On Not Going To Australia

There was no point in going to bed anywhere... Christmas night I took a taxi from Jomtien to Bangkok - Suvarnabhumi Airport to catch the 06:45am flight to Hong Kong and onwards to Brisbane.
The taxi cost me 1,890 Baht, and was the first expense to what would become a very expensive time.
My visa here in Thailand was to expire on the 27th January and so I had hoped the trip to Australia would result in another 30 days following my return on or around the 8th January.
Cathay Pacific confirmed my flights to Brisbane, and wait-listed my flights back. What I did not know was that if they could not confirm the flights back they will cancel the whole trip, and will not advise the customer of having done this!
I had booked the flight using 60,000 Asia Miles, (I have 67,000 Asia Miles on account). Using Asia Miles like this is a risky business.
I discovered, confirmed is
not confirmed as they can cancel the flights, and they do not see the necessity of advising the customer.
I wondered whether I was actually on the flight when my Cathay Pacific App did not show this flight booking... I waited until the airline staff arrived at 03:45 in the morning, and then learned I wasn't booked on the flight.
Of course it's my fault... Cathay staff at Bangkok told me I had to contact Asia Miles... I phoned them, twice, and twice I was diverted pressing numbers for this and that on the awful phone system to eventually end up somewhere I didn't want to be while paying for long distance international calls.

I think the message I am getting from life is that travelling to Australia is a bad idea.
I already know that Australia is not welcoming to visiting pilots. They make it extremely difficult for anyone thinking they can go and fly in this country.
The ICAO convention, 7th December 1945, in which nations agreed to recognise each other's pilot licences is one of the freedoms we have lost in this World of terrorism. Australia is in fact the most difficult place I have found, to gain a licence validation.
I need to have my documents notorised, it's an expense, and here will require me to travel to the Australian Embassy in Bangkok.
Why notorised?
I will not get into the country without a valid passport, and CASA will contact TC to check the validity of my licences, ratings, and medical... Notorising is an unnecessary hinderance.
It will take six weeks for me to be found to not be a terrorist, that I have never been in prison; a visitor is assumed to be guilty.
I will consider whether Australia is a place I really want to go.


Living in Chiang Mai

There is nothing for me to fly here in Chiang Mai now.
Thailands DCA - CAAT has made flying small aeroplanes difficult in the past, and sometimes worse than the situation in recent times.
The situation has improved a bit over the past year or so as the new CAAT develops, but people get tired, and they give up, or move to another country to be able to fly freely.
For me this has meant that there are no aeroplanes for me to fly here... Efforts are being made, but work, and paperwork will mean that it will be monhs before any aeroplane might be available to rent.

So I continue to live in Chiang Mai, cycle my bicycle and try to keep myself busy.

Discovering new places in Wiang Kum Kam

The microlight/ultralight busines is largely uncontrolled in Canada and Thailand, while Britain has a little more control of this business
Regular aeroplanes require Certificates of Airworthiness, and Operating Certificates for businesses to exist


Thanks to Gill and Alasdair I had Christmas Dinner in Jomtien.



Where to go?

The Villa King Kham was comfortable, and the breakfast was lean

Two bridges I used were replacements for destroyed bridges,
perhaps bombed during the war

There I was at Bangkok Airport with nowhere to go.
Tired after a night without sleep, expecting to go to Brisbane, but then being disappointed, I had to decide what I would do.
Thailand is intolerant of people over staying their visas so I had a day an a half to do something.
I considered going to the immigration office, spending over 2,000 Baht to extend my visa thirty days.
Then decided I'd go somewhere, and with the visa situation in Burma/Myanmar uncertain, needing a visa for a stay of more than three days in Vietnam, and the gastro enteritis of Siem Reap Cambodia, I decided to go to Luang Prabang.

The ticket on Bangkok Airlines was 6,825 Baht ($190 USD).
Two nights in the Villa Kingkham Riverside was $97 CAD, I booked this through Agoda.

I tried to book a flight on Lao Airlines back to Chiang Mai on the 29th, this was full, so I was booked on the 30th, but when I went to confirm this it too was full and I was bumped to the 31st. The cost was $133 USD, but you can't pay directly online... They send you a separate e-mail with an address to send your credit card details and the new cost of $162 USD for the flight!

In Luang Prabang I went to the Lao counter at the airport, but the credit card machine did not work, so the next day I went to the Lao Airlines office in the town and successfully paid for the ticket. The cost was now $136.40 USD.

They now charge to enter this temple, not very Buddhist
They also charge to go up the mountain in the centre of Luang Prabang

For my next two nights in Luang Prabang I decided to go to a little more upmarket hotel... $127.55 CAD for two nights at the Villa Ban Lao... It was a dive, very poor in comparison with the cheaper Villa King Kham, and the breakfast was two eggs and hard french bread...
I went into town and found the Sackarinh Guest House which was better at $20 USD per night, and near to some good places to buy breakfast.

