Saturday, December 13, 2008

MIDDLE EAST BUSINESS AVIATION SHOW DUBAI 2008

Before I start on this blog piece, let me just make a statement about the recent terror attacks in Mumbai. Bloggers everywhere have flooded the Blogspehere with condemnation and justifiably vented their anger and frustration at such an open attack being allowed to happen. To the people who lost their lives and to those who escaped with psychological scars that will remain for a very long time and to a nation that withstood such an attack, I salute them. I salute the people who bravely faced these attackers and who laid down their lives or ended up with injuries in the effort to save the rest of us from these monsters. Nothing more I write can extinguish the depressed feeling that we all suffered from this onslaught that was broadcast around the World.

In my last blog I had written about my trip to Dubai to attend the Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) event, an air show held once in two years and showcasing the latest in business and corporate aviation. My participation was also to gather information on how the market was moving for aviation products and to know the pulse of the aviation scene as it is currently.


To those of you who have traveled on Emirates Airlines, you’d have been lucky to have entered or departed through the spanking new Terminal 3 at the Dubai International Airport. The sheer size of this new terminal and the opulence that goes with it makes one wonder if they have overdone it. For those of us used to Indian airports and even new ones such as the sorry one at Bangalore, cannot but be wonder struck at experiencing just one terminal in Dubai. One thing noticeable is that the airport is filled with foreigners, mostly Filipinas working in all departments except immigration! For a moment it looks like one may have landed in Manila by mistake.


The much awaited high speed train network that I saw them building during my last visit here a year ago, is not complete yet and passengers still have to take taxis to their venues. There is a slow down in construction projects in Dubai and the region, the low price of oil adding to their misery. Low oil price means great news for aviation generally and I thought that the market as we knew it was bottoming out in all spheres and perhaps there was still hope for aviation.


(Chalets were occupied but saw few serious visitors)

The MEBA event started with little fanfare and the first day saw very low turn out in terms of visitors. The event was well represented by manufacturers of various Business Jet Aircraft. The only problem that there was a sever lacking of potential buyers. I have never been to an air show that looked so bare. One could stroll around the booths indoors and among the many Aircraft outdoors that were flown in to the event for display at great costs, without running into a sea of humanity.


(Business helicopters on display)

I had reported in this blog, during last year’s Dubai Air Show and this year’s Singapore Air Show, that I had seen frenetic buying and selling of Aircraft and equipment. I had experienced so much positivity in people who came to do buy Aircraft and announce mega deals during that time, unsuspecting that the economic situation of the World would, in a few months, would be like someone pulled a massive rug from underneath their feet, leaving everyone scrambling to save themselves. That showed clearly during this event with even participants from the countries that were relatively better off, failing to make any impression. My first video on my blog below shows many Aircraft on display and few visitors and this was during peak hours.

video
(Aircraft display at MEBA)

What I would report from this trip is that aviation, which usually is the first industry to suffer during any economic downturn anywhere, is in the doldrums. That was reflected during this trip. But opportunists will see this as a great time to consolidate and buy Aircraft. New Aircraft positions are available and many without the premium attached to it. For those who invest in used Aircraft, there are tremendous deals out there to be made. It is a veritable buyers market driven by the fact that there are very few buyers out there.

(Sunset over the Dubai skyline with the new Burj Towers that will one day be the World's tallest building)

As I conclude this blog, I’m making plans for acquisitions, best time to get maximum value for money. Watch this space next month, when I think Aircraft values go further South, and I make a beeline for a good deal. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

WORLD WAR TWO HANGAR


(shrapnel damage-note the door is thick steel)

I promised to post pictures of the hangar door of my hangar at Seletar Airport, Singapore but never really got down to doing any blogging. It's been busy here lately, despite the gloom and doom that most people seem to focus on. Everyone knows that Second World War saw a fair bit of action in South East Asia and the Japs over ran the British base at Singapore quite easily, taking them by surprise, using cycles to come in from Malay peninsula. The British had moved their (by then already obsolete and slow) Aircraft out of Seletar Air Base, further down to Indonesia.


