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Old 6th Aug 2015, 16:15   #2521 (permalink)
 
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Whilst we were living it up in Beijing First Officer Wang, with a senior pilot from China Ocean Helicopter Corp, our sister company, was in Tanjian airport planning our return. The plot was that we would fly to Zhangxiaoji to refuel, continue on to Shanghai, refuel again and then carry on to Wenzhou were COHC had another operation. There we would night stop. The next morning, Wang would remain and First Officer Jing would fly with me to Shenzhen.

It was January, 6th Jan 1997 to be precise and Northern China was in the middle of winter. The temperature overnight would drop to minus 15 and in the morning it would rocket up to about plus 2. My engineers were coming with me so after the goodbyes we punched orft daun sauf.

There is no such thing as general air traffic in China. A minimum of twelve hours notice is required and one always flies airways under IFR. We climbed just south of Tianjin and we joined the airway at our allocated height of 2,500 metres, approx, 8,200 ft, which was the minimum flight level going south. The temperature at that height was about -5 but as the Siberian High was established there was no cloud up to that level. The scenery was miserable; miles and miles of paddy as far as one could see, all in orderly rectangular pattern.

After a couple hours or so the cloudbase dropped and we started to run into streaks of status. The reaction of the centre windscreen, unheated, was instantaneous and it immediately fogged out with ice. This was followed by the mirror supports and the door hinges building up wedges of the stuff. Poor old Wang was having kittens. He, with his fellow students, had been listening with horror to their Chinese Navy instructor reeling off the horrors and the certain death that icing would bring to helicopters. Which I thought was strange, as they were taught on Russian designed helicopters that were built for blundering through the tundra. I wasn’t worried, this was peanuts compared to the North Sea and the aircraft, still in North Sea fit, had all the gizmos; ice detectors, mirrors to check the intake chip baskets, etc etc. To make him feel better I splashed some water onto my flying glove, stuck it out of my window where the water immediately froze. I then brought it in and flicked my fingers to show how easily the ice came off. Relieved he came back from the cockpit roof and carried on with his navigating and I surreptitiously shoved my hand between my backside and the seat cushion to try to get some feeling back in my fingers.

We then had our clearance to descend towards Zhangxiouji. This was a small military airfield in the middle of absolutely nowhere. As we taxied in Wang was discussing something with ATC and merely said there was a problem. As we shut down everybody was staring at us with open mouths. We had flown with a COHC callsign and the last thing they had expected was a British registered aircraft with a Western captain. The ‘problem’ was fairly serious. Wang had filed, and it had been accepted for the days flying, but Zhangxiouji had not received the onward flight plan.

I left my engineers to sort out the refuel and I stood, ankle deep in air traffic’s dog-ends in the tower. Wang was on the blower trying to sort something out and I had a look around. Apart from the ATC staff there seemed little evidence of any military activity. At the end of the building there were two rows of H-5 (il26) bombers in an advanced state of disrepair and behind them were a clutch of Shenyang J-5s (Mig 17) in a similar condition. It indicated that it may have been a training base once upon a time but they had moved on. On the near horizon was what I took to be the local town. Bleak, grey, with few buildings above two floors. I thought that if we had to night stop here we would be lucky to find 0.5 star hotel, if at all.

Wang struck lucky! Shanghai would not accept us because of the twelve hour rule but Changzhou would. We might not be able to get any further but at least it was civilised. Without further ado, because there were no catering facilities and we were dying of starvation, we got airborne.

Changzhou was a mixed military and civil airport. Something I found out as I taxied past a row of H-5 (Tu-16) bombers. The aircraft were immaculate, as was the ground equipment; even the wheel nuts had been painted. I turned on to the hardstanding and there was one of the prettiest terminal buildings I had ever seen. It was built like a Chinese pavilion with flying ridges and in front was a moat with bridges to the gates. We decided to have lunch whilst the going was good and after a ridiculously cheap repast in a beautiful restaurant we went up to the tower to see what the state of play was.

