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J G

Leg 20 (2) White Grass NVVW to Nausori International NFNA

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Leg 20. Part two. The Cat.

From NVVW White Grass (Tanna) to NFNA Nausori International (Fiji)

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 Music to read this with (Thanks Matt for the Idea) 

I sat around for three days while I waited for something to happen.

The day after we arrived from NWWE Moue I sat outside the airport building air side with another gin-less tonic and watched an RAF crew strip down the Chinook to its essentials, rotor blades off and stowed inside the aircraft and generally slimmed off as soon as was possible.

On the next day I reverted to proper Gin and tonics at it was clear we wouldn’t be going anywhere today. I had seen Jasmine at breakfast and she had confirmed another fallow day was ahead. The silver lining was the return of Gin to my dietary requirement.

Just after noon an RAF A400M Atlas landed, in its self an entertaining event as the runway, although paved was only about 1,200 yards long. I witnessed the aircraft do a tactical landing in about 750 yards. Amazing to watch. The aircraft taxied to where the Chinook was and the helicopter was carefully loaded into the rear of the aircraft. I vaguely reminded me of an Anaconda eating a whole sheep. I thought this might be our ride out of here but I was wrong, the aircraft took off with the Chinook in its belly in the late afternoon and I was forced to have another Gin and Tonic. I had always seen the A400M as a rival to the Hercules, but it is actually a much larger aircraft, you wouldn’t get a Chinook into a Herc.

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Tactical take-off

On the third day at breakfast Jasmine announced we were leaving for Fiji that day. I returned to my hotel room and packed and wandered down to the airport ready to go. There was no aircraft in sight. Not a single aircraft anywhere on the airfield. I found my favorite watching spot and settled down to see what would turn up.

An hour into my latest book and Jasmine appeared with a driver in an old Mk1 Land Rover, all packed and ready to go. “Come on, we need to be off” she said. I stayed put.

I said “in what?”

She said “Get in and see”

We sped off down the deserted runway and at the far end pulled off the tarmac and bounced along to the tree line.  We got out with our stuff and the Landrover drove off back the way we had come. By now I was wondering what was going on, but as Jasmine always knew what she was doing I followed her into the trees. A small path lead down to the sea.  This is what greeted me at the water’s edge:

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The Cat

The Catalina bobbed gently on the water fifty yards from the shore, a small boat waited for us at the water’s edge with its owner, a local man in attendance. Completely hidden from the airport, nobody on the land side would know it was there.

“Oh very good, you fooled me there, I had no idea…”

“It wasn’t you I was trying to deceive, it was Putinfelds men I was deceiving. They are about, even here, and at some stage they are going to try to recover the key.  Its early days yet, and we don’t know where they want it to travel to, but when we get there they will make every effort to recover it, and will be mighty displeased to find it gone. The tracker is in place just in case they do manage to steal the baton, so at least we can recover it for the ATWC.”

We stepped carefully into the boat and puttered over to the awaiting aircraft.  Once we got to the Cat we did a quick “row around” and made sure all was well with the machine. Once inside we started on our preflight checklist but only after I had stowed the baton

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This satellite photo shows just how near the runway is to the sea.

The Cats engines were a touch temperamental. We followed the start procedures and the engines fired. The engines needed coaching to prevent them from stopping, once fired up it is necessary to open the throttles to increase the revolutions to warm up the engines. This is done one at a time and only then can each engine be bought back to idle with the cowl flaps open.

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Both engines running and ready to go.

The Cat’s engines coughed into life and soon the lovely sound of the roar of these engines being run up was replaced by the rhythmic coughing of the engines at idle.  Anchors away (literally), and I opened up the throttles to turn the ship into the wind. It’s been a while since I have flown a flying boat and I had forgotten just how much throttle you need to overcome the resistance of the water, it always seems way too much!

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Just unstuck

Our route was a direct line from White Grass to Fiji, no diversions no stops just over the ocean as quickly as this old lady would allow. This because although we may have given the bad guys the slip by using the Cat, they would soon realize that we had gone and would be on our tail as soon as they could be. Which was a problem.