(Bullet holes perhaps from a field gun)

Seletar is in the North Eastern part of Singapore and the air base within shelling range from the Malay peninsula and therefore saw a lot of damage inflicted on the facilities there. I am now occupying one of the hangars that was then a storage area and apparently had British troops occupying the place. The Japs attacked with guns and mortar and inflicted damage and casualties. Going on a search of the world wide web, one can read into great detail of what went on. Wikipedia has some details, a bit old but interesting pictures of the place and also interesting links and pictures of the airplanes that used to operate in the days of the Second World War (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Seletar).



About a year ago, the previous occupant of the hangar where I have my offices now, came to me with an interesting story of a British serviceman, now really old, who came to see the hangar. He had been inside it when the Japs started pounding them with artillery and guns. This old man was surprised to see that the back door of the hangar had never been changed or even repaired since the Second World War! As for me, I am not going to cover it or repair it although many people suggested that I cover up the "ugly" door. It's a part of history. When they tear the hangar down in two years to pave the way for new facilities as part of the Aerospace Technology Park, I hope to bid for the doors and keep them in our new facility, as a reminder of what happened those many years ago and how people died saving the place.



In my hurry to blog, I did not take my camera and used my phone to take the pictures that appear here. The picture above, is of my plane taken from the back door area of the hangar.



Despite the gloom and doom that plague aviation in many places, the middle east is still seemingly the only place where activity is still on the upswing. Dubai is hosting the Middle East Business Aviation event from the 16th to the 18th of November and yours truly is going to be there. I will know the pulse of the market there as well as interact with aviation experts in all areas of expertise. That will be a blog soon, once I return.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seajet News

My blogs have suffered from drought, with no new posts in a while, been so busy getting things done that blogging has taken a back seat. However, I'm back in the game and in this one I will only trumpet more about my company SEAJET in SIngapore, Asia's first Mustang Jet Operator. I have a few more blog pieces lined up including one that is about the holes in my hangar door caused by Second World War Japanese bombing and bullets and another about my latest trip to Macau (been there twice last year as my readers from then would recall). So, there's lots to write about and I shall start doing that in the next few days.

Straits Times is the largest selling newspaper here in Singapore and I was mentioned in a news article about aviation they did today. I have scanned the news and posted it below. There are other magazines that I am being featured in and copies of those will also be eventually scanned and posted here. Channel News Asia, a leading Television channel in SE Asia is doing a 13 part series called "High Life" and one of the segments is about my company. I hope at that time I'd be able to post video clips when it gets aired. Meanwhile, thanks to all who wrote in and sent me e-mails all through July.

Click on image below to see a larger view.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

MUSTANG IN SINGAPORE


(Jim and I, with Selvam and flowers on arrival at Seletar Airport)

The Mustang has been busy and so have I. I had written in my last piece that I'd do photos of the Mustang in her home in Seletar Airport, Singapore and this is it. She's been flying in and around Indonesia and Thailand. Bangkok mainly and recent trip over to Phuket. Seajet is coming together as a premier charter company with multiple Aircraft available for lease and charter throughout the region. I won't be blogging too much about it in this space, lest it becomes more of an advertisement than a blog. But then, many people and even companies are known to use blogspace for their propaganda.


(Being towed in from the apron to the East Camp side of Seletar Airport where my hangar is located)

On arrival in Singapore, we were treated to a small reception party and given bouquets. After we headed across to the East Camp side of Seletar, the handlers towed the Airplane to a hangar that I have leased. I have built up offices inside the hangar to support the Operational aspects of the business and these offices have a good view of the Airplane in the hangar. The hangar has been there since World War II and I may have mentioned this before. The rear hangar door contains many "holes" in it. These have been caused by grenades, flying shrapnel and neat, round, bullet holes that was the result of the fighting between the Japanese and British forces before Singapore finally fell to Japanese hands. A few people have suggested that I repair or replace this "ugly" door but I won't, it's got too much history to tell.