I walked ten miles on my first day in Luang Prabang
Walking is a good way for me to think

I cycled to the airport and spotted this Canadian registered survey helicopter.

During this visit I watched an MA60 line up at the intersection and takeoff on 05 without doing the backtrack!

Luang Prabang

There are a few stop signs, some yield signs, and no traffic lights in Luang Prabang.

I took a lot of pictures, but right now I can not be bothered to write a full report on my travels there.
I did rent a bicycle for one day, and I did enjoy my stay, it was a place I could feel at home in.
I also lost 2kg in weight.

Back to Chiang Mai

The Lao Airlines ATR72-500 was well used with the cabin windows faded and scratched... Not ideal for photography.

To my chagrin I sat in the back as the pilot slowed 200 metres short of the end of the runway, moved to the left side and did a tight turn to the right to line up. This was piss poor procedure, and immediately I was concerned about his competency.
There is a turn area at the end of the runway: turn right about 30 degrees, and then follow the line easily around to the left to be on the centreline with the full distance ahead.
An aeroplane I used to fly was severely damaged when the pilot likewise did the same thing as this airline pilot, swinging the tail such that the tailwheel fell in a hole and twisted the fuselage. I was not amused.
Why did the pilot decide not to go the extra 100 metres and do the proper turn procedure?
Such a lack of discipline in this procedure indicates a probable lack of discipline in all things.
You can look at Luang Prabang Airport on Google Maps and see what I am writing about.

MA60 departs as I board the ATR72

A friend of mine flew this Canadair Challenger 850 to Chiang Mai while I was in Luang Prabang

The arrival hall at Chiang Mai was packed with people waiting to get through Immigration.

This New Year is beginning quietly, there is no flying for me to do, and I have to decide where I go from here.

A cycle ride 2nd January

This A320 model was part of a display at Royal Flora

Don't Monkey About

These are the last throws of the Monkey... In the West we celebrated the turning of the clock into 2017, but maybe the Chinese have something in their observation of the flow of life as the Lunar years change?
For me this year begins with confusion and uncertainty, I had my plans, but these are being affected as the Monkey does its impish acts; perhaps there will be change from the 28th? We'll see.
In the meantime, plod on.

Living in Chiang Mai

I still do my bicycle rides, even as the Sun sets

I listen, and I understand that I live a wonderful life and so I must never complain, nor write anything negative on this page. This is not true to life balance.
At one time I would write inspection reports... I'd examine the component, I would write an accurate report on its condition, and then state the work required to bring it back to airworthy condition. I'd state the bad stuff, and then the positive actions to repair the component.
So I am used to writing an accurate portrayal of state and condition. It's difficult for me to write from only one side of this life, but I will.

Sunday 8th January; burn a candle for the day of your birth

9th January, expensive craft beer, 300 Baht a glass
At Namton's House Bar the solo visitor is not allowed to sit at a table

Roof on roof on roof on roof on roof, Buddhism has you covered

Thailand is truly a beautiful place and it's always good for my soul to ride my bicycle, add oxygen to the brain, albeit mixed with exhaust fumes, and see some of the attractive off the beaten path places.
The poor little car has had little use lately.

With the positive bias on this site I do not expect to be updating it again until after the 28th, and so I wish you all the best for the Year of the Rooster.

I am always being told: "You have a wonderful life", this because I often write or tell people exactly what I feel and exactly what is going on, and people don't like it.
Life has a balance between good things and bad things, sometimes this is balanced and sometimes the weight is biased on one side or the other.
It might be weighted on the good side more than the bad, and it might be weighted on the bad side more than the good.
All of us live such lives.

It's been cold, and we have had a lot of rain
There has been 11 days when I have not taken a single photograph

Walk three times around the Chedi at Wat Phra That Hariphunchai

Wat GateGaram (as I read it), 12th January

Go ahead, sit down, meditate, and contemplate

FL170, (17,000 feet QNE), 160KIAS, 220KTAS at +10ºC

At FL170 for airwork over WANTO SE of Phitsanulok, 15th January, 11:50 local time

It's been more than a month since I have flown... There is nothing for me to fly here now, and it's essential that I keep my hand in.
Ths past year I have been stretched a bit, was this a Monkey thing?
For one thing: flight training people in flying boats. This is not what I have done before, but who else is there? I did look for someone else but could find nobody qualified.
So I studied the differences between flying boat operations and float plane operations, and with caution built up my experience and knowledge to be able to produce a safe licenced and rated pilot, and to begin to requalify another.
So what do I know about turboprop aircraft? A lot of theory, a lot of reasoning, but engine aside an aeroplane is an aeroplane.

