The full 4 ship Global Stars team are heading out to Ahmedabad to display for 4 days in early April. Initially we have to assemble, check and test fly. Then a few days of practice. We are expecting temperatures around 37 – 40’c, one of the hottest venues we have flown at I’m sure.
5th April, disassemble and packing.
All displays completed according to the plan. A big thank you must be said to so many people within the organisation, any one of which we could not have done without. Especially I would like to thank two key people at Ahmedabad airport. Sanyal Aryama – airport director and Ajay Chauhan – Government of Gujarat.
4th April, last display day.
Same same as previous days however this time the crowds had built to a massive scale. It has been estimated that 500,000 people witnessed the shows over the 4 days. Possibly judging by the reports in the news papers that could be so.
3rd April 11:00 & 16:20 displays
Arriving at the airport 10AM temperatures are already in the low 30’s as all days previously its will be in the region of 37’c in a few hours time. This morning yet another arriving a/c has not read the NOTAM but unlike the airlines it is permitted to land being military, we therefor have a 10 mins delay. Visibility is also 3k causing ATC to deal with “special VFR” within the CTZ, not something they have to contend with usually!
2nd April is the first “public” day
Easter holidays are coming, today some people are on holidays. We therefore find many more crowds assembled not only along the river banks but on top of houses, lining the bridges, traffic comes to a stand still in the vicinity of the show. We are told that Friday and Saturday it will be impossible to move.
1st April Gujarat Aero Conclave 2015 – VIP opening
The show is officially opened 30 seconds before we tip in at precisely 16:20. The ATC at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport do a sterling job of calling the opps desk of all inbound airlines in the preceding there flights to make sure they arrive early and on the ground buy 16:10 thus allowing us to take the airspace for 10nm and 4,000ft around the airport. 16:10, taxi, 16:15 cleared for take-off, 16:20 tip in, everything goes to plan. In the afternoons its just a bit more bumpy but the formation manages to take this in its stride. 4;30 formation the a break to fly the big heart, 4;30 solo by myself then we join up again for a further 4:10 formation and then low flypasts. The crowds went wild, with many email congratulations and twitters (@airdisplays). The team head out to the cultural evening ASAP.
31st March. Press day looping and swooping over Ahmedabad.
Skies dawn blue, temps nice 28c, relaxing leasurly breakfast then of to the airport. File the flight plan and we are all set. Takeoff on slot at 11AM, direct to the venue and tip in. We flew a nice show which went to plan with exception of a faff on a smoke call. The afternoon practice flight at the airport was for a few local children who had the privilege of watching and visiting us after the flight. As is very traditional lots of picture requests which as always we obliged. Planes put away and Tom and I go for the following days display briefing for the VIP day. Very strict on timings as the Chief Minister, Anandiben Patel will be opening the show precicely as we tip in.
30th March all going smoothly
All a/c were left fueled and ready for this mornings 11AM flight. We saddle up in the blazing sun with temps about 37 engines start and wait and wait, several airlines are late delaying our departure. A few locals also expected to fly in the NOTAM’ed black out period. We fly a sequence practice in the overhead before setting of to the venue for a couple of teaser figures. RTB and fly the sequence again before landing. The morning slot is our longest allocated. 11:00 to 11:35 every lay. For the afternoon we get 16:20 – 16:40. On landing I discover no right brake, not a problem as its a long runway, left brake is fine so apply right rudder to stear right then left brake to bring you back on line and you slow down. For the afternoon flight we find calm air above 500ft so practice higher avoiding the bumpy ride. Today was my turn for the solo slot, previously Tom had taken these. For the “official shows” I will be sharing the solo with Tom, each of us doing 4 displays.
29th March 1st practice and local trip to see the venue.
The last few items on the planes are done whilst the remainder of the team fuel all a/c. Tom takes a briefing from the tower. Ground runs are carried out, I find the alternator not working but have enough battery for engine start and a flight. We practice over the field, well this is an International airport with scheduled airline arrivals and departures so its imperative we are ready and stick rigidly to the timings given in the NOTAM. We have a short flight over the field then down the river to the display venue, a couple of teaser fugues flown there and back to base. All goes well. I have to have fix the charging issue, cowls off and investigate the cause of the non charging, changing regulator, changing alternator, turtle deck off and then we find a broken terminal connection. Job done with 25 mins spare. Quick walk thru again and we push planes out, just about to saddle up and the wind direction changes, dust is seen in the distance and within moments viz drops to 1KM. planes back in the hangar and that’s it for the day.
