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PLEINCRAZY Crazy Trip Around the World in 80 days


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Also looking forward to this adventure. I have invited 50 of my closest friends from the business world, academia, theology and government, who will be travelling with me and my flight crew. We are excited and expecting a wild and crazy and educational adventure.  Provisions have been negotiated, the aircraft has been chartered, flight crew hired from various airports and airlines around the world, and we are currently headed to our hotels in and around London, expecting to meet at Gatwick in the morning tomorrow.  Our aircraft arrived from KLAX in the US last week and I have been to the airport to supervise some modifications that are being made for passenger comfort and galley purposes.

 

Following are a few of our flight details, more to come: 

 

  1. Simulator: MSFS
  2. Aircraft: Airbus A320NEO (A32NX) LEAP 1A26 Engines
  3. Passengers: 50
  4. Flight Crew: 7
  5. Departure Airport: EGKK (Gatwick)
  6. Flight Plan: EGKK LIRF LGAV HECA OEAB OMAA OOMS VABB VABI VECC VYYY WSSS VVTS VHHH ZSPD RJFY RJTT RJCC UHPP UHMA PANC KSFO KDEN KORD KJFK CYHZ CYYT EIDW EGLL
  7. Schedule: As required/posted
  8. Detailed flight plan: EGKK (Gatwick, England [LONDON]) LIRF (Rome, Italy) LGAV (Athens, Greece) HECA (Cairo, Egypt [SUEZ]) OEAB (Abha, Saudi Arabia) OMAA (Abu Dhabi) OOMS (Muscat, Oman) VABB (Mumbai, India [BOMBAY]) VABI (Bilaspur/Raipur, India) VECC (Kolkata, India [CALCUTTA]) VYYY (Yangon, Myanmar) WSSS (Changi, Singapore) VVTS (Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam) VHHH (Hong Kong, China) ZSPD (Pudong, China) RJFY (Nagasaki, Japan) RJTT (Tokyo, Japan [YOKOHAMA]) RJCC (Sapporo, Japan) UHPP (Petropalovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia) UHMA (Anadyr, Russia) PANC (Anchorage, Alaska) CYVR (Vancouver, Canada) KFSO (San Francisco, US [SAN FRANCISCO]) KDEN (Denver, US) KORD (Chicago, US) KJFK (New York, US [NEW YORK]) CYHZ (Halifax, Canada) CYYT (St. Johns, Canada) EIDW (Dublin, Ireland) EGLL (London, UK [LONDON]
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I returned to the airport this evening after speaking with the aircraft maintenance crew manager and the modifications went very well. I think our passengers will find their accommodations onboard spacious and comfortable.  With all of the seats removed and replaced with first class accommodations for 50 guests, including a lounge, dining room, card room and other amenities, I might just buy this airplane myself. It was well worth the cost (which I won't mention).  The ground maintenance folks tell me everything is in tip top shape for our departure tomorrow.

 

Since our first leg is only about an hour and forty-five minutes, we are really in no rush. The passengers are supposed to have their luggage picked up and we are planning a mid-morning departure enroute to Rome (LIRF).  More on the passengers later, but let's just say they are an interesting lot to say the least.

 

We are skipping dinner at the Club because I don't think they would appreciate my bringing 50 friends along to eat up their food and especially down the port and brandy or whatever they had planned to hold under our noses.  We hope to see everyone here or there along the way, and wish everyone a safe flight in the morning.

 

Best regards.

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What is it they say?  Hope for the best but plan for the worst. As luck would have it, after the fleet of black Mercedes SUVs descended upon Gatwick Airport with our 50 passengers, the flight crew was powering up from a cold and dark startup at gate 140 and discovered an electrical problem. Without going into detail, mainly because I have little knowledge when it comes to electrical matters, we were substantially delayed.  It seems the company we contracted to perform the modifications on our 320NEO did something, or tapped into something as it were, that caused some sort of domino effect. Suffice to say, everyone was forced to sit around for hours and hours on end waiting for rectification.  Eventually, one of our passengers, who happens to be a project manager and electrical engineer for Elon Musk's Starlink project, Danna Rose, jumped into action and saved what was left of the day (night). She and her father, Mike, himself an MIT trained electrical engineer, together with the contractor, got all of the bells and whistles working properly by 20:00:00 zulu time.  My old friend, Fr. Don Hansen, himself a Catholic priest of 35 years, gave us a prayer and blessing as we pushed back and started engines.

 

The aircraft properly repaired, passengers boarded and we were off the blocks by 22:47:23.  The weather was not bad with just a few broken clouds and smooth skies as we climbed out over Jackrell's Farm.  We finally descended into Rome by 00:45:00, did an ILS landing on runway 25, and were on the blocks at Gate 706 by 00:58:34.  So while we made it safely, we technically arrived a day late.  The passengers were a little frazzled as we deplaned. Anxiety was high.  Then our vans at the Fiumicino Airport were late by 30 minutes, causing us to wait in the terminal. For such a short flight, it ended up being a horribly long day.  Hoping today is better. The passengers are sleeping and we decided on a midday departure from Rome to Athens.

 

Wish us luck!

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This morning was a little brighter. Everyone slept well at the Fiumicino Hilton next to the terminal. They were a little miffed that there was no time to stay and see the sights of Rome even at night, though.  Our itinerary had us arriving in Athens, Greece, on Christmas Eve, which I thought would be nice. The group is now grumbling, however, how magical Rome is at Christmas and we should have taken our first layover there. Oh well, such is life. They are invited guests and should not be looking the gift horse in the mouth. It seems very ungrateful to me. I didn't charge any of them a single penny for this trip.

 

This morning, the sun was out, the sky was fresh with only some scattered clouds, and some disappointment about yesterday, and being in Greece instead of Rome, I think they are looking forward to the next adventure. Thank you to our contracted ground maintenance crews we arranged at every stop, engineers, and everyone who made such a quick turnaround possible. We all gathered at Fiumicino Airport at around 10:15:00 UTC.  Our scheduled departure was set for 11:30:00.

 

We were off the blocks early at 11:13:00, and taxied out.  LIRF is a busy airport! Lots of traffic, but very orderly. No wait for takeoff. I was impressed. As we flew out over Rome, I pointed out various landmarks along the way, and my First Officer, Curtis Braverman, took the stick. We had a bit of turbulence almost immediately as we passed over the Nemi pond, but it only lasted a few minutes.  A feverish argument broke out when one of my invited guests said she was thinking about leaving our tour in Athens and going back to Rome. A Harvard professor, Lily Beth Davies, would not let go of the fact that she was missing Rome at Christmastime. She was perseverating!  It was driving everyone crazy when Louis Amery, a hedge fund manager out of New York, finally told her to shut up. Nick Jefferson stepped in and told Louis not to talk to her, or anyone that way. There was almost a fist fight and several other passengers had to jump in.  I threatened to divert our flight, but NOT back to Rome I told them. I was not going to reward such misbehavior.