Shanghai wasn’t playing ball and because they controlled the airway halfway to Xiamin we could not cross that either to get to Wenzhou. We spent the afternoon trying various combinations to get to Wenzhou but they were all blocked by the 12 hour rule. At about five I decided that we were going to have to night stop and just after the engineers had gone out to put the blade socks on we got a call from ATC saying we were clear to go.

Shanghai had just got our original flight plan from Tianjin. We couldn’t go to Shanghai, we didn’t need to, but they did give us clearance to fly IFR through their Area. By the time we had ascertained that Wenzhou would be open at our ETA it was dark when we took off and this time with the mountains the minimum level was 3,000 metres, just over 9,800 ft. There was a long discussion with Shanghai control. He thought a 332 was an Airbus and he was trying to push us up to 7,000 metres. When he was corrected he could not believe that a helicopter was flying at that height, IFR and at night.

I thought about it to myself as well. In the RAF the maximum height without oxygen was 10,000 ft and on the QNH we were above that. Also we weren’t supposed to fly above 4,000 ft at night.

We were having to change our squawk quite often, more for identification than any other reason. Our track was taking us across the westerly routes from Shanghai and pointing directly at Taiwan. Apart from that it was uneventful until we were handed over to Wenzhou.

They wouldn’t answer. Wang then got on to the HF and started talking to the company ops in Shenzhen. They phoned the operation in Wenzhou and they confirmed that the airfield was all lit up. I pressed on and joined the procedure for the ILS and to my relief the ILS kicked in. At about five miles the runway lights started appearing from the gloom and still with no contact with the airfield I landed and turned off to the company hardstanding. After a few minutes all the airfield lights went out. I subsequently found out that all the air traffickers had gone home leaving a minion to turn out the lights after we had landed.

Two of the COHC engineers had British licences so they would look after the aircraft whilst I and my engineers checked into the airport hotel. It was farewell to Wang as he would stay in the company hotel down the road. It was too late for the hotel restaurant so we went to the ‘Garages’ by the airport entrance.

The Garages were a row of open fronted shop units now used as chop houses. The menu was simple. There was a table with all the raw materials they had laid out and you went from one to the other pointing out what you wanted cooking. Simple wooden tables and chairs were the furnishings and outside the single door at the back was the midden. That was where you treated the rats to a warm shower. The last time I had been there about a year previously we were entertained by a mother rat chasing her brood across the floor and carrying them back to her nest under the freezer. The food was, as before, brilliant and we retired for the night.
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Old 6th Aug 2015, 16:16   #2522 (permalink)
 
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I had flown from Wenzhou to Shenzhen before. Down the airway to Xiamin for lunch and onwards via Shantou, where we would leave the airways and proceed directly to our heliport. The Chinese engineers had done the after flight and had valeted the aircraft. I had decided that wearing my best uniform with all the gold rings would create the best impression at airports so I travelled in that. Jing and I, my engineers plus a Chinese engineer who was returning to Shenzhen then took off in this gleaming jewel of an aircraft.

The airways south of Wenzhou are quite severe as you are passing Taiwan. Defections were always the risk; an Air China captain had taken his 737 there about the same time and it was absolutely imperative to fly along the centre line. Any deviation to the east would raise a warning and any further divergence would make you the centre of attraction of the PLAAF. The Chinese airliners, at that time not equipped with satnav, would ensure that they were flying along the western side of the airways always secure in the knowledge that their male air stewards were armed.

There is a ridge of mountains down the East coast of China cut by rivers draining the hinterland. The flat areas were put over to paddy but once the ground started rising the ripples of terracing would show. The airway did not go direct to Xiamin owing to proximity of Taiwan and also the Nationalist held island just offshore so you passed abeam, turned towards the airfield and entered the procedure.

Xiamin used to be known by Europeans as Amoy. It is where Hakka is spoken and where the Chinese in Singapore hail from. It was one the first four Special economic Zones it had prospered to an outstanding degree. Now it is regarded as one of the best cities to live in China. The airport was magnificent, even more so now, and after confirming our onward flight plan we retired for lunch.