The Mustang and I have had many visitors, some aviators and some not including my friend Yasmin from all the way down under - New Zealand. Reviews have all been good, whether the Mustang is on the ground or in the air. Jim's tenure as a contract pilot ended and we had good times together as a team. Randall Brink has taken over as our main pilot with Eric, for the next one year. Randall is famous for being an accomplished and experienced jet pilot and an author of several books including a story about Amelia Earhart's disappearance! He's a golf and boating enthusiast, not sure in what order. He's also written about living aboard boats.


(About to be towed into the hangar)


The Mustang is also fast becoming a celebrity locally. She will appear on Tattler Magazine cover page for the August issue of the Singapore edition of the World renowned magazine. Of course the models came with their designer outfits, bags and shoes. The photoshoot took place in the hangar. The entire thing looked like a movie set with lights, camera, spot boys, make up chaps, models running around and their friends who had come along to cheer them on. It took my peaceful Sunday and threw it out the window but I think she was happy and so was I.



Yours truly was also subsequently interviewed for the Formula 1 race edition titled "Boys and their big toys". Corny as it sounds, at least I think it does, the interview will be my first one in a non aviation forum. The Mustang and I seem to be competing in celebrity space! Let me say complementing. Without her, I'm not any one's favorite subject! There will be a time when the Mustang gets company soon, more planes and bigger outlay. Happy landings to all till next time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

MUSTANG FERRY ENDS

Continuing after where I left off more than a week back. I got bogged down with loads of work and could not blog earlier as promised. Story of my blogging so far. I am not confident that I will find time again for a week and will take this opportunity to complete this saga, no matter how long this blog piece becomes.

Not much landscape in Keflavik as you can see above

Leaving Greenland, we were over the North Atlantic again. Next stop: Iceland. I have been to Reykjavik the capital of Iceland and Kefalvik, a town famous for the blue lagoon that I wrote about in a previous post. This time, we decided to stop only for re-fueling and press on to Prestwick. Coming in from the North Atlantic, Keflavik Iceland looks quite barren. With the hills in the backdrop, the small town of Keflavik is not really picturesque, just a watering hole for ferry pilots like me. Having been there in the past and having found hotels expensive and food unavailable all the times of the day (and night), the best thing to do is to refuel and leave. As usual I used South Air, an FBO that offers free cookies and coffee, relaxing atmosphere, seamless flight planning and refueling. We were in an out of Iceland, keen to get into the United Kingdom, with good hotels and curry! Just like to add, for the benefit of those crossing with the Mustang, Gander radio was available right through Greenland and thereafter crossing over to Iceland. NATRAC restrictions does not allow this Aircraft to fly over 27,000 and even at this altitude, one is able to receive clear VHF from Gander and never had to relay.

(Keflavik runway and town nearby)

This part of the ferry from Keflavi Iceland to Prestwick Scotland was perhaps the easiest, in that the weather was good, visibility was good and crossing the pond seemed more like a walk in the park. It is the best weather I have encountered in this part of the World and wasn't raining anywhere. We got into Prestwick where the handling agent Ocean Sky, was waiting for us. They were cordial and made the arrangements to get us to a hotel. A mix up in their booking had us arrive at the hotel and not finding ourselves anywhere on the list of expected arrivals. It had been a long day and we were hungry and in desperate need of some sleep. The front desk was quite helpful and while we waited for them to set us up rooms, we adjourned to the pub/grub place also in the lobby area. The hotel was packed with people in the lobby area, a Scottish wedding or reception in progress.

(Leaving Greenland towards Keflavik)
These Scots were loud, gregarious and all over the place, hogging every inch of the lobby. The bride looked fabulous, did not know they have such petite sized waists for such tall women! Jim was of course dismissal of the whole thing saying that this would only last a few months after the wedding. Mind you, by then we were wolfing down a tuna sandwich (curry be damned, we were hungry) and literally pouring down our throat a large pint of some really dark, strong, Ale. Rather dismal observation of the bride by Jim, I thought, bewitched by the beautiful gown she was wearing and looking so gorgeous, when he again spoke saying that "the men looked funny in skirts"! I was about to drop my drink and head anywhere else but be associated with Jim at that time. "Don't say that", I hissed, "unless you want one of those really big guys bashing us up". You'd never call a Scottish Kilt a skirt, ever, not with each and every Scotsman being almost double my size and Jim ain't no giant either.

