Phenom Trip, Day Three


The plan for the day was a quick flight from Darwin over the Timor sea and the Banda sea to Manado Indonesia for hopefully a quick fuel stop.  From there another quick fuel stop in Manila then on to Okinawa.   The flight started out great with scattered clouds sprinkled over the beautiful blue ocean.  The approach into Manado reminded me of why I ferry airplanes around the world, it was over a tropical paradise filled with coconut trees, grass huts and a dormant volcano with a halo of clouds. 

At Manado we ran into big problem number one for the trip.  The immigration officer was quite upset that we hadn’t called the required twenty four hours in advance to obtain a landing permit.   Marcio tried to explain that he had called over two days before and whoever he had talked to hadn’t mentioned anything about a landing permit.  The officer couldn’t seem to care less that we’d gotten bad information.  He then asked us where our handler was and when we told him that we didn’t have one he got even more upset.

  There are many challenges involved in ferry flying and although the actual act of flying a small aircraft over distances it was never designed for is hard enough sometimes the biggest headaches are on the ground.  After landing a pilot has to clear security, customs, immigration, pay landing fees and file a flight plan.  Of course it would be extremely helpful if one could accomplish all of these tasks in one place but more often than not each of these offices are scattered all over the airport and finding them is like some sort of scavenger hunt.  Once found said pilot must humble himself before the  petty government employee who’s kingdom he’s invaded and beg for service, woe be it to the high and mighty pilot who demands such service.  When I started ferry flying back in the 90’s there was no such thing as airport handlers, at least I’d never heard of such a thing, but lately they’ve become all the rage.   Airport handlers assist foreign pilots in jumping through all the bureaucratic hoops that are required to transit an airport and I must admit that having someone who speaks the language and knows where the restroom is can be quite handy.  At some airports hiring a handler is mandatory and apparently Manado was one of them.

    Marcio and I were escorted to the immigration office where the officer proceeded to tell us over and over that a twenty four hour notice is required. 

  US:  “We agree that we screwed up and what do we do now?”

  HIM:   “You must have a landing permit, it is the law.”

  US:  “Yes, we understand and we’re very sorry.  What do we do now?”

  HIM:   “Twenty four hours in advance, that is required,”

  US:   “Right, we get it, we’re very very sorry.  So what do we do now?”

  Him:  “The regulations state that in order to land you must advise the airport at least twenty  four hours prior.”

  US:  ………………

  We went round and round with guy until we finally figured out what is was that he wanted.  With one less Benjamin Franklin in the aircraft we were on our way to Manila.

                                                                                                                       Random Atoll



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