Once a while I get some interesting job instead of just flying to the oil rigs. This time it was to ferry a Super Puma L2 helicopter that we had leased for the last 22 months for our operation in Timor Leste and also Kerteh. The date of departure was 28 May 2011. I was to fly the helicopter with one Vietnamese pilot and two engineers from Kerteh to Ho Chi Min city (Tan Soon Ngat International airport).This aircraft with the yellow star, callsign VN 8610 is a beautifully maintained machine. I used to tease the Vietnamese engineers that they have some well kept secrets on keeping the machine tip top that they do not wish to reveal to us.Capt Quan was the Vietnamese pilot to fly with me for the trip. He is an old friend of mine..we had been together for many occasions and he is a competent and good pilot. One problem solved for me. The aircraft was loaded to its max take off weight with spares and aircraft equipments that had to be returned to Vietnam. After a delayed Customs inspection we took off at 1130 hrs. The distance between Kerteh and Ho Chi Min City is only 900 km so the flight should take us about 3 hrs 20 mins. During this period we had tail wind "pushing" us faster.About 150 km before arrival at Ho Chi Minh city we overflew the Mekong delta
. This area is very flat and there are padi fields all along the way.
At Tan Soon Ngat airport in Ho Chi Minh city we had a company rep from the SSFC to help us sort out the piles of paper work. There were some very serious looking government officials all around.
At the same time we topped up our fuel for the short flight to Vung Tau..the homebase for SSFC.
By the time we took off from Ho Chi Minh city there was a thunderstorm in our flight path. Apparently this is the rainy period in Vietnam.The biggest surprise was when I landed at Vung Tau airport. We were ordered to taxy to the hangar where there was a reception waiting for us. The whole management staff of SSFC was around. After the engines were shut down I received a bouquet of flowers to welcome us to Vietnam. At the crew room there was a reception party,. Champagne was served. Here I met a lot of my old comrades.There were some exchange of presents.Later that night we had a grand dinner in a 5 star hotel. All on the house.And next morning we were taken out for a good Vietnamese breakfast before we boarded the ferry to Ho Chi Min city for a city tour.
Vietnam is a fine place. People here are friendly and the food is lovely. Most important you will not get your wallet burnt on a visit to Vietnam. Next trip I will come with my family OR my bicycle for furthur adventures in Vietnam.