I have a grouse against hotels in the U.K. they have poor net connectivity, funny showers, cold rooms, no electric iron (they have a mickey mouse thingamajig contraption that supposedly presses shirts and trousers). Although it was late at night, I wanted to catch up with e-mail so that I can check on the clearances that my efficient and hard working assistant Marisol had applied for, back in SIngapore.

A note to the guys who want to ferry to Asia, you only need to file a flight plan everywhere in the US, Canada, across the pond and across Europe but you will need to start applying for flight permits many days ahead for all the rest of the countries through Asia. Every country from there on needs to have an application put in, days ahead, and permission granted for you to land in those countries. Therefore I was tracking clearances from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Pakistan overflight permit, Indian DGCA clearance, Bangladesh overflight permit, Myanmar overflight permit, Thailand Landing permit. If flying from Thailand to Singapore, one does not need a Malaysia overflight permit if the flight plan is filed 12 hours ahead of the flight. Singapore does not require you to apply for a permit, feels like we got back to first world civilization when you get here because of the simplicity.

Back to the story now. There was a cable in the room that advertised high speed internet. I plugged that in and it asked for a password. I called the front desk and he did not have a clue, after much discussion they had me try "guest" as user id and the room number as password. Guess what? It did not work! Went to bed frustrated. After stuffing ourselves with a hearty breakfast, we started on our way to Luxor. Encountering a bit of problem with an intermittent auto pilot, we headed for Le Bourget France and spent some time getting things fixed. We had flown over Paris and past the Eiffel Tower on such a clear, bright, summer day in France and I had stuffed my camera in the bag behind and could not take any pictures. Lost opportunity indeed.

Leaving France we flew over the swiss alps and found most of them green at this time of the year, not sure that's the way it is supposed to be. Entering Italy, we stopped at the picturesque town of Pescara on the sea. A seamless turnaround and we were on our way to the island of Crete in Greece. I started imagining the Minotaur and the legends associated with Crete that I had read about way back in primary and middle school. I told Jim of the Minotaur and he had no clue about what I was talking about. Landing in Crete (Iraklion) is a treat, passing over beautiful resorts and hills on one side, the runway and airport sticking out to sea literally. Our first taste of the third world begins here, the paperwork takes ling, the fueling takes long and we are looking to desperately regain lost time and press on to Luxor, Egypt. From here onwards it seems apparent that no one has heard of a Mustang, never heard of a Jet being that small and that light weight. Of course they don't have it on their chart of Aircraft and the handling lady has to work out the charges for the Aircraft based on the maximum take off weight of the Aircraft. What made this excruciating wait so much worse was that this lady was smoking like a chimney, inside and this was normal for them! I'd like to mention that through Europe, finding clearance to fly in RVSM airspace in the Mustang was easy and till India and beyond we managed FL370-FL380 easily. The Mustang performs best here and we averaged 380 Knots every time, passing 400 Knots over the Arabian peninsula.

(Hot air balloons rising above the Nile-early morning in Luxor)
Finally we headed out back to the Aircraft and flew on to Luxor. The handling was smooth, visa on arrival was smooth and we were herded off to Sofitel for some rest and relaxation. I had planned an entire day of rest and we had not planned on leaving Egypt till the next day. My handling agent offered to get a friend of his who is a tour guide, to join us and take a tour of the Valley of the Kings and the Hatshepsut Temple complex. Never the one to resist anything archaeological, we left at nearly noon, having slept most of the rest of the night and into the morning. Now, noon time and afternoon in Luxor is not the best time to visit anything because of the intense sun and heat but this is also the time when crowd levels are low. So we went, Jim in tow, earnest to learn a bit of Egyptian history.

