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Leg 15: Marrakesh To Ouarzazate

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Leg 15

Depart: Menara Airport, Marrakesh, Morocco (GMMX)

Arrive: Ouarzazate Airport, Ouarzazate, Morocco (GMMZ)

Aircraft: Caudron C.635 Simoun (XPFR, X-Plane.org)


Flight Plan: GMMX GMMZ

Distance: 70.9 nm



It's a beautiful morning in Marrakech! Morocco continues to bless us with excellent flying weather and now is as good a time as any to make the short hop across the mountains to Ouarzazate. We'll be departing Menara Airport at 0900 zulu, turn southeast, overfly the Atlas Mountains, and land at Ouarzazate Airport before 1000.




I'll be taking the Caudron C.635 again, this time in the bright red livery of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This particular plane acquired fame during Saint-Exupéry's 1937 exploratory raid of northern and western Africa, undertaken on behalf of Air France. The plane was lost in 1938 during Saint-Exupéry's travels down the American continents, but it can now fly on in X-Plane!




As soon as we're in the air, we can finally catch a glimpse of the High Atlas Mountains to the south of Marrakesh. That's what we'll be flying over in a few minutes--I hope our Simoun is up for the climb, otherwise we may end up in the ground like the real thing!




We draw nearer to the mountains and I realize that we're not climbing quickly enough to make it over some of the peaks ahead. The High Atlas Mountains, as the name implies, are the loftiest of the entire Atlas Mountain range. I'm not completely sure, but I believe that one of those peaks in the upper-right corner of the image below is Jebel Toubkal, the highest of the Atlas Mountains (4,167 m / 13,671 ft). I push the Simoun's engine harder to try and reach a comfortable altitude.




By looking out the window as we enter the High Atlas range, you can get a sense for how sudden and dramatic the landscape is here. It's worth mentioning that I've tweaked the visual appearance of the aircraft to include normal maps. I found a lone livery for the C.635 on X-Plane.org by the talented Leen de Jager which includes normal maps. Some quick file swapping and object file editing and now the C.635 has a little more visual pop no matter which livery I decide to use.




I feel a bit safer at 3,500 m (~11,000 ft) and have a good look at the view below. A picturesque stream winds its way through the rugged mountain terrain and off in the distance the peaks give way to a vast expanse of desert. This is a beautiful part of the world!




As we fly out of the mountains and toward the desert, I catch sight of a lake on the horizon. This lake (formed in 1972 after the River Drâa, Morocco's longest river, was dammed to prevent flooding downstream) marks the location of Ouarzazate, which lies at the water's western end.




My plan was to descend along the north of Ouarzazate, overfly the lake, and land on runway 30, but a shift in the wind means that I need to make a steep descent straight in to runway 12.


As dumb luck would have it, after I took the following screenshot I was reading more about Ouarzazate and learned that it is home to numerous major movie studios. Many Hollywood productions have had filming at Ouarzazate, including The Mummy, Gladiator, and HBO's Game of Thrones, and Lawrence of Arabia, to which the screen below bears at least a





Finally stuck a three-point landing!




Next leg: Ouarzazate Airport, Ouarzazate, Morocco (GMMZ) to Saïss Airport, Fes, Morocco (GMFF)

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