Wednesday, May 17, 2006


No, I am not talking about the salt water crocodiles that inhabit the northern part of Australia and I wish this article was about them. Oh, no. This is not even about aviation or my travels-now how weird is that?

For those who read my previous item, I went on a tirade against the top official of the tourism department for making statements that I termed outlandish. She had reportedly made a statement to the press that Mysore Airport was going to be made into an International Airport. A journalist friend Mr. Vijendra Rao who has his own blog on was also at the Tourism event in Mysore. He wrote me an e-mail saying that he was at the venue when such a statement was purported to have been made by the officer, but he had not heard it.

It all started when I read the online edition of Star of Mysore, like many Mysoreans outside Mysore tend to do. The headline screamed that Mysore was going to get an International Airport. Now, yours truly has been reporting through this blog, about the need for an Airport in Mysore, the delays that are taking place regarding the project and how officials have made plans (or have they?) to build a domestic Airport that can connect with other regional Airports and so on. Now to read that a non-starter as yet, has been “upgraded” from domestic to International, got me rattled enough to write an article on the subject.

Readers of my last piece will see in the latest comment from Mr. Vijendra Rao, where he has been kind enough to make inquiries with the concerned official and has come back saying that the lady was misquoted by the paper. It seems that the reference was made about Mangalore Airport becoming International and not Mysore. Now that’s a big difference and a snafu like this should have been corrected by the paper in its next issue. The statement was made by the officer on 15th of May and as of now, there has been no retraction published by the paper (at least not online) and there has been no “corrigendum” published either. Let’s see if one appears sometime soon and in the meantime, I wrote off a nasty one to “voice of the reader”. I won’t hold my breath to see that one published, especially if the concerned official never really made such a remark.

I have a grouse against the official, though, assuming that she was alerted about this piece of news published in the newspaper. Why has she kept quiet and why has she not asked for retraction of the story from the newspaper? The least they owe her, for misquoting her, is an apology. News reporters seem to have a license to write whatever they want and their higher ups don’t deem it necessary to verify anything with anybody. And it wasn’t All Fools Day, either.

I hope other Mysoreans were not overly excited about the news that was never the news, hoping that their next trip back home, they could have skipped the mosquito riddled trap called Bangalore Airport.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


There’s a Tourism expo going on in Mysore for two days, given the name “Karnataka: One state, Many Worlds”. Whatever that means! It is hosted by the Karnataka State Government Tourism Department and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Known as FICCI in India). Several delegates from around the Country and outside India have arrived to take part in the tourism fair. The event was opened by the young Chief Minister of the State and was a perfect venue for important people to make outlandish sound bites. I don’t want to be too cynical, but, due to the history of people making tall promises that can never be implemented (for reasons best known to the people blowing hot air), it is but natural to remain a skeptic.

Here’s what I culled from a local (Mysore) news website:

I quote the newspiece: “Speaking on the potential of tourism in Karnataka, L. Shanthakumari, Principal Secretary, Department of Information, Tourism and Youth Services, remarked that Karnataka could be seen as an expanding tourist destination. A proposal had been made to the Centre for creating an International Airport at Mysore, she disclosed.” (I did a double take when I read this part).

She continues, and I quote: “The number of tourist was rising given the fact that on national basis it was 2.13 crore in 2004-05 while it was 2.3 crore during 2005-06 upto February 2006 itself, she explained. As far as tourists from abroad were concerned, their number was 1.82 lakh during 2004-05 while it rose to 3 lakh in 2005-06. We are expecting more than 6 crore tourists to Karnataka from different parts of the country and more than 5 lakh from abroad during the coming financial year," Shanthakumari explained. Out of 116 recognised tourist destinations, 36 did not have the facilities of mini-connect circuits and other basic facilities, she disclosed.”

Fabulous statistics there, Madam and thanks for the same. Heartening to know that there are number crunchers in the tourism department, if not for anything else. The cynic in me has to think hard about this because we don’t even have the earlier proposed domestic airport yet after decades of false promises from "earnest" politicians. The work that was to begin (again)late last year and postponed several times, has still to start in right earnest, now that it is middle of May. Here is an official who makes claims that cannot be followed up. Remember my previous article on Mysore Airport? The runway and terminal is to be designed to handle an Aircraft that has around 50 seat capacity. Most turboprops can be operated in and out, just to refresh readers’ memories.

Where’s the additional land going to come from, in order to put in a runway of at least 8,000 feet (double the length proposed at the moment for the domestic Aircraft operations). Lots of questions will come up from now on.

I question the insipid media and their inability to ask tough and relevant questions to the lady that made the statement. Could they not come up with normal questions that I have put above? The local print media has failed us again, reporting only sound bites (or hot air as applicable) without asking questions on behalf of their readers. The domestic airport issue has not been tackled yet and here is an important person making false promises. I don’t know what FICCI representatives were doing, whether they have asked the relevant questions or kept quiet. A journalist friend wrote to me on another subject and I quote “We are generally a gutless people, Indians at large. Intellectuals are the greatest culprits” and I think it applies here.

