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Leg 25 RPLL Ninoy Aquino International to RPMR General Santos.


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Leg 25 RPLL Ninoy Aquino International to RPMR General Santos.

 

The last leg of the previous section saw me hopping over from Bangladesh to Kalay in Maynmar. Micke was a long time coming to Kalay, which was unfortunate as I was staying in the best hotel in Kalay .  When I say unfortunate, I mean unfortunate, no tongue in cheek with this statement, what can I say.  When you see in the blurb “some rooms come equipped with an alarm clock” you get an idea on what you should expect. I must recommend it to Micky. 

 

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There were concerns about a UFO seen flying along, and possibly over Myanmar’s boarders.  As a result, the grip of the police state here had noticeably tightened since my arrival. I wanted to get shot of the baton and get out of the country.
 
If you read leg 20 you will know it was me that flew into this country in an F35 Lightning 2 and was probably responsible for the raised tension.  Why the RAF needed to covertly get an F35 into Myanmar was not something I knew or was likely to ever know. I just delivered it, now I wanted to move on. And quickly.  Dont forget I was still wanted by Putinfeld the more distance I put between him with his evil cronies and me the better. So far there has been no sign of them lately. 
 
I had passed on the baton to Micke at the hotel bar and checked out that evening. With tension high I realised I wasn’t going out by air, and that Micke wasn’t for a while either.  He would have to wait, I had options.
 
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I got a train south the Gangaw, thumbed a lift to Mandalay, another train to Rangoon, yet another train to Dawei and a bus over the boarded to Thailand and then train to Bangkok. Altogether six days travel, hot humid and never comfortable. Quickly wasn’t a concept that was widely understood in Maynmar.

 

Bangkok was the home of a friend of mine from way back when. His name, like a lot of Thai names was too long to pronounce or even remember.  We all called him Kanch. I had last seen him on leg 49 of last year’s ATWC and, after last year’s brief stay, I took advantage of his hospitality for a week. During this time I consumed copious amounts of alcohol and caught a live show or too. You wouldn’t believe what those Thai girls can do. But the less said about that the better. It put me off table tennis for a while though.

 

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Eventually it was time to go. I got the 07:40 Thai flight 620 to Manila and was in the city just before noon. A very enjoyable flight, with some very nice cabin service.

Outside the airport I picked up a colourful local bus to the town centre.

 

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As I checked into the Manila Hotel on the Katigbak Parkway near the water front (very comfortable five star), I thought that as It would only be a couple of nights, Mutley wouldn’t mind me taking a suite. I thought I deserved it after Kalay,

 

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From here I would sort out the wings for the next hop and await news of the baton’s arrival and that of Pete.

 

It turns out that I need not have hurried as Pete was late, some fracas with the baton I believe. It seems he had to sneak out of Macao at night.  At last his Grumman Goose arrived and we met up in my hotel bar and enjoyed a couple of beers as he handed over the stolen property, sorry I meant the baton.

 

Baton procured but no transport. Well this is the Philippines and so not particularly full of GA choice. I was at a loss as to what to do. I returned to the hotel and made a few phone calls, and a few more, and then some more.  Nothing, now’t, de nada, rien, not a sausage, sod all or if you are from this part of the world, wala.  Things were not looking good. 

 

And then I got wind of a beauty. A privately owned Canberra PR9 was coming in from Japan, headed to Australia. It would arrive in a couple of days.  I had to work fast. Back on the phone to my ‘special’ contacts, those of you who are familiar with previous legs will know who I mean, and some hard telephone graft, I had it sorted that evening. I was to fly the next leg in the Canberra, with the owner stepping down but riding with me in the coal hole. It was well past my bed time, and I had two days to prepare, so I got my head down for some much needed sleep.

 

So two days to wait. The first day was spent boning up on the Canberra with a couple of martinis at the pool bar. I had flown one before but I need to brush up a bit. Day two was spent dry (bottle to throttle and all that) and working out the flight plan and details surrounding the flight.

 

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I had two airport charts of Ninoy Aquino International airport and one of General Santos airport. These were published by the best in the business, John Allard Publishing Inc. of the USA. This was particularly useful as the taxiways were complex due to the runway layout.  I would be using runway 6 or 24 depending on the day’s wind, so an hour or so familiarisation with the airport layout was important.  I was to pick up the aircraft from one of the gates served by Taxiway K. 

 

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Looking at my destination airport, a lot more simple in its layout, I was to request taxi to fuel after landing (charging the fuel used to Mutley’s card) and after refueling, taxi to a free stand.

 

 

 

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So to the flight plan.  The Canberra was built for flying at altitude, in fact when it first entered service it could fly higher than any fighter or bomber of the time.  I have a penchant to fly low and fast, but by way of a change I looked forward to taking the Canberra as high as I could.  The plan was not to have the liberal scattering of way-points to steer me through valleys and past peaks, but would be a far simpler, and more direct affair.