(Luxor International Airport above)


(Approaching the valley of the Kings where great Pharoahs were interned)

Luxor is host to the largest number archaeological sites in Egypt with the Luxor complex, Karnak temple complex, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut temple complex and so on. We went past the others and made Valley of the Kings and hatsheput Temple. One can get details from many websites out there that describe this part of Egypt so I won't dwell into history here. Jim was singled out for harassment by hawkers trying to sell their wares everywhere. I was commonly mistaken to be Egyptian! I was asked at least in three different places whether I was a local. At the Queen Hatsheput Temple complex, a uniformed Egyptian guard also asked if I was an Egyptian and I was sick of saying no by this time. Therefore I identified myself as being descended from the Pharoahs and that my real name was Anupmosis the great, tracing my lineage back to Thothmosis the great! I think the humor was lost on him and he looked at me quizzically while I walked away to take pictures that you see below.

(Entrance to King Tutankhamun -King Tut to some-tomb)



(entering Queen Hatshepsut Temple and Pharoah Anupmosis the great-me!)

Leaving Luxor the next morning, from the rather nice International Airport that they have built, we headed off for a fuel stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Less than two hours on the ground there and seamless handling through Jet Aviation and we were off to Muscat, Oman for a rest stop before going on to India. A note about Muscat, I have been here a few times before but I saw many pleasant changed there, staring from improvements in the airport terminal to the taxis, roads, infrastructure, landscaping, al reflecting the economic growth this region is experiencing.

(More Hatshepsut temple pix and painting of jackal face god Anubis)

A good night rest before the crossing over India because I knew that this was going to be the challenging and sometimes most frustrating part of any ferry. Ahmedabad wasnot bad, just too hot and the wait near the Aircraft in the heat was for a little more than an hour. Flying across India, we ran into the biggest honking "mother of all" CB cloud over Jamshedpur. It was so large, so threatening, full of turbulence and lightning, it almost looked evil. Airlines were diverting left, right and center around this massive storm. Making it to Kolkata was a relief, having gallivanted all over the countryside to avoid the storm, a remnant of the cyclone that had just devastated Myanmar. I'll not dwell on Kolkata as I have been nasty enough on my comments page of my previous blog about my experience here.

(Us and Minee at Royal Sky before departure to Seletar SIngapore)
Not one to stay behind, we pressed on to fly over Myanmar and on to Thailand, landing around mid night. We did not expect a grand reception but Minee and her team at Royal Sky Bangkok's Don Mueng Airpot gave us one, offering a cold local drink, wet towels and a welcoming committee of more than a dozen people. Quickly they put the baby in the hangar and whisked us through the empty terminal to our hotel downtown. I had meetings in Bangkok the next day and we took the day off to pamper ourselves with some good local massage. Business over that day and a restful night later, we took off towards home-Singapore at last, half way around the World. Landing at Seletar, the Baby's home base, I kissed her nose in thanks, like I do on all ferries. Our friends and office mates were on hand to whisk us away home but not before we put the baby in her own hangar and had a spot of Indian food at a restaurant in Little India. Our ferry had ended and with it, another set of memories that is etched in my brain. Should I forget any event in future, all I need to do is read my own blog and relive it. That's why I write in the first place. Thanks for bearing with me on this long piece. Cheers.

Next blog will be about the baby at home.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

THE MUSTANG FERRY PART 1


(On the ramp in Wichita, ready to go, that's Jim in the above photo)


Those who have read my previous two posts on the Cessna Citation Mustang acquisition and ferry (at least small portions of the ferry), will find continuity here in this post. Jim Harrod and I left Wichita on the afternoon of the 1st of May. I have blogged about this till Goose Bay. I have posted some pictures of Goose Bay airport which, when we arrived, was a balmy 8 degrees celcius. That's a bit warm for this region. During the night, on the way through dark roads in Goose Bay, we arrived at Hotel North. Having wolfed down a pizza in Bangor earlier, we headed off straight to bed. I found Jim early in the coffee shop and I was a bit delayed because of having to check e-mails and working on clearances for the trip. My colleague and assistant in Singapore, Marisol, was working overtime to get all the permits along the route done. Co-ordinating with the Singapore office and balancing logistics on the ground right through made sure yours truly slept little during this trip across the World. Half way across and a bit more actually.

