June 17 Manado (Indonesia)
- Manila (Philippines)
nautical miles 6hr 32mins
Cyclone Soudelor, which had delayed us for two days in Indonesia, has been down-graded
to a tropical storm and is set to track north of the Philippines and towards Japan.
Not good news for WF2003 but its current position means we can finally get underway
to Manila. A late morning departure means we can arrive with most of the bad weather
having passed north of Manila and the forecast shows rain showers associated with
some low cloud. There is a possibility of evening thunderstorms so we carry enough
fuel to hold for up to an hour should these conditions exist on arrival. We decided
to take a more westerly route keeping us away from all the poor flying conditions
in the wake of cyclone Soudelor.
Departure from Manado was on the northerly runway, which kept us clear of high
terrain on the south of the island. Airborne into clear blue skies we set course
for the Indo-Philippine boundary. About 60 minutes into the flight we were awoken
by our first in flight emergency. The upper door latch had become undone. Following
the operating manual procedure we reduced our airspeed to a minimum in order to
secure the door. The situation became worse when the door fully opened and we
were unable to shut it. We had to seriously consider returning to Manado as we
still had about six hours flying remaining. A quick solution was needed and it
came in the form of looping the HF aerial around the upper latch and while Paul
pulled the aerial in towards him, Alan managed to pull the door shut and secure
it properly. Operations were now normal. We always thought carrying a spare aerial
was a smart idea but we never envisaged using it in this way.
Communications were difficult to maintain with air traffic control and thanks
to Martinair 094 and New Zealand 123 for relaying position reports for us. The
crew of the Martinair 747 called us on the air-to-air frequency of 123.45. They
were interested in why a Dutch registered aircraft was flying a such a low level
in this part of the world. They asked us about the view from our level and wished
us the best of luck for the remainder of the trip.
we came about 300 hundred miles south of Manila, blue sky gave way to overcast
conditions above us at 12,000 feet. On a few occasions we had to deviate off track
to avoid large build-ups of thunderclouds. The approach into Manila was very swift
with ground speeds up to 180knots owing to strong tailwinds. There is a speed
restriction of 180knots for piston aircraft during the approach and we even had
to reduce our speed by 10knots to avoid catching preceding traffic. Handling is
compulsory here and we were very quickly processed by immigration, customs and
quarantine. We also had a quick check of our temperature to comply with SARS regulations.
Within 45 minutes we were checking into our hotel. We had arrived at a good time;
from our hotel room we viewed a fantastic electric storm as the heavens opened.
Better to see these things from the ground! Two days are planned here with a departure
for Kagoshima on 19 June. Owing to the position of Soudelor we may have to remain
here for one more day.