 

We finally set down in Athens, at LGAV, at about 13:15:00. I don't think Louis will be talking to Lily anymore on this trip, and Nick and Louis keep giving each other a death stare.  I told everyone to see the sights of Athens and we would re-group the day after Christmas for our next leg. I'm already emotionally exhausted.

 

Until Sunday...

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Well, it seems most of the group had a great time spending Christmas in Athens, Greece. The main exception was Lily Beth Davies, who in fact has left the group and returned to Rome.  So be it - good riddance.  Nick and Louis apparently keep arguing, although I really think it's a bromance in disguise - a love/hate sort of thing.  Apparently, they spent Christmas morning having brunch together in the City. I hid out in my hotel room a little down on how things were going so far.  I guess the guests have come around somewhat and spirits are brighter. They decided as a group to ask me if they could spend the rest of the day in Athens before we head out for Cairo.  I told them I'm okay with that, but once again we had to cancel and file a new flight plan.  Our staff is getting a little off and tired from constant schedule changes already, especially our two chefs, Aurelia and Francesco.  Albeit all of the hot foods are catered, they are spending exorbitant time preparing upgrading the catering, and preparing the cold and room temp culinary delights for our guests in the modified galley.  Some guests are participating in the sit-down in-air meals and others are spending their time playing cards or games in the card room.  As long as they are having fun, I'm good with either.

 

I also ran into my old friend, Mohamed Youines, who was a Cairo transplant living in LA but vacationing in Athens. Since Lily Beth departed, I suggested he join us and hitch a ride back home. He eagerly agreed.  He sat in the jump seat behind us much of the flight and we talked about old times. He asked me to stay with him in Cairo at his home and I accepted. We are staying the rest of the week in Cairo until New Year's, so I'm excited to see his family again. We haven't spent time at his home in several years.

 

We got off the blocks in Athens (LGAV) at 20:55:32z and the air was clear and smooth. Although we had a 12-29kt cross wind most of the way, it was consistent so the passengers were comfortable.  Our route took us over Santorini, but since it was already dark I could only  see the airport. Cairo was beautiful on the horizon, though, as we approached. I had forgotten how big it was until seeing it from a distance. 

 

Something unusual happened on the long approach as we were escorted in by a jet fighter (A-10 Thunderbolt piloted by FIFTY_JOEY_FIFTY). I'm not sure why unless it was because we were a charter off schedule(?).  Anyway, we landed on ILS 05L at about 12:45am. The next unusual thing was that we were met by a black police van who made me open the side window and yelled at me asking which gate I was going to. I told him and he followed us on the taxiway.  Strange.  We were on the blocks by 22:57:21z, three minutes late. Since it was after 1:00am Cairo time by the time we deplaned, everyone planned to go directly to their hotel rooms. Fortunately I had arranged transportation for them all as I'm afraid of what the cab/Uber situation would be that time of night.  Mohamed's brother-in-law picked us up at the airport and took us on a wild, late night ride into his Darb el Hosr neighborhood.  It is compact living to say the least compared to the space I am used to in the US, but his home is welcoming and comfortable, and his family stayed up (or woke up) to greet us, which was a joy.  Fortunately, we are staying a whole week in Cairo and the surrounding areas, so I look forward to a fantastic adventure while we are here. More on that later.

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Tuesday, 28 Dec 2021: Things seem to be going from strange to concerning.  Everything was fine until we entered Egyptian airspace and were met with a military escort, albeit an A-10; not exactly fighter class.  Not sure what that was about. Then the unmarked police van on the taxiway.  While at my friend Mohamed's home in Darb el Hosr, two Egyptian police detectives in suits knocked on the door loudly and said they wanted to speak to me. When I came to the door, they asked if I would go with them voluntarily to the El Omraneya Police Station as they had a few questions for me regarding one of the passengers.  Mohamed drove me through the streets of downtown Cairo down Salah Salem Street and across the Nile to Giza.  Mohamed was asked to wait in the lobby while I was brought into a small room.  They asked me about one of the passengers, Carys Stevenson, who apparently is embroiled in some sort of international ring of some sort. I didn't have to play dumb - I had no idea what they were talking about. I barely know Carys, having met him briefly in London a few years ago and flying with him to Bermuda in his Cessna Citation once where he spent the whole time drinking any partying on his private island.  They seemed concerned about others trying to contact him. Very confusing. 

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1/1/2022: I got up early this morning to head to the airport and check over the aircraft before our departure today from Cairo (HECA - SUEZ) to Abha, Saudi Arabia (OEAB). When I arrived, there were several unmarked (obvious) police vehicles parked next to it. It was in the GA parking area where we left it upon our arrival on the 28th, but the forward door was open and a police officer with an assault weapon was guarding the top of the stairs. I started walking up the stairs to find out what was going on and I recognized the officer as having been in the Omraneya police station four days ago. He put up his hand as if to dissuade me from ascending the stairs, but I kept walking up. He finally said, in a rude and brash manner, “halt right there!” He lowered his weapon at me. I told him I was responsible for this aircraft and asked what was going on. He told me if I waited at the bottom of the stairs, he would get the inspector to talk to me.  What I got instead was an Interpol agent who told me the aircraft had been confiscated by the authorities. I asked for a warrant or paperwork, and he pulled out his badge and said it was all he needed. He turned and walked away. I got on the phone with my lawyers in Los Angeles, but they were little help and suggested I hire someone in Cairo. Having no time, I called the hotel and let Curtis, my First Officer, know of the hiccup and to tell the passengers nothing except we were having airplane problems and I was securing an alternative. 

 

I called my friend at Saudi Airlines and called in a favor (and offered him enough money to choke a horse). I was able to charter one of their aircraft for a hefty sum and we were set to leave. No one told me I had to stay in Cairo, and I had my passport, so I figured we were good to go.  I suggested the passengers meet us at the gate where the airplane had just returned from Jeddah and was being prepped for a turnaround. We were going to be at Gate E-6, the same one we arrived at on the 28th. I also called my contact at HECA and asked for a little favor.

 

When the passengers arrived, I hurried them onto the plane, pulling Carys aside and letting him know what had transpired. He turned white as a ghost. As a charter flight, we were allowed to board at our own prerogative with a little help from my Cairo contacts. I told Carys to hurry and suggested he “use the restroom” right away. There was essentially no check in. My contact at the gate who made the airport arrangements winked as I boarded last. “Safe travels” he told me.

 

As soon as we were all boarded, my second pilot, Lisa Demirdjian, and Curtis were just finishing inputting our next leg to Abha, Saudi Arabia (OEAB), and going through procedures. I suggested Lisa take the stick and get us out of there.  After pushing back and starting engines and requesting taxi, I could see our other plane in GA parking and the Interpol agent was just descending the stairs and walking to his car. Not knowing if he was planning to stop us, I urged Lisa to get us off the ground, quick. She taxied to runway 23C at about 30 knots and was given immediate clearance to take off. We accelerated down the runway. I lost sight of Mr. Interpol’s car, but he didn’t try to block us and we were airborne and headed southeast toward Abha.

