Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Khartoum, Sudan Date 11/18/2004:

The trip over went well. We traveled for 4 days... the first day was short just one leg Anchorage to Edmonton, next day two legs Edmonton to Thunder Bay and then to Goose Bay to position for the flight across. We were very lucky for the crossing the MNPS had not been approved for the aircraft so we were limited to FL270 for the crossing. With no help we would have had a large "wet footprint" and might have needed a stop in Greenland. As it happened we had 140 knots on the tail almost all the way across and good Wx in Iceland, sure decreased the pucker factor. After Iceland we flew to London and spent the night. What a lovely place. The next morning we left for Crete to grab a drink and then on to Sudan. Because of time changes we finished the trip at 21:00 local time. We were met by the UN folks and our local Evergreen rep to speed our way through Customs. All in all a easy trip considering we crossed 12 time zones and almost 50 degrees of latitude.

Monday, February 26, 2007

First Day

Date 11/14/2004:
I finally made it out of Anchorage. We flew to Edmonton last night. The departure from Anchorage was hectic with pulling together lots of loose ends at the last minute. Anyway we departed about 4 hours late so I didn't get a photo of the crew and aircraft before departure but I will get one today. You should see the airplane, packed to the gills with barely enough room for the mechanic, we have to fly about 2.5 hours after takeoff to get down to landing weight there is so much junk packed in the cabin. I hope to make either Goose Bay or Gander tonight. The reason I don't know which one is that Goose did not have any rooms the last time dispatch checked.

The airplane seems to be a good one. It is the youngest Lear I've flown a high 500 serial number, certified RNP and RVSM with all the bells and so forth. It even talks to me, on final approach it tells me when I'm 50 feet, 40 feet....I think down to 5 feet but I'm usually too busy to hear it then.. The FMS is impressive and it is an early generation FMS. If you let it you could punch on the autopilot once the wheels were in the well and never touch the airplane other than the thrust levers and a mode change button or two until just before the wheels touch the landing airport. I expect I would be lost all the way if I used it like that :-) . Even stranger for an old Lear pilot the autopilot flys better than I can. This modern world (mid 1980's technology combined with current RVSM air data equipment) is amazing.

On a personal note I packed a big can of peppers and the biggest bottle of Louisiana hot sauce I could find so I figure I can make anything they serve me in Sudan eatable. We hope to be there in about 3 maybe 4 days but the way things go who knows it could take a week or more.

One more thing, I'm saddled with a weak co-pilot. He's trying hard and I think he wants to learn but he's older so it may be a lost cause. I will say this for him by his 4th position report last night (after much coaching) he got it right. We will see if he remembers how to do it today, that will be a good indicator if there is hope. Today's job is to work on his general radio phraseology. The proper form is always "who who where what what" but it is really hard to get co-pilots to reply in the correct order. You should see the blizzard of charts and papers on his side of the cockpit, like I said he's trying hard :-) .

A Brief Journal of Flying in Sudan and Afghanistan

A couple of years ago I was living the old Chinese curse "may you live an interesting life". I had two companies shut down on me in one year, one employed over 120 souls and had been in business for 30 years, the other was a start up so it wasn't much of a surprise. Then in October of 2004I went to work for the third company that year. I expected to be based in Oregon. The day I finished my indoc training and returned to Houston to load the truck for the move to Oregon I received a call requesting that I leave the next day for Anchorage to pick up a LearJet and ferry it to The Sudan. The company was starting a new U.N. contract in The Sudan and the Captain hired for the contract was not able to do the job. Long story somewhat short... a little over a week later after ferrying a LearJet 35A from Anchorage to Khartoum, Sudan I'm flying all over Africa on a U.N. contract.

What follows will be a journal and some of the photographs of the 4 months I spent in The Sudan and Afghanistan.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Flying the Line

I’ve had a long couple of days. We had the APU go tits up Monday morning. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good and Monday was one of those times. We found a “huffer” cart that worked so we could start the GIV and we had one available at the other end. With minimum monkey motion and a short delay we were airborne and completed the planned trip on time. We had a day to fix the airplane before we were scheduled to depart for KJFK and then to London. The shop finally received all the needed parts around 21:30 and had the airplane ready to go by 22:30. We still had to fly it back home and get it ready for a two week trip before the 08:30 departure. With lots of help from the third pilot we made it.

