Sunday, July 5, 2015

Good Morning Vietnam (by Jack)

As mentioned in a prior post, tropical storm LINFA made it necessary to change our flying routing from Singapore to Taipei. We originally had planned to stop for fuel in the Philippines on this trip, but LINFA was forecast to be right along that route at the time of our flight.  So, we made the decision to stop at Cam Ranh, Vietnam  instead which put our route well east of the influence of LINFA.  Doing the re-route on short notice took a lot of work with the various permitting authorities, but it got done.

Turns outs the forecast were correct…the weather picture just before we departed Singapore early on July 1…





Departing Singapore just at sunrise was quick and easy.  As we reached cruising altitude the skies were clear, but we could see some clouds building, but they were easy to avoid…


Other than about 20 minutes of light turbulence at the beginning, the whole flight was basically smooth air and clear skies.  We asked for some deviations around clouds to keep it that way and the air traffic controllers were always cooperative.

Approaching Cam Ranh, Vietnam the scenery was impressive.  This area has become a significant beach resort in recent years with cruise ships and large hotels.  Being a teenager in the 1970s and watching the news of the war every night on TV, it is difficult to comprehend the rapid change.  But, it is a beautiful area…




On final approach to Cam Ranh...


The Cam Ranh Airport has a pretty interesting history. It was built by the United States Navy during the Vietnam War. In 1972, the base was turned over to the South Vietnamese government. On April 3, 1975, North Vietnamese forces captured Cam Ranh Bay and all of its remaining facilities. From 1979 to 2002, the facility was used by the Soviet and then Russian Air Force because of a 25-year rent-free leasing treaty.  Finally, on May 19, 2004, after major reconstruction, the airport received its first commercial flight from Hanoi. It now handles all of Nha Trang's commercial flights. [credit Wikipedia]

On the ground at Cam Ranh, only the “crew” (Josh and I) were allowed to get off the airplanes since no one had visas.  Josh handled the re-fueling process while I went to the air traffic control office to physically sign-off on our flight plan to Taipei…


Signing off on the flight plan at the flight planning office...


Carolyn and Becky did the best they could to stay cool by opening both the front cabin door and the rear cargo door to get some breeze through the plane.

Carolyn and Becky talking to our very nice and efficient "handler"...


Jack and Carolyn at Cam Ranh...Carolyn could not leave the plane, but the "Captain" could...


The weather briefing provided by the “met” office and Cam Ranh…a reminder of the history of the place…


Carolyn made a video of our departure…arid around the airport, but the beaches and surrounding islands looked nice…



On the way from Cam Ranh to Taipei we hugged the coast of Vietnam for a while (required by air traffic control for some reason) and then cut across the South China Sea…


There was plenty of air traffic over the South China Sea…


We made a few deviations to avoid building clouds on the way to Taipei and were able to stay in smooth and clear air the whole way.

Final approach at Taipei…lots of big jets waiting to depart and a nice crosswind from the right (wasn't my best landing)...


We depart Taipei for Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia with a quick stop in Sapporo, Japan on July 8.  In Sapporo we will pick-up our good friends Jerry and Madelyn Seckler who will fly the rest of the trip with us (at least as far as Jackson Hole).  Jerry has almost 50 years of flying experience, so it will be great to add his expertise to the flight crew.