Ed was my student for the PPL back in 2007... I'd just come out of the tense stressful time in China, and I arrived in Thailand with safety and discipline very much on my mind... Those who know me know I can be a stubborn person, strong on doing things right, but equally able to roll an aeroplane for the joy of it.
This past year I did drop my guard a little... I flew a Cessna 180 with serious corrosion, I was not happy about this... 'Reminded me that I need to be very careful, and maintain my standards. I digress...

Preflight briefing

Ed passed a copy of the flight manual to me via Dropbox... I have read many flight manuals in my time, it's an important step before flying anything; obtain as much information as possible.
You can tell whether an instructor has read the manual and knows the aircraft; the common indicator is the use of flaps on takeoff.
We met at the appropriately named coffee shop across the road from where I live: Mad Café. This was for a preflight briefing where my instructor brain was tapped for the information it contains... I have no degree, but I have extensive reading, and I have an intellect to be able to determine sensible reasons for why things are done in a certain way. Like my brothers I grew up 'engineer' and read much on gas turbine engines.

The flight

Takeoff was at 11:04 on Sunday morning heading up to Flight Level 170 to do airwork southeast of Phitsanulok.
We had a list of exercises to do, beginning with steep turns...
As with any aeroplane these were best done looking out first, then rolling on a point ahead to 45 degrees bank, and then holding it there. As ever, concentration on the instruments results in divergence from the altitude.

The first stalls were done with flaps and undercarriage down, and 200 pounds torque as per a normal approach, reducing the speed by one knot per second. The stall warner went off at 76 KIAS, and there was a slight buffet at around three knots above the stall which was at 60 KIAS. There was a slight right wing drop, (fuel tanks were closely balanced). We repeated this stall with the same result.
We did two clean stalls, the first I recorded 81 KIAS for the stall warner, with 76 KIAS for the break, the second, 82 KIAS and 77 KIAS respectively.

We wanted to simulate an engine failure after takeoff followed by a 180 degree reversal (turning back) to determine what height above ground we'd need to accomplish this.
Chopping the throttle would not be good for the engine, so what we did was fly at 130 knots and 400lbs torque, reduce to 200lbs and set the attitude for climb (110KIAS), then let the airspeed bleed at this attitude to 90KIAS to simulate the brains' delay, and then do the reversal.
At first we dropped the nose and did a steep bank allowing the aeroplane to drop while sensing the buffet from the higher stall speed, to roll out close to the simulated runway. Then we tried the gentle turn through 180 degrees.
The Malibu JetProp is a good glider; at 90 knots it appears to lose between 600 and 700 feet per minute.

We did an emergency descent to simulate pressurisation failure. With the undercarriage down you descend at 160 KIAS, we didn't even reach this speed for at 140 KIAS we were losing in excess of 4,000 feet per minute with the Vertical Speed Indicator pegged at this number (its limit). We tried rolling the aeroplane into a descending turn as well.
We reached 10,000 feet in no time.
Next we did an emergency gear extension with the wheels going down and locking without the suggested yawing (waggling the tail) to lock them in place being necessary.
Three greens.

To check the glide the throttle was closed and the propeller was feathered, and at 90 KIAS she descended at an indicated 600 feet per minute.
Being able to feather the propeller with the engine still running was a novelty for me.

The flight manual recommends the circling procedure for a forced landing. In training we call this "High Key - Low Key", it's in the Flight Training Manual. It is a procedure that is required to be taught in Canada, and so I have a lot of practice doing it. It is simple and easy to judge.
This is the 'military' method of conducting a power off (engine failure) forced landing.
For this exercise we decided to use the point where the slant taxyway enters the runway at Phitsanulok, this would give us a safe undershoot with a long runway length remaining.
The first crossing (High Key) was made at 5,000 feet with the engine at 150lbs torque to simulate a feathered propeller.
The wide left circle put us at 1,700 feet altitude over the selected point (Low Key), and so a gentle third of a circuit was flown from this point, imagining an approach path and intercepting this line, gear down on base, and then flaps on final in stages to be precisely on glide path to the desired point on the runway.
Enough descent to ensure we would be on the spot, and then a go around... I wanted to see the power come on, start the climb, gear and flaps up in proper sequence.

Landing at Phitsanulok

Turbo 3 seen through the heat shimmer

Nok disgorges its passengers under the cover of parasols

We had flown for 1 hour 42 minutes and refueled with 220 litres of jet fuel. The landing fee was 160 Baht.
Khun Nong who is an air traffic controller at Phitsanulok took us into the town for an excellent chicken noodle soup... So much food in fact that I didn't need to eat for the rest of the day.

Arriving in Lamphun Province

Takeoff was at 14:44 and we cruised up to FL180 heading back to Nok to land there at 15:33.
Chiang Mai ATIS Information Alfa, 08:00z. Expect ILS 36, wind 190/7, more than 10km, Clouds 4,000 feet, temparature 29 dewpoint 12, No significant change.

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