Jump to content

Leg 36: MMCT Chichen-Itza to MMPN Lic and Gen Ignacio Rayo (Uruapan)

Recommended Posts

Leg 36: MMCT Chichen-Itza to MMPN Lic and Gen Ignacio Rayo (Uruapan)

You may recall the events of Leg 34, me being shot at by a SAM in Columbia the gun battle (which I managed to miss) and the discovery that Putinfeld was trying to obtain the binary parts of a strain of Novichok. All signs of an escalation of the efforts of P. to gain the upper hand in his feud with yours truly.

What I, or any of the security services for that matter, hadn’t understood was why this more overt and risky strategy was being implemented. Just why was P. taking such risks at this stage?

I flew the Gazelle back to the HMS (Sorry I can provide the name, official secrets and all that), where Jasmin was waiting for me. We de-briefed the leg in the ships briefing room and amongst other more mundane things, we spoke about the SAM incident and the gun battle I heard going on during my stay at the Panama airport detention centre.  Interestingly the attempt to acquire a useable Novichok weapon of some sort wasn’t mentioned. Clearly I didn’t need to know what was going on there.


Post Leg 34 debrief. (Some sensitive things have been obscured.)

The SAM attack was unexpected but not a surprise as South American countries are known to have purchased arms from the old Soviet Union, and had very poor control of such weaponry. P. could have easily purchased such a system in Columbia if the price was right.

The most talked about subject was the attack in Panama City.  The analysts had had a field day with this. What on earth had P. been thinking about, launching an all-out attack on a public place in broad daylight? There was only a couple of photos taken during the attack, both of which are below:


CC TV footage of armed masked men herding people out of the airport.


Royal Marine Commandos about to enter the airport buildings.

The general contentious of opinion was that for some reason P. wanted to accelerate this plans, although why was still a mystery. Someone even suggested that there was someone else unknown to us was pulling P’s. string’s.  This was largely dismissed at the meeting, but it stuck in my mind for some reason.


HMS… (I am not allowed to tell you). At maximum revolutions to keep up with Tim

The Frigate that was my temporary home made full speed northward towards Mexico. I can’t tell you her name as I was told in no uncertain terms that the ships whereabouts were subject to the official secrets act.  So if you want to know which ship she was then just google the number on her side. It would take 36 hours to get the coast of Mexico at a speed of in excess of 30 knots, so Jasmin and I took the chance to get some sleep before we stepped into the lion’s mouth again.

I slept like a baby.  It was so nice to be able to be able to sleep without worrying if I was to be murder in my bed. A warship isn’t the quietest place to sleep as she is alive twenty four hours a day, with the constant thrum of machinery, the tannoy announcing “Now hear this…” or “Attention bla-bla” but if you were as tired as me you would sleep through anything.

On the morning of my second day at sea I struggled out of bed and tottered over to the porthole. Half asleep I realised that something had changed. Yesterday all I could see was sea, now all could see was a wall of grey. Must be one of those sea fogs you hear about and wandered back to bed sure in my mind there would be no chance of flying off this ship today.  There was a knock at the door and it swung open to reveal the Captains steward who had been detailed to look after me during my stay aboard.


My humble abode on HMS… (I am not allowed to tell you).

“Good morning sir, a lovely day. Here is your breakfast with coffee” he exclaimed in a bright and breezy voice”

“Oh thanks, and yes what pleasant weather we are having” I replied sarcastically.

“Yes sir” he agreed, “Captains complements and can you report to him on the bridge as soon as you can sir”

Bugger no lie in then I thought as I wolfed down the full English and coffee. I wondered what he wanted, probably just to tell me that I will be stuck aboard another day.

Having dressed and eaten most of my breakfast I headed up to the bridge. As I climbed the last few stairs I noticed how bright it was on the bridge, like it was yesterday with no sea fog. Indeed it was so, not a trace of fog anywhere. What there was steaming next to us was another ship.  Much bigger than the one I was on towering above us, a real monster ship. The wall of sea fog I had seen from my portal was the side of this ship.  Lucky for me I didn’t mention the fog to the steward, he would think I was mad.

Talk of the devil, the steward had just entered the bridge with my bag. “I’ve taken the liberty of packing your things sir, on account of you leaving us.” 