When Mysore gets an International Airport, although I’d be the first one to support a project like it, will be the day the Nandi Bull (a large stone monolith on Chamundi Hill in Mysore) will stand up, let out a loud bellow and runs down the hill, signaling the end of the World as we know it (tales from our childhood about "Pralaya"-end of the World).

Happy dreams Mysoreans!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


My wife Anjali, asked me if there was more information that I could provide my readers about the T-28 Airplanes that I mentioned in my previous article. I have a bit of info and will share the same here. There used to be a company called as the North American Aviation (NAA) in the United States of America, known to be designers and producers of many legendary Aircraft during the Second World War such as the P-51 Mustang (one of the sweetest engine sounds I have ever heard on any airplane) (T-28 Trojan flying over So. California)
and B-25 bombers. The same company started building, during and after the war, an Aircraft designed for use by the US Navy (US Air Force picked up the early version I believe) which was to succeed an earlier military trainer called as the “Texan”.

The T-28 was named as the “Trojan” and was used as a trainer and multi role Aircraft in the fifties. Various versions were produced. The US Air Force used a version called the “A” model. The USN used the “B” model that came with a huge9-cylinder radial engine capable of 1425 HP! Another version with a tail hook was built for taking off and landing on Aircraft carriers. The T-28F version was shipped to France and they used the Aircraft with great success in North Africa (Algeria) in the 1960s.

Some warbirds never die and that's great for us aviation officianados. Since the mid 1980s, these Aircraft have entered the civilian warbird market. In the US, these Airplanes are owned privately and need extensive training before one gets the certificate to fly it. These Airplanes are only for experimental flights/exhibition flights as they are called. No commercial flights are allowed for revenue. The T-28s that I saw all had private owners and maintained by Chuck Smith of C&J Aircraft, Camarillo Airport, California.

Chuck is an accomplished T-28 pilot, instructor and maintenance organization all rolled into one. On nice sunny days, he is known to be flying along the beach in Southern California, scaring the local populace (kidding). The Airplanes sit really tall on the tarmac and look very imposing. They are loud, considering the big pistons going up and down the 9 cylinders in front of the Airplane. The fuel they use is Avgas 100LL (Low Lead). The Airplane is capable of taking off in less than 800 feet and climbing at the rate of 3,000 feet per minute-that’s great for a non-jet, vintage airplane.

Chuck has promised me a flight in one of his T-28s, the next time I am in his neck of the woods. I suspect that in late May, I will be there again and will take Chuck up on his offer. Look for a blog on my experiences at that time.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Lets get a couple of things out of the way. The title is a reference to me as the Mysorean. Mahattan is not a reference to the one in New York. This is about me (read States Bound) staying at a boutique hotel in Manhattan Beach. It is a small city, south of Los Angeles on the picturesque US 1 highway. The first day there, straight out of the flight from Singapore, my colleague and I checked into this hotel called the "Bellamar" and went driving around Manhattan Beach in a rented car. The place was nice, the weather wasn't. Manhattan Beach has a pier (most coastal towns in the US has a pier), a nice beach with some frigid Pacific water (frigid for a Mysorean at least!) and loads of good restaurants. I'll bet there's an Indian restaurant around(they are everywhere in the World these days) but yours truly was seduced by a seaside seafood bistro. Food was great, the beer better!
Next day we drove to Camarillo Airport near Oxnard, near Santa Barbara. I was on the job inspecting the airplanes that I was supposed to. A word about the company that represented the airplanes. They are called C&J T-28 Aircraft sales, Inc. Long name and funny too, with numbers and all. Here's the scoop on why they have numbers in their company name. They are the largest restorers and maintenance providers of T-28 single engine piston vintage Warbird Aircraft! They had a line of those vintage airplanes, all in flying condition. That was a treat, for any pilot, to see old war birds carefully restored and flying. T-28's have huge nine cylinder radial piston engines driving huge propellers. The pilot and navigator sit one behind the other, this is called as tandem seats. One climbs into the cockpit by stepping on the flaps on the wings (don't try this on other planes!), a small step and then into the cockpit. The airplane sits really tall and when I say one has to climb to get into the cockpit, I really mean it. The guy who owns the place is called Chuck Smith, an old warbird restorer and pilot himself. He's quite a character and has many stories to tell (most aviators love to talk and exchange stories, it is just in their blood).
My job, unfortunately, was not to test fly one of these birds. I had to take two Beechcraft King Air C90B six seat executive pressurized turboprops on test flights. They were nice airplanes and we chose to buy them, on behalf of my client, of course. The third day, work complete, Airplanes finalized and other engagements cancelled, yours truly decided to skip town and get back to Singapore. Tulsa did not happen this time around (see States Bound) and I did not meet Kevin. There are ferry flights down the line and I'll get to fly with Kevin again.
I'm back in Singapore after a 17 hour direct LAX to SIN flight on Singapore Airlines, chatting with the cabin crew, watching movies and yes, drinking Singapore Sling! (read my earlier blog about the sling). Raffles Class (Business Class of Singapore Airlines) is great! Arrived at five in the morning a day later, refreshed and straight to Hawker Pacific Hangar till evening, working and blogging alternately. This Mysorean is back, from Manhattan Beach.