 

We crossed over the Red Sea just north of Hurghada International Airport near the resorts at Ra’s Abῡ Sawmah.  Once we crossed into the middle of the Red Sea, I felt the Egyptian authorities would not bother with us. Not sure about Interpol. We entered Saudi airspace and crossed over Jeddah. I felt better flying a Saudi Airlines livery into Abha. We arrived at OEAB in the early evening after a flight of two hours and 26 minutes (948nm).  We had a 42kt cross wind the entire way, but it was consistent and fairly smooth. I had arranged several taxis to take our guests and their luggage to the Palace Hotel.  It was a long day and I needed a drink or two or three and then sleep. Most of us ended up at Abha Al Jadidah restaurant down the street. Cute little place overlooking the water at Abha Dam. I figured we’d leave later tomorrow for Abu Dhabi (OMAA).  Tomorrow I would talk to Carys about what to do about the authorities’ interest in him. I really don’t want to know what it’s about. Oh yeah and call my friend at Southwest to let him know I lost his plane in Egypt. That should go over well. Until tomorrow. We would be in Abha and surrounding Saudi Arabia for four days – enough time to get lost. 

 

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Abha Al Jadidah restaurant near our hotel...

 

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Our new ride...

 

 

 

 

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1/2/2022: I met with Carys Stevenson this morning at breakfast and told him I was not comfortable having a passenger that was wanted by Interpol. He told me the agent, Mr. Fix, had been following him since he had been in London the week before Christmas. He said he had spoken to Mr. Fix who accused him of stealing an artifact that once belonged to Phileas Fogg back in 1873, following his successful circumnavigation of the globe.  Museums and private collectors had been after the artifact for years willing to pay top dollar, but it was stolen just days before Mr. Stevenson’s journey had begun. Ironically, Mr. Stevenson, whom I had known since our earlier days of world travel and before I had bought a couple airlines, was a notable antiquities dealer, especially in the fields of aeronautics and aircraft. He told me he was innocent, but I pressed him that he needed to come clean to Agent Fix.  He said he would once we had returned to London at the end of this trip.  I told him I could not protect him in the meantime, and he would be on his own. He had already cost me an airplane my friend at home may never see again. That’s a cool $130 million replacement cost, which is a hit to the pocketbook even to me. Carys offered to tell me about the artifact, but I stopped him and told him the less I know the better. Just keep a low profile.

 

On another note, Carys said he needs to get to Aden before we leave for Mumbai in a couple days and asked if I would fly him.  Despite the sick feeling in my stomach, I reluctantly agreed. I had been to Aden years ago; took a selfie at the statue honoring Queen Victoria at Queen Victoria Garden near the waterfront. It was a sleepy little fishing town on the Gulf of Aden where the Red Sea meets the Arabian Sea. It was now a hot spot in the conflict between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis struggling for control.  Since Yemenia Airlines and now, just recently, Emirates were the only airlines flying into Aden, we’d have to be creative.  Our Saudi livery would stand out like a sore thumb I’m afraid.  After spending a couple of hours on the phone, unsuccessfully trying to call in favors from different places, we decided to just go for it and hope for the best.  The Saudi equivalent of the State Department in the US said they would not recommend us going but would not stop us. We would leave for Aden International (OYAA) tonight and fly in dark.  ATC at Aden were advised of our plans and would be expecting us. Fingers crossed.

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1/3/2022: We routed out over the middle of the Red Sea and southeast for an easterly landing at ILS 08 via Dirak at Aden International just after 3 o’clock in the morning (21:44:42z). We rode the only cab at the airport to the Crown Hotel just down the street and got two rooms for us and three more for the flight crew (Lisa, Curtis and Alana, our flight attendant).  I crashed on the bed just after 4:00am (22:30:00z).  When I woke up at 10:00am (04:46:00z), I called for room service and tried to get Carys on his cell, but no answer.  I knocked on his door. No answer. Went back to my room and ate a fantastic breakfast and waited.  I called his cell two more times. No answer. After calling Curtis and updating him (and telling him to get the plane ready to depart on short notice), I decided to poke around Aden for a bit and took a cab to Queen Victoria Garden once more.  I walked over to the BattleNet café for a coffee and headed down to Tourists Quay Park at the docks where Phileas Fogg and Passepartout had re-loaded with coal on the steamer Magnolia after it had sailed from Suez to Aden so many decades ago. I made it all the way down to the old fort at Sapper Bay before Carys called me back. He was ready to go.  Being all the way out on Steamer Point, I couldn’t find a cab or ride until I got all the way over to the Alarosah Resort where a single cab driver was hanging out front smoking and jibber jabbing with a group of men.  When I got back to the Crown, Carys was ready to head out, so I held the cab, grabbed my overnight bag and we rode back to the terminal with all five of us squished in. He didn’t say a word the whole time but clutched a leather satchel under his arm he did not have when we arrived.  I didn’t ask. We departed Aden International at 2:00pm local time (08:46:00z) and arrived at about 3:15pm Abha time (10:00:00z) on 1/3/2022.

 

 

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Flying dark over Abu Arish and Azan to avoid attention as we head out over the Red Sea…

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Landing at Aden (OYAA) running dark below FL100, then navigation lights only until 500’…

 

When we returned to Abha from Aden, I had a message from Fr. Hansen that he needed to urgently meet with me. I texted him from the terminal and asked him to meet me at the Starbucks in the Terminal while Alana, Lisa and Curtis returned to the hotel.  We ordered our lattes (amazing how a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia can be almost the same as in downtown Los Angeles!) and sat at a small table. He filled me in that two detectives from London Yard had visited the Crown Hotel and started asking our guests to submit to interviews in the presence of an Interpol detective – a Mr. Fix. A few of them had submitted to the interrogation, but others had refused and questioned their jurisdiction or authority. Apparently, Louis Amery and Nick Jefferson once again started arguing, this time over whether to submit to an interview, when finally, Louis threw a punch at Nick and they got into a full on brawl in the hotel lobby. The police were summoned, and both were thrown in jail pending charges. Fr. Hansen was able to talk to the watch commander at the local police station who said they were being held without the possibility of bond or bail and were told it could be weeks before their trials.  Mr. Fix asked each of those who participated in the interviews not to leave Abha until further notice. I told Fr. Hansen they had no right or jurisdiction, nor authority to force anyone to stay.  He said the passengers were scared and wanted to leave as soon as possible.  Fr. Hansen, however, said it would not be right to leave Louis and Nick behind.

 

As we were finishing our conversation, I noticed a small group of men in ghutras and agals sitting nearby looking at us intensely.  Are they with the Saudi authorities? Or maybe don't like Americans? I made the executive decision it was time to leave. I don't think we spoke loud enough to be overheard, but you never know. I told Don to gather the group and we would depart as soon as the plane was ready, and they could gather all their belongings.  Nick and Louis would have to fend for themselves.  They could afford their own lawyers. I would text Lisa to let the ground crews and airport officials know we needed an expedited departure and flight plan approval to Abu Dhabi.  We were targeting an 8:30pm (01:13:00z) departure time.  Another late night was ahead.

