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28th November 2004 Air Show

This is Sunday 28th of November 2004 and it began as most of my Sundays do, up at dawn around 6am first watching BBC news and off to meet my friends for a good English breakfast down in the town, at the moment our favourite venue is the Sportsman bar in Soi 6 just off Pattaya 2nd road. I would normally leave about 8:30am to collect my friends just before 9am but this morning I had to leave a little earlier so I could visit the temporary airfield that was to be the venue for the dayís event. The day was already warm in the bright winter sun of Thailand with a fairly strong northerly breeze.  

Young George had told me of an event being held for charity in aid of the under privileged children of northern Thailand about four weeks ago now. In that time I had visited the site or indeed the approximate site as I had only had a rough description at that time, naturally I expected to go and find some evidence of work on the runway. It was not until earlier this last week that on visiting the site behind the Lotus Tesco building on Sukhumvit Road I found a bulldozer levelling a piece of land.  

On the left is young Mr. George Para motor Champion and chef organizer of this event. On the left is Mr. Ian CEO of Pattaya People News Paper and TV.

Mr, George is about twenty and has been in Thailand since he was babe in arms speaks perfect Thai, like a native and come originally from somewhere in eastern Europe.

Could this be it? I asked myself as there I was in the middle of a very big field, at one end there was a small quarry, ok quarry is perhaps a little bit of an over statement, more a big hole now filled with light brown muddy water where someone has earned some cash selling the very grainy earth for building purposes. Around this were several trees about thirty to forty feet tall which would be right on the flight path for the runway if indeed this was what the bulldozer was all about. Yesterday I received a call from George luckily while I was in town when he was indeed at the site with one of the high-ups from the immigration police so I joined them there, and indeed I had guessed correctly.

This was to be the runway, it was about 250 meters long (about 270yds), running very close to north to south which was good for the prevailing wind at this time of year, unfortunately at least fifty meters of this was totally useless because of the trees directly on the flight path. This was 27th of November and the event was to be on the 28th and frankly I just couldnít see it. It was something like flat but having been churned up by the dozer it was far too soft and lumpy. Landing there at that time would be like trying to land on custard. The nose wheel would dig in sending any pilot cart-wheeling  no matter how good he was. With that the owner of the land turned up, reputably one of the richest men in Pattaya, owning one or more of the big entertainment venues. Personally I was more interested in his car, a brand new BMW Mini since I used to race the old BMC Mini on land just like this; it was of great interest to me. George had realized this problem and a power roller was whistled up - just like that -along with a man to drive it, this man just happened to have one. Well he would wouldnít he.  

Later that day the site was transformed from totally impossible to really quite respectable. I was amazed, to say the least, with about 20 hours to go we had a runway. Local authorities could take a big lesson from these people. Have you ever been driven to the point of distraction by endless road works which seem mainly to consist of the sight of men leaning on shovels. This was a runway created with the urgency of the summer of 1940 in the south of England during the Battle of Britain. OK it was not perfect but it would do the job very well. So when I arrived there at around 8:20am on the morning of the 28th the site was set with tents, very important so you can shade from the still very strong winter sun. Poles and tape to mark out the runway and spectator areas. It had the lot and I could now go to see the captain at CMT with confidence in the venue and ask him if he would do the honours and send a few aircraft down there to cover the event whilst providing one of the instructors to fly sight-seeing trips in my aircraft, the cash for which was to go directly into the charity boxes. If I come up with any more charity ideas I am sure he is going to see me and mutter under his breath in Thai Ďwhat on earth does he want now?í  

Captain Aim ready for takeoff with one of the paying customers all in aid of the poor children of northern Thailand.

So from the new airfield too pick up Tony one of our colonel cousins for breakfast. Mr. Tim my original Sunday breakfast comrade has disappeared back to the UK for the time being but thatís another story. Breakfast over and very nice as usual it was, I drop off Tony and then one more look at the site and back to check one more time on my email before setting off for Chonburi and the Captain at CMT. I arrived there just on 1pm and there was the captain sitting having lunch with Booner, just the two men I needed. I first had to check that they had received the letter that I had asked be given to the captain on his arrival that I had delivered the day before. He duly had but had also not realized that the event was today beginning in one hourís time. Too my delight he immediately set about a plan. just like that. It had been considered the day before that the notice was just too short but where there is a will there is a way. Booner unfortunately was tied up with students later in the afternoon but he volunteered his son, a recently qualified commercial pilot, to fly with me down there and act as a sight-seeing pilot and Udie, one of the Jet jockeys to perform aerobatics. Udie is more commonly know as the submarine pilot at the moment but that again is another story. All this together with the captain himself as ambassador and one of the mechanics for refuelling and all in half an hour.  

