|Thursday, 6 January 2005|
Sinking Planes and Crashing Waves in Asia (link)
A month ago today I was parked up in a hospital in Okinawa after ditching my trusty old Convair in the sea just off the coast of one of Japan's southerly islands. I'd been on a freight flight from Taipei when I had a massive disagreement with a suicidal paying passenger who took it upon herself to lock me out of the cabin and attempt to plunge us headlong into the ocean.
After forcefully incapacitating my in-flight guest I nearly recovered control of the old girl but was tragically a thousand or so feet too late. We hit the water at pace, tearing a hole in the fuselage sinking her in pretty short order on a reef not far from the beach. I managed to break out of the cockpit hatch and make my way to the shallows in time to see the sickening sight of the tail section disappearing under the surface. No sign of that crazy bitch in the 1st officers seat thank God.
No broken bones miraculously but took a couple of weeks R&R before talking my way into shuttle duties Island Hopping a 328-Dornier up through the Islands until hooking up with a couple of old Air Force chums in a bar in Nagasaki yesterday. As luck would have it they were desperately looking for support crew on a flight to Bangkok as part of NZ's relief effort for the Tsunami. Apparently one of the pilots had taken ill and was heading home, there were no promises but it looked like with a bit of bureaucratic paper shuffling I could be back in the air as a civvy pilot on a military aircraft. Bloody excellent.
Sure enough by 0700 this morning we got confirmation that I was able to sit in as backup crew for the 4-hr flight to Bangkok and we we're to move out at 0825. I packed me bags, got a quick hair cut in the salon in the hotel lobby and jumped in a cab out to the intl airport where the RNZAF C130 was loading up with Japanese government donations to the Tsunami cause.
The flight was going well and was sweet to be back in the saddle of one of these old crates, last time I'd been in one was for the Chile - Antarctica - Christchruch route I flew last year. We had a bit of a fuck-up with fuel calculations and had to drop into Nakhon Ratchnisima to take on a couple of thousand gallons of fuel before jumping back in the air as if nothing had happened.
The Hercules is rated for about 20 tonnes but I cant believe we were any where near that, must have been losing fuel somewhere. What a balls-up. Never mind, Helen will pick up the refueling bill quite happily. We made up a little time by giving it death over the last 100 miles to BKK arriving here at 12:30.
Time for a shower and nap before heading out for a few beers and a bit of a perve down Patpong Rd for the evening. Looks like I might get to help out on some humanitarian fly-time in choppers in Indonesia leaving Saturday so got plenty of time for some before then fun :-)