Welcome to the Year of the Fire Dragon, 10th February 2024

'Went flying a couple of times recently in Thailand.

I once had a partial engine failure towards this direction, nose down,
65 knots and headed towards my best option ahead.
Not even a hint of turning back in my mind, do your safety brief!

Recent turn back accidents have underlined how important the pre-takeoff safety brief is.

Engine Failure After TakeOff (EFATO)

If you have a plan for the eventuality through knowing the terrain beyond the end of the runway, you can respond, nose down, and if height permits, a turn towards the best option.
A survey of the airfield surrounds helps with instant decision making.

Following our flight in the JetProp to do Practice Forced Landings at Phitsanulok, we did the same over Ban Thi after surveying the fields around the departure ends of the runways. This time we flew the Tecnam P92-JS.
Knowing what is beyond the end of the departure runway is a very good idea as it allows for instant decision making as to where to go if the engine fails after takeoff.
"If the engine fails after takeoff with insufficient runway remaining I will lower the nose, (sixty) knots and land within 30/45 degrees ahead." "In this case it will be a right/left turn..."

Practice Forced Landings (Enroute, PFLs)

A request to Chiang Mai Approach and we were allowed to climb to 3,500 feet, or 2,500 feet above ground level to do some PFLs.
Again we did the high key - low key forced landing technique, but what is the definition of high key and low key?
Since we did likewise in the Cessna 172 as written below, where ATC at Nakhon Ratchasima asked me to report 'low key', it is important to know what the local low key definition is.
A check on the internet showed various definitions, one was high key at 1,000 feet AGL, and low key at 500 feet AGL, while I have used 2,000 feet AGL high key, and 1,000 feet AGL as low key. 1,000 feet AGL low key is the usual height above ground for a circuit at most places. These high and low key definitions vary with the performance of your aircraft.
I am not sure what low key meant to ATC, one would have to ask the local school...

This type of forced landing procedure means a circling approach above the emergency landing place. Crossing over the proposed touch down point, and noting the height, then completing a circle at a comfortable angle of bank, and noting the height loss, then in the second turn adjusting the bank (and hence the air distance) to turn on to a final approach to the point on the ground based on the remaining height.
We do not always know the elevation of the ground and so the altimeter can only be a guide, mostly it's the pilots' experience in judging height above the ground that is most important.
A big advantage is that the high key - low key procedure keeps you local to the forced landing place.

I write "place" because you might not always find a field, it may be a gravel bar in a river, or the only open place for a controlled crash!


Being in Thailand this time of the year is seriously bad for your health.

I considered flying to Da Nang in order to get another thirty days in Thailand, but finances and many important things to be done in England, and the rising levels of pollution meant rebooking my return flight on Thai and leaving early.
As pilots we must protect our health in order to be able to fly for the fifty years I have so far flown.
In 2006 I left China before the serious pollution there did me in, there were few pilots in their 50's when I was there, mostly smoking and pollution had aged them into poor health early.

I stayed in Jomtien for a few days, the air quality was a lot better there.
I had applied for a Validation to fly aeroplanes at Pattaya Eastern, but this did not come through in time. You need a 2,000 Baht Validation for each club at which you want to fly, Validations in Thailand are not 'blanket' permissions.

Before leaving I had a couple of days stay at the Victory Hotel & Residences which is my favourite stop in Bangkok.
It is very convenient for public transport to both Don Mueang and Suvarnabhum Airports as well as other places.
The BTS (Skytrain) from Victory Monument is a short walk away and now terminates well to the north which meant I could save Khun Mao a lot of driving and make it easier to get to Klong 11 airfield.

A friend who is a plane spotter looked up this registration.
It is not easy to fly foreign registered aeroplanes in Thailand, a request has to be made days in advance.

Some time ago a Cirrus landed at Lamphun Airport after sunset.
Since there are no lights the airfield is not available for use in the dark. Locals use the runway to go jogging in the evening...
A Cirrus landed one evening and killed a jogger... The aeroplane was allegedly damaged beyond economical repair.

Nakhon Ratchasima

Khun Mao took me flying in his Cessna 172P to Korat, aka Nakhon Ratchasima, where we practiced a couple of High Key - Low Key forced landing procedures.
Enroute at 5,500 feet we were mostly above the pollution. The air was highly thermic and at times a lot of power had to be reduced in order to prevent being lifted high into the heavens above our reported altitude. It was power rather than entering the yellow arc in the bumpy air.
Approaching Nakhon Ratchasima we requested an overhead join at 3,000 feet to do a PFL, and then again a request was made after the first effort and a touch and go was followed by climb back to the same initial position.
The first try was not perfect, and the second effort was a lot better,
We landed to pay 340 Baht for two landings.

Nakhon Ratchasima Airport is east of a big ex-Vietnam War Airbase which is still in use by the Thai Airforce.
It is a fully staffed airport and we were likely the only movement it had seen in days.
The local flying schools' Cessna 172s were all parked in their corner, there's a lack of students these days as airlines have enough pilots.
CAAT is adopting the onerous EASA rules, and so there will be some difficulty for operations in the future.
There was some ideas about PPL students only being allowed to train at aviation colleges rather than at flying clubs. There is also a rule that flying clubs have to provide 60 hours flight training to PPL students.

This is burning season, beware of your health.

Once you have all your paperwork in order it is easy to fly in Thailand.

Of course the engine suffered a simulated failure downwind when we arrived back at Klong 11.

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