Because we were carrying a Chinese engineer it was now an official CHOC flight. This meant that Jing had a big wad of cash to cover expenses en-route, especially lunch. Comments like, ‘that’s no good, it’s not expensive enough’ were banded about. We didn’t go overboard but I did enjoy my lobster. After lunch we gathered together and went to the aircraft. We called up Xiamin Ground for start clearance; it was refused, there is a delay.

We tried again in ten minutes with the same answer. Not having a ground power unit plugged in Jing and I left everybody in the aircraft and went up seven flights to the air traffic control room. It was explained to us that the PLAAF had called a no notice exercise and all the airspace over Shantou below 5,000 meters was closed.

It wasn’t new. I had been stuck offshore for hours because my return airspace had been shut off by some exercise or other. However, they had always finished at 17.00 hrs because it was time for dinner. On that basis I expected to leave at that time so I went back with some more of Jing’s money and dispatched then to the terminal restaurant.

It was tactful to stay in the tower and the staff took the opportunity to practise their conversational and procedural English on me. There were quite a lot of them. They were controlling arrivals, departures plus the airways traffic from Wehzou to Shantou. They seemed to work in staggered thirty minutes shifts, retiring to the back of the room for a chat and a drink. Occasionally there would be a rapid changeover of seats when an aircraft came on frequency requiring an English speaking controller. Like all offices, workplaces and sometimes cockpits in China at the time visibility was fairly restricted in cigarette smoke.

We kept badgering away trying to get a clearance but the PLA were having none of it. It was now getting late and the spectre of yet another possible night stop was appearing. Our gallant band had returned optimistically to the aircraft and we went down to appraise then of the situation. The Chinese engineer was more concerned as he was returning to Shenzhen because his father was ill. There was a long conversation between him and Jing ending with Jing handing him a wad of money.

I thought nothing more of it and we went back up to the tower. It was now past 18.00 hrs and still no sign of the airspace being opened. In fact ATC were sure that it was going to be closed all night. I was just about to call it a day when our Chinese engineer came in with a slab of Coke and a carton of Marlborough. Jing took them off him and started handing them around the room. Five minutes later the one I assumed was SATCO came in with an enroute chart with a track pencilled in direct from Xiamin to a Shenzhen approach procedure entry point. This was apparently a ‘special route’ that had been cleared for us to use. Jing worked out the times, we put in the flight plan and twenty minutes later we launched into the night.

I have no idea what the scenery was like. It was dark and there were not a lot of lights. The dinners that COHC had treated the staff of Shenzhen ATC paid off. We undertook two or three scheduled arrivals followed by an ILS to the runway with a go around to 200 metres, then visual to the heliport.

Fortunately the heliport was situated between the Shenzhen to Guangzhou expressway and the Shenzhen Nantou eight lane connecting road. It made the unlit runway easier to find, assisted by Epsom who had a big illuminated sign on the roof their factory near the eastern end of the runway. The aircraft landing lights picked up the rest and we taxied in as the night shift came out of the hanger. It had been assumed that we were night stopping at Xiamin so everybody had gone home.

The offices were open and a look at the accommodation roster indicated that I was allocated 6-4 Hai Fei, an apartment we rented. The engineers had found our driver and we all bundled in to return to Shekou. We normally lived two to an apartment so I expected my sharer to be there. He wasn’t, so I couldn’t get in. I knocked up next door and a Chinese family answered. I explained with sign language as best as I could that I did not have a key and would they look after my bags whilst I found it. They seem to agree I and I left them there confident that I hadn’t asked them to help themselves to the contents.

We always had a standbye pilot so I went to his apartment and he didn’t have the keys but he did know I had the place to myself. There were only a couple of people left who would have the keys so I had to find them. There were not a lot of places to go to at that time of night in Shekou apart from the ‘dark side’. There then followed the spectacle of an airline pilot in full regalia going from girly bar to girly bar looking for somebody who had his keys and I had lots of offers.

I found my chief pilot in one of the lower temperature establishments and he had a set of keys for me. Back to the apartment building, next door gave me my kit back and I had finally arrived.

First Officer, now Captain Wang is the Chief Pilot at the Shanghai Search and Rescue Operation. First Officer, now Captain Jing is a Senior Pilot and Training Captain at Shenzhen.

