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Flying along the Sunda Islands

The Sunda Islands or the Malay Archipelago as it was formerly called, belong to Indonesia, except for a fifth of Borneo which is East Malaysia and Brunei and the eastern half of Timor, which is an independent state. While we’ve never been anywhere near Borneo, we landed in Dili, East Timor and hence the title of this write-up, which describes the flights from Singapore to Darwin.

To Surabaya, WARR, East Java

We were of course a bit sad that we would have to skip Sumatra and Jakarta, but we couldn’t change it. We had planned a route that would take us over the Riau Archipelago, along the east coast of Sumatra and the north coast of Java and we hoped for some nice views.

As always we tried to get an early start and planned to take off in Singapore at seven in the morning local time. Handling was good but when we requested start-up, it turned out that the local agent had filed for the wrong day. Singapore ATC was very good, they ordered the agent to come to the ARO and everything was resolved within ten minutes.

We still managed to be the first aircraft to leave WSSL that morning and got some nice views on departure. Some convection was forecast for the first part of the flight and we had chosen FL170 once again. We had to zigzag a few tall clouds over the Riau Archipelago but the remainder was easy-going. Unfortunately we were disappointed by the weather. We hadn’t expected much from Sumatra, it’s flat land where we flew, but Java would have been spectacular. However, Sumatra was so hazy, we almost couldn’t see the ground and Java was all covered in clouds. We enjoyed the flight regardless, we had dreamed of it for many months and it was an incredible feeling to contact ATC saying ‘Jakarta, selamat pagi, November two two eight Romeo Mike…’ 😀 Indonesian ATC turned out to be very good and professional. They spoke very good English and gave shortcuts without asking. Surabaya is a busy airport but the approach controller did a very good job. He gave us just a little delay vector to the right and to the left but in the end it was almost a straight in.

First flight at WSSL this morning

Leaving Singapore

Convection over the Riau Archipelago

The only Volcano we saw, probably Mount Cereme, south of Cirebon

Move along people, there’s nothing to see here

Approaching WARR

Three or for people took care of us after landing. A very nice and friendly lady apparently was in charge of the handling team that outnumbered the crew once again. After we had secured the aircraft they got us through C&I in no time and we were land-side. There was nothing more to do as the fuel hadn’t arrived yet.

Crew after landing at WARR

We had organized a rental car for a few days what wasn’t easy as they usually come with a sopir i.e. a driver what we didn’t want. Anyway, we had found one and it was delivered to the terminal in time.

East Java isn’t as packed with tourist attractions as other parts of Indonesia, but there is one really famous site: Mount Bromo. The volcanic massif attracts visitors from all over the world for the spectacular views at sunrise and we had booked a hotel right at the crater while we were waiting for our car. It was almost dark when we arrived at our accommodation. We had our first Bintang (Indonesian beer) for years with dinner and booked a Jeep to take us to the lookout very early the next morning.

On the way to Mount Bromo

The first Bintang, the most common beer in Indonesia

Bromo (the steaming crater in the foreground) and Semeru (the tall cone in the background) right before sunrise

Steaming Bromo from the crater rim

Mount Batok from Bromo’s crater rim

We had burned the main site on the first day, so we just drove around the huge Bromo massif in a large circle and enjoyed the Javanese countryside and the Indonesian food for a few days.

terbang as sopir (Indonesian for driver)

Indonesian breakfast: nasi goreng what means fried rice this time isitmewa, what means special i.e. comes with an egg

A temple on the southern slopes of Mount Semeru

A waterfall south of Mount Semeru

Paddy fields in the rainy season

Javanese food: iga (spicy beef ribs) cap cay (vegetables, actually Chinese) and ikan bakar (grilled fish)

There was one more day of delay for the fuel to arrive but as seasoned visitors to Indonesia we weren’t too surprised or frustrated about that. We extended the rental car booking and returned it at the airport when the fuel was finally to arrive. Together with the handling people we waited at the aircraft and the truck driver sent photos via WhatsApp showing him stuck in traffic jams. He had picked up the fuel drums at the sea port, but interestingly nobody could tell where the fuel was coming from, not even the handler in Jakarta knew. We had ordered two drums, 200 liters each, as there is no fuel at WADL and it was a long way to Dili. As we have a capacity of only 400 liters in the Mooney, of course we couldn’t fit this in. At least we filled two jerry cans we had in the baggage compartment for this purpose, so we wasted only 60 or 70 liters. It was dark when we could finally refuel and already late when we arrived at our hotel in Surabaya.

Waiting for fuel

This is Indonesia: nothing works as planned but you meet the loveliest people you can imagine

Flight planning at the hotel bar

To Lombok, WADL

The leg to Lombok promised nice views once again and this time we were lucky – the weather cooperated. It was the shortest flight of the journey so far, but it was delightful.

Handling worked fine once again. The handling people picked us up in the domestic departure hall and had us air-side in no time. We took a photo together and were airborne shortly after. We had spectacular views of East Java and Bali and didn’t care much that Lombok was obscured by showers.