(On ground and over Goose Bay's frozen land, click on pix to enlarge-one can see Goose Bay runway below)

Anyway, starting off early in the morning, we planned to make sure that the North Atlantic crossing was going to be done in good visibility and weather (fingers crossed) and Woodward Aviation our handler, picked us up after breakfast. Heading over the airport, it dawned on us that the 8 degree celsius had been a misleading temperature because of all the ice still in heaps on the ground all around Goose Bay. Things still looked and felt icy although it did not feel as cold. We filed the flight plan and checked on the weather that suggested a rather good forecast in Narsarsuaq, Southern Greenlend, one of the two fueling stops across the Atlantic. Counting on our luck holding, we took off towards BGBW (Narsarsuaq).

(Our MFD shows us tracking Loach intersection on the way to Greenland and other info on the flight on MFD)
Approaching Greenland always feels alien. Like you are going to land in a place that's not on this planet. Unfamiliar rocks, scenery, misty mountains and so on, feels like one's flying on a barren moon orbiting Saturn or something like that. The sea looked frozen but not as much as I remember in the past. The sea looked calm. Narsarsuaq has one of the strangest approaches as an airport. There are no precision approaches and if the area is under fog, one can easily get lost flying the fjords, crashing into rocks if a single wrong turn is made. We took the non fjord flying approach and with little clearance between us and a big hill that blocks out the runway, we made over it and over the short stretch of water to land in perfectly good VFR conditions. Of course VFR looks a bit strange in Arctic conditions but it was good visibility nevertheless. A guy flying a Cirrus single engine made it safely after us, walked over to us later on and wanted to see if we would trade his plane for ours! A joke of course, good humor always makes up for hairy experiences in a single piston engine ferry across the Atlantic.

(Frozen sea around Greenland, loosening up in summer)

(approaching runway at Nars, over the mountains)
Narsarsuaq is a pretty place, mountains all around, a melting Glacier just behind the runway (what a comforting thought!) and a single terminal, lounge, flight planning, traffic advisory place all rolled into one. This was my first trip out to Nars, having been in Kulusuk and Nuuk in Greenland on previous ferries. The chaps at the airport were friendly, one of them a retired Airline captain who also owns a flight school in Copenhagen, made us feel quite welcome. I asked him why he was there and the answer was that for nordic pilots who had retired, a short summer stint in Greenland is like going to Valhalla! I presented him with a poster of the Mustang, being the first one to do so and the first Mustang to adorn the walls of the airport at Nars. He wanted to come and see the airplane and we happily obliged, having filed a flight plan out of Greenland easily. We wanted to make haste to keflavik (BIKF) in Iceland, notorious for heavy winds and poor visibility in the late afternoons.

(Nars runway, approaching over the mountains)


We took off downhill, the runway incline being so, with the glacier behind us. As we climbed out and turned heading over the icy inland on Greenland, we could not but admire the beautiful landscape below. Innumerable glaciers, interlinked, melting, hues of the color blue that only exists within glacier ice. If this was not Valhalla, where else could it be? It was a short flight across before exiting out over the North Atlantic again, on our second leg of the crossing to Keflavik. Iceland is pretty but Greenland is spectacular, everywhere I've been to in this vast Island.

(The baby jet and me in Nars)

In order to make this blog readable and to be able to post more pictures, I will have to break it up into parts. This is the first part and in a space of every two days I will post a new blog on the continuation of the ferry over to Iceland, the U.K., Europe and to Luxor in Egypt where we felt like Pharoahs and took a day off to visit King Tut. Lots more pictures and stories coming up in the next part. Meanwhile, a few more pictures below.

Nars runway with the melting glacier behind it)

(beautiful glaciers and their runoffs over Greenland)


More pictures of the ferry, especially Greenland, can be found here.
End of First Part.

Monday, May 05, 2008

FERRY UPDATES-BREAKING NEWS!

