We checked the aeroplane thoroughly: the brake fluid level was good, but the spare brake fluid we'd brought with us was leaking... I put the bottle in two plastic bags for security!

"Chiang Mai Airport information Kilo, at 04:00 zulu, expect radar vectors to runway 36, runway in use 36, QNH 1017 visibility 10 kilometres, few at 3,500 feet, temperature 27 dewpoint 19 "

The others were in more haste and so they spent a long time waiting at [F] for an intersection departure.
This is a busy commercial field with airliners coming and going and this together with five minute separations between the departing light aircraft means a long time idling the engine in the heat of the day! More haste, less speed...
We waited until HS GIL received its takeoff clearance before we started the engine at 11:19.
Takeoff was at 11:32 and so we had a reasonable idle time on the ground.

As usual the Cumulus clouds had built up over the first ridge of mountains and so we threaded our way between them, GPS on, and my finger still on the map!
The others had gone at 8,500 feet, and were going to fly overhead the airport then spiral down... There are more efficient ways of doing this trip I think!
At 25Nm outbound we were handed over to Mae Hong Son Approach who of course were out of our range, though we heard the others communicating on the frequency... Later I relayed a position report via Alasdair in HS GIL but it wasn't until we were 15Nm from Mae Hong Son that I managed to talk to approach directly.

I am very familiar with the route to Mae Hong Son...
South of Pai we descended to 4,500 feet and then a little lower to use the lift generated on the mountainsides.
This is fun flying but you have to be certain of your engine and always have a place in mind for engine failure.



Distinctive landmarks are always helpful

Rather than end up high overhead and take ages to spiral down I arrange to descend in a valley north of the airport to end up slant downwind for the runway.
11 at VTCH is a one way in one way out runway.
Entering the valley I asked Alex to descend to 2,500 feet, 'but I can't see the runway!'.
Often this will be the case, so know where you are, and know your routing into the field. There are many 'invisible' airfields in this world.


9th December 2011 (2554)

We all met up at Chiang Mai Airport's domestic terminal around 10:30am... I was the first there and paid 1,886 Baht for the landing fee (650 Baht) and for the parking overnight.
Chiang Mai had imposed mandatory handling for private aeroplanes but since they hadn't published it yet Khun Worawoot of the Thai Flying Club had negotiated this out of our transit costs! When it is published Chiang Mai will be a more expensive place to visit for us.
But nevertheless an AOT pickup truck gave us a ride to the terminal after we arrived, and then when we were departing gave us a ride to the aeroplane and helped us to put the tie-down weights we'd used back to where they had come from.

I waited for the others to arrive in the Black Canyon coffee shop... When Alex arrived I was able to start briefing him on mountain flying techniques, but was not able to finish as everyone else was in a rush to go.
To get to the aeroplane one has to go through security upstairs in the departure terminal like everyone else, then we go downstairs again to airside and are driven to the aeroplane.
Especially after the rush from Phitsanulok and my tongue-tide mess of things there I wanted to take my time!


One's supposed to fly a Chipmunk from time to time

We climbed northwards on runway heading to Mae Rim and then turned while still in the climb enroute to Mae Hong Son.
Passing 3,500 feet I noted full throttle gave 5,200 RPM and the indicated fuel flow was up to 21.9 litres an hour.
The aeroplane has a fuel flow meter which is alright but, I suspect that due to some fuel return, is reporting a slightly higher fuel flow than is being used by the engine.
TOC, 6,500 feet was reached at 11:43 (we were cruise climbing at 70KIAS), 12.5Nm on the 318º radial from Chiang Mai.


I saw this Chedi level through the window of a 737 once, we were low, too bloody low!
That time I wanted to go to the cockpit and teach the pilot how to do a proper circuit!




Our landing was a good one at 12:25.

There was some confusion as the others had paid our landing fee and it was a lot more than the usual 85 Baht.
The answer was that Mae Hong Son Airport had collected the landing and parking fees for Mae Sariang as well and so we were prepaid :)

We didn't stop long at Mae Hong Son, we walked to a local food place and had Thai food... The others wanted to be at Mae Sariang earlier.

Here at Mae Hong Son I learned of some trouble between me and one of the others... I'd told a pilot I have been flying with about his aeroplane having had an accident... I was inspecting it closely to see what the repairs were. Of course the purchaser said he wasn't aware of the damage history and the vendor was one of our group on this trip! I don't like such atmospheres and so I talked it over with the person concerned. He assured me the purchaser was aware, and the work was written in the logbooks for all to see. Disputes like this are not my concern but I will inspect an aeroplane before I fly it.
If you are on a journey with people it's always best to resolve differences if you can, it makes for more pleasant time afterwards.


There are shallow ponds beside the terminal and this snake was swimming in one of them.



Beng had arranged for Alex and I to stay in a new hotel with riverside balconies.
This was a very pleasant place to be and was 800 Baht for the night, but with no breakfast.






Mae Hong Son south to Mae Sariang

Our plan was to fly at 3,000 feet due south to Mae Sariang about 64Nm distant.
First Alasdair went, and then we backtracked and took off afterwards; airborne at 13:48.
The Ekolot is a faster aeroplane than the EuroFox and so they would get there first anyway.
The Remos and the CT-LS would follow in formation to take pictures of each other.

Khun Yuam is about halfway to Mae Sariang.
The route takes you over valleys with farms with the Salawin River winding its way along the same path.
There was nobody to talk to on the radio, Fantacia on 127.0 was not responding... Mai ben rai!

We had not added fuel since leaving Phitsanulok and so at 14:03 I turned the left tank off and we were now flying only on the right tank.
I do this if I am not certain of the quantity and when it gets low in the EuroFox you can't see the level easily as it is obscured by one of the fuselage tubes.
The fuel flow at 4,400 RPM indicated 15.1 litres an hour. There was no need to do more than 80KIAS on this leg.
At 14:33 I swapped to the left tank.
We were still nine miles out as Alasdair announced his landing at Mae Sariang on the common airfield frequency: 123.0.
When we arrived our landing wasn't a good one. Never end a flight on a poorly executed landing if you can avoid it!
I applied power and we went around... Do it better this time.
While downwind the Remos and CT-LS arrived with a lot of chat between them over the radio. This annoyed Alex a bit and interrupted my patter, so I switched to the quiet 127.0 for the actual landing which was a lot better this time.

I called Beng and she picked us up in her car and shuttled us, our bags, and our petrol cans into town.
I had suggested that Beng could organise dinner and entertainment for us and this was agreed by one of the organisers of this trip but then "nose's were put out of joint" at this and so I had to cancel all her plans.
My own 'nose' was not to be concerned about however, nor Beng who is a good person and very capable and who's hospitality most enjoyed.


The CT LS has a longer fuselage than the CT SW; this improves elevator authority and stability.
It also increases the wetted area and so there will be a reduction in cruise speed.


There was still a lot of daylight left and so after a shower I went for a walk.
On the bridge I met Khun Worawoot who had rented a motorcycle and had been to Salawin National Park... 'Would I like to use the motorcyle?'. Khun Worawoot is a man after my own heart, he likes to explore and see places it seems.
So I went to the park too, and had a slightly worrying ride as the brakes were not very good... But it has a manual gearbox so I still had good control.


At Mae Sariang nearly everyone enjoyed the hospitality Beng offers at her Sawwaddee Café, then we all ended up at a steak restaurant for a meal in the evening.


Beng has a pizza oven as well

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