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Leg 22- Fua'amotu Intl NFTF to Niue Intl NIUE

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Please note: The events detailed below concerning the Baton have been approved by the highest authority, Mutley himself. 

In Leg 20, Jasmine and I completed the leg and ended up in the bar at NFNA Nausori International This PIREP starts form us being is that bar and before Leg 21 starts.

Music to play when reading this:


Leg 22. Theft, destruction and recovery.

We were there waiting for Ros to turn up. We wanted to do the Baton hand over as soon as possible so that he could get away before P’s goons arrived as we knew they were hot on our heels. 

He didn’t show.

We waited.

P’s goons arrived and sat near the exit from the bar, eyeing us menacingly. So much for a quick handover. Still we waited.  I was on my third beer when Jasmine’s phone rang. Ros wasn’t coming, family matters had called him away and Joe was taking his place but wouldn’t be here for a day or so as he was flying out from Northolt back in the UK.

We left the bar together, the eyes of the goons tracking our every move. We needed a safe place to stay, but we must lose the goons first.

Jasmine got on her phone and spoke in hushed tones to someone for about a minute. And then hustled me into a Taxi. When the driver turned to me and said “where to?” The driver had a British accent and when Jasmin replied “Just drive Dave” I realized that we were in safe hands as far as it goes, clearly the man at the wheel wasn’t a real taxi driver.

Glancing out of the rear window I saw two of P’s goons get into the Taxi behind us. “Dave” drove off and soon we were headed out of town with the second taxi close behind us.

We had been driving through countryside for about ten minutes when “Dave” suddenly stopped. I turned around to look out of the cab’s rear window just in time to see the second taxi stop right behind us.  I didn’t like the look of this. I was about to say something to Jasmine when to my horror the driver of the cab behind us calmly turned in his seat and shot the two goons dead!  “Feck! Feck! Feck! Jasmin did you see that?” I screamed.

”The driver was one of our ‘Double 0’ agents. Look John, since the discovery of the nuclear bomb this has become deadly serious, why do you think I gave you the gun?  It’s not a game anymore, the stakes are high, about as high as they get. I am working as hard as I can to keep other ATWC pilots out of this, but it is getting harder all the time. Don’t worry about those two goons, they will never be found.” Dave put the cab into forward gear and we drove off leaving out late pursuers and their driver behind us.  My last view was of the cab driver manhandling one of the corpses out of the back of the cab. 

Dave looped around and drove back to town and to one of the larger hotels in town where we checked in to wait for Joe.

In the evening I went into Jasmin’s room to discuss the day’s events and after a brief discussion I was told I was not to relate the happenings of today to anyone. Official Secrets Act and all that.

We said good night and went to our rooms, when I got to mine the door was open just a crack. Something wasn’t right. I picked up the nearest object, a statuette of the Greek goddess Athena, from a table in the corridor and cautiously opened the door wider.  I could see nobody inside and so ventured further into the room. The Baton was on the bed, not where I left it, but at least it was there. There was a slight noise behind me but before I could turn to see what it was my world exploded into white pain and then sudden blackness! 



My last memory after entering my room.

I came too with a massive headache and a bump the size of an egg on the back of my head. I staggered next door to Jasmine’s room and banged on the door. Eventually a sleepy Jasmine appeared in a dressing gown and said “Do you know what time it…struth what happened to you? You’re covered in blood!”

She ushered me in to her room and set about my head with a wet flannel. As she cleaned me up I told her about what I remembered, and she told me that my wound was not as bad as it looked and I had been lucky. It was the blood that made it look worse than it actually was. She then asked me if anything was missing from my room, and I replied I didn’t know as I had come to her room directly I had woken up.

Jasmine nipped around to my room, was gone for a few minutes, came back and said “The Baton has gone!”

I groaned “Joe is going to kill me!” and Jasmine replied that that was the least of our troubles. Whoever had taken the baton would soon know by now that the key was no longer inside. They would not be pleased.  Jasmine picked up the phone and dialed a number.



