Bagumpet, Hyderabad the Global Stars at India Aviation.
The Global Stars team are privileged to be opening India Aviation 2016 on the 16th March. Four Extras were shipped on the 14th January to travel London Gateway port to the ICD (International Container Depot) Hyderabad via Nhava Sheva, Mumbai.
Tom and myself flew the show in 2014 arousing great enthusiasm amongst the crowd, so much so we needed a police escort thru the masses of supporters. It was after this event I “lost” my aircraft at sea for 4 months after an explosion on a ship killing one crew member.
23rd March. Alarm at 04:50 to catch the 05:20 bus to the terminal and BA276 back to LHR in a Boeing 787. Before setting of to India on the 9th March we all knew it would be a very intense and hard working adventure with some extreamly hot curries and temperatures. This is exactly how it turned out to be. 🙂 We are looking forward to going back to Ahmadabad for shows on the 29th April – 1st May.
22nd March. Today after all the carful planning we check out of the Vivanta Taj at 06:30 with the aim of a 07:15 launch. Its cool at that time of day. A quick trip to the tower and we find the planned day is going to slip. Finally after much negotiating we are cleared to line up with a T/O at 09:30. Climbing on a heading of 090’ to FL105 for 100nm the WRONG direction (required for DCT is 325’) we then turn North heading to our first fuelling stop. After 2;20 we start the decent into the inferno at ground level. Again the much pre-planned fuel is not what we would find acceptable in Europe. The 100LL is stored off airport so arrival is some 45 mins after landing. The 200lts drums of fuel arrive with plenty of workers to dispense it. Unfortunately these guys are not strong enough to convincingly turn the barrel pumps to move the 200lts into 2 a/c at any rate of urgency. Finally we are cleared to taxi and line up. Again climbing to FL105 where it is considerably cooler. This leg is shorter at 1;30. A call back to our HYD hosts has worked wonders, after 10 mins a gurney with 3 barrels of fuel arrives but alas, no barrel pump. A 1” pipe appears and a syphon into the 10 lts measuring jugs starts. Each aircraft is filled. Meanwhile negotiations with ATC are happening, just a 15 mins wait is experienced for ATC matters and we are cleared to taxi. The last leg is 177nm DCT VAAH. We land and are parked in the new Government hangars at Ahmadabad International. With 50 mins spare we jump on a IndiGo flight back to Hyderabad and check in to the Novatel at the a/p.
How would I describe the Indian countryside. Well, it’s a mixture from several continents. The cities are bland concrete blocks. Some parts of the “out back” are exactly that, they could be in the Perth area of Australia. The dry desert areas with meandering river beds totally void of water. Then as you get further North you could be in farming areas of France with square fields. (France rectangular), one area you could be in Tuscany with nicely tree lined roads, hedges and well built brick houses.
21st March. I have business meetings with the Chinese to plan future shows and aircraft sales in 2017. The first being in March 2017. Part of a series of the World Air Masters.
Tom is tasked with flight planning, tis is very fraught with difficulties. We appreciate the help given to us by the various agencies in the HYD TWR. After 6 hours of negotiations we think there is a plan in place. For one reason or another we have to take a route of 720nm rather than our chosen route of 472nm. This adds another fuelling stop and considerable flight time, but hey, we are here to see the country.
20th March. Final show day. This starts with a business meeting to finalise another show in 5 weeks time. All terms are agreed. The Global Stars will position at Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Again we are asked to fly 3 times. Temperatures over 40’c for most of the day. Again we are greeted with huge applause as we walk out to the aircraft.
19th March. Last trade day. Flying in this heat is tough. Sweat runs down your face, the salt in your eyes is tough to deal with. Temperatures are approx 39’c – 42’c on the ground. The “cooler” air is above 3000ft, we just get a sniff of this before tipping in. Todays papers are full of stuff.
Mike Wood has joined us from the UK in preparation for meetings on the 21st. We take the opportunity to go through the necessary measures to renew the teams display authorisations treating the show as a DA renewal. This involves Mike being present for leaders briefing, display and then team debriefing. Mike observes 2 displays with team member Michael Pickin flying in box while Chris Burkett stands down.
18th March. Last trade day. Flying in this heat is tough. Sweat runs down your face, the salt in your eyes is tough to deal with. Temperatures are approx 39’c – 42’c on the ground. The “cooler” air is above 3000ft, we just get a sniff of this before tipping in. Todays papers are full of stuff.
