. With such a long runway, the longer takeoff roll caused by higher temperatures would not be a problem.
The takeoff was to the north and we were initially vectored farther in that direction before being cleared on course to the southeast. Fortunately, there was another good tailwind and the arrival was still 10 minutes ahead of schedule (there is something in a pilot's makeup that takes special pleasure in arriving ahead of schedule). We flew over the United Arab Emirates and Dubai. This region is much more populous than on the previous leg due to its coastal cities, ports and beach areas.
We were told that the temperatures in Oman would be cooler than in Bahrain. They were. It was 111F when we took off and only 109 when we landed. That is not quite as bad as it sounds because humidity is much lower then in Florida. However, it is still hot!
The Sultanate of Oman is nearly 1,000 miles from end to end. The climate varies considerable from warm and dry in the northern area to cooler and more humid in the south which receives much more rain. It is situated on the Arabian Sea directly across from Iran and Pakistan. It enjoys its position at the entrance to the Persian Gulf and has gained considerable commerce over the centuries from its proximity to the ancient trade routes. Whereas much of the Arabian Peninsula is flat, Oman has mountains in excess of 10,000 feet. Whatever the terrain, however,it has until recent years, always been much easier to travel by boat than by land and that has greatly benefited this country.
To celebrate our 5th anniversary of retirement in Oman, we chose a fitting resort hotel in the Muscat Grand Hyatt. We were not disappointed. The hotel is an excellent example of modern Arabian architecture. It blends the old and the new into a unique combination that is extremely attractive and luxurious. For additional esthetics, it is wrapped around a gigantic swimming pool. The pool contains a large waterfall and even contains a small island. At night there are illuminated fountains and fiery torches for additional ambiance. To top it all off,it is located directly on the Arabian Sea.
The Front Desk clerk told us they had a special room for us and she did not exaggerate. It is an oversized corner room on the second floor and directly overlooks the pool, the gardens and the sea. The interior has interesting alcoves and angles and it is decorated with earth tones to perfection. The large bath is covered with marble and has a shower that could hold four people. A complimentary tray of fruit and bottle of French wine were icing on the cake.
A visit to any country would not be complete without seeing its historical museum and Oman is no exception. Although not large, the exhibits depict a good cross section of life in this country over the last 5,000 years or more. We learned that 2,000 years ago, Oman was known as the Frankincense capitol of the world. It was said that you could get anything you needed in Oman--and that was thousands of years before Sears or Walmart.
When planning the trip,we were advised that many airport officials expect pilots to be dressed in aviation uniforms and not in shorts or civilian clothes like we wear around Florida. Therefore, we purchased the appropriate attire from the Pilot Shop and started wearing it from Athens forward. It certainly helps our airport handlers find us more easily and seems to assist in getting through Customs and Immigration. However, we are always the oldest crew in the terminal. That being said, Sherry is the prettiest copilot I have ever flown with.