Fragrant Harbour A forum for the large number of pilots (expats and locals) based with the various airlines in Hong Kong. Air Traffic Controllers are also warmly welcomed into the forum.


Old 29th Aug 2009, 06:22
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Longitude East 114 degrees
Posts: 272

It's been quiet a few years since I've glanced at those beckoning orange and white squares and can't help wondering how the beloved chequerboard is holding up. Is the government preserving it as part of Hong Kong's historic past or is it being allowed to go to rack and ruin. An occasional coat of paint is all that's needed to preserve it for perpetuity but of course that won't happen if there are plans afoot to build a block of flats on the site.
Appreciate comments from anyone who has seen it lately.

Prince of Dzun
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 08:22
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: up here, everyone looks like ants!
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It's still there, somewhat overgrown but recognizable.

We (a well-known imbibing association that has a peculiar addiction to cross country running) planned to repaint it a few years ago but ran into HKSAR red tape. I still think it can (and should) be done.
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 08:33
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Hong Kong
Posts: 5
HK Government and Preserving the Past?

Hilarious! The Hong Kong Government does not do the preservation of historic monuments. It won't even preserve HK's greatest asset the harbour, to the extent it broke its own laws in approving the latest reclamation.

Chequerboard Hill-No Chance!

The HK Civil Service prefers to look after themselves first.
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Old 29th Aug 2009, 12:14
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Well then, do it and ask afterwards? And will they know whom to pursue?
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 01:23
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And will they know it's been done?
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 03:12
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: a few track miles south of BEKOL
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i volunteer for a nite time raid with red and white paint to do the job! we will be the new kings of kowloon (rip). it is a waste of time to apply to the gov't for anything! hey, we can bring red and white wine as well to help us in our task (as long as we do not mix up the wine and the paint!)
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 14:24
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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Was out there today.. we can do this.. Pm anyone whos keen , I've got a few keen.

tried to upload photos.. didn't seem to work?
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Old 30th Aug 2009, 16:03
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Join Date: Mar 2001
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i'm up for it
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Old 31st Aug 2009, 11:53
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Aus
Posts: 139
A secretive revamp of an old approach marker? I hope I don't hang on that tight in 20 years.....
I'll save you the hassle: never done it.
Here's a tune you'll all like: YouTube - Jethro Tull - Living In The Past 1969
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Old 31st Aug 2009, 12:30
  #10 (permalink)  
Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Derbyshire, England.
Posts: 4,069
Blogsey - If you have never done the IGS approach to RW 13 in a heavy jet when the cloud base is given as 700' and the wind is 100 to 200 degrees, variable, 25knots, QNT 40 knots, rain, visibility 2000 meters, wind shear reported on finals, then maybe you shouldn't be adding a fatuous comment to this thread?

(P.S. Jethro Tull, nothing special).
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 05:29
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Roguesville, cloud cuckooland
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Go for it lads!!! We will salute you from afar...(Oz in fact...)

You magnificent bastards!!
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 06:38
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: HK
Posts: 94
Well as the thread has drifted to music vids, how about a bit of Barnsie at his best belting it out.

YouTube - Cold Chisel - "Khe San"

And for the drift critics, there is a tenuous link to our beloved Fragrant Harbour at 3:26

And for Parabellum, (is that you Noel? no wonder you don't like Jethro Tull), here's an older Chisel version from the late 70's you might prefer, with the man doing a good Robert Plant lookalike.

YouTube - Cold Chisel - Khe Sanh (1978)

Oh yeah, and good luck with the paint pots guys. Remember, if you might not like the answer, don't ask the question - just do it!
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 08:17
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Hongkers
Posts: 457
No, wait!

A quick check of the latest AIP SUPPs shows that CAD will be digging up the checkerboard and mounting it on top of the new CAD building next to KA House.
The LOC aerial is going to be stuck on top of CX city making a 47 degree offset to 25R pointing straight at Lantau Peak.

