Saturday, April 29, 2006


What better time to blog, than while sitting in the business class lounge of Singapore Airlines at Changi International Airport in Singapore, waiting for my departure. This is getting to be a habit, blogging, I mean. I am turning my blog into a bit more than pure aviation, to include my travels, details of countries that I am passing through, a bit about the people and their culture and things like that. I have been aviation centric so far. But, not to disappoint my aviation friends and readers, the bulk of my blog will still contain all aspects of aviation.
I am well and truly States bound, leaving for Los Angeles on a 14 hour direct flight. My job there is to do an overnight, drive up to a place called Oxnard, near Santa Barbara and do pre-purchase inspections on two Beechcraft C90B turboprop Airplanes.
After a few days, I leave for a short trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma and then back to Singapore via LA. I will be blogging about the Airplanes after I finish the work and test flights. Tulsa is not confirmed yet but if that happens, my friend Kevin St. Germain, whom I mentioned about in my last blog "Fast Jet from Oz", will fly down in his airplane, pick me up and fly to Wichita, where he lives. Incidentally, Wichita is also the city/town where Beechcraft manufactures it's line of Airplanes and so does Cessna and so do a few others. Kevin is on the way back from South Africa where he had gone to pick up a Hawker 800XP executive jet for re-delivery back to the US. He is States Bound, too. A few more things about Kevin is that he has been instructing companies and even the various State Government pilots in India. There used to be a company called Gujarat Airways that was flying the B1900D Aircraft (18 seater) and he had been working for them at that time. So, his association with India has been for a while now, he loves going to India and he absolutely loves the food. His wife Divya, Nepalese as I had mentioned last time, is supposed to be a good cook and makes Indian food. More news as we go along, after this short trip.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


In my last writeup, I mentioned that I would be traveling to Australia, Oz as they call it, to evaluate and pick up an executive jet Aircraft. This blog is about the trip, the Airplane and my experience with it. I reached Australia on 19th April, sitting up front in a Gulf Air Airbus A340 business class. It is nice to be pampered like this once in a while!
First day was spent looking up the Airplane, the records and generally talking to the engineers and mechanics about tech issues. My new friend, a seasoned mid forties International ferry pilot came in from the US. He has flown the Airplane quite a bit, on delivery flights Worldwide and on test flights for the manufacturer. His name is Kevin St. Germain, an India veteran in the sense that he has been training pilots in India for various companies for a while now. He used to fly for Buddha Air (yup, there was such an Airline) in Nepal for a year doing Everest flights for foreigners, some time back. He met a Nepalese Airhostess, Divya, while working for Buddha Air and subsequently married her. He has two sons in the US where he and his family lives. He was stuck with me in Singapore a few days back, unfortunately, on his 9th wedding anniversary. Yours truly has missed many such anniversaries because of being in a different part of the World at such times, unintentional of course! I got along with Kevin like a house on fire, having common friends in aviation in all parts of the World.
Coming back to the Airplane, it is a Premier 1 executive jet manufactured by Raytheon Beechcraft. This particular Airplane was located at Bankstown Airport near Sydney, Oz. We did a test flight for nearly an hour the same afternoon. We flew her at 41,000 feet at around 450 knots (nautical miles per hour) or roughly 0.78 times the speed of sound. She handled very well, I thought (by the way, for general information, it is normal for pilots to refer to an Airplane as a "she"). We landed back at bankstown and after a little de-brief, yours truly jumped into a cab and took off to my sisters place in the Northern beaches area of warriewood.
My sister Nirup and her husband Prabakaran live in Oz for some 13 years now and they own an Indian restaurant in Narrabeen, North Sydney called "Spice Bazaar". They are doing very well and I can attest to having eaten the best Naans and curries in the Southern hemisphere. You may think I am biased because she is my Sis, well I'd say, maybe you are right mate! ( For Aussies everyone is a mate, pronounced "mayt"). My Sis and I, accompanied by her 13 year old Son Adheip took a ferry boat ride from Manly to Sydney's Circular Quay (pronounced "key") and walked around to all the attractions such as the famous opera house, Centre Point Tower, Queen Vic Building, Sydney center park that has the original anchor of the first ship that came in and colonized Oz for the Empire. While returning back to the ferry wharf, we ran into an Aboriginal group who were playing the Didgeridoo (a long wooden pipe that has holes made by termites eating through them). There were didgeridoo renditions on CD for purchase and ofcourse, I bought one. Come home to Mysore (when I am there!) to hear what it sounds like. My wife wanted me to pick one up but the size and incovenience of packing it and carrying it around all over the World did not appeal to me. maybe on my next trip, I'll pick one up!
On 22nd April, Kevin and I got together early at Bankstown Airport and went through our route for the flight to Singapore. One cause for worry was a cyclone that had gained in strength, off the Northern coast of Oz called cyclone Monica. We took off on a nice day, clear skies and cool temperatures and the Airplane quickly climbed upto our designated Altititude for that sector, 41,000 feet. Just to inform the readers, this Airplane has a range of 1,300 nautical miles (multiply nautical miles by 1.852 to get kilometers) and therefore the distance between Sydney and Singapore would need three landings for re-fuelling. First stop was a mining town south central Oz called Mount Isa. We raced a Qantas Boeing 737-400 to the Airport. After landing, we had almost the entire crew from the Boeing come out to see our little fast jet. The Premier 1 has a great look, sleek swept back wings and a full glass cockpit. This is not always available on most of the Airliners except the latest Airbus and Boeing Airplanes. The 737-400 certainly does not have as much as we did. The Boeing pilot came to our cockpit to see what was missing in his cockpit. His expression was, and I quote "we are missing most everything in our cockpit, compared to yours"! We took off again for Darwin, Northern Territories with the knowledge that Cyclone Monica was not going to be a threat and that the system was slowly moving away. We landed at Darwin and the air felt heavy, having a South Pacific tropical feel. Darwin area is "crocodile Dundee" territory. Salt water crocodiles inhabit this area and are known to be among the largest of it's species. You don't want to mess around with them, I guarantee it. This is no place for sunbathing and a dip in the sea unless you want to be a snack for a hungry croc! This is the last frontier town of Oz for us and this is where we did our departure clearance at Immigration and Customs.
The next leg was over the water, flying over the Indonesian Islands, landing in Bali. The Balinese handling agents were real friendly folk and they worked like professionals. They had our names well in advance and they presented Kevin and me with a large wood carving, Balinese style, with our names inscribed on it. That was very nice of them. We learnt that the Balinese afford great hospitality and service, especially to ferry flights such as ours with the hope that we come back at a later date and don't choose Jakarta instead! The flight from Bali to Singapore was done with less fun, flying through thunderstorms, finally landing at Seletar Airport (not Changi, the main one) completing our journey. The fast jet is in the hangar now, awaiting new colors and making the already plush interior, plusher (if there is such a word). Kevin has gone back and I still have some things to do before I push off to inspect three turboprop Aircraft in the US this weekend. I hope those reading this blog were mentally able to go through my journey and enjoy it as much as I did.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Singapore Sling