Both of them are worth their weight in gold.
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Old 7th Aug 2015, 22:08   #2523 (permalink)
 
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Karratha hadn’t prospered because of the oil; it had prospered because Dampier, a town next door had prospered exporting iron ore. That started forty years before and so the oil industry was a relative newcomer. There would be enormously long trains shifting iron ore from the large open cast mines inland; even in Dampier the rocks were red with natural rust. For me there were about a dozen or so installations offshore, nothing serious, ninety miles at the most.

The airport was a typical 2nd level airport. A single runway; a hardstanding fairly well populated with light aircraft, a small terminal building and a fire section and ATC complex; both empty. As in Kunnunura one had to broadcast ones intentions before taking off and joining the circuit. Despite the fact it had several 737 sized movements a day the fire cover consisted of the volunteer fire brigade in Karratha fourteen kilometres away equipped with a pickup and water dispense trailer. At least you had some fire support which is more than you had at Kunnunura.

I knew a fair number of people there; those that had worked in Aberdeen in the eighties plus British pilots who had been sent over to get the Australian arm going and had made the sensible decision to stay. Everybody, except me, was on two weeks on two off the only exception being the office and operations staff that lived locally. We lived in two bedroom detached houses, obviously designed for the job because each bedroom had its own en-suite facilities. Cooking was normally a joint effort much the same as in China. The company sent pilots to where they were needed so there was no guarantee that you would keep going to the same place. The result would be that various occupants would leave their surplus provisions in the larder until next time, if ever. A look though the larder of the house I was in suggested that the company was almost entirely Italian because in the cupboard was every known form of pasta going.

They had just opened a small mall in the centre of town so there was somewhere where you could do some decent shopping and get a coffee. There were a couple of bars and one establishment that good loosely be described as a brothel but Australia is more tolerant in that department. Despite being surrounded by parched bush one could not just charge into it with your pickup just for the hell of it. There was an area set aside for those who wanted to try and wreck their 4X4s. Property prices were eye-watering as is normal in Klondike areas. The town owned the building land and they would auction off parcels after the electricity, water and drainage infrastructure had been completed.

Once airborne you were presented with a kaleidoscope of colours. Another industry in Dampier is salt. This is obtained with very large evaporation pans of seawater of about one kilometre square. As the go through the process they change from deep blue to white and it the distance can be seen mountains of pristine salt. There were several offshore islands, deserted apart from the odd weekend chalet and between them the water was an incredibly deep blue.

I was there in January, the middle of summer, so the temperature was knocking on 40 degrees quite often. To cool down en-route one would climb up to a benign 25 degrees at 5000 ft. This brought into play an instrument that I have only seen in Australia; an Assigned Altitude Indicator. This was basically a manual veeder counter where you dialled in the altitude that you were supposed to be flying at. For example, if you were cleared down to 2,000 ft. you would set this on the instrument before you descended. Good idea? I thought it was a nuisance but when in Oz do as the Ozzies do.

The water was quite shallow around Dampier, when a fully loaded Very Large Ore Carrier was departing its single propeller would stir up the bottom even at high tide. All ships needed piloting and that included the LPG carriers. They are like tankers except that they have three or four huge golf balls on their deck which is used to transport Liquefied Petroleum Gas. They like the others had to come in at high tide and at times the high tide was at 05.00 or 17.00. Guess which one they wanted the pilot landed on.

It was very uncivilised getting up at 03.30 for a 04.45 take off; it was like working for RyanAir. You would look at the weather, pick up the pilot and launch into the gloom. Normally you were lucky and the LPG carrier would light up his tanks with floodlightsbut but sometime not which in case meant that his nav lights looked like every other Tom Dick or Harry’s nav lights. Some years previously a crew doing what I was doing were confidently approaching the helideck when there was a sudden bang and a splash and they were up to their backsides in water. They had flown into the sea without realising it. It is very easy to get disorientated at night so I used to approach crosswind so that I had the whole ship in sight, longways. It also meant that if things went pearshaped at the last moment I could fly through the helideck and out the other side.