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Turning over the island

The Cat wasn’t that quick, its maximum speed was a paltry 196 mph (315 Km/h) but we had a problem with the starboard engine. It was overheating, so I opened the cowl flaps and that seemed to keep the temperature down. To be on the safe side with these old engines we would have to stick to a safe cruising speed of 125 mph (201 Km/h).

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Dodgy engine

At that speed, If we were being perused it wouldn’t take much to overhaul us. You could do it with a twin, something like a Cessna 340.

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Cruising

Sure enough, an hour into our journey, I noticed a small dot on the horizon behind us. Ten minutes later the dot has become larger, ten minutes after that I could see it was indeed a twin engine aircraft, and a further ten minutes later it was recognizable as a Beechcraft King Air. A nice modern aircraft, hauling us in at 300 mph, no competition, no chance of outrunning her.

Al least we wouldn’t be forced down, not over the ocean, they were going to have to shadow us until we got to Fiji. Which they did.  They were happy to let us know they were there waiting at our back, intimidating us.

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The Beechcraft

We had started this ATWC with the hope that the boot would be on the other foot, that the forces of good would have the upper hand and that Putinfeld was on the back foot.  Maybe he had been at the start, and maybe that was why he was becoming bolder, being more aggressive day by day. I sensed that events were getting faster, more urgent, more out of control, more dangerous. For the first time in all the ATWCs I had taken part in, I was getting scared.

The sun was going down when I broke away from my reverie and realized Fiji was in sight.

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The town of Suva

Jasmin had been in the radio to the tower and we started getting busy with our checklists and put the Beechcraft out of our minds. We were on final approach when I realized that we were lucky that the goons behind us didn’t charge ahead so as to be ready for us when we landed. I guess they wanted to make sure we landed at the international airport and not on the sea somewhere.

 

 

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On finals

We touched down and taxied to the stand. As we taxied I remarked to Jasmine that there was no sign of the Beechcraft landing. Jasmine grinned, I asked the tower to keep him waiting for a bit, to give us time to get clear of the aircraft at least.  All we needed was time enough to pass the Baton on to Ros as Putinfeld and his goons had no what he looked like. The baton should be safe enough on the next leg if the exchange isn’t seen.

We shut down the aircraft, climbed out and headed over to the airport buildings.

“Oh you forgot this” said Jasmine and passed me the gun.

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On Stand.

“Oh thanks” I replied tucking it into my bag.  I had left it on the plane intentionally as it gave me the creeps. I did not like guns, they just reinforced the bad feeling I had.

Let’s hope Ros is ready and waiting in the Bar.

Edited by J G
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Thanks for the soundtrack idea credit :cool:...I loved your score choice. Anything jazzy with cool vibes is a win for me.

 

Sure hope those stalkers don't get onto Ros' tail, not sure how easy a target he might be for the put'goons...but maybe he has a surprise or two in store, our ATWC crew is a resourceful bunch. ;) 

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Superb work JG.

 

Unfortunately Ros can't make it so I am leaving now to meet up with you, stay safe.. 

 

Joe

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7 hours ago, mutley said:

Superb work JG.

 

Unfortunately Ros can't make it so I am leaving now to meet up with you, stay safe.. 

 

Joe

 

Note to ATWC pilots: please take extra precautions till this ATWC is completed as it seems Putinfeld has somehow incapacitated Ros, do not allow his agents to get to you as well. Stay Safe!

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Extremely belated acclamations and commendations..

Great PIREP JG. Nice shots of the CAT and some pulse-racing moments there..

 

On 21/12/2017 at 17:20, Captain Coffee said:

 

Note to ATWC pilots: please take extra precautions till this ATWC is completed as it seems Putinfeld has somehow incapacitated Ros, do not allow his agents to get to you as well. Stay Safe!

Poor Ros.. hope he's recuperated after his ordeal...Aussie Flu???  :whis:

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