Well, good evening to you all once again. The time is 10.30 p.m. Monday the 6th of October in Ahmadabad. Keith has been asleep for the last half an hour. I've been preparing the plans for tomorrow. It's been one of those days I'm afraid. I mentioned before Peter about some information for Julian Forsyth. My best advice to anyone coming through to Europe is not to land in India, to over fly India. We've had a day and a half of it. You have got no idea the battle it is to try and obtain fuel. I told you of our problems on the way through.
Today we landed at Jaipur. It took us three hours to get 15 gallons of fuel. That's averaging just about the same rate as what we used. The formalities are just so hopeless. When we finally got away we came down to Ahmadabad. I botched the flight plan. It had been approved and I had an air defence clearance number and all the rest of it. Called Ahmadabad control from about 50 miles out, no reply, I kept calling and calling. Eventually 25 miles out they gave me permission to overfly.
I said, "Negative, I'm coming in to land!". After a lot of palavering around they eventually gave me a clearance to descend to 2,000 and call at 2,000. I called at 2,000 on long final for the runway, called at short final, still no reply. Changed to the tower frequency and called so I had to abort my landing and circle. I'm circling and circling. Eventually they came back and confirmed the fact that I was there after a full five minutes of flying around the blooming control tower.
We landed and believe it or not, for well over four hours we were engaged in petty officialdom. Blokes who don't see any more than one international flight in six months had me signing forms. I thought Burma was bad enough but Peter, Ahmadabad is ten times worse. It's astounding. I suppose we spent an hour and a half at customs, an hour and a half with health, the police took up a good deal of time.
The sort of questions included, "We want to look at your log books." "What are all the places you have landed at since you have left Australia?" "What are all the places you are going to land at after you leave Ahmadabad?" "Who owns the aircraft?"
I suppose if I told them who owned it once, I told them 50 times and they still didnít believe me; that it was privately owned. There were so many frustrating questions. In the end I was getting very naive and short with them.
Hello to you all once again. Here we are in Karachi but it is not tomorrow night as I had said in the last account. It's Wednesday morning, 7.45 a.m. and we are just about to head out. I took the tape recorder out last night to put down a few thoughts to you Peter and next thing I knew it was 7.30 a.m. I was still in the same clothes and the same position as when I lay down on the bed. I really flaked.
We eventually got away from Ahmadabad yesterday morning at about nine o'clock. Once again, the formalities are astounding. They had to fumigate the plane with a pressure pack, it was just an insecticide and no one else could do it apart from the doctor. The doctor had to come out from town. It seems that the formalities were just inquisitiveness and curiosity about where we were going and what we were doing. Plus the fact that they didn't know what they were doing, so they got us to do everything. Every form they could find we had to fill out. Generally speaking the chaps weren't too bad, but I certainly wouldn't advise anyone else coming through to stay overnight at Ahmadabad They should do their clearances and get straight out of the place without an overnight stop. We were given clearance through to Karachi all right.
Most of the country we flew over yesterday was barren desert although there were villages spread along the way. The villages are mud huts. Apparently the people that live there get sustenance from the barren soil around them and the sea. Many have never even seen a vegetable, or eaten anything other than seafood, for their entire life.
As we drove out from the hotel where we stayed last night in Ahmadabad, we saw some indications of the recent disturbances. In fact on Monday night six people were burnt to death in a riot only about forty kilometres away from where we were staying. We didn't see any actual fighting, there were police everywhere armed with fixed bayonets. Lots of what I presume to be obscenities and political propaganda spread over walls of buildings. Most of the houses we saw on the way out were mud houses with make shift corrugated iron or canvas roofs. The people are terribly poor, poverty is acute and Donkeys roam the streets. Generally speaking the conditions are not too good. Apparently the riots are between the Hindu's and the Muslims.
The United Hotel in Karachi:
Good evening once again, Peter and our friends in Bendigo. Seems like on this tape I am constantly saying "good evening, good morning or good night". In actual fact it is now evening, 1400 hours Greenwich Mean Time, seven o'clock at night. Which means we had better get moving Keith if we want to catch the post office. Today is Wednesday the 8th of October. We are still at the United Hotel in Karachi.
To break a little bit of the monotony on the first 200 miles we went down low. We stayed down with the altimeter on zero, chasing Arab camels and goats. Quite good fun really. It did have a purpose; the wind was nearly Nil on the ground, ten to fifteen knots up higher.
Air-borne for Badanah:
Well, we are up in the air once again. Free as a bird as they say, flying across the desert. Daylight is just breaking at the moment. We can see the sand dunes of the desert. We departed Bahrain at 0143z.
By doing a special VFR departure, they didn't make us do IMC this time, which has made us rather happy. Heading towards London. Yeah, well that was a bit of chatter from Qantas 731. Actually the Qantas 737 is headed towards Karachi. Since we departed Bahrain this morning, there have been oil fires burning everywhere. We can see the lights from the oil refinery out in the middle of the Bay of Bahrain.
As we look around now we can see no fewer than six or seven oil fires burning. I think this is the natural gas burning at the drilling sights. It is hot and the sun is not even up yet. It is just on 90 degrees. We are flying at flight level 25. We estimate FT at 0253. Hang on Qantas is calling.
Well, hello once again. Strange sound effects but I don't mind admitting this broadcast is coming to you from Athens. I haven't got a clue what the name of the hotel is. But I am lying here in a beautiful hot bath. I think it is the first bath I have had in about seven weeks. There just haven't been any through Asia and the Middle East. We arrived in Athens at about 3.30 p.m. this afternoon.
Had quite a good flight through, although it was a little chaotic getting into Athens. They cleared us to fly over the field at 2,000 feet because the airport is completely surrounded by high mountains.
I came down over the top from 4,000 to 2,000 feet, indicated at about 125 knots. They told me to report to right base on a particular runway and suddenly he said, "Have you cleared the land?" I was more or less over the end of this runway, so I did a wing over. Lost about 500 feet and pulled out at about 125-130 knots, 100 feet up.
The traffic was stopped for us to cross the road. All the buses and cars were stopped on the highway. We landed without any further incidence of course. At the same time it must have looked fairly impressive from the ground. I think this is going to be a shocking recording, I can hear it echoing around. We tied up the aircraft, refuelled and headed into the hotel.
By bus and taxi we eventually arrived. The moment we walked in the door Keith plonked on the bed and that was an hour and a half ago. He has been there ever since. I feel a little that way myself lying here in this hot bath. But I am determined that my stomach is not going to be deprived of its daily nourishment.
Although we had quite a good lunch at Rhodes, we are going out again. I am, if Keith is not, to go and have a decent feed when I get out of this bath. The bath is about two feet deep. The water is chlorinated and is a bluish colour. I have some washing to do when I get out of the bath. We have become very domesticated on this flight.
It is just after 12.30 p.m. and we have just returned from our tour. We looked at a number of places this morning while travelling in Sir Hubert Opperman's chauffeur driven Mercedes 200s. Felt rather awkward in it. However we started off by going to Medina, the old capital of Malta. It is a typical medieval town. High walls right around the town. The Cathedral was rebuilt in 1697 and it is believed to occupy the site of the old house of Publias, the first Bishop of Malta. It's steeped in history. Rich art treasures are in the Cathedral Museum that I believe housed the former seminary.
Verdala Palace is a summer palace for the Governor. It was originally a palace used From Medina we went to the Buskett Gardens