Most drinkers would know what I am talking about when I wrote this title for my aviation blog. However, for those who don't know what this is, let me explain. It is an expression for a jaunt in Singapore, where I am presently. For the seasoned cocktail drinker, it is also the favoured alcoholic drink created at the Raffles Hotel (a heritage property and a real expensive hotel) in Singapore and has become famous the World over. A little deviation from aviation in this case, let me try and give my reader a recipe for making this drink:
30ml Gin,15 ml Cherry Brandy,120 ml Pineapple Juice, 15 ml Lime Juice, 7.5 ml country, 7.5 ml Dom Benedictine,10 ml Grenadine, A Dash of Angostura BittersGarnish with a slice of Pineapple and Cherry. Shake it all up in a cocktail shaker and you have the signature drink of this country-Singapore.
I have been fortunate to make a trip to Singapore a few times in the past and presently here on, what else, but aviation works. A company here called Hawker Pacific is located where they do Aircraft sales of Beechcraft (Raytheon) and Hawker Jets sales and service. My client in India has brought me here to this tropical paradise, to identify the right Aircraft for their operations and to get the same customised. I will be dealing with three Aircraft, two turboprop and one jet Aircraft, all executive configuration. Whats that, you ask? Executive Aircraft are meant for charters and for in-house travel of company executives, The Aircraft interior, unlike a commercial Aircraft, will have overstuffed chairs, sofas/divans, well appointed toilet, conference tables, in short it will be an office in the air. We are going to gold plate some of the fittings like cup holders and stuff.
The jet Aircraft is in Australia and thats where yours truly is headed next week. My job there is to look up the Airplane, check all the records and log books and then fly it to Singapore. I should be back here in Sing (as popularly called in short) by next weekend. The flight will be about 8 hours long and should be interesting. I will blog about that next week. I have done flights acroos the North Atlantic a few times. My preferred fuel stops have been Northern Scotland and Iceland and on occasion I landed at two places in Greenland. By the way, it is interesting to note that iceland is rather green and lush and Greenland is full of ice all year round (polar ice cap and all).
Although I have flown in around 23 countries, Aussie land has always eluded me. This trip will therefore be different and interesting, not only because of Aussie land but also because the Airplane is a new generation full glass cockpit jet. Whats that again, you ask? Glass cockpit is a term that we use to describe an all electronic cockpit. No dials and regular instruments here. Only large TV type CRT screen and there are buttons to push to get readouts on all the parameters of the flight. The same screens can show the weather radar, TCAS II (see my earlier articles to know what this means), engine parameters readout, ground Proximity warning and many other conventional readouts. Early aviation had lots of instruments and dials in the cockpit, these days, all new gen Aircraft have glass cockpit. Hope this helps explain a few things. Until next week, let me say Cheers and try a Singapore Sling on me!!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Some of my well wishers, and I am happy to have their blessings, have suggested that my previous Q & A piece has generated a lot of replies and that makes it difficult for readers to scroll down, read the replies and also ask questions. I accede to their kind request and make this piece similar to the previous one, in that I mean inviting everyone to ask their Aviation related questions on this piece.

Those of you, who wish to read the previously asked questions and my replies, please continue reading the previous piece but post questions on this topic. I will answer all Aviation related questions on this one.

For the purpose of continuity, I will post the last one of the previous questions and take it from there. I do hope to write a little more, when time permits, continuous new pieces taken from my experiences from flying all around the World. Meanwhile, here’s the opportunity to ask more questions about Aviation.