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1/3/2022: It was a struggle finding transportation for our (now) 47 guests to the airport – which was too far to walk but within eyesight of the airport.  As we were waiting, Emma Brotherton, a native of Gatwick and professor at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), was boasting to another guest how she found four different hijabs at the Al Rashid Mall that would make splendid scarves back in the US, where she now lives in Beverly Hills.  Her husband is a container ship magnate, and she teaches political science.  Neil Gilmartin was raving about the food at King Fahd restaurant at the end of the runway at King Fahd Road to Trey Jolley who said he had not eaten since Cairo because something there upset his stomach. In other words, the group was nicely distracted and not perseverating on our predicament with London Yard or Interpol.  Finally, our friends at the Hotel found a school bus to carry us to the terminal, driven by the airport operations manager’s brother-in-law. The operations manager escorted our group and we were not bothered by any airport personnel – no passport checks, etc. and we were able to board our Saudi Airlines A320NEO to head out for Abu Dhabi (OMAA) on the next (scheduled) leg of our trip. Carys continued to clutch the leather satchel in one arm while dragging his roller suitcase with the other. He looked haggard and worried.  Most of the passengers carried their luggage on board and we had a space set aside for its transport inside the airplane. Carys was not letting go of his satchel, however.

It was 9:10pm by the time we were all on board (17:50:00z). We were off the blocks at 10:15pm Abha time (18:55:00z) and taxied out for a straight-out departure from runway 13. We should be in Abu Dhabi by 12:33am (21:13:00z) on 1/4/2022.

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1/4/2022: We landed at Abu Dhabi a little behind schedule – about 12:48am (21:28:00z) on 1/4/2022. There was a light rain falling and high clouds. The passengers appeared exhausted as they deplaned. I came out this time to thank them for their flexibility, adaptability and patience. That’s usually Lisa or Curtis’ job.  We had booked rooms for everyone last minute at the Crowne Plaza on Yas Island. It was an easy transfer in the hotel vans outside the terminal.  Since we are a few days early to Abu Dhabi, I was looking forward to finally having some R&R, and hopefully no drama. There’s plenty to do here for our guests and hopefully they, too, can take a deep breath and we can get back to enjoying the trip.  I also received notice that our converted Southwest Airlines A320NEO had been released by Egyptian authorities and after a few phone calls and wired bonuses I was able to procure a flight crew to bring the aircraft to Abu Dhabi and fly the chartered Saudi aircraft to Abha for its return, where they will pick up a flight back to Cairo.  I am paying them well, so I hope everything works out. They're flying empty, so it should be a fairly easy endeavor for them.  I'm sure our guests will appreciate getting back into their luxury accommodations and away from standard, albeit nice, first class accommodations on our borrowed aircraft.  Hoping by our rapid departure from Abha that we've shaken that Mr. Fix Interpol fellow and his London Yard compatriots. Carys continues to lay low and is not talking to anyone. He's acting paranoid if you ask me. I just hope whatever he is up to doesn't affect us or this adventure any further. He's done enough damage already.  Now, time for bed...

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Landing at Abu Dhabi International (OMAA)…

 

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On the blocks at Abu Dhabi International (OMAA)…

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5 January 2022: I woke up earlier than expected. I called over to a small business on the southeast end of the airport that rents helicopters to see if I can rent one for the day.  The gentleman there said they had a couple of Airbus H-135s on hand and asked me to stop by to show my credentials in person, sign the rental agreement, and check out the aircraft. One of my side businesses had been executive transportation, including aerial extrication from some pretty hot zones around the world for various celebrities and politicians. Fortunately, I had flown quite a few hours in the H-135 and was familiar with it. Sight seeing around Abu Dhabi would be a lot more tame than I was used to for sure.  I called Fr. Hansen in his room and asked if he was interested in joining me.  Many years ago we had jointly worked on a white paper on the Arab Spring which was published in a few international journals, and he had a keen interest in the region.  He was excited for the opportunity. We decided to grab coffees (lattes) at Barouk and sit out by the pool.  We had a great time reminiscing about the days of our white paper and all that had happened since then in the Middle East.  While sipping our lattes, I received a text from Curtis that Trey Jolley had gotten substantially sicker last night and was being taken by hotel staff to the Musaffah Hospital. I tried calling Trey but he didn't answer. I hope he is okay.  Curtis also said in his text he has been trying to reach Nick Jefferson and Louis Amery but just got voicemail. He said Louis' wife was trying to get a hold of us according to my secretary who had called him. I told him to tell Rachel I would call her back.

 

Hailed a cab outside the hotel and went to Abu Dhabi International to pick up the helicopter. Called my secretary, Rachel Conway, back from the cab. She said Louis Amery's wife was extremely worried about him and had been not only calling her but also the Saudi embassy in the US and the US embassy in Saudi Arabia. Told her to tell Mrs. Amery I would stay on it.

 

The guests were informed that we purchased VIP+ tickets for them to Ferrari World very nearby the hotel. That should keep them happy and occupied today.   In the meantime, we took out the helicopter and the ride was fabulous! Got to see a few sights (photos attached). Fr. Don laughed at me when I said I wanted to land on top of Burj Al Arab. Laugh was on him!  We didn't stick around, though. I was afraid they'd call the police on me. We made it back to the airport after about two hours.  Lots of fun. 

 

I called Rachel back from the airport. She said she received a call from the US State Department about Louis.  His wife has not been able to talk to him yet and I am worried about him, but he got himself into this mess.  A bunch of us are going to meet for dinner.  It was a fun day.

 

 

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Over Ferarri Land, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, UAE

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Passing the Princess Tower…

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The Burj Khalifa is an amazing building…

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Approaching the Burj Al Arab…Don didn’t believe me, haha

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Nailed it!

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Buzzed a cruise ship just for fun…

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31R approach into Abu Dhabi International…Winds were 278/22!  Pretty bumpy…

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Taxiing was a challenge because of the wind…

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Rental returned!  Haha!

 

 

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6 January 2022: Forgot to mention yesterday that much of our helicopter tour took us over Dubai in addition to Abu Dhabi only a few miles away.  I think  I should make sure to be more careful so if anyone reads this diary someday there is credit where credit is due relative to how many countries we venture into.  Most of the group spent most of today in Ferrari World playing on the rollercoasters and being children again. A few brave souls went over to the Yas Waterworld, but while it's clear, it's only in the low 20sC today - too cold for me. Another group headed to Warner Brothers World.  It's good to see the group making friends. Carys has stayed behind on these adventures. His appearance is changing - not sure if it's guilt for whatever he's done or he is having some sort of medical issue. I'll have to talk to him later. He looked white as a ghost this morning at breakfast.  I haven't seen Mr. Fix since we arrived here, although he is good at lurking in shadows.