My room!

Three hours later, my room sorted out, and several painkillers and strong coffees to the better, I was thinking that the best way to deal with a bad guy with a blunt object was not a good guy with a blunt object, when Jasmine’s room phone rang. She listened for a minute or so and said Ok before replacing the handset. Turning to me she said “Joe will be with us the day after tomorrow. Pack now and be ready to go at a moment’s notice”.

I had a bad night, my head hurt and I couldn’t get comfortable in bed, and when sleep came it was full of nightmare images of dead men and the wrath of Joe for losing the Baton.

Jasmine woke me early and said “we need to go.” I was still panicking over the Baton, “What are we going to tell Joe” I exclaimed! Jasmine fished around in her traveling bag and produced the Baton.  I breathed a sigh of relief, “How did you get it back?” I asked.

“I didn’t, this is a replica which I have been carrying since the beginning of ATWC 7 just in case.  Hopefully Joe won’t notice the difference”. I looked carefully at the baton.  It was a great copy, right down the scuffs and dents.

It was Dark when we arrived at the airport. Word got to us that he was to fly a DeHavilland Dove of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.  After a quick hunt around the airport we found the aircraft in a hanger and tucked the fake Baton in with the checklists. Not having to hand it over to him minimized the chances that he would realize it was a copy. As we left the hanger we heard a US Navy Boeing P-8 Poseidon arrive. “That will be Joe” said Jasmine. Joe had arrived with all the stealth you might expect from ironing a cat. 

“Come on John get your bags, we are going right now as we need to keep ahead of Joe for the next leg.”  Were we leaving or were we fleeing?

We ran across the tarmac and into the airport terminal. Two guys I had last seen jumping out of a Chinook were there to greet us and hustled us back out onto the tarmac and into another hanger. I noticed that the guys had bought their holiday Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns with them, how nice, I suppose it is the festive season.  We were bundled into a CASA C-212 Aviocar hauling boxes of “Souvenirs of Tonga” on its last leg from Australia from god knows where, probably China.  We sat in the back of the Aviocar, not at all comfortable, just a couple of bucket seats between the pilot and the cargo. 


Our Ride to Fua'amotu Intl.

The aircraft can best be described as a crate with wings. But the journey was at the cost of a couple of drinks and there was no booking record for Putinfelds goons to follow. During the flight we crossed the International Date Line and we all became hours older in the space of a minute.

As we landed at Fau’amotu International I saw an old Beechcraft G 18 parked up on a stand.  I realized I was looking at the entire Tongan Airforce.


Tonga’s mighty air wing.

We taxied up to the cargo stand and soon were saying goodbye to our ride and got a taxi to the Halafuoleva Beach and into an MI6 Safe House. It was a very nice apartment with sea views and a well-stocked mini bar.

Once settled in, we left all of our stuff in our rooms and went out in search of some food. We had a good meal and a couple of drinks, returning to our rooms contented and ready to hit the hay. At dawn we were up early, had our breakfast, on my own as Jasmine had popped out to do something spy like. I had finished my breakfast and packed by the time that Jasmine came back with Joe in tow. He had already given Jasmine the fake Baton and it was clear that he hadn’t noticed anything was amiss.

We left Joe to enjoy the apartment for as long as he wanted and made our way to the airport. When we got there, we were bundled into a waiting Royal Marines “Jungley” Sea King helicopter.


Royal Marines to the rescue

I was told to get into the Pilots seat so as not to violate the ATWC rules (which I though was a joke as the Baton we had wasn’t the real one), and we took off as fast as we could. A marine in the left seat told me which way we were to head.


A short hop.

Our flight was to be a very short one, ten minutes at the most. Just off shore, and visible as soon as we had gained height was a sight to see. HMS Queen Elizabeth, a brand new aircraft carrier was waiting for us. We sped towards her. “Listen up” shouted one of the Royal Marines over the engine noise. “The good news is that we have recovered the baton, the bad news is that the bad guys know the Nuclear key is gone”. (See Leg 20 part 1).