28th March, it could have been been enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC)
Today is the assembly day after yesterday mostly wiped out getting air-side passes. Just a 30 mins process today via the normal PAX terminal. Its going to be a hard day to build the 3 a/c. I’m not feeling well at all – got to keep close to the loo! Temperature on the apron we are told is 47’c its hardly any cooler in the hangar. At least its not humid. I have to finish at 5pm with my a/c 99% done. The rest of the team work on till 8PM, the job has to be at a stage to fly 11AM Sunday.
27th March – Global Stars are a full team – Tom arrives, 32 hrs flying UK to India in CAP 232
Well, this turned into a “Top Gear” special. With Tom leaving the UK on Monday 5:30 and the rest of the team by airline on Wednesday. Racing to the finish line at the Government hangars in Ahmedabad. We overtook Tommy whilst he was on the ground in Riyadh. Arriving via Mumbai whilst Tommy was in Muscat, so far so good. The hotel is just 1km from the airport. We can’t get our passes till 10am the following day, we are told so take it easy and rest. We did so. Passes at 10:30 so start work assembling at 11am. Not too badly behind schedule, however we soon learn 10 mins means 30 and 20 mins is 1 1/2 hrs. Lunch time we head to the hotel because passes will be another 30 minutes. Checking the tracker we see Tom is just 200nm away. Back to the airfield and passes office. Man at lunch…. A text from Tom says he’s been on the tarmac in the 42’c heat for 20mins. He beats us to the hangar. Fineley at 14:30 we get airside after the newly issued passes are checked 6 times approximately every 20 – 30 paces. Big congrats to Tom and pats on the back. We start work removing a/c from the containers. Both Chris and I discover some haft wit has stood on the wheel spat and damaged mine. apart from that all is OK. Tonight last thing we get all 3 wings in place and then pack up shop for the evening.
26th March – we finally arrive at Ahmedabad
With a 9 hrs overnight flight from LHR we arrive in Mumbai, then we have a 5 hrs wait for connecting and short flight to Ahmedabad. Arriving at 6pm at to be wished off to the Airport Gateway Hotel ASAP and a much needed rest. Work starts assembling 3 aircraft at 9AM tomorrow. 3PM, briefing with ATC.
Tom’s flight worked to plan. I see from the tracker hes been over the water again. having to fly under the airways….This puts Tom exactly on schedule as planned to arrive in Ahmedabad tomorrow late afternoon. Just 550nm across the Gulf is the next leg inbound Karachi.
25th March the remainder of the team set of from LHR
This time we are a 4 ship team, Tom Cassells leading, myself (MJ) as nr 3 right wing, Steve Carver nr 2 on the left wing and Chris Burkett in box. We are all waiting at LHR except Tom. All the team pilots plus engineers Nick Peel + Keith Taylor and our very own “Mr Press man” David Roberts. You should see the quality of writing improve 🙂
25th, Latest on Tom’s journey.
It was a very early start for Tom today, sun rise and brakes off. No VFR flight 30 mins before/ after in Greece. Today is a long day with several landings and approx 1500nm to cover. Tom was meet in Aqabah by friends from the Jordanian Air force which ensured a quick turn around to set him track to ultimately end up in Riyahd by sunset. Tomorrow (26th) is a take it easy day with a short leg from Riyadh via Al Ain to Muscat, Oman.
24th March Corfu to Pafos
Toms flight today is not as long as yesterday with a planned flight distance of 670 nm. With approximately 60% of this route over land interspersed with islands that leaves a direct sea crossing of approx 240nm from Rodos to Pafos. Flight planning from Corfu to Pafos was an issue with Rocket route failing to direct the plan at the correct addresses necessitating an old fashioned paper fpl being filed. Add that to the rather difficult VFR routing added considerable to Toms frustration. Hopefully tomorrows route to Amman, Jordan and then direct Riyadh will go smoothly.
23rd March Tommy sets off
Crack of sparrows Tom Cassells sets off on his epic flight. Tom has decided he wants an adventure, the 1600nm each direction across Australia and back were just practice runs for his trip to India taking in, France, Italy, Crete, Cyprus, Jordan, Saudi, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Pakistan and India totaling approx 4800nm.
Day one saw Tom at LGKR, Corfu. Unfortunately the tracker did’nt record all the way. A few pictures over the Alps below. Looking forward to seeing you Tom on the 27th.Take care.