© Copyright World Flight 2002







May 15th - Oman to Ahmedabad, India
7 hrs 41mins non-stop flying

The wake up call at 6am was not welcomed as I certainly could have done with a few more hours asleep but we had a long flight ahead. From our planning it was expected to be about 9 hours flying and that was with a ground speed of approx 110 knots. We were very impressed with the Oman Sheraton Hotel, the service was excellent. Arriving at Oman International Airport our Handling Agent Oman Air organized weather and lodged our flight plan. The big weather feature on the charts is the large cyclone moving north towards India. The cyclone would not affect our flight to Ahamadabad but it may do so for our next flight tomorrow to Patna (East India), we will have to watch this carefully and may be forced to sit it out on the ground while the cyclone dissipates.

The heat was 40 degrees Celsius on the airport tarmac as we had
PH-SMD refueled with 500 litres of fuel by Air BP. Our Air BP fuel card came in handy here as we are trying to save as much cash as possible for India where payments must be made in dollars. On start up all instruments looked ok so we proceeded to take off on runway 08 towards the sea to the East. We climbed to 5,000 feet which was all we could get up to with the temperature still showing 30 degrees at this altitude. Then turning onto our cleared track across Arabian Sea to India.

We were expecting to loose VHF radio contact with Oman early on and as we had HF radio (High Frequency long range radio) Oman advised us to call Bombay Control on HF (10.018 MHz or 13.288 MHz) when we lost contact. I reeled out our now 90 meter aerial through the small hole we had made in the back right side window and connected it to the Kenwood HF radio. Straight away we got in touch with Bombay Control on 13.288 MHz and passed our position reports. Out at sea there is no radar coverage so the only way Air Traffic Control know where you are is by aircraft giving regular position reports at certain points along your track. A position report goes like this "Bombay Control PH-SMD.. NOBAT 09.48, 5,000 feet, next EXOLU 11.13". At 200 miles to Bombay we were asked to contact Bombay Centre on the VHF 132.70 MHz. I switched of the HF and reeled in the aerial.

Lunch on board today was a few biscuits and a small cake with regular sips of water - you don't have much of an appetite when flying these long legs so we don't bother bringing much food onboard. The visibility is very poor out at sea today, it is very hazy with no forward view, we can see the sea below but today we haven't seen one ship - looks like we are all alone out here. As we approach Bombay coast, "white horses" appear in the water which indicates the water is rough. At 5,000 feet it is a comfortable 25 degrees outside, though in the cockpit it is a bit uncomfortable as we are wearing bulky life jackets.

Our ditch bags are also tied to ourselves in case we have to ditch in the sea. The ditch bags contain survival equipment such as compass, medicine, GPS, rations, water and protective clothing all in a waterproof bag. If we did have to ditch in the sea first out of the aircraft would be myself (Alan), throwing the life raft away from the aircraft. The life raft is tethered to the aircraft so once it is in the water you pull on the tether line and it self inflates. We then both evacuate the aircraft and make our way into the raft cutting the tether line afterwards. Once in the water our ELT (emergency beacons) will be activated which search and rescue helicopters can home in on. Before we ditched we would also have got a mayday out to Air Traffic Control. Though having to ditch is very unlikely we are prepared.

We landed in Ahamadabad Airport 6pm local time (1.30pm back in Ireland) just before the sun set. The airport has a long 10,000 foot runway but from the charts we could see very few buildings so it looked like a small airport. Once on the ground it was a busy place with a constant stream and airliners arriving and departing in a fast turn around time - Ryanair fashion. We jumped out of the aircraft to be met be three customs officials and a handling agent, The fees for handling in India were over $1,000 so we declined handling and decided to do everything ourselves. A surreal moment occurred when we were standing by the aircraft with the customs officials and a monkey strolled by, crossing the apron then onto a taxi way where a 737 had to give way to monkey before he leisurely strolled off to the other side of the airport.

The customs officials explained they had to seal the aeroplane (an A4 page was stuck onto each of the three doors to act as a seal) until our departure tomorrow to ensure no goods were taken from the aircraft other than our personal belongings for the night, Then the paperwork started in the airport. First we had to clear immigration, this took about 40 minutes but no problems here. After this we walked to customs were we were given eight forms to fill in. Paul filled in the forms while I watched wondering would they ever end. Computers are not used, instead carbon paper is used to make the copies. 2 ˝ hours later we left the airport in a taxi to the hotel.

We were lucky to arrive at the hotel as the driving in India is far more dangerous than flying - onroute to the hotel we swerved to avoid a dead cow in the middle of the road and at another time ended up on the center island of the roasd with the brakes screeching to avoid hitting a motor bike. The roads were jammed with bicycles, cars, mopeds, pedestrians, Tuk Tuk like vehicles (in between a small car and a motor bike) and of course numerous animals going about their business. On the sides of the road were people asleep, cows munching away at litter and people buying and selling,

The numbers of people amazed me as I thought Ahmedabad would be a small town. We were pleasantly surprised to find our Holiday Inn to be an excellent hotel with the best service we have had so far. The staff were very helpful. It was 10.30pm when we checked in so it was straight to dinner for an Indian meal and then to bed as we were up again at 6am the following morning to Patna (East India). Tomorrow we must watch the weather carefully for the cyclone heading North - it may affect our route to Thailand.


Leaving Oman

The Oman coastline

Our HF radio

First view of India

Checking the Oil after landing at
Ahamadabad Airport, India

Ahamadabad City

Local transport

View from our hotel room
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