A long flight today from India to Thailand – nearly 7 hours from getting into the aircraft to getting out of it.
We left the complicated streets of India and departed from the Agra military airfield that we’d arrived into two days ago.
Clearances to leave were pretty smooth, with the same sort of entourage present to watch our departure as had been present to watch our arrival!
One thing that is very much in evidence in India is pigeons – and I was not surprised to find that a few had been using our winglets as places to sit and… leave calling cards 🙂
After startup, we spent about 15 minutes sitting at the end of the runway cooling our heels with the engine running, waiting for the base staff to drive up and down the field firing bird-scaring shotguns in various directions to encourage the local wildlife to give us a chance to leave.
Eventually, we did leave – and while we had the odd close call with a bird on the way out of the area, none of the calls were ‘too close’.
Back in the flight levels, the day became mostly about diversions off of track to avoid the cumulo nimbus clouds that were starting to warm up and then drive columns of clouds and turbulence upward surprisingly quickly. Fortunately there was plenty of room between them and we could largely avoid them.
Our flight today took us out of India, over Bangladesh, then Burma, and on into northern Thailand.
As we flew past Mandalay I was reminded yet again of the extent to which I’ve spent my life reading about and hearing about all these countries and places in the world… and now I find myself experiencing the privilege of flying over them (and landing in a subset of them)…its a pretty amazing thing to do.
Every place we are landing on this journey is a new country in my personal experience, and my mission when I’m not flying is to try to get at least some sense of the place I’ve teleported into, in this amazing aircraft, each afternoon.
Flying around yet more storm cells, we descended into Chiang Rai airport and I got to try out a hand flown ILS approach. The conditions were visual but I flew it as a practice ILS approach by hand (rather than letting the autopilot make it easy). It worked out pretty well!
Soon we were taxiing into the airport parking area to refuel and unload for our overnight stay in Thailand.
We got into the hotel around 6pm local time, and we headed into the Chiang Rai township for a few hours of wandering through the local markets, haggling for the odd small items, and then returned to the hotel for dinner.
Because its been a long day, we’re fairly tired right now – and happy that tomorrow (heading to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) will be a relatively short (circa 3 hour) flight.
That means we should get in by around lunchtime, allowing us to cool our heels and catch up on various things, ahead of our second rest day (to be spent in Vietnam).
All in all, though, it was a long day but a great day.