Everything will be right with the world again!
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 12:08
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: here
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Hmm, that would mean the approach starts right over the top of Shenzhen, that would work
No more dirty dive from sierra....bugga
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Old 4th Sep 2009, 02:46
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 464
Let me make sure I have got the gist of this - you are advocating breaking the law and recruiting participants for such on a public forum.
If the traveling public had any idea how [email protected]#$%^& stupid you people are they would take the train.
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Old 4th Sep 2009, 02:59
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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You can't take a train across the Pacific, you're the stupid one.
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Old 4th Sep 2009, 05:07
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Bob Tandy's place boozing with Darryl Hill
Posts: 189
Which act in law outlaws the painting of "the Checkerboard" other than he said she said?

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Old 4th Sep 2009, 22:03
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: uk
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If you guys don't want it,I'll have it.Give my chickens something to hide under,and the dog something to pee against.Got the perfect spot on 3 mile left base 16 @ ABZ.
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Old 14th Sep 2009, 13:05
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: YMML
Posts: 288
I just happened to come across this nostalgic Kai Tak report on my computer tonight...

Monday, Jul. 21, 2003
A Plane Spotter's Lament
By Max Wooldridge

It was a warm and humid June day a few weeks before Hong Kong's old Kai Tak Airport closed in 1998. I'd filed a feature for a British newspaper about the spanking new airport at Chek Lap Kok and had an afternoon free. Normally I would have gone shopping for presents, but was spared that dreadful ordeal as I'd heard about a crazed band of plane spotters who gathered at Kai Tak to watch the planes land.

On the roof of the airport parking lot I joined a hundred or so spectators and watched in awe as huge, wide-bodied jets made seemingly impossible turns on the famous, curved approach to Runway 13. Aircraft banked an improbable 90, almost skimming the tops off the neighboring apartment blocks. The scene was straight out of sci-fi: huge, metallic birds coming home to nest with a demented roar.

Some plane spotters - Chinese and European - welcomed me into the throng, warmly applauding textbook landings from Cathay Pacific and British Airways captains, but being less than complimentary about other regional and European airline pilots who fell foul of crosswinds or came in too fast. The only things missing were scorecards held ice-skating style.

Then the Italians arrived. An Alitalia jet made a terrible landing: port wheel first, followed by starboard, then both together. More smoke was produced from those tires on the tarmac than in the whole of Haight-Ashbury in 1967. Further entertainment was still to come, courtesy of a rattled Biman pilot. He made the turn early and as a result ended up out of position on the runway. I could hardly bear to watch.

While it's easy to dismiss these plane spotters as sad anoraks, they were local heroes to me - animated, cheerful souls absolutely passionate about their beloved airport. Their enthusiasm was infectious. Perhaps it was just as well I was flying back to London that night, otherwise I could have stayed there all week. Why on earth did men hang out in Wan Chai when there was such a spectacle? What pole dancer on earth could provide entertainment on par with this?

Subsequent visits to Hong Kong were strangely disappointing. I was unable to focus on writing other stories because I wanted to return to Kai Tak even though it had long closed. It was like trying to start a new relationship when you're still in love with someone from the past. Nothing in Hong Kong could match the excitement of watching the planes land that June day.

I'm not alone in my affection. Kai Tak closed five years ago this month, but many still refer to it like a much-loved, weirdo uncle who's no longer around - one who will be forever remembered because he broke all the rules and made you gasp while doing so. Indeed, the airport's closure was another nail in the coffin for the era of romantic travel - Kai Tak was the last embodiment of an age when commercial flying was a buzz. Even an airline amenity kit became a novelty when you flew into Hong Kong: the supplied blindfold was not for sleeping but for landing. And you only used the earplugs once you landed: these were not for ears but nostrils because the first smell of Hong Kong was of its Kowloon Bay sewage outflow. The first time comedian Bob Hope landed at Kai Tak he asked about the terrible smell. A friend informed him it was sewage. "Yes I know, but what have they done to it?" was his reply.