Royal Navy Flotilla

“Other news, Russian Spetsnaz with members of the SAS have stormed Putinfeld’s missile site that you identified in the PR9 (See leg 5). An ICBM was found there and the warhead recovered.  The base was then destroyed. Unfortunately Putinfeld wasn’t there.”  Well that was good, shame about P., but no wonder he was mad at me.


Landed on the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

By the time this short briefing was over we were coming into the hover over the aircraft carrier. Once landed we were hustled off the chopper.


Shutdown and on the lift

We were guided down some stairs that lead down to the hanger deck. Jasmine turned to me and said “You will be flying this to Niue.”  I followed her gaze and saw my next ride.


Harrier GR3

For the first time in quite a few days I smiled. A Harrier GR3, an aircraft I loved to fly. Fantastic! “Be careful, we don’t know how resourceful Boris is yet, he may come after you in the air. The gun is armed and the ground crew have done their best to configure it for air to air combat if you need it. They have also loaded a couple of sidewinders for good measure, but just be mindful that these are live weapons. Oh yes, one other thing, you’re cleared to shoot at your own discretion, without reference to your controller”.

I kitted up and we watched the aircraft going up on the lift to the flight deck. Isn’t it strange that a massive gun on an aircraft doesn’t worry me but a pistol in a newspaper is terrifying? It must be a detachment thing. Anyway all my kit was with Jasmine including the gun, It had been in my bags so long I had forgotten it. I wish it has been taken when the baton was stolen, but it wasn’t. it was then I realized I hadn’t got the baton. Jasmin still had it!  A marine approached and said “you will need this sir” and handed me the Baton. Behind the Marine Jasmine was waving something above her head and grinning. It was the Baton. Wait a minute, two batons?  Judging by the grin on Jasmine’s face, I quickly understood I now had the real baton and she was waving the fake.

Thank god for that. Joe will never have to know. Later I was to find out that the Navy had followed the tracker and found in in a boat heading who knows where. The Baton was recovered but blood was spilt again. The tracker had done its work but more bad guys had been killed. Jasmine put the fake button back in her bag, just in case we needed it again.

We had better not.

I thought about the ATWC and its rules. Joe would kill me if he found out, but as I had the Baton back, technically it had continued on its journey, just not quite as advertised. That would be my excuse if the brown stuff hit the fan.


Hooray and up she rises

The Queen Elizabeth has two aircraft lifts on the starboard side of the ship. One aft of the rear tower and the other between the Bridge tower and the aft tower. The harrier was on the rearmost lift. Once up on deck she was manhandled into position, and the aircraft was ready to be put into action.


JG in the cockpit going through the startup procedures

Tapes, engine covers etc. removed and with me in the cab I went through the startup procedures being very mindful of the brakes as I didn’t want an engine surge to put me over the side!



Turning and Burning

Gingerly I crept the aircraft to the rear of the flight deck carefully watching and obeying the ground crew’s every signal. I shouldn’t have worried too much as the flight deck is vast, in fact the whole ship is enormous, my aircraft but a flea on its back. I fed in my flight plan which would take me to Vanva’u island some 172 miles north-north east, at which point I could climb to my cruising height of 10,000 feet and turn east-south east to Niue my destination a further 231 miles away. A total of just over 400 miles.



She is a huge ship!

I lined up on the flight deck’s runway markings and was ready to go after setting the brakes on and the nozzles to 45 degrees. The controller gave the finger whirling signal to spool up the engines and soon the aircraft was tugging at the brakes.

The signal stop the finger whirling and dramatically became a two handed gesture pointing at the bow of the ship.



Ready to go

I let the brakes off and the aircraft lurched forward pushing me into the seat backrest as she accelerated down the ship. We hit the ramp and the aircraft was thrown up into the air whilst experienced a hard push down in my seat for a few seconds. I was airborne. The aircraft continued to accelerate as I moved the nozzles fully aft and transited into a conventional flight.


