Back to work, sort of
|Pilatus Porter undergoing a routine maintenance inspection|
A problem was discovered with some of the the rivets holding the flap skin to the ribs which unfortunately is going to take a while to fix whilst we await parts. To compound the problem, the operational spare Porter is awaiting paperwork before it can be flown. So I find myself waiting around in our transit base of Biak for an aircraft. At least that gives me plenty of time to update the blog, so let me fill you in on what I’ve been up do these past few weeks…
Every time I’m back in the UK, I seem to spend about half the time on holiday and the other half completing various chores like sorting out bank accounts, tax returns, insurance policies etc. In addition to all that, I also had to renew all my JAA ratings and license so I can convert it over to the new EASA stuff. What an expensive exercise that proved to be!
As I don’t fly in Europe, I don’t bother to keep any of that current but thanks to this EASA stuff coming in I figured I’d better sort it all out. In addition to paying for retraining (as all my ratings had expired by more than three months – thanks EASA!), an ME/IR flight test, aircraft hire, hotels, class one medical etc. there was another £145 to the CAA for the final application which despite me allowing two weeks for, I still didn’t get the license back before I left for Indonesia..
|Red telephone box, London|
|Blues Bar, London|
Anyway, bureaucracy aside the rest of my holiday was very enjoyable. London was as fun as ever and the sunshine was simply wonderful as I sat drinking red wine on the edge of the Serpentine in Hyde Park one afternoon. Sadly the weather for the rest of my time back was pretty average but it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of visiting various friends and family in the south of the UK. Somerset, Dorset and the Isle of Wight were all as lovely as ever and it’s always nice to catch up with friends and visit the folks.
|Drumtochty Castle, Scotland|
|Bagpipe player, Scotland|
|Clay pigeon shooting, Scotland|
The final few days of my holiday were spent attending the wedding of a fellow colleague, pilot and friend back in his native country of Scotland. It was an amazing setting in Drumtochty Castle which is located in the Scottish countryside near to Aberdeen. We were really blessed with fantastic weather for the day and I even got to try a spot of clay pigeon shooting which was great fun.
|Gearing up to dive the Catalina wreck off the south coast of Biak, Papua|
So here I am back in Papua and wondering what is there to do in Biak whilst you wait for your aircraft to become serviceable again? Well, the waters around Biak always look amazing when I’ve flown over them and I’ve always fancied doing a spot of scuba diving here but usually I’m only here for a day or so, which as anyone who dives will tell you is not long enough as you need to leave 24 hours before flying again after a dive.
However, as it looks like I might be here a few days or so I finally had the chance to take a dive on the wreck of a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat that sunk just off the south coast of Biak after the Second World War. The wreck is perfectly preserved in the crystal clear waters here. I couldn’t work out quite how it come to rest on the sea floor, as the hull looked intact but I imagine it must have had a gentle descent to the sea floor at 30m because the wings, tailplane etc are all perfectly straight and attached.
You might be wondering why there’s no awesome underwater shots of the wreck; well unfortunately my four month old waterproof housing decided to flood about half way down the descent which instantly fried my also four month old Canon S110 camera. Still trying to figure out what happened as I’m always very careful with checking, cleaning and greasing the O-ring prior to any dives. I guess I’ll just have to go dive the wreck another time with a new camera some time in the future!