Well everyone, what a difference a few days make! who could have predicted a week ago as I was flying towards Thailand that I would now be reporting on potential disaster and triumph both in the same sentence! The disaster part, as most will be now well aware of was my very unfortunate forced ditching into a shallow lake beside Nong Prue Airfield last Saturday afternoon. At that point I really did think that this fantastic flying adventure had come to an untimely and very abrupt conclusion...However, the positive team spirit displayed by the local flying club members and friends that day was not just "beyond the call of duty", it was quite simply beyond comparison.
As I literally sat with my head in my hands trying to come to terms with what had just happened, about 20 people quickly set about recovering the Gyro from its 30 minute swim and recovering all the very soggy equipment and luggage held therein. There followed a scene, when I occasionally looked up from my chair, of fantastic uplifting teamwork. The whole contents of the aircraft had been exploded across the floor of the hanger on large tarpaulin sheets, every item carefully washed to remove the lake silt and rinsed with clean water and laid out to dry in the intense afternoon heat. Your eye was drawn around the hanger, an odd mixture of Dollar bills all individually laid out, next to aircraft service sheets, next to soggy passport, next to camera batteries, electrical equipment etc.etc. and all this done spontaneously and with such drive and purpose.
Within a few short hours all clothing had been washed and dried and all dried items stowed in large plastic barrels ready for sorting (a job I am still working through days later!). The aircraft too, received the same treatment, recovered, unloaded into hanger, engine drained of water and restarted barely two hours after the incident.
It was a triumph, not just in the physical achievement of so quickly turning the situation around bringing a sense of order to the devastating chaos which was first presented, but it was also a triumph for the positive, spontaneous spirit displayed by all those people, who a few short days before had all been complete strangers to me on my arrival. If we successfully repair the aircraft in the coming weeks, a contributing factor will no doubt be the fact that the "can do" atmosphere pervades here in Thailand and in Nong Prue Airfield in particular. In short, their efforts may well have managed to save the whole show... Cheers N.