Dick Poole continues his story…

Calcutta to Bangkok - 10 Jan 1981 (Duration 2hrs 20min)

After concluding our turn round at Calcutta we took off after lunch and headed for Bangkok. We climbed up to 39000ft over the Ganges delta and had a magnificent view of the many snakelike waterways that make up this crows foot delta. This must be one of the most spectacular sights in the world.

We flew on with the Burmese coastline to starboard. The flight test engineer was correct in his opinion that the fuel would not transfer from the port drop tank so we continued with an ever-increasing lateral asymmetry. We saw some towering cloudscapes on this leg and flew in a loose formation in order to cater for the turbulence that we could expect to encounter. Our arrival at Bangkok coincided with low cloud and rain and because we now had a significant asymmetry Chris elected not to carry out a formation landing. The monsoon type climate meant that the aircraft and airport dried out rapidly once the rain had stopped and we set about refuelling the aircraft.

Ferry Flight Of Mk53 Hawks To Indonesia - Part 2

Toptop toptoptoptoptoptop

The plan was to refuel the internal tanks only and then try to siphon half the fuel from the full drop tank to the empty one and we purchased some one-inch diameter clear plastic tube from a hardware store the following day for this purpose. We satisfied ourselves that we would be able to start the siphon offFerry Flight Of Mk53 Hawks To Indonesia - Part 2 by cutting off a piece of our tube and transferring water from the washbasin to the bath in the very posh Bangkok Oriental Hotel. Much to the amusement of the others I was booked in as Captain Poole and a considerable amount of mickey taking followed this discovery.

The hotel is situated on the riverbank with tropical gardens, outdoor restaurant and large pool. In earlier days it was a favourite haunt of ErneFerry Flight Of Mk53 Hawks To Indonesia - Part 2st Hemmingway. As we enjoyed a refreshing beer in the gardens in the late afternoon we were joined by a number of colourful butterflies with wingspans of up to six inches. The following day we did some sight seeing by the traditional motorised rickshaw trikes, souvenir shopping and oriental feasting.

Next day was the third two-leg day and we set of early to prepare the aircraft. We had asked BA, the handling agency, if they could provide a container to receive the first of the siphoned fuel from Chris's aircraft to insure that it was not contaminated by the tube but when we reached the aircraft we found that we had unintentionally filled the empty drop tank and we had nowhere to siphon the fuel to. They were unable to find a suitable container but in the end it didn't matter because a horde of people descended on us from all directions with buckets and tins as they had heard that we were giving away paraffin.

It transpired that these folks lived in a make shift camp just outside the aerodrome and used paraffin poured into tins with sand in the bottom as stoves for cooking. We allowed them to empty the 100gallon drop-tank that would not transfer, using our plastic hose as a siphon and everyone was happy.
Bangkok to Butterworth (Malaysia) - 12 Jan 1981 (Duration 1hr 25 min) 

After an uneventful asymmetrically loaded take off we headed south-east to the military airfield called Butterworth located on the Malaysian mainland adjacent to the island of Penang. The initial part of the journey was over forests but ended over cultivation around Butterworth. Looking down on the airfield it was just like any RAF airfield, except for the palm trees, with cold war type ORPs and arrester barriers at each end of the runway. Air traffic control communications were by UHF radio.

We were met by the Senior RAF Officer seconded to the base who took us to the Officers Mess for refreshment and we then fuelled both aircraft to full internal fuel and replenished their oxygen supply before commencing the final leg of the journey.
Butterworth to Yogyakarta - 12 Jan 1981 (Duration 2hrs 25min)

This leg of our journey at around 40,000 ft took us down the west side of Malaysia to Singapore, down the eastern coast of Sumatra, then across the sea to the vicinity of Jakarta and finally east along the centre of Java to the combined civil and military airfield at Yogyakarta. The scenery on this leg over Java included a number of classically shaped volcanoes that were fortunately dormant during our passage. The aircraft were parked in the military area of the airfield and we exited them into a very hot and humid atmosphere.

Following the presentation of the aircraft documentation to the Indonesian reception committee we collected our personal kit and the ferry equipment and were taken to the Yogyakarta Sheraton Hotel where we were met by Bill Bedford. He informed us that we were invited to dinner with some of the Indonesian Air Force at a local restaurant and would not have much time to unpack and shower before we would be picked up.

Dusk was upon us as we were driven through the suburbs of Yogyakarta and we were glad for the air conditioning reducing the humidity level. Again we saw vegetation that people struggle to grow in pots at home that reached heights of 5 or 6 feet and some wonderfully colourful flowering trees and bushes.

The dinner consisted of a number of different spicy courses, tropical fruits and various alcoholic beverages and in the end tiredness from the two-leg journey and the humidity took its toll and I'm ashamed to admit I nodded off during the speeches. I was assured later that nobody actually noticed.

On the way to the airport the following morning we drove past two previous training aircraft types used by the Indonesian Air Force, the Vultee BT15 Valiant and the MIG 15 UTI. The former appeared to be displayed in a private garden and the latter was pole mounted near the entrance to the base. Base.
Return Trip Via Singapore

We only spent one night in Yogyakarta and then headed off to Singapore in the morning on a Garuda Airbus for a two-night stay in The Shang Ri La hotel, one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Apart from the usual facilities you would expect in such an establishment it featured a tropical terraced garden, with a wonderful selection of tropical plants, built against the side of the hotel rising to several floors above ground level. Vegetation included various palms and six-foot tall mother-in-law tongues and bougainvillea shrubs. We spent a day looking at the city and shopping followed by a good oriental dinner in the hotel.

During the shopping expedition I purchased a digital watch after some deliberation and much haggling. I was principally concerned about what to do if it stopped working soon after I got home. To allay my fears the shop owner showed me the guarantee booklet that gave the servicing address for Seiko Watches in England as Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey so I decided to buy.

The last leg of the journey home was made on a Singapore Airlines B747 and as Chris was required to fly again almost immediately we were allowed to travel first class. This was an extremely comfortable flight and the only time I have seen and smelt scrambled eggs and bacon being cooked on an aircraft by the crew. It was an excellent finale to a very interesting journey.