I was contracted to be there for six weeks. As I have previously mentioned Australian flight and duty limitations were a complete mystery to me. However I did know enough to point out that as I was on a site for more than twenty eight days I was entitled to a day off, 36 hours, every seven days. We had stacks of cars on site so one day I travelled north and came upon Cossak.

Before somebody thought upon the idea of jamming a speck of sand in an oyster Cossack was an important Pearl fishing area. It was large enough to have a courthouse, school and stone built stores. The original police station is still used as a backpacker’s hotel. The decline of the pearl industry and the unsuitability of its coast line as a port saw it deteriorate until it was abandoned in the 1950s. The courthouse was a time capsule. Absolutely original and one could almost feel the atmosphere of some drunk being hauled up for causing wholesale mayhem the night before.

As my six weeks were coming to an end the word came from China that I was not needed as yet. I got on to the blower to Perth and suggested that I might be available for another six weeks. Within the hour another company roster had been written, printed and emailed to all stations.

I was now doing a twelve week stint at Karratha which in itself was a bit of a record. However with less than a week to go I was told that I was going to Broome for a few days.

I was a bit of a nuisance. I had just bought enough steaks to keep me going until I left so I was going to have to leave them behind. You cannot just travel north from Karratha to Broome; you have to go via Perth. So off I went on a Thursday, night stop in a hotel in Perth and flew up to Broome in the morning but too late to do a flight. Friday night was in the hotel and then on Saturday a flight to a rig 200 miles away to the north. The diversion was Truscott, as I have mentioned before. There was no flying on Sunday and on Monday I flew down to Perth ex contract to fly back to China. I had been halfway around Western Australia just to do a four hour flight.

When I got back to China I continued back to the UK and a month later I set out for Shekou. Just before I left I got a message to contact the base but it was too late so I did not get it until I arrived.

My company was pulling out of China……………………….
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Old 9th Aug 2015, 21:15   #2524 (permalink)
 
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It was a shock but not entirely unexpected. The last G reg helicopter had departed some months before and was now wearing an Australian registration. On the pilots side there were the chief and deputy chief pilots, a couple of training captains and three or four line trainers like myself. The chief engineer and a couple of others were in an advisory capacity but only to assist in training new arrivals. There was a big plot between the British and Chinese to set up an international servicing and repair centre catering for the whole of the Far East so our continuing partnership did seem set fair to continue. However, the present operation was set up in 1984 when business practices were different so when our American masters came to have a look they may well have found that the arrangements were not as squeaky clean as Capitol Hill would have liked so they may have thought it was better to drop it.

For the Chinese company it was a nightmare. They had had the rug pulled from underneath them completely. The contracts they had negotiated with the oil companies were won on the basis that the operation was run and supervised to western standards with western personnel and these were all going to be taken away. The company needed some of us and the UK company then agreed to release those who wanted to stay. Some felt that there careers would be best left alone so they were going to depart. The chief and deputy and a training captain who were of an advanced age, who been in China for decades, plus me, elected to stay:

The Gang of Four.

Then came the negotiations regarding the salary. We had been told early on that we were being considered as working in China, not rotating from the UK, so there was no 4X2. How much? They all turned to me because I was on a contract. At the end of the day we negotiated it so that everybody got more than I was getting previously because of responsibility allowances etc. I got much the same with the bonus of continuous employment.

Then we had to tell the staff that they were no longer needed. The UK company had calculated how much redundancy money they were entitled to and so that was put to them. The next day they were all in the chief pilot’s office with a Chinese lawyer who explained that in China you cannot kick long term employees out of the door with a pittance; in fact, quite a lot of money was involved. In the end it cost them several times what they had bargained for. Then came another panic. The girl who ran the spares store was the only person on the planet that understood the company spares computer and they were going to fire her. They had to make her an offer she could not refuse, fix up her visa and give her a job in the company headquarters in the UK.

The changeover came and we carried on as normal except that the rosters were now done by the Chinese admin staff. One week later, when the duty and flying hour records were a complete shambles they had to bring back our previous secretary and roster clerk who insisted on, and got, the same salary as she was getting with us before.