“Yes” said the Captain, “that’s why I called you up here. You will be joining that ship just as soon as you can”.

I thanked the Captain for his hospitality over the last couple of days or so and asked for guidance down to the helicopter deck as I was unsure of the way there.

“You won’t be going by helicopter, they are doing an engine change on deck and there is no room for another aircraft to land”** he replied, “There is your transport” He seemed to be pointing to a piece of string rigged up between the two ships. I was just about to accuse him of joking when I saw a net of bags traversing the string like some sort of crazy zip wire. Across it went in jerks as it was pulled by a second piece of string fastened to it. It eventually disappeared into a hole in the side of the monster ship. Surely not!

I was only wrong by one word and that word was “not”.

**Engine changes are often done in the open on ships as the hangar space usually has limited headroom.

The steward took me down to the main deck and over to the starboard side where this string contraption was rigged up. The “string” was actually a two inch diameter steel hawser so at least it would take my weight, however I was under no illusion about the safety of the hawser, if these two ships opened up the gap between them, this cable would snap like a twig. I looked down into the void between the ships. It was a boiling maelstrom of white water rushing down between the two ships. If you fell in there then that would be it!


Some stores crossing. Soon to be me.

Then I noticed Jasmin.  She was grinning at me and the look of horror that was no doubt on my face. She was wearing some sort of webbing which looked like a parachute harness but with some sort of hook apparatus where the ‘chute should be. She was in the process of having herself attached to the “zip wire”. Once attached, she gave me a wave and was launched over the void. Strong arms hauled her across and she had soon disappeared into the belly of the monster ship.  It seemed I was next. I was duly attached and jettisoned from the side of the ship and hauled across to the other ship. I did not look down.

My ordeal was soon over and I was being unhooked by a friendly American sailor when I saw another friendly face.  It was my old friend Clive. Like Jasmine, Clive worked for the Foreign Office and, whilst being to handle himself well in a fight, played a more thinking role, whereas Jasmine was more physical and perhaps ballistic role at times.  Seeing them both together meant trouble.  Clive saw the look on my face and grinned. Don’t worry its good news! I worried some more. You have a wedding to go to.  It turns out that my mate Bill’s little brother is getting married in Guildford Cathedral (my home town) and wants me to be there.  Some of you may remember Bill from ATWC 5 leg 15. Right, I thought, that’s not going to happen, they were getting married the day after tomorrow and I was half a planet away. 

“Your taxi awaits up on deck. You had better have a comfort brake first as you won’t be able to go for a while.” I did as was bid and went up to the flight deck. The massive ship I was on was a US carrier. I can’t tell you her name as they won’t let me.  I expect some Mutley fan will work it out though, probably drives a Ford and is called Gerald. Oh what a giveaway!

Sitting on deck ready to go was an F-15 loaded up with ferry tanks and space in the rear seat for me. Clive handed me a bone dome and said “get in”. Needless to say, after a long flight I arrived at Farnborough in plenty of time to change into some posh threads and a taxi to Guildford.  I made the wedding but may have slept through some of it.


Bills brother and wife in the grounds of Guildford Castle

The morning after the wedding I was back in a taxi to Farnborough, back into the same F15 and back over the wet stuff to the big ship. The ship was now off the coast of Mexico and had another vessel in its fleet. It looked like a small aircraft carrier from the air. My F15 hit the deck, one doesn’t land on an aircraft carrier, it’s not that elegant, you slam into the deck and hope that a bit of wire stops you going into the sea. Before I knew it I was in a chopper and over to the little aircraft carrier where Clive and Jasmine were waiting for me. Had I dreamed the whole wedding thing?

We were guided to a lecture theatre, this ship was an amphibious assault ship that looked like an aircraft carrier, which she was amongst other things. She also had a massive dock built into her stern.  “Welcome to the USS ….” (They won’t let me tell you), said Clive. “This ship will take us to within striking distance of Chichen-Itza, and then under cover of the night, US Navy Seals will land Jasmine and yourself at the end of the long pier, the Terminal Remota that juts out 6.5 KM into the Gulf of Mexico at Progreso.