Ski jump!

I turned the aircraft around passing the carrier as I did so.  The plan was to fly low so as to go under enquiring radar, friendly or not, for the first half of the flight and then climb to controlled airspace for the second part when it would not be obvious that I had come from.


High speed pass.

Putinfeld was not able to react to our ad-hoc route to the next leg’s aircraft and could not muster an aircraft to catch the Harrier even if he had been able to track the aircraft on Radar. I could sit back and enjoy the flight. There is nothing more exhilarating than flying an aircraft at 100 feet from the sea. And if I had to choose an aircraft to do it in, it would be the Harrier or perhaps the Hawk.  This was going to be fun.

After my low pass over the Queen Lizzie I lined up the nose on 9 degrees and skimmed over the waves. Flying at 100 ft concentrates the mind especially at over 500 kts.. You have watch the altimeter like a hawk in fact all of the HUD becomes you focus of attention, with what’s going on behind it of equal interest. You can’t really turn a great deal when flying within these parameters, dip a wing too far and its goodnight sweetheart. In fact more than a two second blink and you’re done.  Ten minutes or so into the flight the islands of Pangai slipped by their trees higher than I was flying.



Pangai. Note the altitude on the gauge shown in the bottom right hand corner.

After 10 minutes more, having given some fishermen a scare by passing directly over then with just feet to spare, the island of Vava’u loomed ahead.



Its Cliffs loomed over me to the starboard, and when clear of them I commenced my climb to 10,000 ft. Turning onto 84 degrees to take me to Nuie, a further half hour into the flight my destination was in sight.


Niue Island ahead.

I flew a circuit around Niue international, lined up on runway 10 and commenced my approach. Because of my fuel load I was still too heavy to land vertically and so a short landing was in order.





The airfield has just one taxi way, runway 10 and 2/3 the way down the runway.  The Harrier short landing was easily achieved in before the turn off, I turned the aircraft left on to the taxi way and was soon parked up on the stand.


Shutting Down

I slid the canopy back and went through the shutdown procedures until the aircraft was cold and dark. I climbed out of the cockpit with the baron and was met by one of the brave Special Forces guys from before.

We shook hands and walked quickly to the airport building.

Once inside he said “Putinfeld has put a contract out on you JG, so keep your wits about you at all times.”  By blood ran cold. This was not fun anymore. I had seen two, admittedly bad guys killed in cold blood and again I thought to myself “What had I got myself into?” Things were getting way beyond my control, and I was bricking myself.  

“We know from Swedish intelligence that Putin has hired Boris Storarovson. He is Sweden’s top hit man and so we are actively hunting him now.” That was not good. Jasmine will be with you tomorrow, we will be guarding you ‘till then.


Boris Storarovson

I was bundled into a van and we sped off to Makefu and to a place called Turtle Lodge.  It was north of the airfield and up the coast a bit. It was here where we would wait for Joe to catch us up for the next leg. When we arrived the holiday villa had be in turned into a small fortress, there were enough armed men to guard a President. I was being well protected indeed. I wonder what Joe would make of it.

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On 1/2/2018 at 16:41, Captain Coffee said:

I should be plonking around the islands by the time you arrive for my baton handoff Joe...please try not to drag any Putin'goons with you. I figure I'll be a few days there so am bringing a tiny tour bird along to plonk-tour with. (Ie...goon spotting :D ) 


Coff..it's going to be the weekend until I get to you. I've been called back to the UK to get more finance for the tour ;)

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4 hours ago, mutley said:


Coff..it's going to be the weekend until I get to you. I've been called back to the UK to get more finance for the tour ;)


Oh darn, you mean I have to Joy Ride around these lovely islands for a while longer...drat. I shall have to console myself with the company of the lovely local bartenders serving fruity alcoholic beverages between my BD-5 Jaunts. 

Sigh, the things we put up with to get this baton around the world... :D 

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