I now had to get an apartment by myself. The one I had been living was a bit tatty, however, I had the option of continuing in it paying the same rent as the company; about HK$ 7,000/month but I decided to look around. There was an apartment that we had given up some six months previously of the same size and in the same building that had been totally redecorated and with a new kitchen. I took it on with a rent of HK$ 4,500 equivalent. An apartment that the company had previously rented for 6,000 was going for 3,500 and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The Chinese engineers were now totally responsible for our aircraft and how well they came up to the task. The aircraft were immaculate and smooth. Out went the old company tolerances for vibration levels, in came the new; as little as possible. Any snag, however insignificant, was attended to before the next flight. On offshore flying you pick up the passengers rotors running outside the terminal and drop them off there on return before taxiing to a parking spot for shutdown. You then proceed to the line office to attend to the tech log. Now the aircraft’s engineer would climb into the jump seat as the passengers departed and you could discuss any problems taxing back with the option, if practical, of demonstrating the fault. For me it was a new level of co-operation between the two professions.

I had now, because of the new working schedule, more time to be able to explore Shenzhen and other parts of China…………………………
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Old 10th Aug 2015, 15:07   #2525 (permalink)
 
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great read
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Old 10th Aug 2015, 19:34   #2526 (permalink)
 
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FED,

Your wonderful Posts need careful reading - there's so much material in them. You seem to be making a habit of saving the day for your ungrateful employers !

Will study your last two and maybe ask a few questions soon.

But carry on the good work ! - we can't get enough of your tales of Old China.

Cheers, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 10th Aug 2015 at 19:36. Reason: Typo
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Old 10th Aug 2015, 21:17   #2527 (permalink)
 
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When Deng Xiaoping (you all know how to pronounce that) opened up China. Shenzhen, being next door to Hong Kong was a natural choice to be one the first Special Economic Zones and with it came industrial development on a scale only seen before in wartime. With it came millions of migrant workers receiving unheard of wages and with them came the entrepreneurs in the entertainment industry to relieve them of some of it. Immediately by my apartment was a ship, the MingHua, originally MS Ancerville, launched by de Gaulle in 1962. In 1973 it was bought and operated by China where it got its name. In 1983 it was beached at Shekou and was turned into a hotel and entertainments centre. The area is called Sea World and is thick with restaurants of every nationality. There are several couth bars and an expat’s club called the Snake Pit where we reprehensibles would gather to swop stories. Down the road there is what is known as the Dark Side. Small bars where one can be entertained by hostesses for the cost of a few drinks or further entertained at home with money.

Not every project was a success. A few miles east of the heliport was an enormous fairground. It had a largest roller coaster I have ever but it was closed through lack of custom. There were five golf courses within 15 kilometres of Shenzhen; three of them to Championship standard designed by household names. Between Shenzhen and Shekou there were two theme parks. One, called Splendid China, had representations of every part and ethnic race in the country. There was continuous entertainment in one part or the other and the Mongolian horsemen gave a show that would be impossible to see in this country. On of them was a lunatic riding a pair of horses, bareback, with nothing touching them except a rein and two feet going at a gallop all around the football pitch sized arena. In the evening there would be an amazing show of song, dancing and acrobatics to round off the day.

The other was The Window of the World. This was a theme park dominated by a 1/3rd scale Eiffel Tower complete with lifts and viewing balconies. Every continent in the world was portrayed in varying scale. One could travel from Japan, to Australia and walk over a Sydney Harbour Bridge staring at the Opera house and Ayers Rock. Through the pyramids of Egypt and then to Italy with the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Bridge of Sighs. Onwards, to the Arc de Triomphe and across to London; the Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. North America was represented with the portraits on Mount Rushmore and the passé de resistance, Niagara Falls.

This feature was a semi miniature, about 100 meters across, version of Niagara Falls that used to flow for five minutes every half hour. The amount of water that had to be shifted was amazing; it would be a tourist site by itself if it were natural let alone artificial, As a teaser, this is what it looks like.



Again in the evening there was another show set with a distinctive Greco Roman theme.