By 2:30pm I was in the air with Aim the Captainís son, we had quite a quick flight only about half an hour with quite a strong tail wind. However this same wind would make the return journey near twice as long making it imperative that we leave by no later than 4:45pm with the sun going down at about 6pm, the visibility was good this day and you could see Pattaya Park tower within five minutes of take off. So with knowing that the site was just a few degrees to the east of that we were able to make a very direct course across the bay leaving Sri Racha to the east, with Captain Aim doing the flying and myself acting as navigator. I had time to observe many of the sights that one doesnít have the time to concentrate on while doing the job of flying. On arrival we made one test approach checking the landing surface then around again for landing with only a little worry about the trees on the flight path.  

This went off with out problem to cheers from the crowd of very many very young spectators. George had told me that the local orphanage was being bussed in and they all looked very happy to be there doing something different for the day. On exiting the aircraft I was very soon surrounded by familiar faces, faces that I had not expected to see on this day. To my great surprise it was the children from the Camillian center as I had no idea they where coming for the day out despite the fact that I had mentioned the event to Paddy and Gorgonian on my last visit there a few weeks ago. So there I was being whisked away to meet Sister yet again, the flying Nun from the childrenís party in October at CMT. I was soon dragged off to see something of the radio-controlled power boat display in one of the small lakes at the down wind end of the runway. Well I say lake but it was really a coffee water pit caused by the excavation of gravel used for building purposes. That said, the two young girls that had dragged me off to see a few very noisy model boats turn unintentionally into submarines, seemed to love the fun. Especially when the men controlling them had to take several swims to recover them.  

This radio controlled motor boat was soon to turn into a submarine much to the delight of my young companions.

While all this was going on my aircraft with Captain Aim was indeed taking people who wished to make the necessary donation in aid of the charity for a quick trip over the local countryside. They raised 14,000 Baht with the aid of my aircraft and a total of about Baht 100,000 ($2,500.USD) on the day. The main part of my aircraftís contribution was from a raffle to get Peter one of the event organizers to take a trip in my aircraft. This in its self raised 12,000Baht. I donít know if he was really afraid to fly but it made a very useful contribution and that was the point of the whole event.  

While all this was going on I took the opportunity to give out the paper that I had prepared written in Thai, English and German about the gift appeal I was making for a Christmas present for the children in Fr, Ray's Pattaya orphanage, some 700 children that I was hoping to get a gift for.   Spread between the orphanage the school for the deaf, the school for the blind, the vocational school for the disabled and the street kidís home that is just across from my housing estate on the other side of the elephant village. The crowd consisted of local bar owners and other business owners, a few local Thai bikers, some local authority figures and many, many of the young orphans themselves. All having a jolly good time enjoying the show. Unfortunately the drinks and snack bar was on one side of the airstrip while a large part of the spectator area was on the other but the officials worked hard to keep the event safe with large groups of children crossing the strip between flights. However considering the time that was available for the organization I think the organizers did a very good job. 

A short motorcycle display thank goodness as if you notice he has no crash helmet. This people think that the only reason for warring one is because they might have to pay the police a bribe if they are stopped.

Unfortunately it was all over way to soon as with a strong head wind on the way back. Captain Aim and I had to leave at the latest by 4:45pm, just to be sure of landing before dark which comes at just

a few minutes past 6pm, at this time of year.  For the whole trip there and back I had just been a passenger, able to take time for a very good look around that I donít normally get the chance to do while flying myself. I had to give some heading instructions on the way there as the captain was totally unaware of the brand new site on the temporary airfield which indeed was nothing more than a patch of land only a few hours before the event. On the way back though I thought my job was completely done leaving everything totally to him but still keeping a pilotís eye out for any air traffic that just may cause a problem. The other two aircraft that were taking part in a flying display as we left, soon overtook us both having larger, more powerful engines and with a better design of wing, mine being of the early single skinned variety. They were very soon past us and well out of sight and on the ground before the time we were half way home. There we were ĺ of the way over Bangpra reservoir with CMT our local airfield just at the top end of the lake when Captain Aim made a searching turn to the right over the bird reserve, a heavily wooded area to the south of the airfield.  

After I had left a Para motor flying display.

Now this is the captainís son, a commercial pilot and although I had not met him before, I imagined he must have made very many flights from CMT airstrip prior to me becoming a member there. So that said was I to make a comment like where are you going? CMT airstrip is just over there 500 meters to the north west or was I just to let him get on with it? We had plenty of time before dark despite the slow progress against the head wind and thanks to young George plenty of fuel so I made no comment till I had figured out whether he was just taking a local sightseeing trip or indeed he had lost his bearings. When I finally decided that the latter was the case, Captain Aim was most grateful for my directional advice and told me that that is why they have two pilots on an aircraft. So having landed I thanked Captain Pursuit yet again for his very much appreciated contribution to the cause and left for home thinking that I had had a most enjoyable dayís flying and made yet another difference in the lives of some young people of Thailand. That, as those people who have taken a part in such an event will know, is a very good feeling indeed.

A very good day was had by all.
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