Thursday, July 13, 2017

Night flight storms and a dawn chorus after a really short night

I'm sitting here after a long night, but the brain is whirring away and not really able to get off to sleep.
Yesterday saw me called to London to meet up with the aircraft as the owner wanted to fly home to the Middle East.
A longish drive in a hire car, (a smart car !!!) up the M5 and M4 and time to get the plane ready.
Very aware this was going to be the first flight for me with the new boss was the source of a little nerves I have to admit.

The departure was scheduled for 11:30pm local time and was ready well in advance, aircraft fuelled, looking good, the flight plan sorted out and entered into the flight computer. The flight was planned up at 45,000ft and was expected to last between 4 and 4.5 hours.

In what seemed like a blur the owner and his family arrived, I got our clearances and before I knew it we were taxiing out on a pretty quiet airport to runway 04 for departure.
Taxi checks complete, and we were cleared for take off.
This plane does make me smile........ put the throttles forward and the power is amazing. But then thats a Global Express Airplane for you.
The sun starts to come up 
We were making a nice right turn with the only outside light provided by the 3/4moon and we were climbing over the Thames estuary with the bright lights of London out to the right.
Within 15 seconds I was then seeing the ferries going over the channel between Dover and Calais and then the lights of Ostend, we were cleared up to 41,000ft initially and I was talking to a German controller, so we were well on our way.
Cyprus out of the starboard window
In the distance I could start to make out a huge thunder and lightening storm somewhere near Austria and we were cleared to 45,000ft and quite literally flew over it.
What an amazing sight, I tried to video it but an iPhone doesn't do it justice.

Final approach to runway 04

Austria, Hungary and Serbia flew by beneath us as the sun started to come up out of the left window over Bulgaria with Turkey in front of us, it felt like we were waking up with them although we were a few miles up above.
A cup of tea in the cockpit and we were preparing for decent when I came across one of the anomalies of flying in these parts of the world, namely the Turkey & Cyprus politics issues and the small matter of disputed airspace. i.e. each believes they own it and doesn't recognise each other.
The only way of dealing with this is as a pilot to act like a marriage guidance counsellor and talk to each air traffic controller really nicely and negotiate a way through.
This was our top of descent as Cyprus was out of the right side of the window and the mountainous border between The Lebanon and Syria was poking its head out through the early morning mist.
It was this point I realised I had just pulled an all nighter with no sleep and the eyes were burning a touch.
Taxiing in once on the ground 

Descent checks complete and I was talking to the approach controller and we were given really early clearance virtually straight in from 45 miles out.
Time to configure the aircraft, slats and flaps, gear down and a lovely view with a runway straight ahead and the Ocean off to the right.
Gently back on the control column and we were in.....
Taxi clearance to the General Aviation stand, and there was a welcome party of officials, customs and baggage handlers.
The door of the airplane opened, and at 5:35am local time it was already 27 degrees and a gentle breeze......

A bit nicer than the crazy heat of Dubai, mind you that all seems like a distant memory.
First things first though, must text Naomi to let her know I didn't get us lost, get fired or break anything.
Then its time to meet the officials, shake a lot of hands and sort out the paperwork with the passengers disembarked pretty sharpish.

With the paperwork done and having let everything cool down I began the job of putting the plane to bed, putting her covers on, control locks on and pins in place.

Closing her up and putting her to bed

Finally we lock her up and head into the terminal, her job is done and so is mine. Now I can't quite work out if I need to go to bed or I need a beer........

Confused and still thinking it feels like it should be last night but its 5am local time

A short 15 minute taxi ride through the city, and I get my first impressions of a place I'm going to be spending quite a bit of time and then we arrive at my new digs on the 9th floor of an apartment block
right in the city centre


Thoughts for the day:

  • Never accept a Smart car as a hire car, they are rubbish on the motorway when lorries drive past
  • I wish I could have brought Naomi along for this flight too, not sure she'd have liked the lightening show though
  • It all feels pretty real now
  • Its strange not knowing what the next few days will bring
  • Its annoying being in a place that has power cuts that knock the Internet out as it means I have to write my blog twice three times !!!!

A pretty big week of flying with some centreline hopscotch.....

Hours flown this month(FEB): 33 Landings: 8 Countries visited: 5  Continents visited: 3  Quick iron of the shirt and in th...