Kai Tak was a place of wonder and, like so many works of genius, deeply flawed. The meeting area was shabby and tiny; there were few shops and restaurants air-side. In the event of delays the terminal was soon crammed with a queue for taxis as long as Hong Kong's famous Lantau Trail. Even Kai Tak's greatest fans acknowledge that it had long since reached its capacity, but it didn't make saying goodbye any easier. And no one loved the airport in the guts of the city more than the spotters. To them Kai Tak was the best airport ever.

"It was more an airfield, really," recalls Hong Kong resident Andrew Robertson. "You were so close to the aircraft that you really could smell them."

Chris Armstrong, an engineer who now lives in Britain, worked in Hong Kong for more than three years and many of his weekends were spent at Kai Tak. "I arrived for the first time in Hong Kong via a Runway 13 approach, and it never ceased to amaze me how close you got to the houses," he says. "It's a special place. There is nowhere in the world to equal it." Meanwhile, his friend David England had worked on the design of the Airport Railway Link and his Kowloon Bay office overlooked Kai Tak's southern runway. "I kept a brass telescope on my desk," England recollects, "and my colleagues soon got used to me breaking off mid-conversation to look at aircraft landing."

There were several good vantage points for watching the final approach and turn onto Runway 13. Ironically the Spectators Terrace above the main terminal building was not one - its glass was thick and usually too dirty to see through. According to Armstrong, "a thrilling experience was standing in the street under the approach in and around Kowloon Tong. There was a shopping center there and the planes turned directly over you. It felt like you could touch them."

Robertson remembers jogging around Kowloon Tsai Park directly beneath the final approach. "I used to love shouting as loud as I could when a 747 passed overhead, knowing no one could hear me."

With Kai Tak gone, many Hong Kong residents are understandably proud of its replacement, Chek Lap Kok (its drab proper name is the Hong Kong International Airport). It is undoubtedly a well-designed, efficient, world-class facility. Inside it is everything Kai Tak wasn't - spacious, airy and, with an inventive use of natural light, a little too bright for some when the morning sun catches those check-in desks. But it's also like so many international airports nowadays: somewhat soulless and homogenized. You could be in Schipol or Singapore. One reason Kai Tak is still held in such great affection is precisely because today's airports are characterless monoliths - vast, out-of-town hyper-malls with a few planes around.

"Kai Tak was a busy airport right in the middle of town and loved by all," says Armstrong. "Chek Lap Kok is like any other airport - straight in approach, and boring. It simply doesn't generate the same fun, excitement or mystery that the old airport did. Long live Kai Tak!"

"[Chek Lap Kok is] too far away and is just a standard international airport," says Nevin Lim, a freelance tour guide in Hong Kong who gave up his hobby of plane spotting when Kai Tak closed. "It takes the fun out of flying. Kai Tak was so exciting because the planes flew so close to the city. There was always a possibility that there might be a problem of some sort. Of course, no one wanted anything to go wrong, but it was this element of danger that made Kai Tak so exhilarating."

Today, Chek Lap Kok offers practically nothing to the plane spotter. With no spectator facilities (none were even planned), spotters are totally sidelined. The hardy are left to find good viewing sites at the airport for themselves.

"If the wind changes you need to trek round to the other side of the airport, and when there is only a gentle breeze they may change runways two or three times a day," complains Robertson, who now only occasionally ventures out to the new airport - 35 kilometers from Hong Kong island - for a day's spotting. "There is also no shade, no supply of cold drinks and no toilets [near the viewing points]. This is not recommended for 12 hours at 30C or more at 90% humidity."

Most of Chek Lap Kok's vantage points are at ground level, and it is difficult to get a close view of the aircraft because of the high-security double fencing that surrounds the airport. There is also heat haze to contend with.

Meanwhile, back at Kai Tak, David England still works in an office in Kowloon Bay that overlooks the old airport's runway. From his window he can see a fleet of double-deckers in a Kowloon Motor Bus livery, on the site where Concordes used to park. "That," he sighs, "is not really the same, is it?"

As though anything ever could be.
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