right, Turn right." So I turned right. "Victor Uniform Juliette, Now Base." He said. "Affirmative, you are now base." I replied, "Well I am not down wind am I?"
Anyhow we eventually got in, as I say landed at two o'clock. For the next two hours solid, I did nothing but fill out forms and sign declarations, thirty-five odd declaration forms were required. To top it all off after filling out all these forms out, we then had to count every cent and note in our pockets, every cheque and give a total amount. We had to fill out declarations as to what radio equipment we had with us. If we have too much money when we go back tomorrow and if we don't have enough we are in trouble because there is a form we must have signed by an authorised person every time we cash money. Must be signed every time, only by an authorised person. There is a lot of bum fare really. This is all brought about by the administration that is purely socialist.
The first person we met at Rangoon was a member of the Lions Club. He is on the diplomatic staff and had a special pass to get through the gate. None of the other members were allowed to enter and had to wait outside until we got through the formalities. I would hate to think what it would be like if we arrived without any forward clearances and diplomatic clearances. It was bad enough having all of them. What it would be like coming through without them, heaven only knows.
We had a drink with Lions members who brought us into town. We are staying at a Hotel costing $19 for bed only. One of the Lions members took us for a drive around the city generally, showing us the spectacular mosques, and temples. We went to dinner at one of the Lions member's homes having a typical Indian meal. Most of the Lions are Indians.
The present administration very quietly, without any blood being spilt, slid into power, taking over from a democracy about six years ago. Since then many
hundreds of businessmen and government officials have been jailed without trial and without any reason. Most have been without any fore warning or any indication how long they would be in prison. We were speaking to one man tonight who has been in prison for the past three years and was released; they apologised saying they were very sorry, we made a mistake. Everyone is a little frightened to say anything counterespionage adding to the problems. Once again thank heavens we live in Australia, a stable country.
Many people in Burma are trying to get out of the country, which is rather difficult. Most of the Lions Clubs Member address themselves "retired businessmen". It means that when the present administration took over, business was nationalised and all bank balances frozen while the cars were seized. For the past six years most have been living on whatever cash they had in the house at the time. Some were allowed to keep their homes. It is rather depressing to see this sort of thing and listen to the stories that are told in what was once a democracy. The government does not recognise the Lions Club. Any organisation is frowned upon by the present administration. The Lions Club and its members are indeed, keen to have information about Australia.
Dum Dum Calcutta:
That Peter, as you will probably gather, was the President of the Lions Club of Rangoon, the International Relations Director for the Rangoon Lions Club who incidentally, is the Italian First Secretary to the Italian Consul in Burma. I will send their names with an accompanying note to this tape.
At the moment it is 8:30 p.m. local time, 1430z. We are sitting in the restaurant at Dum Dum airport in Calcutta. What a day it has been. Got away from Rangoon about 9.30 a.m. eventually. Struck nothing but thunderstorms. In fact at one stage we ended up at 8,000 feet after being shot up like a rocket at 1,000 feet a minute. On instruments a lot of the way. Nothing we could do about it really except persevere. Knowing that the thunderstorms weren't too thick it was a matter of picking the lightest colour cloud we could find.
In the course of one storm we contacted a Qantas pilot who was flying approximately 100 miles to the south-west from Calcutta direct through to Singapore. Had quite a good chat to him during the storm. I was on the instruments, Keith was on the throttle keeping the motor from over-revving while we climbed at this fantastic rate. The Qantas pilot assured us of their cooperation at all times. The same as BIC and Air India. So this was helpful and quite reassuring.
We eventually arrived at Chittagong, Pakistan around 1.30 p.m. to find they did not have the right to clear us to Calcutta. It was a shockingly hot day, in fact at 7.000 feet it was still 90 degrees Fahrenheit, to give you some idea of the temperatures. Eventually clearance came through. The customs officials at Chittagong were helpful, in fact the Air-Traffic-Control man said. "I will pay your landing fees out of my own pocket to save you changing your money into Pakistani money." They were very good and we left in a rush with 2 hours 20 minutes to last light.
Well Good Evening to all in Bendigo. Here it is Sunday evening, the 5th of October, and here we are sitting beside our aircraft on the tarmac in front of Lucknow Airport. It is a beautiful night. The temperature at the moment is about 80 degrees. The sky is extremely clear, not a cloud to be seen. In fact I have just been trying to spy a jet, up at about 35,000 feet I'd say, heading over Lucknow probably towards Karachi but I couldn't see his lights at all.
We finally left Calcutta this morning at approximately 9.05 a.m. after a number of delays with red tape. It was a terribly hot day with a lot of dust haze around, visibility down to about 5 kilometres. You could see the ground all right but you couldn't see ahead of you at all. We found visual navigation extremely difficult. It meant frequent use of our radio navigation, relying on it rather heavily. The topographical maps are not accurate I'm afraid.
There are airstrips where there is nothing marked on the map and where there is a small stream marked on the map there is a large river and vice versa. However we had an estimated flight time of five hours for the leg to Lucknow.
Airborne Northern India en-route Jaipur:
Well Hi to you all in Bendigo. The time is 0411, Greenwich Mean Time. Local time is twenty to ten. The day is Monday the 6th of October. We are flying over Northern India at the moment, flight level 25 heading 272. We have a true air speed of 202 knots and a ground speed of about 86 or 87 knots.
We are just about to leave Agra Control en-route from Lucknow to Jaipur. We departed Jaipur at 0214 and we estimate ... The country this morning has been a little easier to follow on the maps. Yesterday we found that map reading was nigh impossible. It was a matter of holding heading and trying to get pictures with our AVF.
Today we are still flying in haze with our visibility down to about seven kilometres. It's dust haze. There's not as much water, although a lot is covering the low ground. The ground is green apart from the brown colour of soil where there is cultivation.
From the height we are flying, we can see the white buffalo or bullocks that are used to plough the ground. Everywhere I look below there is activity with the white buffalo at work cultivating the ground. Every square foot of space is utilised in India. The hills are cultivated with rows or hedges of greenery between each little plot. Each plot would probably be a quarter of an acre. The irrigation channels run in all directions. By the look of it, the crops appear to be rice although it is difficult to say.
There are small villages everywhere you look. They seem to be cement houses with thatched roofs. Every two or three mile we can see villages. There are main roads, arterial roads running between and few of them are sand.
Quite a few train lines and as I said before, many, many canals. We realise that these recordings don't come through clearly, but they will certainly give some authenticity and realism to the recordings. At the moment we are recording in flight as you can hear.
Ahead of us at the moment the land is brown and hilly. I don't think it is cultivated to any great extent. It seems to be nigh on useless land. There are a few rather high ranges close by, going up to 1330 feet. We can see a lot of temples and mosques, they stand out predominantly from the air. But generally speaking, it is hot.
At the moment at flight level 25, it is 92 degrees F, 34 degrees C. The sun is behind us at the moment, fortunately. After we re-fuel at Jaipur and head for Ahmadabad we will have the sun streaming in on the port side, which unfortunately I am sitting in at the moment. But however, I won't draw this out too much.
Peter, I will include some information for you, probably at Karachi, for you to pass on. It could be useful for other pilots coming into the area. But for now we will say bye for now from Keith and myself, VH-MUJ, en-route from Lucknow to Karachi. Cheers mate.