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 Which, as a map, looks like this:

 

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At last the day for the flight had arrived.  I was looking forward to this experience immensely.  My navigator and I walked out to the aircraft at its gate. 

 

 

 

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The ground crew had done a good job in their preparation for the flight and we were soon ready to go. I called for pushback and the truck did its business. The Canberra is a bit of a devil to steer on the ground. A combination of differential breaking and individual throttle juggling is needed which can make tight turns interesting if you are complacent.

 

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After our taxi, we were held at the runway threshold for a landing Air Philippines Airbus 320, and once that was clear of the runway we were given permission to take-off.

 

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This beautiful old bird sprinted down the runway and took to the air.  It felt like she really couldn’t wait to fly as we gracefully lifted off the concrete. Soon we were flying over Manila and heading towards the mountains.

 

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My navigator in his coal-hole gave me course details and we turned towards our first way-point, climbing as we did so.

 

 

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We levelled out at FL 450, a fair but higher than the commercial traffic around us.  It was then I noticed we had a fault. Only very minor, the port landing light would not go out.  No big deal.

 

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Flying the PR9 is a little weird, the cockpit is offset and therefore the port and starboard side of the Perspex are set different heights. Your eye takes a while to adjust to this and there is a constant tendency to gently turn to starboard as your subconscious mind tries to level the two cockpit sides.

 

 

We followed our planned navigation route until my navigator’s voice crackled in my ears, “ it looks like we have a very large storm building up ahead, we can go over or under” I asked for his call on it. It seemed that the storm was building higher all the time and would be over our destination. Going under would be a rough ride but going over might mean descending through the storm to land at General Santos. With this aircraft’s 1950’s technology, I didn’t fancy the latter and so we opted the low road. 

 

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I cut the throttle and deployed the spoilers.  The Canberra’s Spoilers ate a little strange, they consist of a set of rods that extend up and down from the wing to disrupt the over and under airflow.  If I craned my neck over my shoulder I could just see the port wing upper set deploy.

 

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As we descended the storm got nearer and nearer, the cloud thicker and thicker and the sky darker and darker.

 

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Soon we were enveloped in cloud and still descending. By now the ride was rough with the aircraft being tossed around by the storm and with lightning flashing all around us. I was worried that this cloud went right down to the deck.  We flew well beyond the mountains and over the coastal plain before the final part of our decent to General Santos.

 

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We emerged from the cloud at about a thousand feet, just as I was going to abort the decent, and dipped down to 600ft before we fully arrested the downward movement. That was nasty, too close for comfort by far.

 

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A bit of maneuvering at 1000 ft. and we were lined up and cleared to land, The Storm was passing over us now and the weather ahead looked better. I could even see a volcano in the distance to reminded me of the nature of these islands.

 

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As we taxied, the storm was moving away northward, an hour or so later and the flight would have been a lot easier.

 

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On the stand at General Santos, the heat having dried up all the rain, I powered down the aircraft and made it safe. I opened the cockpit and the nose door and the navigator and I climbed out and stretched our legs.

 

General Santos Airport is not without controversy.  The airport, with a 10,587ft runway was built in 1993, mainly with a fund granted by the US government at a cost of $47.6 million. There have been allegations that the construction was part of a US military forward strategy, but this has been hotly denied by both the US and Philippine governments. The airport serves approximately ten internal flights a day.

 

Well I was here in one piece and waiting for Kieran to collect the Baton. Another leg done without interference from Putinfeld and his gang. It was beginning to look like I had escaped him.

 

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I checked in to the Royale Hotel Three and a half stars no less!), made myself comfortable whilst waiting for to handover the baton. I contemplated my next move. I had to get to Darwin in Oz for Leg 29, so I started looking into ways to get there. It seem to get to Darwin I had to get on a flight to Manila first.  One step forward……

 

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And now I go back.

 

Did you play “Where’s (the) Wally” in some of the pictures above?

 

 

Aircraft:    Just Flight’s Canberra PR9

Scenery:  Orbx Global
                  Orbx Global Vectors
                  FS Global 2010
                  REX 4

 

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Very unusual PIREP, what with no jail time spent during it...copt the poor bastard stuck in that coal hole perhaps. That does not look like an enjoyable place to ride.

 

A good read and looked like an enjoyable flight in a classic. I liked the cameo Waldo shots. :D

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No jail time!! Who are you and what have you done with JG?? He must be locked up in a terrible place somewhere and having his doppelganger doing the flying for him...

 

I wonder if we shall have to launch a Search and Rescue operation to free our poor mate.

 

Great PIREP, despite the lack of prison time. Impressed that you managed to find your way at Manilla given the less than straight forward taxiway layout... I'd have dozed of while taking down the taxi instructions  ;)

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