May 17th -
Patna, India to Chiang Mai, Thailand
hr 23 mins non-stop flying
Chiang Mai (VTCC)
hours of filling in paper work was required before we could get
out of Patna. Once you accept this delay and understand the process
it is very pleasant to deal with all the airport authorities.
With the aircraft loaded and ready to go we called for a clearance
to start up. Informed of a ten-minute delay we climbed out of
the cockpit and took refuge under the wing to escape the blistering
sun. Eventually we gotairborne
at 1100 hours local time. We were cleared direct to Calcutta.
The weather on
route was exactly as forecast with increasing amounts of cloud
cover as we moved south eastwards. After Calcutta we said goodbye
to India and passed into Bangladesh airspace under Dhaka control.
After flying for 2 hours across the northern tip of The Bay of
Bengal we were about to enter Myanmar (formally Burma). However
we were unable to contact Yangon control for a clearance to enter
their airspace. The HF aerial was quickly dispatched out the back
of the plane in an effort to contact Yangon Radio. Clearance was
received just in time, when we were about two miles from the boundary.
Increasing amounts of cumulus cloud are normal around here at
this time of the year and with the aid of an onboard storm scope
we safely navigated around the nasty thundery stuff. Moving into
Myanmar the landscape changed from Paddy fields to mountainous
jungle. Although to date we have traversed vast amounts of water,
over jungle we became aware of how vunerable we were in the event
of an engine failure or other emergency. We were struck with the
beauty of the countryside and kept our camera busy.
light began to fail and landing at Chang Mai would be the first
night landing since Crete. Yangon and Bangkok control both gave
us short cuts enabling the total trip time to be shortened by
an hour. Chiang Mai (1000' above sea level) is surrounded by high
terrain and we left it until about 30 miles out to start our descent
from 11000 feet. Although the wind favoured using the southerly
runway, we were offered a choice of the northerly or southerly
facing runway. As we were approaching from the south we accepted
a 5kt tailwind on landing. ATC slotted us in ahead of a Thai Airways
Airbus 330. Arrival here was in stark contrast to other airports
so far. No handling agents in sight, we proceeded to the arrivals
terminal on foot. Before immigration could be completed we were
passed information on SARS and were questioned as to our whereabouts
over the past few weeks. It was to be another hour before customs
and immigration could be cleared. The delay was due to them not
having the required forms for us to fill in.
negotiations were made on our behalf by Apinya (local Thai girl
working for airport security). When customs and immigration finally
got things sorted they charged us 200 Baht ($5) for their overtime.
Many thanks to Apinya and Yuvadee who helped us get through the
airport's complex arrival system. We are resting here for three
days before moving on to Phuket, Thailand. Owing to the increased
risk of SARS in Singapore we have decided not to land here and
will now refuel in Phuket. By not stopping in Singapore we will
also avoid the possibility
of facing quarentine in Australia on arrival.