Tim called me at 2.20 am this morning saying that he couldn’t get hold of James to give him the weather forecast. I tried too but without luck and so went back to sleep leaving Tim to keep trying. At 4.30 I jumped awake wondering why J & J hadn’t called for a final check in and brief on their exact route. This time I got through to them when I called James answered and the conversation went something like this:
“Mike, howzit man (James’ style) hell we have been battling for over an hour and have decided to take it is easy now because we lost the battle to get the extra fuel through security to the plane. You know we had a letter from the head of security and the airport duty office saying they we would be able to transport the Mogas to the plane but this morning they just wouldn’t let us through so we have abandoned the containers outside and are walking to the plane right now. We have enough anyway we landed with at least 80 litres and we managed to get 195 litres Avgas so we are good. Anyway, we are in good shape and ready to go. We will have tailwinds so I guess the flight will take 9 hours 10 minutes and take off will be at 0300 Zulu so will you please let Michelle at Flight Permits know so that she can book our slot in Phuket. Here chat to Jean”
Jean: “Howzit, hell this is a real adventure. It is good to be doing this with James you guys have the experience in dealing with this stuff and it helped today. The filing of flight plans and all that can be crazy. So, I cleaned both of the pump filters and from now on I will do it before each flight … you know there was a kind of lint or fluff in the filter of the one pump. We should put a finer filter in after the standard filter. And the electrical problem I haven’t been able to trace … it is definitely a loose wire somewhere because when I fiddled with the wires behind the dash everything worked again. And I will take the tracker antenna off in Phuket and dry it out and try and get it working. OK we are at the plane bye!”
I wished them good luck and strong tailwinds and promptly lay down in my bed and went back to sleep.
50 Minutes after their take off time the phone rang and a man with a Sri Lankan accent asked me “is that ZUTAF” I said no, but I am the operator. He explained that he was the Colombo ATC and asked if ZUTAF had a satellite phone because he needed to talk to them. When I told him no, I had no way of contacting them at which point he promptly put the phone down. I have to guess that something had changed on their flight plan or they couldn’t get a slot into Phuket or something like that and so in a way it was a good thing that we were not in touch because the possibility exists that they would have been forced to turn back for some reason or other.
It is now 1 pm local time which means they have been flying for 7 hours and have just over 2 hours to go. A short flight this time and a day flight too. Nice.