 

6 January 2022: After getting back from our adventures on Yas Island today, I texted Carys I was coming over while I ate dinner in my room. He almost panicked!  He said he would come to me.  What does he have in his room I wonder?  When he arrived at my door, he appeared haggard and worried. I asked him what is going on. He said Mr. Fix walked passed him in the lobby when he went down to get a coffee and snidely told him he was working on an international warrant through Interpol.  I held my hand out and told him I don't want to know what it's about.  He started crying, telling me he can't go to prison. I told him he should get a good lawyer when we get to Mumbai. He pleaded with me to take us out of UAE, but I told him I can't do that to the other passengers - it wouldn't be fair to them.  He continued sobbing as he left my room. Poor fellow.

 

Two of our guests have apparently developed some sort of romantic relationship, Destiny Triplow and Adam Baker. They've moved to the Hilton WB and asked us to keep them in the loop as far as what everyone is doing. He sent me a photo poolside.  Nice view of the adventure parks. Maybe I should have booked over there - not much a view from where we're sitting.  More tomorrow...

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Text from Adam Barker of their new location at Hilton WB...

 

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7 January 2022: A small contingent of guests are interested in a little adventure into the Arabian Desert. There is a small airstrip approximately 132nm southwest of Abu Dhabi International, OEST at Khalifa. It has 6,877 feet of asphalt. I have a CRJ-900 being brought in from Bahrain International and should be here by the time we get to the airport.  The concierge at the Crowne Plaza found a charter bus on a layover to take us to the airport. Looks like we’ll have between 15-20 passengers, including Destiny and Adam, who apparently just love adventure according to the others. They snuck off this morning and did some sunrise parachuting over Palm Jumeriah, landing on the beach in Dubai next to the Marine Club.

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Got off the blocks at OMAA at 10:45am local time (15:15:00z).  Sky was clear and smooth, although we had a bit of a cross tail wind 293/19 that only caused a little problem on landing. Landed at runway 13 and bounced it pretty badly. Some passengers gasped a bit. Very embarrassing.  There was a bus that pulled up unexpectedly and there were two local police cars at the airport. Oh no, I thought to myself, they’re going to take our whole group in this time (at least those on this short flight).  However, it was a local bus operator who received a call from his uncle who works at Abu Dhabi telling him we filed a flight plan and were enroute. He offered to take us on a tour of the oil fields nearby. Destiny and Adam were imploring us to go along so we did. I ponied up a couple hundred dollars US for his time and he was happy with that. It was actually very interesting, as his father is operations manager at one of the oil transfer facilities and gave us a lot of interesting information I had never known before.   After a couple of hours, we were back at OEST and boarded and headed back to Abu Dhabi.  Another nice side day trip. I need to practice up on my CRJ landings, though. I always found these aircraft a little tricky and temperamental.

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Flying over OEST to enter the pattern for VFR 13 approach…

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Our bus to the oilfields in Khalifa…

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Lift off for our return to OMAA at Abu Dhabi…fun excursion

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13R approach back into Abu Dhabi…

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Back on the blocks…cut it a little close on fuel…oops! Haha

We were back in time for lunch. The concierge got some of us reservations at Diablito in the marina for 4:00pm local time. We were able to arrange a super limo to take us. Several of the group went over to Sharkyacht for drinks first, but I was hungry.  It was not bad.  Carys was nowhere to be seen, but I did see Mr. Fix at a distance watching us. He must be following us!  There were a couple unmarked cars that followed us into the parking lot when we arrived.  Not sure where Carys is hiding now.

Everyone was on their own for dinner tonight. I would spend a quiet dinner with Father Don. We never got to finish a conversation after the helicopter ride.  More tomorrow when we leave Abu Dhabi for Muscat, Oman. It’s been a terrific time here and I think everyone had fun. Everyone, that is, except Carys and Mr. Fix.

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8 January 2022:   I didn’t get to bed until midnight last night.  Trey Jolley texted me he had been released from the hospital and was feeling better and would depart with us in the morning. I also found out Louis Amery was determined to be a victim in an assault by Nick Jefferson and was released by authorities and would be joining us in Mumbai. Apparently, Nick would continue to be held for trial and Louis said he had an attorney. Louis asked if his wife could join us since she had already flown to Saudi Arabia. I told him it was fine. Since we were leaving by 10:00am local time this morning, I had to get to the airport by 7:00am to make sure our converted A320NEO Southwest livery, which had been returned by Egyptian authorities, was ready to go. Had to pay dearly to assemble a crew in Egypt to bring it over.

Our guests gathered at the bus nice and early. Curtis, Lisa, and Alana met me at the airport at seven as well. Our chefs Executive Chef Aurelia and Sous Chef Francesco also arrived early as they planned a special brunch on board for our guests and had a lot of prep work to do.  The guests would be served once we were wheels up and seatbelt lights off and would likely still be eating as we arrived in Muscat (OOMS), as it is only 209nm away and a 32-minute flight. Hoping for a smooth flight. We would only be in Muscat, the capitol of Oman, overnight. We had reservations at the Kempinski Hotel, a nice 5 star right on the water at the Al Mouj marina.  Since we had a quick turnaround and would be leaving for Mumbai on the 9th, we would try to get to Muscat on the blocks and deplaned before 11:00am local time so the group could see some sights before heading to the hotel.

As planned, we were off the blocks by just after 10:00am local time. We now had 47 passengers plus flight crew and chefs.

 

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We were brought our brunch in the cockpit shortly after takeoff.  Curtis took the stick while Lisa ate on the jump seat and I in the captain’s seat. I took the stick while Curtis ate.  It was excellent.  The flight was fortunately very smooth as we passed over Jebel Shams (Arabic for Mountain of the Sun) and descended in for an ILS 8L approach.  Once we deplaned and found our bus, the majority of the group was taken into Muscat on a small bus tour before being released to tour the rest of the afternoon on their own.

I made it to our hotel by cab and our accommodations at the Kempinski Resort Hotel in Muscat were very nice and had a nice view of the Gulf of Oman (see above). I was able to check everyone in, so no one had to go to the hotel early to check in. Room assignments were sent by group text, and they could pick their keys up at the front desk.

In the evening, we had a dinner I hosted in one of the ballrooms at the hotel that had been arranged weeks ago. It was very elegant, although many of our group did not bring formal clothes so it was somewhat of a hodge-podge of dress.  Afterwards, some of us walked over to the Countdown Sports Lounge on the waterfront nearby and drank and watched a lot of football (soccer). We had a fun time and looked forward to Mumbai tomorrow.  Until then…

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Approaching Muscat (OOMS) over the Gulf of Oman…

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On final into Muscat, Oman (OOMS)…

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9 January 2022: It was so nice having our converted Southwest A320neo back! Off the blocks in Oman (OOMS) at 10:49:00am local time. The group (47) was excited to see India, some of them for the first time. I knew Mumbai would be a good immersion for them – so rich is the City of Mumbai.  We had arranged a bus to pick us up at the airport and give us a limited bus tour before checking in and freshening up for dinner.   Chhatrapat Shivaji Maharaj International (VABB) is right in the heart of Mumbai, making a great starting point.  We would have four full days before heading east again.

