Ingo Noka

FRAS supports LIMA 2011

In Flight Log, Social Life on December 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Ingo lifting kids in and out of the AT4

Almost 15 hours of flying time and one of the best days of my life at LIMA 2011, Langkawi – can it become any better that that?  Hard to imagine, but I sure hope so.  We went with an AT-4, a PA-28 and  our good old Charlie Foxtrot (C172) to Langkawi to be an exhibitor at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace show 2011.  Our aircraft were the only GA planes on display together with fighter jets (SU-30, MIG-29, Eurofighter etc), massive transport planes and military helicopters. While it is hard to compete with this sort of hardware, at least with our 41 years old Cessna 172K 9M-WCF we had the oldest aircraft on display. The pictures and movies don’t do justice to the excitement of this adventure, but have a look here  if you are interested.  Alvin also has a blog entry with lots of great pictures, which is worth looking at here.

We took off with three aircraft in the morning of Wednesday the 7th December 2011. I flew the club Piper PA28 9M-FRR together with Tavanis, who is training for his CPL in Langkawi and was to be my guide for the final leg from Penang to Langkawi. I needed a guide, because the others continued to Langkawi while I had to stay in Subang to give a presentation at a conference on Thursday morning.  The fact that I came to meeting with my own aircraft turned out to be a great conversation opener over dinner on Wednesday!

When I got back to the airport on Thursday around 11am, I was greeted with a 500 feet cloud base, strong winds, rain and lightning.  It didn’t look as if we would be going anywhere and I already started to make plans to stay in KL and return to Johor the next day.  However, at 2 pm a blue spot started to emerge in the North-East and the radar image looked good in this direction as well.  So we took off and were treated with the best visibility I have ever seen over KL.  With gorgeous views and patches of mist rising from the valleys between KL and Kuala Selangor, we enjoyed a nice flight to Penang.

After a short refueling stop in Penang we continued onwards to Langkawi, which is less than an hour flight time to the North. Shortly after lifting off I managed to get lost and I think Butterworth approach wasn’t impressed by me taking a turn back to the South rather than heading towards Muda as I boldly announced on the radio. They probably also didn’t believe me that flying around the Penang island was my plan all along. After some frantic activity in the cockpit to ascertain where we actually are, we eventually found our way around the East side of Penang and to Muda.

Langkawi greeted us with good weather and a bright orange sun that was about to disappear on the horizon and we touched down safely.  First the tower didn’t know what to do with us, but they let us taxi between rows of military aircraft to the exhibition area where we the marshallers did some arm waving which I only dimly remembered from my ground school days.  Thankfully there was not much maneuvering space, so we just shut down the engine and pushed the Piper into a parking spot between two rather big transport planes.

We met with the others at the Langkawi Four Points Sheraton (not cheap at all) and relayed our adventures over a couple of beers.

On Friday, we went back to the airport with the plan to take off between the two air shows. To my surprise, our aircraft had been made an exhibit right in the middle of the exhibition area, cordoned off with white chains and all.  On Friday LIMA was open to the public and a huge crowd had turned out so that there was no way to get the aircraft out with thousands of visitors milling around.

There was nothing to be done about this.  We sat down under the wings to get out of the blazing sun and looked at the visitors who looked at us. Much like in a zoo, really.

Initially visitors weren’t allowed near the aircraft on display, but after a while, I decided to put a little boy into the cockpit of the AT4 for some pictures and in no time we had a long queue of kids who wanted to sit in an aircraft too. I can tell you, heaving little 20 KG packages in and out of the AT4 for an hour quickly showed me how badly I am out of shape.  Thankfully, Alvin took over when I looked as if I was about to faint.

The horrendous hotel prices on Langkawi weren’t very inviting, which gave rise to a plan to make it at least to Penang in the evening.  The weather thought differently and we had to turn back about half way. Langlawi tower didn’t expect us to come back (new ATC phraseology: “Aren’t you the ones that just left for Penang …?”), but this time they put us outside the exhibition area, to allow for an early departure the next day. The marshallers had to park their push-back tractors in front of the AT4 to prevent it from being blown away by a military transporter starting up their engines.

That night we found a much cheaper hotel, The Lanai, for RM 300. Next time I go to Langkawi I will definitely use that hotel – they have a nice pool and outside restaurants at the beach.

Next day we took off early at around 9 am, but only made it to Subang. The weather between Subang and Malacca just wasn’t good enough. We stayed at the Subang Park Hotel in Subang Jaya (close to Sunway), which has rooms for between RM 70 and RM 90.  I can definitely recommend that hotel.

On Sunday, most if us really had to go back to Johor (we ran out of fresh t-shirts etc much earlier), but the weather still wasn’t that great.  Despite some reservations on my side, I hadn’t flown the Cessna for months, we switched planes with Alvin and I flew the Cessna for the last two legs of the trip.  We made it to Malacca, where we had to land to wait out heavy rain along the coast to Senai.

Finally there was an opening and we outran a weather front closing in from the North East of Malacca.

Next time we need to do a bit more planning and bring brochures and stuff for sale.  The military chaps were much better prepared and had a brisk trade going with t-shirts, caps etc.

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