17th March. Second trade day. Today we got a curved ball. Briefing sheet flying at 11:35 & 15:00, we oblige. Upon landing at 15:25 we are told to fly at 16:00 because the trade delegates and the minister of aviation will be coming from the conference. Ground crew and pilots pitch in to refuel, re smoke oil all four aircraft. Radio calls at 16:03 and we are set to fly again.
16th March. The Hon’ble President of India Mr. Pranab Mukherjee inaugurated the India Aviation-2016. Once the event was declared “open” we took to the skies. The runway is 2750 meters so we are using the mid-point for departures. Nr 4 takes a 500 meters back track and rolls once cleared, he then instructs the team to roll after he is airborne with a slipping pass. Timing is precise so he can then slot into box once the leading Vic is climbing away.
15th March. Final practice day, the morning is a bit cooler and the performance difference is quite noted. We fly the full show. The show is due to open tomorrow. I walk around the venue to see much to be constructed with trade pavilions being panted, carpets laid, marketing hoardings being constructed. The afternoon flight is with Michael Pickin flying box in the 4 ship.
14th March. A short mini bus “danger ride” to the a/p and we find a new shaded area bolted to the ground 🙂 Tom and I go for briefings in the TWR again. The guys here certainly are very helpful. We fly the morning practice with smoke this time. Everything goes well with the 4 ship. Tom stays aloft while we strap Michael Pickin in for some practice, he’s our reserve pilot on this occasion, just incase someone goes down with tummy issues!. It was not so hot today, just 40’c. Lucky it’s not humid. 31’c in China with humidity was far worse. Just 1 more days practice before show opening on the 16th.
13th March. The day starts with packing bags to move to the Vivanta by Taj hotel approx 10 mins from the airport. Bit of a pain but when we get here everyone is pleased, not saying the last Taj was bad at all, it was the travelling and the near misses in the traffic every few seconds that was the pain. We arrive at the a/p and Tom and I go to the TWR to file FPL for the day. A morning slot and an afternoon slot. Flying goes well, just a few birds. Lunch at the nearby oasis then we fly again at 2. We note a marked increase in temperature after lunch I have an infred thermometer. Air temp is 45, the tarmac is 63 and the darkest a/c aircraft is 67.8’c…… These temps caused a slight issue, our shaded area was subject to a dust devil which whisked our shade away over the fence.
12th March. Today we plan on earlier start. First job Tom and I visit the tower to arrange the YA number and file flight plans. meeting the SATCO and her team. All is arranged without issue which is refreshing. 2 flights are planned, morning and afternoon. We plan on a gentle training session. Tom is up first with Chris as a pair, Chris lands and Steve joins, then Steve lands and I join in G-JOKR. The afternoon I stand down and allow our “reserve” pilot Michael Pickin to fly, again as a pair then after he’s settled Chris and Steve joins for a full 4 ship practice. No issues and positioning looks good. Leader flies at 23″ thus giving wing men just enough extra power to stay in position. Temperatures. Air 39’c, tarmac 53’c, tool boxes 64’c…..
11th March. We decided for to take a late start. 11am at the ap. Picking up from where we left of last night. Continuing fitting various parts and controls. The order of the day is plenty of water. we drink several litres without a visit to the loo. Its hot 🙂 Tom and I discover an oasis for lunch, air con and 3 course while the rest of the team slave on. We work till just before sunset. All aircraft completed initial and duplicate inspections so we are ready to fly tomorrow. Steve Carver completes the Extra 260 first so its his task to fuel all other a/c. Canopy covers on and its back to the hotel for supper.
10th March we arrive at Hyderabad international airport. Our body says its 00:30am. Apparently the 787 has got humidifiers, this we understand helps reduce jet lag. I’m. not so sure! We head to the hotel to get a little bit of head down before grabbing the last breakfast call at 9am. After being feed its of to the Bagumpet to cut the seals of the 4 containers. All aircraft are in good order, no issues. We work rapidly to get them out of the containers which are too hot to touch. Assembly progresses well.
9th March. Today starts with unloading G-IIHI at 9am after its return from Bahrain. 11am, in the shower and taxi with Mr Baggopipes ANDY McLuskie our licenced engineer at 11:30 to LHR.
The team meets at the Giraffe eatery terminal 5 for the BA flight direct to Hyderabad. This is a 9 hours flight, departing some 30 mins late due to the normal LHR problems. The plane has got 2 engines and bendy wings and they call it a Boeing 787.
13th January. We load the aircraft into 4 containers. 2 persons take approximately 2.5 – 3 hours. Its hard work, especially when hot. The day after loading I’m of to Bahrain to fly in BIAS 2016 with G-IIHI which had shipped in November. The 9th March is team travels to India for the assembly.