One concerning note, Carys pulled me aside as he was getting on board the airplane and told me that Mr. Fix had stopped him again and told him once we pulled into the gate at Mumbai, he would not be allowed to leave India. He had two London Yard plainclothes officers with him.  He said Mr. Fix referred to me, telling him, “You and your co-conspirator pilot friend are going to pay a heavy price for what you did in London.”  What!?!?! How did I become a co-conspirator? I don’t even know what Carys did! I was very careful not to know.  I can’t turn back now, but I hope I don’t actually get dragged into whatever his scheme may be.  This is not good.

Back to the flight, we had a 106kt tailwind at 37,000 feet (304/106), which sped up our flight a bit. It was smooth and consistent, though. Our flight was under two hours, which brought us into Mumbai at lunchtime.  A bus took our group around a few sites and to see the hustle-bustle of Mumbai, and then to the nearby JW Marriott at the airport where they would spend their first night.  Several of the group planned to go on their own individual excursions after that, which was fine with me.  I told them we would re-group on the 13th when we depart for Calcutta. They all have a credit card issued in their names by my company so they can go and do as they please. Now, I need to go  call my lawyers in LA and fill them in…ugh!

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Departing Muscat (OOMS) in our converted Southwest A320NEO…

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Nice having our converted Southwest A320neo back!

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Winds at 37,000 feet were 304/106!

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Final approach into Mumbai (VABB) was very hazy/foggy…and winds had dropped to 3kts when I got below 10,000 feet...

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Taxiing to our gate (V8L) at Mumbai…

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On the blocks, passengers deplaning…

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11 January 2022: I didn’t post yesterday – it was a whirlwind to say the least.  After landing in Mumbai day before yesterday, I called my lawyers in Los Angeles and told them what Carys had told me.  They got one of their international law attorneys on the line with me (Hugh Conway) who has done extensive work on international cases involving both Interpol and London Yard, as well as representing a few large companies in India doing business in the US.  They did some research and made several international phone calls and were able only to decipher through one of their contacts at Interpol and another at London Yard that there was a substantial theft of an artifact at one of the museums in London and that Carys Stevenson was the prime suspect.  Since I took Carys out of the country and have been travelling across the world with him, allegedly an accomplish in his flight from justice, I am being accused of conspiracy and as an accessory to the theft. They also suspect Carys is involved in an international antiquities ring and that he is suspected of purchasing other stolen artifacts in Aden, Yemen.

I had called one of my old friends, a former professor in the US who is himself originally from Mumbai, Ram Roy, and told him I was in town. He insisted I stay with him at his home which is next to the Hanging Gardens (Kamala Nehru Park) on Malabar Hill.   While there yesterday, sitting out on his patio and sipping green tea with Ram and his wife, I received a frantic call from my secretary, Rachel, who said the FBI had just served a warrant at my home in LA and several offices and had confiscated several computers and boxes of documents.  I then got a call back late last night from my attorney, Hugh Conway, who said he was able to find out Interpol was issuing an international warrant for me and Carys’ arrest(!).  I left a voice message for Carys I needed to talk to him immediately.

Carys called me back and completely freaked out when I told him the news. He said he can’t go to prison – I agreed! I can’t either!  I told Ram what was happening, and he said he had a contact who can get me a plane, burn phone, and passage out of India. I didn’t care what that meant – I told him to do it and to make it for two – me and Carys.  He said he would have his contact meet me at the Happy House Kitchen on Chowpatty Beach.  When I met his contact, who only went by Mohammed, he provided me two burn phones and keys to an airplane parked at Baramati Airport (VABA), about 115nm SE from Mumbai. Ram said he’d fly us there in his personal airplane. It would only take a few minutes once we got in the air. I gathered all of my belongings when I got back to Ram’s house and told Carys to do the same and meet us at the airport.

We arrived at Mumbai International and boarded Ram’s Cessna Citation and flew the short distance to Baramati.  He would have dropped us where his contact told me our plane would be waiting but it wasn’t there, so we waited for it.  After about an hour, a Cessna Grand Caravan 208B arrived. It was a newer one, so it could have been worse. We’d make our way to Bilaspur (VABI) in the morning. In the meantime, we would sleep in the Grand Caravan. Fortunately, the cargo area in the back of the plane was big enough for both of us.

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We loaded our gear at the crack of dawn while Ram got the plane started…

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Beautiful sunrise as we taxied for takeoff from VABB…

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Short final into VABA…

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Our new ride…it’s not the A320 conversion, that’s for sure; hopefully we can evade capture, though…on to Bilaspur in the morning...

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12 January 2022: I woke up about 7:00am local time, a bit sore and lacking a toothbrush.  Carys looked horrible. We were both lacking sleep and under extreme stress.  To add to our stress, unfortunately, the 208 was brought to us with only 50% fuel. I did not account for the fact that fuel may not be available early in the morning – spoiled as I am with international airports with 24/7 fuel availability. I talked to the operations manager at Baramati, and he told me fuel would not be available until afternoon as they were waiting for the fuel truck.  Fearing Mr. Fix and his minions may show up at any moment, we decided we’d better set off for Bilaspur right away.  It didn’t look good for fuel, but we had no choice. I pre-flighted the 208. We would fly VFR/GPS to Bilaspur and try to conserve fuel along the way.

Unfortunately, we started running low on fuel when we got near Mahagaon (14%) and it became urgent near Sindi, just southwest of Nagpur (10%). It was becoming obvious we wouldn’t make it to Bilaspur so I needed to divert to Nagpur (VANP). After a 2:15 flight from Baramatri, we landed with less than 8% of our fuel left. We both heaved a sigh of relief when we landed.  A little too soon…the airport police pulled up behind us when we parked. He got out and asked what we were doing in Nagpur. I gave him a story about how we were American adventurers on a lifetime world tour and just passing through to Bilaspur and then Calcutta beyond that. He peeked in the back of the plane, where our sleeping bags were still sprawled across the rear cargo area where the passenger seats had been removed by others. He seemed satisfied. I didn’t tell him or Carys for that matter that I had over $100,000 US in one of my duffle bags. No need to alarm Carys or give it away to the Nagpur police. The kind officer waved us on as if we can go.  I radioed ground for a fuel truck as the officer jotted notes in his pocket notebook behind us.  I walked to the office and paid for the fuel in cash and returned to the plane. Carys asked what our plan was, and I told him we would spend the night in Nagpur and head for Calcutta in the morning. He seemed satisfied. We stayed at The Pride Hotel Nagpur right next to the airport. Carys and I started drinking and kept on until early afternoon. We had a late lunch in one of the hotel restaurants and checked in to separate rooms. I needed to be alone.  What had I done?  I felt guilty about leaving our guests behind, and the aircraft in Mumbai. I was worried about what the FBI would do, and my businesses. How would I go back? Would I face charges in the US, or Great Britain? I fell asleep drunk and in a mire of fear…

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Fuel was getting critical at Mahagaon, India…

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We had to divert to VANP before we ran out of fuel; made a very short final to get us down. Told the tower we were critical fuel and ATC gave us a straight in…

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Airport police pulled up right behind us when we parked and stayed until the fuel truck arrived…

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My room at The Pride Hotel at Nagpur was nice enough…

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Carys and I had drinks in the Puran da Dhaba inside the hotel…tomorrow, to Calcutta!

