Day 7. cont.
When we last left our intrepid hero’s (that’s us by the way) they were trying to find a way across the Arabian sea to India where the sweet nectar of 100 low lead Avgas could be found. But alas, the closest airport in India with the correct type of fuel for our thirsty steed is Nangpor, 1,161 nautical miles away and just out of reach of the Navajo. That’s when the main hero (me, of course, it’s my story you know) came up with the idea of filling the plane with as many fuel cans as we could get our hands on and fill them up with Avgas. Then we could leave Oman and fly to a closer airport in India, land and re-fuel ourselves. It’s a simple, clean, and elegant plan, OK, it’s none of those but it still might work. Of course if it doesn’t…….well.
I love being at the airport before dawn preparing for a 1000 mile leg of the Mediterranean. The dark misty skies take on an ominous and sinister look. The quiet is broken only by the morning doves and the occasional aircraft tug. Yes indeed I love being at he airport before dawn, getting up at 4:00am, not so much.
Our handler had located nine 5.5 gallon red plastic fuel gas for us that Lee stowed in the plane while I did the final pre-flight. I was still getting some water out of the tanks even after flying the plane every day for the last week. Then with permission from the control tower we started up, taxied out onto the runway, (the taxi light didn’t work so I taxied slow) and lined up. Before bringing up the power, Lee and I looked over the departure procedure one last time. There was an overcast layer at about 700 feet so we would be in instrument conditions almost immediately and it wouldn’t do to be confused about where we were going. I pushed the throttles forward and the Navajo shot down the runway like a rocket…sort of….not really, but fast enough to take off anyway. It was only seconds after the landing gear thumped into the wheel wells that we entered the clouds. I was flying and Lee was navigating. About one minute later Lee pointed at the GPS which showed that the departure route took us over a point of land before heading out to sea. This little bit of information concerned us because when we’d flown in the day before we could see that just to the right of the course we were on now was a ridge of tall hills and mountains.
“How high is that hill?” Lee asked. I looked at the chart and saw that we would probably be high enough by the time we got to it but altered course just a few degrees left to cheat just a bit to ocean-side. After that we broke out on top and were soon treated to the sun rising up out of the clouds.