Crew with handling guys in Surabaya

Surabaya is not one of the prettiest cities

Bromo massif with Mount Semeru in the background

Ijen massif at the very eastern tip of Java

Little Mount Baluan

Mount Agung on the island of Bali

The Gili Islands off Lombok in the rain

Approaching WADL right after a shower had passed through

Everybody seems to be in good mood

RM on the ramp in WADL

Unless we’re afraid of not getting a bed to sleep in for the nite, we usually only book after landing. We did this in Lombok as well and opted for a resort in the holiday makers’ area of Senggigi. It was really nice and we spent one and a half relaxing days on the beach.

Beach at our resort

Bali on the other side of the Wallace line

Ikan bakar in a beach shack for lunch

Sunset on the beach

It’s hard some times, but someone has to do it 🤣

To Dili, WPDL

Leaving Indonesia at WADL wasn’t that good of an experience. We had overstayed the time that is actually allowed on for air crew on GENDEC. We had anticipated the issue and had asked several times when we arrived in Surabaya but were told it won’t be a problem. It was in Lombok, however. All bargaining by us and the handling guys didn’t help, we had to pay 120 US each for this. I thought it was some sort of collusion at first, but I think it wasn’t. It was all officially documented and we got receipts with official stamps on. Of course we were upset but we were compensated by the following flight. It took us all along Nusa Tenggara in the best of weather.

Mount Rinjani on the island of Lombok

Mount Tambora on the Island of Sumbawa (Mrs. terbang and I climbed this mountain during our honeymoon along with Semeru and Inerie 😀)

Traffic below

Komodo (there be dragons 😉)

Mount Inerie on the island of Flores

Approaching WPDL

After our arrival at WPDL we immediately refueled as we always try to do, but it turned out to not be the most professional affair. They brought the drum on a single axle trailer which they detached from the truck and maneuvered by hand once near the aircraft. Two of the guys climbed up and started moving the drum when the trailer toppled over. The two guys fell down and one other was even trapped under the trailer with Avgas spilling out of the drum on him. Miraculously nobody was seriously injured and the plane wasn’t hit. It seemed, it was the first little Avgas plane they tried to refuel. I found this really strange, as there are apparently a few SEPs based in Dili. Maybe the guys usually in charge had a day off.

Refueling after the drama

East Timor was occupied by Indonesia when the Portuguese left in the early seventies. The independence movement was suppressed violently by the Indonesians and the massacres that happened are still very much present in the minds of the East Timorese. We stayed two nites in Dili and had booked a tour to see a little bit of the town and how it has changed – we had been there long ago, when it was still occupied. Our guides were two lovely and really funny girls. Actually we didn’t learn much what was new to us but we had an afternoon of great fun together.

ALB in front of the Beachside Hotel

Memorial for the victims of the Santa Cruze massacre

Dili from the military hospital


Crew, our guides and our driver

The beach in the evening

Unlike refueling, leaving East Timor was a pleasant experience. C&I aren’t present before seven local but we knew that in advance. They stamped our passports at seven sharp and we were allowed to walk over to our aircraft without any fuss. We were airborne less than half an hour later, again in the best of conditions.

Dili to the right on departure

We were allowed to depart visually

East Timor from the air

The Timor Sea on the way to Darwin

EDFM (Mannheim), Germany

Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

EHTE, Netherlands

Speechless… And kind of envious to be honest


terbang wrote:

Wallace line

I had to wikipedia this; interesting

Thanks again for more photos of paradise

EGHO-LFQF-KCLW, United Kingdom

I had to wikipedia this; interesting

Sorry, I already had the URL open in another tab, but than I forgot to insert it ☹️

Last Edited by terbang at 07 Dec 11:47
EDFM (Mannheim), Germany

Amazing trip, keep it coming! I’m a little confused, though. I thought you were going to Indonesia, now you’re off to Darwin. Is this turning into a RTW flight??

Another amazing report from a totally amazing trip! Do you two actually live somewhere, or do you just fly?

I wonder if @eal recognises these places?

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

First of all, at the very hi risk of repeating myself (f..k, I sure sound like a groupie by now 🙈), thanks for the report! Keep,‘em coming! When is your eBook’s gonna be published?

Now, I’ve had my own share of flying adventures… “own share”, “own share, say what?” What, when, why, where, who cares? Forget it all, you guys sure top it all. No surprise here
Mrs.Terbang sure deserves another pair of (wider) shoulder noodles, as you, Mr. Terbang do 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

May whoever gods be with you

ain't the Destination, but the Journey
LSZF, Switzerland

Is this turning into a RTW flight??

Unfortunately not, it’s to Oz and back. I thought it’s a good idea to divide report into ‘‘chapters“ but maybe it wasn’t that brilliant. Anyway, the “Flying Down Under“ part is in the making!

Mrs.Terbang sure deserves another pair of (wider) shoulder noodles, as you, Mr. Terbang do

They are second hand and Mrs. terbang is the CFO. Her verdict was: they’re good enough, I’ll take the narrow ones 🤣

BTW, what was extremely useful are the crew cards worn with a lanyard! Security inspected them at each and every airport between Jordan and Dili. At some places the airport administration photocopied them for unknown reasons. They are the ones you get with the AOPA membership (at least AOPA Germany).

EDFM (Mannheim), Germany

Great report, as always, thank you for taking the time to write everything up. Looking forward to the next one!

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