We were lined up and rolling less than an hour later with the sky to the north filled with a lightning show. We got ourselves out of there as quick as we could. Cleared to climb to six thousand feet, we headed for Taiwan, climbing through rain, cloud and turbulence. Guam ATC kept warning us of heavy precipitation in our twelve o’clock position. We just ploughed through it. They gave us the HF frequencies to establish communication with San Francisco, and when we tried to turn on the radio it simply never came on. Guam ATC gave us a latitude, by which, if we had not established comms with San Francisco, we would need to return to Guam. Well I don’t know how, but by enough attempts at trying to hold down a little rubber button the radio eventually came to life, and we got San Francisco coming at out of the static. Round about that point, we got to six thousand feet, which put us just on top of the clouds. We were welcomed on top by the waiting moon, which had waned to a quarter crescent, but was bright and lit the cloudscape in a beautiful soft blue light, which shone through the breaks in the clouds to create a white sheen on the Smooth Pacific surface. A magical sight.
This would be our view for the next 5 hours when the sunrise would again brighten the sky for yet another magical transformation to day.
Headwind was a little kinder on this leg, and weather up there was also less developed than the leg to Guam. I did a lot of reading, and Patrick remained very focused on the flying and used our comfortable fuel reserves to optimise our speed into the headwinds.
We were talking to Tokyo Radio on the HF as we approached Taiwan. We were making our way through some rather gloomy weather as we were about 200 miles out. Visibility was poor and we flew through some thick cloud and rain more often. At 150 miles out Tokyo handed us over to Tapei who we failed to raise on VHF until about 80 miles out. They vectored us in on a IF aproach. This worked wonderfully because of the very limited visibility and the known high terrain on our approach in. We were eventually set up on finals, and as we came out of cloud, there the runway was and the impressive city scape below. Another Perfect landing by Patrick marked a point in the history of General aviation in Taiwan.
We were welcomed by the ATC and cautiously slipped the Taiwanese flag out the canopy opening – not sure how this would be accepted in the very conservative environment. The ground controller and media thanked us for ‘the flag’, so we immediately raised further and enjoyed the ride in to the welcoming ground crew in our parking. The airport is a very secure area, and Pat had organised some photographers to film our landing from a vantage point outside the airport. We were picked up in a very stately black BMW and taken to the business centre, where customs and security quickly checked us through. As we walked through the security exit, a present crew was waiting. They had been at the airport and seen our landing and had managed to find us. They had a brief interview with us in Taiwanese for a news channel.
Patrick’s Mom and Dad were there, getting in on the action, as well as some of the people from the group that have purchased ZU -TWN. All very exciting and a great start for Patrick, who is fast becoming a respected general aviation diplomat in Taiwan.
A ride through the bustling city got us home, and after a beef noodle dinner, I had a good sleep. Patrick fetched me from my apartment at 8 am and we drove through peak hour traffic to the Old International Airport to start the process of getting a flight plan filed and permission to fly around the island of Taiwan. This, in a country that has almost no General Aviation.
We have now!
We are on our way to fly around Taiwan today!