Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Hong Kong crew gets going

It was a long rainy day from 5:30 when I got up and heard the drops on the thatch roof. The bridge was flooded. We pulled in to the airport at 7:15. The HK crew had just arrived and we had breakfast together. Their scheduled circuits (at 8AM as a check out for the 172) couldn’t be flown. The restaurant was crowded because all the Kalula flights were delayed. Service was lousy with the crowd but the waitresses and the kitchen were working hard. One B-737 did a missed approach trying to get in but came back around and made it in the second time. Conditions were a constant drizzle that sometimes turned into a hard rain. As the morning progressed conditions moved between VMC and IMC but always a mist and low scud moving over the field.

The plane the HK crew will take is out on an IMC flight (!?) and returned during an improvement in weather. It was not supposed to be and the FBO screwed up by letting it go. It delayed the checkout and cost the crew a chance to get out during one of the breaks. By the time they got the plane fueled and loaded the weather had closed in again. We got them permission to go out “special VFR” but they were last in line behind any and all IF traffic coming or going from Lanseria. The weather was good west of Jo’burg. They waited at the holding point more than a half hour and things finally went below minimums again.

They taxied over to the terminal and shut down and went back to the restaurant. We met them there and spent the next three hours waiting for a break. Wings Restaurant is a poor place to spend three hours. After one order everything else seems less appetizing.

Tower had graciously extended their flight plan for the rest of the say. At 3PM the crew set out to go. We went to the tower to watch and wait. They waited at the holding point and finally got off at 3:40PM. They got to Vryburg by 5:30. I called fuel at Vryburg and the guy was there. Chancy though, as it was Good Friday and a public holiday in South Africa.

Not only that, but the lodge wouldn't get off their chairs to pick up the crew once they got there. They finally gave me a number to call for a pickup (R50) to bring therm to the lodge. No report yet on what they found when they got there.