The cable TV in the apartment had 100 Channels, satellite TV was yet to come. Apart from the usual overseas one like BBC, CNN and Star Sports there were multitude of Chinese programmes from all over China. Because so many people work far away from their home city they could be virtually be guaranteed to keep up with the home programmes in real time. There were special channels for Chinese opera, sports, historical films and a military channel. This channel had the best looking presenters of the whole lot, all in uniform. Watching this one could trace the whole military history of the PLA from the Chinese side, learn to strip and reassemble an assault rifle, sight and load a105mm howitzer because that was how a lot of the conscripts were taught.

Over the years I was there I was never afraid to go where no gweilo had been before. I had friends that lived in Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan and Luzhao. The first time I went to Chengdu they still had the early morning municipal loudspeakers urging the population to make even greater efforts that day. Hotels had to be licensed for foreigners so one could not pick any one. People would stand around a stall watching you buy something and then fall over laughing when they realised how much you had paid for it. You learned to bargain. Open at 30% of the asking price and walk away if they wont come down to half.


My contract was for one year. As time was progressing more and more of the operation was being run by nationals. I had a Chinese captain do my base check and instruments renewal and I was spending more time at home as a spare crew. They then offered me a six month extension. My contract said that it should have renewed on a year-by-year but they said it was a new contract. On that basis I choked an extra US$1,000/month out of them. They renewed my visa and as it was during the build up to the Olympics the visa regulations were draconian and it expired on the last day of my contract. I was starting to have trouble with my Chinese medical especially with my cataracts so I could see that the writing was on the wall.

A nice letter thanking me for the years I had been with them but that was it. The final trip was on a Sunday; a simple trip to the JHN platform and return. My co-pilot flew it out and I flew it back to land the last time. After the passengers had disembarked and the co-pilot went to do the paperwork I did the engine wash and finally shut it down. On an impulse I took a photo of the aeroplane.



In the planning room there was just the paperwork waiting for me as the co-pilot had gone home. The line office was empty, they knew that there was nothing wrong with the aeroplane and I signed off the tech log. There was nothing to do in the office except fill in my log book. It was 9th November 2008. My first flight in a Provost T1 at Tern Hill was 28th October 1960 so I had cracked forty-eight years and 17,879.45hrs. My headset I had bought in 1981 so that had at least 12,000hrs. I pick them both up, called up the driver and went through the terminal. Everybody had gone except for somebody I did not know that was beavering in the corner. At the front door I looked back and I could see the windsock the other side of the airfield indicating about five knots down the runway.

Then I closed the door.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 10th Aug 2015 at 21:50.
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Old 11th Aug 2015, 11:08   #2528 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
I was starting to have trouble with my Chinese medical especially with my cataracts so I could see that the writing was on the wall.
If you could see the writing on the wall, they couldn't have been that bad!

That was some flying career ... starting with the JP Mk 1 with the spindly legs!
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Old 11th Aug 2015, 12:39   #2529 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
starting with the JP Mk 1 with the spindly legs!
I beg you're pardon. I started off with real Provosts; not kiddycars with a vacuum cleaner in the back.



I'm there somewhere.
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Old 12th Aug 2015, 01:03   #2530 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Bowen Island B.C. Canada - one of the greatest places to live on Earth...
Posts: 160
What a great account, FED. Great to reconnect after all these years and catch up on the rest of the story after I left that area of the business.
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Old 19th Oct 2015, 01:19   #2531 (permalink)
 
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Location: Victoria, Australia
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On another trip down memory lane, this was issued to me 50 years ago while I was still driving on L plates

A licence to operate a Flying Machine issued by the Ministry of Aviation: magic



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Old 9th Nov 2015, 01:13   #2532 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 29
The Rotary Nostalgia Thread

ALLISON 250: Does anyone remember DCA's new directive in 1968 that pilots/LAMEs complete a theory course on the Basic Gas Turbine, to be certified to fly or maintain the Bell206, FH1100, Hughes500?

This course was initially conducted by Hawker Pacific in Sydney by Instructor Frank Pink (1968). It was attended by 3-4 LAMEs and one pilot.

I need verification that I was that pilot. There was a photo published in a Hawker Newsletter of the group I have described, around the Allison 250.