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13 January 2022: Hung over, my alarm startled me awake at 4:30am local time.  I remember telling Carys last night that we needed to start early today in case Mr. Fix figured out where we went. Ram took care of the Grand Caravan and burn phones, so unless he was following us, he wouldn’t know what we were travelling in. I told Ram I’d wire him the money as soon as I could. A new Caravan costs somewhere around $2,000,000 US. This was used, but still.  As far as Mr. Fix is concerned, he might believe we could be travelling on an old misbehaving partially trained war elephant for all he knows! After taking a quick shower and brushing my teeth (finally!), I knocked on Carys’ door. No answer. I knocked several times. Still no answer. As I was about to begin pounding, he suddenly showed up behind me and scared the crap out of me. He was carrying two coffees.  “Wow,” I told him, “I’m surprised you’re even awake.” He clearly proved he holds his liquor better than me. My head was pounding.  He already had his gear packed and at the door.

We got a cab to the airport (just about 350 meters away) so we didn’t have to lug everything. We walked our bags out a side door at the terminal to the GA parking area and loaded up the 208.  I pulled a flashlight out of my go-bag and did the pre-flight, hopped in and started things up. We didn’t file a flight plan and were able to skirt airport customs to the tarmac (I’m surprised no one noticed or we’d have to show our passports and answer a bunch of questions I didn’t want to answer). The early hour may have caught the agent at the cameras asleep.  We were in the airplane by 5:00am local, taxied out and departed by 5:12am. Winds were calm and skies were clear except for a few scattered low-level clouds here and there. Our cruising altitude was 13,000 feet. We basically followed Highway 53 to Raipur, and then south of the Nawapara Forest Reserve and over the Bamra-Gangpur Forest into Calcutta.  We started picking up some pop-up thunderclouds and turbulence as we approached West Bengal. We flew a direct route to LATEP and then south for an ILS 1R approach.  Because of the cloud cover we requested an IFR approach to the ILS 1R but had to abandon that when I had a navigation error. Ended up doing visual approach in the fog. A little hairy.  Will have to get that looked at before we leave again. We landed at precisely 8:00am Calcutta time. The flight was 531nm and 2:51:00.

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Flying toward the Calcutta sunrise…

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Got a little cloudy and bumpy as we entered West Bengal…

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With ILS malfunctioning, it got a little hairy landing in the fog on 1R…

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On the ground in Calcutta, thank goodness…

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14 January 2022: After landing in Kolkata (Calcutta) yesterday (January 13), we decided to stay at the Raajkutir just a couple of miles from the airport in the Binhannagar neighborhood.  I had never been to Kolkata but had heard it is a very hustle-bustle city – and that’s no lie.  Thankfully, Raajkutir was still serving breakfast when we arrived and I was able to book a room, although they only had one room available for the two of us, and we had breakfast.  Carys was lamenting the entire trip and alluded to the fact that he wanted a spiritual journey in honor of Phileas Fogg and Passepartout so he was thrilled when I offered the opportunity.  Having read about Mr. Fogg’s adventures as a child, he always wanted to travel the same route around the world, and as an antiquities dealer he said it gave him special meaning to be carrying a part of Mr. Fogg’s journey with him. I put my hand up and told him to stop right there – that I did not want to be an accessory to whatever he was “carrying” with him.  He laughed and waved me off as if I was being silly. Silly me, traipsing across India trying to evade Interpol and London Yard, carrying a large amount of cash, an antiquities dealer wanted by the authorities, and myself being accused of conspiracy. Very silly, indeed.

I spent the rest of the day in the hotel as I did not want to leave my cash unattended, nor carry it with me. I finally fell asleep around 11:00am. When I woke up, Carys was gone, and I did not see him until this evening. I sat out in the courtyard and read an English language newspaper and sipped some very strong coffee much of the day, whiling away the hours. Carys, when he finally returned, said he had visited the Victoria Memorial & Museum (interesting how there are memorials to Queen Victoria everywhere we go), Eden Gardens Cricket Ground, and the Hooghly Riverfront and other sights in Kolkata.  I was jealous to say the least, never having been here before.  No sign of Mr. Fix (yet). Keeping fingers crossed we lost him in Mumbai.  More tomorrow…

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15 January 2022: When we woke up this morning around 9:00am local time, Carys told me he had a contact in Prayagraj to the north, formerly Allahabad, that he had been speaking to. He wanted to fly up and meet with whomever that was and asked if I could take him.  I wanted to check on the airplane anyways and agreed to take a little side trip there if it was just a day trip. Not wanting to carry all the cash I had with me I decided to use the room safe because it looked large enough, larger than most hotel rooms have. As Carys got dressed and ready in the bathroom, I started stuffing bundles of $100, $50 and $20 bills into the safe. It barely fit. As I stuffed the last bills in, Carys walked out of the bathroom and asked what I was doing. I told him just storing some things in the safe.  He shrugged and put his toiletries back in one of his bags. After I took a shower and dressed, we set out for the Kolkata International.

It was 10:37am local time by the time I pre-flighted the plane, we obtained fuel, and taxied out. We had about a two-hour flight ahead of us to Prayaraj Airport (VAEB). The flight was smooth with some broken clouds, and the scenery was beautiful. The flight actually took us 2:30:57, so we landed a little after 1:00pm local time.

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In front of the terminal at Prayagraj – panorama mode…

After arriving at Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad), Carys said he would be back in a couple of hours and grabbed a cab outside the airport terminal. I stopped to take a picture out front.  There were scattered clouds on the way up, but it was nice at the airport. I asked a local if there was somewhere I could grab a cup of coffee and lunch. By luck he spoke fluent English. He suggested the Tasty Bite Restaurant on the north side of the air force base.  He pointed to a line of taxi cabs and smiled. I took up his suggestion and spent about an hour at Tasty Bite. It was quaint and popular with the military families.  There were no cabs when I came out, but the owner of the restaurant called one for me which only took a few minutes. Apparently, the cab drivers also do ride sharing, like Uber or something.  Anyway, I made it back to the airport and got to our airplane just as Carys was loading a box into the back of the plane. I didn’t want to know and didn’t ask him. There was a young woman standing nearby him who looked frightened, and I asked him what this is about.  He said the young woman pleaded to take her with him and said she was kidnapped from her village three months ago and did not have any family or friends. She looked to be in her mid-twenties. My blood ran cold. Okay, now I’m carrying a wanted fugitive (Carys), involved in human trafficking (albeit rescuing someone from harm), carrying a large sum of cash, and fleeing from authorities.  I asked the woman her name -she told me Anuradha, which she said is a goddess of good luck. I told her I hoped she was right about that.