USS …. (They won’t let me tell you)

You will masquerade as a tourist in order to get to the airfield. At the Terminal Remota you will contact one of our agents, a bus driver for the cruise liners that dock here.  The bus will take you and other tourists to see the Maya ruins at Chichen-Itza. When you are there spend some time looking at the sight, the columns of the Temple of a thousand warriors, the Osario and the magnificent Castillo like any other tourist. As soon as you have the baton dial this number (Clive passes me a slip of paper) and inform the person at the other end that you have a wrong number. All you have to do then is to make sure you are at the airport at dawn the day after.

I left the briefing and made my way to the wardroom for some food, I was starving and for some reason I really craved chicken pizza. It wasn’t on the menu.


The magnificent Castillo at Chichen-Itza

Twenty four hours later, things having gone to plan I had collected the Baton from Tim and returned to my hotel room.  Once there I ordered chicken pizza and a beer via room service and picked up the phone. The phone rang once and a voice at the other end just said “Si”. I said I had dialled a wrong number and put the phone down. I then settled down for an early night as I would have to be up at the crack of dawn.

I awoke to a loud banging at my door. I had slept through the alarm and Jasmin was acting as a backstop. I opened the door and Jasmine walked in tossing me an egg and bacon sandwich. “Breakfast” she said. “Get in the shower, you are already checked out”. Fifteen minutes later I was washed packed and ready to go, I ate my sandwich in the lift.

We picked up a taxi and were at the airport in a few minutes more. It was still dark but the sky in the east was lightening as we strode into a hanger on the airfield. And there she was. A GR3. Just as good as new and waiting for me to fire her up and take her northward to Lic and Gen Ignacio Rayo airport.  A Harrier GR3 is not night capable, you need a GR7 or 9 for that, hence the early start. After, Jasmin was to fly the aircraft on to HMS (different I can’t tell you) but she is also an amphibious assault ship.

The ferry range of the GR3 is 3,425 km, and my destination was about 1800 km so it would be a one hop leg for me. In its ferry configuration the aircraft’s weight would dictate a conventional take off, all be it a short one. Although cold and dark, it was fuelled up and ready to go.


Harrier GR3 start.

So far everything was going suspiciously well. My last leg (34) had gone well without any real interference from Putinfeld and his henchmen, and so far things were surprisingly quiet, something was brewing for sure.  I mentioned this to Jasmine and Clive as I climbed into the cockpit, of the two of them Clive was the Intel guy and sure enough it was him that spoke first.

“Putinfeld is on the back foot, we would have hoped by now that he would have thrown in the towel, but we now think that there is someone else involved, someone who is giving Putinfeld his orders. We think he has been ordered to back off for a while, something from the radio chatter we think he is reluctant to do. I will explain more over the R/T once you are in the air.”

I read the aircraft maintained record and found that the HUD was out of service and the radar had been removed**. Wonderful I thought, I didn’t mind the radar being out but the HUD was going to make the flight harder work than it should be.

** Not available for P3D v4.


Take off, Wheels going up

I obtained ATC permission to taxi to the active runway and when I reached the end of the runway I set the nozzles for a short take-off. Take-off clearance was given and I was soon rolling down the runway and very then experiencing that weird feeling of half taking off and half being thrust into the air.  Once airborne I climbed steadily to 26,000 ft.  No nice pics of the Castillo as my flight path was directly away from it.


Climb to 26.000ft

 Having reached 26,000 ft. I soon settled into the cruise.  Given the bits missing from this aircraft, and the fact I was navigating by a bolted on Sat Nav, my path was a boring straight line. There were a few threatening clouds around and the possibility of a thunderstorm.  My ride was getting very bumpy and so I contacted ATC and asked for permission to get above the weather. They instructed me to climb to 36,000 ft., above the rough stuff. I settled into the cruise and not long after I had got comfortable for the long haul the radio burst into life.  It was Clive continuing my Putinfeld briefing.


That’s me flying this fine old lady.

Clive’s voice crackled over the radio, and after some pleasantries went on to say, “Yes, so it would seem that Putinfeld has been strangely subdued.  This is what makes us think that he isn’t the independent master criminal we thought he is.  Someone is exercising some control over him, We don’t know who but we are working on it, we believe that we may have stumbled on something bigger than Putinfeld, and considerably more sinister. There is someone in the higher echelons of the world’s governments who has gone rogue. Someone who isn’t quite what everyone thinks he is, someone who affords the protection of his high status, who has a malevolent agenda all of his own, and tentacles that spread all over the world.


