Journaling the Journey
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
April 11, 2010
Yes, I'm aware that I'm not a very good website writer. My apologies.
I could probably come up with many excuses but they would all lead back to the fact that I find it difficult to find the time to sit down and keep writing about my journey. I do keep notes that I hope one day will jog the memory banks of this old man.
The news of the moment as of Sunday, 11 April 2010. I have, as many of you know who follow the only up to date item on my website..."Where is Captain Biff today?"...captured from the TracPlus tracking system...flown from Perth to Geraldton to Port Hedland, in the northwest of Australia to Bali, Indonesia, onwards to Jakarta and then to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I must admit that it was difficult to leave Australia. There were so many things to see and do there. After all, the country is a large as the US...but only has about 23 million people total. My Australian friends of long standing were most generous with hospitality and many new friends were just as hospitable. This aircraft has generated a great deal of interest and respect for the quality of it's restoration by the Croydon Aircraft Co. of Mandeville, NZ.
I left off the writing exercise for the website as I was arriving at Hobart, Tasmania. I will fill in the blank area one day in the near future. In the meantime...the following is what I have to offer.
I've been welcomed here at the Subang airfield in Kuala Lumpur (KL) with amazing interest in the aircraft. Last weekend I was invited to and did fly the Red Rockette from Subang to the only airpark development in Malaysia, the Bernam River Airpark. The owner, my new and good friend Suren, has built from nothing the beginnings of what will one day be a very nice airfield with hangar-homes. The runway is sealed, a little over 2000 feet long...to be extended as development continues...and several hangars have already been built.
My first approach and landing there was "interesting". The airfield owner, Suren, was in the right seat. As I was on short final and just about to touch down he said "go around". It was a tad late for me to do that and I just settled onto the runway in spite of his warning. I had not seen any threat on the runway during the approach and the nose of the aircraft was already quite high and the runway forward and to the right was, of course, a huge blind spot to me.
As you aviators know, aircraft with round engines usually have to be landed by using the edge of the runway as guidance. In the case of the Staggerwing, the design of the aircraft dictates that it will be the left side of the runway. We're all following Mr. Lindbergh in that respect although he could have probably used the right side as well in his famous Ryan.
I thought that maybe Suren thought I was too fast, too high, etc but it was our first flight together and I thought he was just not used to such a nose high attitude. I accept the criticism that will be forthcoming from my lack of action.
What I had earlier though to be just a tar mark or a cloud shadow on the runway turned out to be a monitor lizard sunning itself on the right side of the runway. Yes, it was a MONITOR LIZARD. I had no idea these creatures were so prolific in this part of the world. (Note: I had to bypass the famous Komodo Dragon National Park in Indonesia due to lack of time...I wanted very much to stop there. I cannot explain the fascination other than the fact that they have been on this earth so long.)
Luckily, the lizard, now named "Captain Biff", realized that the big red thing was a great deal larger and faster than he was and he quickly departed the right side of the runway back into his lair. Suren said that it did, indeed, move very quickly. He was spotted the following day back on the nice warm runway sunning once again. So much for the fear of big red things that go fast.
Suren had organized a KL vintage car club expedition to his airfield in honor of the Staggerwings arrival. Some magnificent automobiles appeared and were photographed with the Red Rockette. Numerous journalists attended as well. One, Eli Solomon, publisher of REWIND magazine, had departed Singapore at 2am driving to this event. His magazine is devoted to motor heritage, covering mostly vintage automobiles. He now has a vintage aircraft to write about. The magazines website is: www.rewindmagazine.com. Eli has raced automobiles in several parts of the world, including the USA. He lives in Singapore. His ride in the Staggerwing has given him a new perspective of motorized vintage restoration projects.
I'll be doing some wandering the next few days, April 11 through 13 or so from Subang airfield here in Kuala Lumpur. Plan to visit Langkawi Island in the very NW corner of the Malaysian peninsula for a day or two, then back south to Pangkor Island after overflying Pinang Island with it's magnificent bridge. The historic old RAF Butterworth is in that neighborhood just to the north of Pinang as well. Then eventually back to Subang.
The news, I guess, would be that, after my overwhelming greeting and acceptance here in KL, I've decided to store the old girl here until late August/early Sept. I have an outstanding support group here, including a Kiwi chap who has Pratt & Whitney R-985 experience, that will start my engine now and then. It will also get pre-oiled and prop pulled through weekly to help prevent internal rusting.
I was getting too rushed after enjoying Australia for nearly a year. It was difficult to leave. If I were to get the old girl to Europe on this stage as originally planned I was going to have to give up Southeast Asia, which, of course, included Vietnam.
Now I'll be able to do all that in the fall...after Oshkosh, etc, etc. Should be back in Reno for a week or so at the end of April, then head down to Brasilia, the capitol of Brazil for an Earthrounders meeting in early May. Then maybe a wander down to Iguazu Falls with an old friend in a Bonanza, and onwards to B.Aires to watch some skinny folks Tango a bit. Love watching that dance.
So for now, that's all the news from Lake Woebegone or some such other fictional place. After all, this is fiction, isn't it?? Well, everything except the part about the Monitor Lizard...that was REAL!
Cheers, and POR...Press On Regardless,
Old Cap'n Biff Windsock