The Prime minister has resigned upon a visit to Saudi Arabia leaving the country rudderless with many different opposition factions who have historically not got along over the passed centuries.
Things are a little tense in the region and as a relative new comer to the area its hard not to sit and read every rumour online as to what is happening.
I have been fortunate enough to have a lovely few weeks off work whilst the plane has not been flying to visit Spain and my parents and have a well earned break with my wife
She deserved the break not me, she's works so hard at her job every day helping so many people, most of whom are far worse off than the rest of us, where as I get to hang around at 47,000ft looking out the window at clouds.
Hmmm...... where are we going and whats the weather going to be like......?
Plans for Cairo then Algeria , then possibly onto Europe then ending up in the USA.
That means a mixed bag of seasons and clothing to match.
Sitting in the Global express after nearly a month away and I realised how much I had missed it but also how a month away can affect the memory so decided to take it slowly in getting everything organised.
True to form the owner and his business colleagues were early so I called for engine start and got the right engine going first as the doors were closed by the captain followed by the left engine firing up.
Boy it was nice to feel hum of those engines again.........like a greeting from a old friend.
Cleared for taxi and we were heading out to runway 17 for the Kalde 2d departure procedure.
Straight on up to 41,000ft.
It was nice to be in the air once again.
Cleared up to the cruise just over Cyprus to 45,000ft.
To be honest I didn't think we'd have time to get up there for a 1hour 5 min flight to Cairo but we were there in 22 minutes so a 10 minute cruise and I'm getting the weather for Cairo and working out the arrival.
Well that is until you try to fly into Cairo.
What a mess, its the meaning of the word chaos. They have no arrival procedures or departure procedures, its all just done on the hoof by the airport controllers. Which is fine when one aircraft arrives every half an hour but I could hear at least 8 on frequency arriving at the same time and if I put it in layman's terms all of us were heading for the same point in the sky much like a round about at Piccadilly Circus.
All speaking different languages, Arabic, French and English and we were doing 250knots.
My job in all of this was to get the controller in the tower to let us descend and get us on the ground, much to my disappointment we were at 4,000ft directly over the airport and sent out on a direction to the Pyramids ........
Kind of like driving on the M4 and you look at the junction your meant to get off at but find yourself looking over your shoulder as it fizzes passed.
I looked over at my Captain and he smiled..... "I told you Cairo can be fun didn't I ?"
I managed to get us descending and I was happy to see the runway infront of us and be putting the landing gear down and going through the landing checklist.
We were in and down on the ground.
This was only going to be a quick stop though for 3-4 hours before heading off once again.
I closed the engines down and decided to stretch out in the back of the plane and have a snooze, rest and read a book.
This VIP travel really can be a strange way of life.
It wasn't too long though before we were starting up those Rolls Royce engines once again and this time heading due West over North Africa.
I looked over to Andy and he gave me a reassuring nod of the head as my left hand was amending the clearance instructions in the flight computer and the right hand was carrying out the take off departure flying instructions, flaps, gear, heading, altitude , after take off checks.
Auto pilot engaged and a close eye on the flight management system to check that the new instructions were being carried out.
It was with some relief that we were leaving Cairo airspace and were passing 10,000ft and loosened the shoulder straps and I think started to breath.
The captain was happy, the plane was flying and we were on our way.
Up to 47,000ft and 3 hours or so in the cruise and we were heading in a straight line over the Med towards Crete and were taking a left turn towards the coast line of Tunisia.
As the sun was dropping I could see some storm cells forming and decided to try to video one as it reached its mature stage and could see the lightening from above.
As night fell I could see there were storm cells all around the area and also our onboard weather radar picks them up as well.
We had to dodge a few of them in the descent in to Algiers but it was quite impressive to see in the night sky even if it was a touch bumpy at times.
I could hear over the frequency a few aircraft who don't have the same equipment as us getting a little worried by the situation as they were trying to pick their way through the sky.
We made it nice and safely onto the very wet ground and could see that there had been some pretty serious amounts of rain through the area prior to us arriving.
For the time being it was time to secure the plane, head to the hotel and wait to hear when it was going to be time to fly again.
Thoughts for the day:
- As I near my first 100 hours on this plane I'm getting to a point where I'm getting ahead of it at times which is a good feeling
- I'm studying for my ATP exams at the moment and have realised that the February exam date is not that far away
- I miss my wife
- I really do hope the people of Lebanon don't have to suffer the problems of conflict once again
- I don't really like flying in to Cairo