Dive Bombers

Dive Bombers

No rest, no rest and no rest at Gan !

But it was truly a nice and beautiful stay. I was cocooned by Paco, Mayte, Aaron and all the maintenance crew. I was even jealous of my dear RV. He received massage, all kind of cleaning, new sparks, health check, and so on.



Mayte and Paco, are the Maintenance bosses. They have changed everything and now, they have got many happy engineers to work with them, and very good aircraft maintenance. I was really proud of them. When they were staying in Spain, they also returned to good flying conditions and restored ,  many Bucker airplanes, including a Texan T6.


Wow, the bats are huge !

Yes, but be careful if they attempt to fly over you !


They will pea on you !

I do know that bats are close to me, because they are pilots and I will not complain too much because I do the same when I empty the bottle in flight. True is that I do not point to anybody….

Maldive Gan island is mainly the airport. Asian School of Aeronautics, is were most Maldives pilots are trained.

Also students come from abroad, mainly from SriLanka.

The students live in the School, and are staying in rooms with double occupancy, in the border of the sea. Around 150, so plenty of them, men and ladies.

The aircrafts are a few minutes away of the accommodations. No much time free for them, as they have to study a lot (I had fun on some of them who were resting, telling them to stop their rest and study more !)

Not every people follow the joke in that kind of comments, but the people around did, so it was much easier.

Then, I offered a talk to the students, so some of the hangar space was conditioned for the conference, and huge speaker, for the audio.

I was introduced by Captain Captain. Everybody call him Captain, a former Air Force Pilot and now the CEO and Head of the pilots training.

Suranjan had nice words and soon I started to tell about my flight to the students.


They were so nice that the looked like they enjoyed my speech. Even many questions came later, and pictures and smiles.

I liked very much that feeling.




Next day, when the aircraft was almost ready, some indian military helicopter pilots, come around and we had also a nice talking.

Then they left, walked away and returned.

Do you mind if we take a picture with you?


People at Gan is mostly Islam. I like the way they are, because they are not related with the extreme Sudan.

It was time to leave, and I wanted to do so before sunrise.

I was concerned about the aircraft: I would load more fuel than ever before. I was at sea level (good) but it was hot (bad).

I filled a flight plan with Rocket Route the day before. I like very much this program for planning purposes. But not always the flight plan reach all the departments, so I called the day before departure and no, it was not received by the Control Tower.

The Controller was the one providing me the forms. Nice guy with funny long white beard.

Once the form was completed, he took a picture of it with his mobile phone, and sent it to Male.

Was effective !

At what time do you want to take off?

Well….let us say 5 am.

We can meet at 4 am.



So, 20 minutes before, I have to have my shower and breakfast. So my get up call was set at 0440.

I was staying at a student room where one bed was free, and the other one too, because the instructor was on leave.

Unfortunately, he arrived that last day. Even though he was nice, he was a snorer !

Not a discrete one. A big one !

So I just slept about three and a half hours. Then at looked at my clock: 0230…, ok, I will try to think that the snoring killer was a pneumatic hammer that worked not fine.

My call up call did its job, and I looked my mobile phone… still 0400, so I still can try to sleep more.

Then, 10 minutes later, Paco called me by telephone.

Paco, what are you doing awaken so early?

We are going to the hangar to move the plane into the parking alpha..

I though that he was crasy, it was plenty of time.

Michel… it is 0420 and we did agree to meet us at 0400

Indeed, the wake up call was to be set at 0340, not 0440 for a take off at 0500 !!!

Imagine the stress since that very moment !

The night before, Paco and Mayte invited me for dinner. She is a great cooker ! Also I was able to have my sandwiches prepared !

Good spanish cheese and a ¨realistic chicken chorizo de bellota¨ …

All my stay was free. The lodging and food supported by the School, the fuel, more food, airports fees, and many other things, taken in charge by Paco and Mayte.

It was time to say bye. I usually restrain myself for showing big emotions, and so I did, but I have to say that I was really sensitive to the support and kindness received at Gan.

I was facing a heavy take off….The runway was long, so flaps 1, full power and let the aircraft to depart the ground mainly by itself.

Once airborne, I tried to roll the wing to say goodbye, but it was like rocking a loaded B52, so I returned to a safer position and turned with some 10 degrees roll, into the south east.

It took forever to climb at some 7000 or 8000 ft. Then I stayed there until the RV was lighter

The first hour was intensive. I had to go through big developing cells and other navigation stuff.

Then the sky opened and I could feel better and fly straight.

Switching tanks to keep the CG (Center of Gravity) in a reasonable envelope, and mostly trying to communicate with my HF radio.

I was able to listen clearly to the HF  busy Mumbai center, but they were not able to hear me.

Later I studied the manual again to find better settings, but nothing.

All of the sudden the sat phone rang..

EC XLL, Melbourne Center

It was the beginning of many hourly communications to report estimates and operation. Kind since the beginning, the Controller did take car of me.

All of the sudden the speed dropped.

May be a down draft?

Noooo, no clouds around, no slopes, no Angels, no ships, no UFOs…. so what happens?

Just realized that I have hit the flaps switch during one of my not so erotic movement to prevent my legs to turn into wood.

Flaps up?

Flaps up !

Then time was passing, the calls from Melbourne, the attempts to get an HF communication.

Engine display caution and alarm.

Amps indicator flashing


Just 15 amps.

Let us study the battery voltage for drop. If drop, no alternator output and just the battery life would provide what I needed, but still far away from destination…

No voltage drop, no alternator failure….gooooood!

Ummmmm, that crasy electronic pulling my legs?

Let us kill the instrument !

Breaker out, 30 seconds wait, breaker in .

And again, everything was working fine

As the Sun started to think about sleeping, winds turned into headwinds. My estimates kept increasing, and my chances to land before sunset were gone.

In front of me, I knew I was approaching Cocos. Why to make it easy?

Nooo, better to put some heavy clouds just overhead, and low cloud base.

Moon was outside, brilliant, but the area was dark, black, uncomfortable.

I shot a GNSS approach, and soon was established in the PAPI visual path indicator.

The airport lights are controlled by the aircraft. You click three times the radio, and the lights turn on. PAPI is a nice system. You see two red lights and two white ones, that is good. You see three red and one white, and you are low. You see four red lights, and you are damned low and if you not correct the position, you will see stars soon.

The approach was tricky. It was windy, not easy after almost 12 hours flight.

However the touchdown was good, and soon I was parked in the middle of the apron.

Rob, the Police Officer was waiting for me. What a nice man !

The airport has no fences, freedom is absolute , people friendly. A good place to stay.


donpearsall / Oct 19, 2016 4:40 pm / Reply

I am so happy that you were able to be well taken care of by the Maldivian people! That is so different than how you were treated in Sudan. No one arrested you for taking photos! Thank you Mayte, Paco, and the rest of the professionals at ASA who helped Michel during his brief stay.

Next stop – Australia!

Enrique www.aviaciondigital.com / Oct 19, 2016 6:09 pm / Reply

Dear Michel: You can not imagine the emotion that we continue this long stage to Cocos … Thanks for making us enjoy as they would 80 or 90 years ago following the great and historic raids. Fortunately now the news “fly”. From the Cradle Aeronautical Spanish, we are very proud of your wanderings as a Don Quixote in the Global Mancha …

Vicente y Marián / Oct 19, 2016 9:43 pm / Reply

Bueno… bueno… ya vemos que vas eligiendo las islas más diminutas del Índico para hacer etapa. Tus pistas son como palillos flotando en el mar. Nunca te ha gustado lo fácil ;-). ¡Un abrazo!

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