Only one more problem New York WX sucked. They were having their first major snowstorm of the year and the forecast showed us arriving just in time to enjoy the full effects.

Our luck was holding, by the time we arrived in New York the worst of the storm was over. It was still cold and windy but the ceiling and visibility were pretty good. When we landed at KJFK the wind was over 20 knots almost directly across the only open runway and the whole airport was a sheet of ice, what a ride. Landing wasn't too bad other than sliding down the runway with the nose cocked about 30 degrees to the direction of travel several times while trying to stop but the taxi to our ramp was a bitch. It took almost 3 hours from the time we landed to taxi, put the airplane to bed (put on the covers, pick up the trash, and remove all the liquid stores), and get ground transportation to the hotel.

The hotel is another story; I need to do a photo series on the Five Towns Hotel. It is aviation flop house. Most of the locals think it is a "hot sheet" hotel and in a way they are right but it is just pilots using it, not hookers. There are no check-in checkout times. The maid service works 24 hours a day; your room gets cleaned before you check in and after you check out but not while you are there. Coffee and cake are always in the lobby and the airport shuttle runs every 30 minutes 24 hours a day. There are always crews in the lobby, eating cake and drinking coffee, waiting to check in, waiting for the shuttle, or just bored and wanting company. Check in, at least for our company, is just sign your name and give them your employee number they throw you a key card and that is it. God I love New Yorkers :-) When you check out they give you a slip showing the number of days you stayed. I will say this for the Five Towns, it is clean, the Internet works, the beds are good and it is in one of the few areas near KJFK where you can walk out of your hotel at night.

A couple of days to enjoy the Five Towns and then on to London.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Airport Bums

Last one for tonight. The little airport where I'm based is a throw back to an earlier time. There is always a fresh pot of coffee and someone to either tell you a "there I waz" story or to listen to yours. They could care less about the Lear or the Gulfstream but they sure love the Pacer.


Another one from FL450. We were on our way to Belize and having a great time. Flying air ambulance can be the best job in aviation, this one was. Shame it had to end.

Russian Cargo Plane

We were in El Obeid, Sudan for several hours, while there we visited with the crew of a Russian four engine cargo plane. The Russians were flying for World Food for Peace, we were flying for the U.N..

Another From the Day Job Series

A quick look in the back at FL450.

More Photo Book

This is Isam our driver in The Sudan. This was my first day in country and when I asked Isam if I could photograph him this is the pose he assumed.

Photo Book Project

I've been invited to join a group of photographers in a self published book. We will each be able to contribute 3 to 5 images. Over the next few posts I will show the images I plan to use, all are from my Day Job Series.

The first is of our cook and station manager in Kabul, Afghanistan.


I have only one question for either party. Who will step up and tell the U.S. how and when we will get out of Iraq, not a year from when he is elected, not even 6 months later, but how he will get us out of Iraq starting the day he/she takes office.

Once that question is answered the others will follow. What a fucked up mess we have to face, I hope the country and our politicians are up to the challenge. The place to start is a complete de-bushifacation of the government and the Republican Party. Everyone and every origination that had anything to do with the last six years, from the illegal installation of Bush in 2000 to Iraq, must be removed from power and the leaders must be made to stand trial. We must not allow this attack on our Constitution and our Government to be covered up. When we let the last bunch criminals off the hook after Nixon resigned they came back like the living dead. We can not let it happen this time. May their souls rot in hell.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Pat and I parked the caravan in a State Park near Lincoln City last week. Pat was able to spend most of the week there and I drove back and forth. The WX was beautiful, clear skies, cool, and very little wind. It couldn't have been better or come at a better time. Oregon winters can be wet and gray with few breaks, when the WX is good you have to take advantage or you will be nuts by late spring early summer when the skies clear.

We didn't do much but we did see a couple of great sunsets, built a big bonfire, walked on a some beautiful beaches, ate good seafood, read and played cards. I tried to take a break from the political world,but Molly Ivins death brought it all back. I did find one of her books in Goodwill the day she died, damn the world will miss her.