Day 13 Continued

We could see the thunderheads building fifty miles ahead as the sun set behind us. It was almost like they were waiting for the sun to go down before coming out to play. Built into the multi function display and moving map the strike finder was lighting up with clusters of little green X’s of death showing the latests lightening strikes and outlining the individual cells. I could see that the line of cells were all over the place but it looked like there might be enough big gaps to between them to allow us to weave our way through. (Notice how I didn’t add the word safely) The sun set and it got dark so fast it was like someone flipped a switch. With it dark we could see the big thunderheads flashing in front of us like big Chinese lanterns.


There were a lot of cells almost directly in our path so I called radar control to request a deviation of twenty degrees south to what looked like clearer air but was denied due to restricted airspace. I could see the big restricted zone just south of our course so I cheated us as far south as I could without actually crossing into it. But even though I only drifted a few miles off course control still bitched at me to stay clear. The closer we got to the line of storms the worse things looked. The radio was busy with airliners deviating around weather and from the looks of things the thunderstorms covered most of northern India. I was hoping that the cell in my way would move clear by the time we got there but no such luck. The big cell towered far above us and was putting on quite a light show. There was no way I was going to poke my nose in there and see how bad it was. I requested another deviation but control still wasn’t in the mood to be reasonable. As we got closer I tried to find a way in between the clusters of lightening strikes on the screen but there didn’t look like there was any kind of clear path through. Things were starting to get pretty bumpy when I finally said screw it! I’m not poking my nose in there. I told control that I was coming to a new heading that would steer me clear of the thunderstorm and put me right into the restricted airspace. It was either that or turn back and that wasn’t going to happen. Control’s response was “Roger, understood. Contact when back on course.” Really? If it was that easy why couldn’t they have let me do that fifty miles ago? I spent the next two hours weaving my way through the storms. We flew into some really heavy rain and moderate to severe turbulence but eventually put the storms in the rear-view mirror and were left with nothing but heavy rain and low clouds to contend with. The approach into Chittagong airport in Bangladesh was a fun one with low clouds and rain, I really love approaches like that at night because it always looks cool when you break out and have the runway all lit up in front of you. That is if you did it right. It only took us two hours to get the Caravan fueled up, with a slight mishap of dousing some poor fuel guy with jet A when the over-fill valve under the wing let go with him standing right under it. Then it was a quick one hour ride to the hotel, (super fun when you’ve been up all night) We finally got to the brand new Radisson hotel. Unfortunately the hotel was so new that they didn’t have their liquor license yet so after what was probably one of my most challenging of flying in 30 years I couldn’t even get a damn beer.


Day 13

So when I last left off way back in July I was ferrying a brand new Cessna Caravan from St. Paul, Minnesota to Singapore with new owner and his father in law. So without further ado, Day 13, part one. I know, I know, I promised you all a lot longer post but it’s hunting season and I have to get up early and sit in a cold tree….for fun.

The paper weather chart and forecast for our flight into India that morning was of the kiss your sister kind. Not too bad but not exactly ideal either. The monsoons were still active over northern India but the thunderstorms they produced were supposed to be scattered on the leg from Pakistan to our first stop in Nagpor but it looked like the second leg across the northern part of the country to Bangladesh was going to be a bumpy one. The two legs were relatively short ones and if the fuel stop in India wasn’t too long we should land in Bangladesh while it was still light out.

Four hours after takeoff we touched down in Nagpor India. The flight had been and easy one except for a slight parking problem (stupid ramp rats) and with any luck we’d be in and out quickly. But of course there is no such thing as luck in the third world when it comes to aviation. Our ground handler met us on the ramp and quickly and efficiently put everything in motion to get us on our way. He disappeared with our passports into the main airport building and was back shortly telling us that everything was in order and that the fuel guys had been informed that…………Oh never mind……..I’m sick of telling you all the same story over and over again. I land at some back water third world airport, do battle with the customs/immigration/fuel/weather/security guys. They take forever to do their jobs and get me back into the air which screws up my carefully laid but, obviously over optimistic, plans. So let’s just cut through all the boring details and cut right to the chase. 3 hours on the ground waiting for fuel then back into the with no new weather forecast and a guarantee that the sun will set hours before we get into Bangladesh. Did I mention the forecast we got back in Pakistan called for strong thunderstorms along our entire route? Buckle up boys.

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

OK, OK, I’ll start posting again. Sorry for the long gap (Holy crap, my last post was in July!) but I’ve been busy. OK, maybe busy isn’t the best word, I guess LAZY would be more accurate. In my defense I really did have an incredibly busy skydiving season this summer. After two years of the worst weather I’ve ever seen we finally got a summer of nothing but sunshine and light winds, perfect for the jumping out of planes thing. The biggest problem was once I got behind in my posting about all the things I wanted to tell you all about there was no way I could catch up after working 15 hour days 7 days a week. But we’ve shut down the drop zone for the year and my excuses are running out so stand by for an avalanche of stories of the last six months. Maybe avalanche isn’t the best word either if past history is any judge.