Anyone kept those Newsletters? I would appreciate your help in this matter. Thanks, in anticipation of good memories.
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Old 16th Nov 2015, 11:53   #2533 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: LHR
Age: 68
Posts: 57
Anglia Helicopters accident at Mogadishu in 1989?

Anyone remember anything about Anglia Helicopters Ag-Bell 206 G-BIJC that was supposedly written off in a landing accident at Mogadishu sometime in 1989? Helicopter was cancelled by the CAA 12/12/1990.
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Old 17th Nov 2015, 12:04   #2534 (permalink)
 
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Location: Cardiff
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G-BIJC

Yes I remember BIJC..........I owned and operated it between 1985 - 87 in SWales before it was sold and went to Africa. How can I help ?
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Old 28th Nov 2015, 12:31   #2535 (permalink)


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Location: Barnsley UK
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Bo.105 question - leading to other issues

I too am a keen plastic modeller - I run Whirlybird (we make after market items for the plastic modelling hobby, and I'm particularly inrerested in helicopters).

I am currently looking at helicopters used in the North Sea oil and gas industry, with a view to producing model kits or conversion sets for them.

If you want to see some of the things I've produced, look at our website (under construction at the moment, but it will give you an idea of what we do):

www.whirlybirdmodels.com

This year, for example, I did a conversion kit to make G-BALZ, and previously I did several S-61N conversion kits (for aircraft from Bristows, KLM, BA and Schreiner), S-58Ts from BA, Bristow and KLM, and a BA Boeing Vertol 234.

This year, I'm trying to do some sets for Super Pumas - probably a SAR one (either G-JSAR or one of the Bond ones) as well as rig support aircraft from Bristows, Bond etc. Can anybody help me with good detailed photographs of the aircraft (close up so that I can see all the small maintenance markings etc. if possible), and also enough information so that I can help the modellers out there to use and modify the existing 1/72 model kits (Italeri are still producing 1/72 Super Puma kits, but the Heller ones seem hard to find)? I need to know which features (such as fuselage length, window configuration, sponson design etc.) apply to which aircraft - they seem to vary quite a lot from operator to operator.

I am also interested in any other helicopters used in the North Sea, so any information would be very welcome.

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 11th Dec 2015, 06:57   #2536 (permalink)
 
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Location: Victoria, Australia
Age: 69
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With more trips down Nostalgia lane, I recently found this publicity shot of Dave 'Wobbly' Warren and yours truly taken for a recruiting brochure. If anyone comes across Dave then embarrass him with this

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Old 11th Dec 2015, 07:48   #2537 (permalink)
 
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Possible caption, John...

"Really?.. You know, you're the first person to have said that to me".
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Old 5th Jan 2016, 18:59   #2538 (permalink)


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Location: Newton Abbot, Devon
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Ben Turner Tractors & Enstrom

If DennisK is the former colleague of Roy Spooner previously trading as Spoonair/Spooner Aviation then I hope this thread finds you in good health. Sadly Roy flew off to that Great Aerodrome in The Sky on 17th December - he always spoke highly of you and I will make mention of the company's endeavours at Father's funeral on 29th January to which you are most welcome.
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Old 6th Jan 2016, 16:58   #2539 (permalink)
 
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Location: UK
Posts: 854
Dennis K is indeed the man...hopefully he will see this in time. Sad news about your father...I knew him only in passing but he certainly made an impact at Shoreham.
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Old 30th Apr 2016, 20:02   #2540 (permalink)


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Regarding G-AWAP

In reply to:

"Does anyone have a good photo of G-AWAP?":

Following the recent tragic accident involving a Airbus Super Puma, I was minded about a similar incident involving G-AWAP shortly after I stopped being a regular passenger on board for GEGB overhead line inspections. A search lead me to this forum and the above request for any photos of G-AWAP. Well here are a couple







The pilot in the head-on shot I believe is Capt. Tom Wotters a Vietnam veteran from Iowa. Others at the time in addition to John Crewdson were Cdr Phil Bartlett ex RN and Capt. David Hetreed ex Arny Air Corp.

Last edited by Solentsurfer; 2nd May 2016 at 17:38. Reason: Quoted too much text
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