Over the clouds at 36,000 ft.

I had plenty of time to ponder on the subject of Putinfeld.  If there was someone pulling his strings, it might explain how his funds seemed to be limitless. I had noticed some inconsistencies in his behaviour too.  Why send a hit man against me and then, when that fails, do nothing. It made no sense, unless there was a conflict of interest somewhere along the line.

I levelled off at 36,000 Ft., above the clouds and the weather, now having a smooth ride towards my destination.


Over the Gulf of Mexico and the cloud starts to thin.

My flight took me over the Gulf of Mexico, cutting a corner from the land route to the town of Uruapan.  While I was over the gulf the weather started to improve. Holes began to appear in the cloud base and eventually the sky cleared.


Nice Aircraft

I enjoy flying the Harrier, This machine was destined for a museum back in the UK having been parked up in a hanger on the Falklands for quite a while, hence the missing radar and U/S HUD. In the fine weather, I approached the coast of Mexico. My corner was cut and I had made a landfall exactly where I had planned. All was going well.


Mexico back in sight

By now there was a distinct heat haze, blurring the Mexico coast as I passed over it. As the weather was fine I got ATC clearance to drop back down to 26,000 ft. and found myself rapidly approaching Mexico City at that height. Further ATC clearance was needed and obtained to transit the city.


Flying over Mexico City

I passed over the sprawling mass of buildings that was the country’s capital city, there were one or two other aircraft in visual range now, but ATC guided me through with little deviation to me straight line course.


Bright blue sky with a little heat haze.

By now the weather was getting looking warm.  I was insulated from it this, snug in my cockpit and at altitude, but I could clearly see the heat haze and guessed it was fairly hot down there.



After out transit of Mexico City ATC ordered me to decent to 15,000 ft.. Now I would get to see Mexico in a bit more detail. I passed Lake Patzcuaro, An interesting lake, as it doesn’t drain into the sea. It is of volcanic origin and has large surrounding wetlands which are an important wild life preserve, but has its problem with human encroachment, the taking of water for agriculture and the pollution by sewage and dumped chemicals.


Lago de Patzcuaro

 Having neem bought down to 5,000 feet by ATC, I passed over the town of Uruapan………..


Over Uruapan

…….and over MMPN Lic and Gen Ignacio Rayo airport itself.


Lic and Gen Ignacio Rayo from the air.

Permission to land we given to land, and I lined up on the runway for a short landing.  The aircraft was still too heavy to land vertically.


On finals

I set the nozzles to 60 degrees, wheels down and I was set up for the landing.  I would need a maximum of 1,500 meters of the 2,400 available.


Short Landing

On the deck with the engine set to idle and the nozzles set to aft, I completed a nice short landing that showed off this aircrafts abilities despite its age.


On the ground

Turning off the runway at the first exit, ground control directed me to a parking slot about as far away from the air-conditioned terminal buildings as possible.


Taxi to stand.

I shut down the aircraft and once safe, plodded back to the terminal.  I was right about the heat, I was roasting in my flying kit.


Parked up and shut down.

The bar beckoned and cold beer. I have no idea who the baton goes to next so I changed out of my flying gear in the toilets and then had that all important beer.  Then it was off to the Holiday Inn and a nice air conditioned room while I waited for Jasmine to catch me up and to find out to whom the baton goes to next.  No Putin interference …… again.


The Holiday Inn, Uruapan.

Time to raid the mini bar…Thanks Joe J

  • Like 3

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

You're welcome JG, sorry it's only a Holiday Inn but the budget is pretty tight.

A superb PIREP as always and a faultless flight this time, I am worried with the lack of attention by P though.




Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Great read and fantastic illustrations JG. Interesting to learn that PutinFeld may just be a sucker on... someone else's arm. ;)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Outstanding Pirep JG


Once again you take that bar and shift it up a couple of notches. Brilliant piece of writing, and some great pics.


Ps. I'm surprised you managed to fall asleep at Bill's brother's wedding.. surely the strangled cat singer would have alerted you to 'audible danger' :rofl:


Pps. Was that actually Tom Hardy getting some RLE with the Royal Marine Commandos?  Swoon !! :heat:


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now