BREAKING NEWS!
More Breaking news:
Arrived safely (and soundly!) in Singapore at Seletar Airport Singapore yesterday the 8th of May 2008. Pictures of Greenland and Luxor stops will be posted on the blog this weekend. Royal Group (Royal Sky Bangkok) handled our Aircraft at VTBD (Bangkok) and they were superb. No delays, flight plan filed, Aircraft cleaned and fueled, paperwork complete-all in advance by Royal Sky and friendly service. Getting in and out of Bangkok was one of the easiest experiences on the ferry. Same cannot be said about getting in and out of India, though! Kolkata in particular, suffers from the "bygone era" syndrome in the amount of paperwork that goes into a simple ferry flight that landed there only for refueling. Took us a good two hours to do all the documentation and getting stamps from all and sundry at the airport. Their antiquated facilities are among the worst in the world, with dingy rooms and rotting files. We did not find this anywhere else on our route (or anywhere else in the World that I've been to). Ahmedabad was a quick turnaround by Indian standards, at 1.5 hours on the ground. Kolkata seemed forever. Even the refueling could not take place until customs had given their approval! This, on a continuing ferry flight! Anyway, what matters is that, once the nightmare of going through India is done, Bangkok was a piece of cake. We walk into the country by just giving immigration the GD forms (also handled by Royal Sky) and walk out just as easily. Why can't India learn from the rest of the World? Beats me. Simplifying things is not in their blood, especially Kolkata I suppose. Anyway, back home in good shape and SIngapore seems like paradise after a long trek around the World. More details on the ferry coming up this weekend.

Previous news:

Made it to Bangkok Thailand last night after a long trip from Muscat (Oman) through India (VAAH Ahmedabad and VECC Kolkata) and it was boiling hot all the way. Will be proceeding to Singapore, our final stop, on this ferry. I will be posting a blog with lots of pictures, in the next couple of days.

I have been very busy with the ferry flight of the Mustang and could not update the blog. Thanks for those writing in and asking questions. We are in Oman today after going through Greenland, Iceland, U.K., Italy, Greece and Egypt. I have taken loads of pictures of the trip and to say that it was spectacular is an understatement. Luxor, Egypt, took the cake because of a one day layover that I had planned, allowing us to visit the Valley of the Kings, Hatsheput's temple, briefly Luxor and karnac temples. The ferry had tied us and this did more to add to that. No regrets however, and I enjoyed every bit of it.

Tomorrow we leave for India (Ahmedabad and Kolkata) and on to Bangkok Thailand overflying Myanmar. Hope the weather's improved because Myanmar has been hot by a cyclone and has suffered extensive loss of life and damage. It has been difficult getting hold of the DCA in Myanmar for the overflying permit because their lines are down.

I promise to post the full story of the ferry before I forget events and also post lots of pictures. The airplane is behaving well, having transited through cold and now hot weather in the middle east. More heat awaits us in India and wet weather in Thailand. My next post, when I get some time, maybe in Bangkok or when we're back home in Singapore on the 8th will have pictures of the trip.

Cheers.

Friday, May 02, 2008

GOOSE BAY CANADA

As I write this quickly, I'm preparing to leave on the second leg of the ferry flight of my Mustang. We took off from Wichita yestrday a bit late due to last minute paperwork issues. However, through Fort Wayne, indiana and Bangor, Maine, we (Jim Harrod and me) made it to Goose Bay (CYYR) in Labrador region of Canada. It is a "balmy 4 degrees Celius as I write this and that's not too bad for tis time of the year, it is warming up.

A short night rest and we are off in the next few minutes across to Narsarssuaq (BGBW) on the southern part of Greenland and fuel up before heading off again to Keflavik in Iceland. We will end up at Prestwick, Scotland, U.K. tonight and catch up on some much needed R&R. I took some more photos of the Mustang on the ramp in Wichita and I'll try and post them tonight or tomorrow when I write in from Prestwick. The airplane is behaving nicely and we got some good performances at FL370 (F370 or 37,000 feet for lay folks).

Thanks for all the comments on my previous blog with respect to the Mustang. I appreciate everyone who has written in and the comments continue.
Cheers.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

MILESTONE REACHED

I am pleased to report that on 23rd of April 2008, yours truly became a proud father of a baby jet aircraft. On what looked to be a dull, overcast, rainy day in Kansas, we took off in the Cessna caravan shuttle from Wichita to Independence. My last post gives more information on Independence, a little town now on the World map for manufacturing the highly successful Cessna Citation Mustang Aircraft, also featured in my previous post. Waiting for me and my Aircraft acceptance pilot Andre' was the Aircraft delivery team. The sun was suddenly shining, I kid you not, and things seemed pleasant, even the temperature. I was first taken to what is known as the delivery room (sounds so much like a maternity event, right?) where there are amenities to help do the documentation and acceptance of the Aircraft and a place to relax in between, if there was any time to relax, that is.