Our flight back to VECC seemed a lot shorter than the flight to VEAB, and it was about fifteen minutes shorter. Our new passenger, Anuradha, which she told us to call her “Anu,” was very grateful for the ride to Kolkata. Carys told me some of her story. Suffice to say, it was the right thing to do. We would spend another night in Kolkata and head out tomorrow, 1/16/22.  When we got to the airport, she asked if she could stay with us since she had nowhere to go.  I told her she could sleep on the floor, but it was a small hotel room. She said that was fine with her.  We arrived back at almost 6:00pm local time. We stopped at Tasty Bite again for dinner and Anu was ravenously hungry.  We went to be early and Anu slept on the floor on top of several pillows. More tomorrow...

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Departing for Prayagraj (VEAB) on a side excursion for Carys…

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No ATC at VEAB. We conducted a straight-in approach…

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Landing at Prayagraj (Allahabad) Airport…

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Ground crews gave us some suspicious looks as we taxied to parking…

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Departing Prayagraj Runway 30 to VECC…

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On final back at VECC Kolkata…

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Taxiing to parking at VECC…

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17 January 2022: I made two calls in the middle of the night last night. The first call I made was to Ram Roy, my friend in Mumbai, and told him I really needed his help. I gave him my burn phone number and I explained what was transpiring and he was very sympathetic.  We had a friendship that stretched back decades and I had his back during several difficult times in his life and he was very eager to help. I told him I need an aircraft that had a range that could get me back to the US and I needed it to be on the down low. He said without hesitation I could have his Cessna Citation and asked where I was. I told him if he could have it delivered to Kolkata, whoever brought it could take the Grand Caravan back. He said he’d do it himself and would be on his way to the airport.

He then told me that he received a call from Hugh Conway, one of my attorneys, who wanted to apologize to me and said to call him. I called Hugh and he said he had been up all night the night before worrying that he may have given me the wrong impression. He said there is good news and bad news. I told him give me the good news first. He told me that what he previously told me may have been misinterpreted and that Interpol does not actually have jurisdiction to issue warrants or make arrests, but that they seek to get other countries’ local officials to arrest international criminals and then whatever the originating country is, in this case Great Britain, will seek extradition. He said the bad news was he talked to his contacts at Interpol again who told him they were working with Indian authorities seeking our arrest and that a warrant may be imminent. They were hoping for a surrender. They overestimated me.  I told Hugh I was going to make my way back to the US via Myanmar and Hong Kong through Alaska and would talk to him when I was on US soil. Hugh said I should surrender and face whatever consequences may occur. I hung up on him.

In the morning, the three of us woke up early and took showers and walked down to the Raajkutir Hotel restaurant for breakfast. Anu had nothing and had to wear the same clothes she had on yesterday. I told her as soon as we could we’d buy her some clothes and supplies so she wouldn’t be stuck in Kolkata with nothing when we left later today. I planned to leave her enough cash to survive. She asked if she could go with us and said she had nothing left in India and wanted to resettle in the US or UK. My stomach churned. Not sure if it was the strong Indian coffee or if it was dragging another person into our troubles. She begged with tears in her eyes, and I couldn’t say no. She was so thankful she cried. By the time we finished breakfast I got a call from Ram, who said he was on the tarmac and would meet us. I told him to come to the hotel.

Ram handed over the keys to his airplane, so to speak. I told him I would pay him back, but he waved me off and said he would prefer to get the plane back in one piece, or to buy it if I wanted. I told him I’d buy it but would have to pay him when I got back to the US. He agreed.

We gathered our belongings out of the hotel room. As I was unloading the cash from the room safe, Carys spotted me and gasped. “What the hell?” he yelled. I told him it was just spending cash for the trip. Pulling his hair and with an expression of shock, he pointed out that if we got caught it would look like we had absconded with not only antiquities from London, but a large amount of cash as well and that it looked really bad. I agreed, but shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “What was I to do?” We took a cab down to the airport and Ram let us through the entry to the tarmac where he parked the Citation. He told us not to attract any attention and to just go. I knew what we had to do as he walked to the Caravan.

We arrived at the airport around 8:30am local time. I did a walk-around and got the plane started. Anu was extremely nervous and said she had never been in an airplane before. I told her it was safer than walking in Kolkata and she laughed and calmed a little bit. Carys sat in the passenger cabin with her and broke out the bourbon from the bar and they both drank as we started taxiing out. We took off from runway 19L and headed southeast to VYYY, about a two-hour flight. We flew over the Bay of Bengal when I started thinking about our passenger. I asked Anu if she had a passport. She said no. Oh oh, I thought. We would have to evade the Myanmar authorities, too. Now what? Should we go on to Singapore or somewhere else, I thought. I had about an hour and a half to decide. I had a friend, a very rich friend, who lived in Singapore. He claimed the movie Crazy Rich Asians was based on his life, although I told him he was full of it back then. But maybe he could help. Fearing the Myanmar authorities at the international airport at Yangon might frown upon us transporting an Indian woman without a passport, which would surely result in a search of our airplane, and the loss of my cash and Carys’ stash, we decided to divert to Thandwe Airport to the north (VYTD). A remote airport next to the jungles and not likely to attract as much attention.

We did a rapid descent and approached VYTD. I told Carys to pull a few thousand out of my duffle in case I needed to bribe any airport officials. We taxied to parking. The ground crews were friendly and admired our aircraft. One of them spoke broken English and directed me to the airport office where the manager was actually quite friendly and spoke some English as well. I told him we were in need of accommodations overnight and had a passenger that did not have papers who was fleeing a bad situation in Kolkata. He was very understanding and offered to put us up in his home. I offered to pay him, and he said there was no need. He told his assistant to take over for a while and he went out and pulled up in a large Ford pickup truck. We loaded our bags in and locked up the plane. He said they would take care of it.

At his home, he had five children and his wife whom he introduced as Gawa, which he said meant positive Karma. His children all came out to greet us as well. The children gave up their beds so we each had a room and bed for tonight. Gawa, upon learning Anu had no clothes or provisions, said she would take care of her and brought her to her room to try on some clothes as the men chatted and laughed and smoked cigars and drank Mandalay rum. We were so fortunate, and I was so thankful and thanked him, Dedan. I asked what his name meant, and he said, “happiness.” I smiled and thanked him again and we toasted each other. We had a wonderful evening eating and talking, with Dedan translating as best he could. Anu knew a little Burmese and filled in.  More tomorrow…

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After Ram turned over his airplane to us, I took no chances and had it filled to the brim…

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Leaving Kolkata…

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Entering the Bay of Bengal enroute to Myanmar…

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Anu was brave enough to ride in the cockpit part of the way…

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Rapid descent into VYTD, trying to avoid attention at Yangon…

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Landing at VYTD Thandwe…

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On the ground at VYTD…

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