(The baby with the red carpet-before delivery)

I was then introduced to the entire delivery team and that includes the folks who look after CESSCOM, Pro-parts Pro-advantage programs for the Aircraft. To those who are not in aviation, CESSCOM is a maintenance tracking/reporting software that is provided to new Aircraft owners free for one year. They'll make me pay a fee for it for subsequent years, it's all in the game. There is a delivery hangar attached to the delivery room (makes sense does it not?) and they had already wheeled in my "baby". We were ushered out to the hangar where a Cessna Professional photographer made your truly stand and pose all around the Mustang that I was taking delivery and it was a scene straight from FTV (except it was me in a suit instead of models in their birthday suits on FTV). He kept clicking away and promised me a CD full of pictures that he'd make into a portfolio. I assure readers of my blog that when the professional photos come in, I'll splash them all over this article. Meanwhile, you'd have to do with the pictures from my camera, some of those that make me look like an ant in a suit. The big event was when the delivery manager handed over the keys to the Mustang and more pictures of that were taken.

(Me in a suit is an unusual sight to most of my friends)

An extensive pre flight of the airplane was carried out with the delivery pilot and technical manager from Cessna walking self and acceptance test pilot Andre' from my company. They wheeled the airplane out to the tarmac and we took off for a flight that last a little over an hour, taking her up to 34,000 feet. The Aircraft performed very well indeed, better than expected. Although it is a shiny new Aircraft, there are usually some surprises and squaks (maintenance problems) during an acceptance. Not in this one, behaved flawlessly. A few issues with paint touch ups were the only thing we could report.

(None of my photos are brilliant but here they are anyway- N235SS is the registration of my Mustang SS stands for SEAJET Services, my Singapore company)

Going in for a spot of lunch, we had a good time with aviation related banter. In a room full of aviators, it's usually a laugh fest when there are tall stories told and jokes being passed around, all of them real life incidences. Some aviators I know, should write about all their experiences, if not for selling books, at least something to remember by and share with others who'd be interested in such tales. I'd be one of them. I digress, unfortunately, and let me continue the events of this day.


Post lunch, there was documentation to do, signatures to be affixed, to have titles passed, escrow accounts released, the airplane paid for etc etc, the usual stuff that one has to do when one buys an airplane. The Mustang was represented to me after they had polished and buffed up the portions we had asked for and I was headed into a large room full of manuals, equipment and other loose items that go with each new airplane. Going through lists, more signatures and they loaded up the Mustang with the freebies. I was presented with a Sheep Skin jacket with the Mustang logo and serial number of my Aircraft embossed on it. It's so heavy that it felt like I was wearing the whole sheep, not just the jacket. I'd cook in Singapore if I wore the jacket but it will come in handy when I go across the pond. For non aviation guys, going across the pond means crossing the North Atlantic. I'd be making stops for refueling in Greenland and Iceland before crossing over to the U.K. and through Europe, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Oman, India, Thailand and finally home in Singapore. I'm going to blog about the ferry.

(Andre' and me)

It was time to bid farewell to the guys at the Mustang facility in Independence as we took off into thunderstorms and headed back to Wichita. My Mustang is in the service centre as I write this, getting the documentation for an export certificate of airworthiness. The work should complete in a few days and I'd be ready to leave on the ferry flight on the 1st of May. I went to the service centre hangar today as well, saw my Mustang and met with people who got me enrolled on the CESSCOM program. I'll be going there again tomorrow, more meetings, more stuff to do in preparation for the ferry and export paperwork. What a day it was, a day that I'll never forget. It hasn't sunk into me yet, that this lone Mysorean becomes the first Indian, Mysorean and Asian to get the first ever brand new Citation Mustang to the continent of Asia. There's more to come for sure but the first one will always feel good when I remember the events in my later years.