Maurice Kirk

Maurice's Blog

March 2001 - Posts

Please sign our online petition: Fair Trials and Compensation instead of an effective remedy before national authorities, for Maurice and other victims of financial exploitation and legal oppression.

Breaking News:

Political asylum granted by France - to a British citizen - for the first time since the French Revolution... Key videos: We see Maurice being interviewed in Jersey in Dec 2010 and talking outside the Royal Courts of Justice, in June 2008. Here he introduces himself to a meeting of the Forum for Stable Currencies at the House of Lords, on March 9, 2010. In July 2010, Maurice speaks to the British Constitution Group in Stoke on Trent. For first-time visitors, a complementary and introductory blog offers also a one-page summary of his ordeals and battles.
  • Search & Rescue

    M is better - his gut difficulties have resolved. Today has involved a further 9 (or 10?) hours of flying. When we spoke he was fascinated by the geography and formation of Sumatra. "It's just one huge bog with 2ft deep water and trees scattered about - a pilot's absolute nightmare where you could drown in 2ft of water. I'd much rather ditch into the sea." M explained that any attempt to land on the ground that he crossed over Sumatra would inevitably cause the aircraft to turn turtle and a pilot unable to extricate him/herself would drown in the shallow water.

    Unfortunately M was unable to keep in radio contact with Singapore today as were many other pilots. He was forced to fly low again (headwinds perhaps?) and a search and rescue exercise was launched for M and G-KIRK who were simply pedalling as hard as they could south (-ish). I suspect that M is not the most popular pilot tonight.

    Tomorrow's forecast problem as they fly to Bali is to cross 10,000ft mountains. You may remember that it took them a reputed 1.5 hours (and a donkey stop) to reach 10,000ft earlier in the race - I hope that the mountains are well down the route to allow time to achieve this altitude! This is one obstacle that even M can't fly under. He informs me that he should give these mountains 3000ft clearance although he does not have oxygen which is a statutory requirement at some such height. He also reminded me that he used to jump out of "perfectly servicable aircraft" at 14,000ft and was not supplied with O2 to get there. (Has he told you the one about the day he fell through someone's roof after a free fall in formation went wrong?)

    The other G-KIRK and I are preparing to leave for Oz. Will attempt to keep in touch via modern technology.

    Byeeeee!

    KK (M's wife)

  • Delhi Belly!

    Maurice is offended. He tells me that he was not "out drinking last night" and most certainly doesn't have a hangover. In fact things are rather worse - he has what he described as "Delhi belly" and I chose to ask no more.

    Yesterday was a day of maintenance for G-KIRK. M found that oiled plugs were the cause of her problems necessitating his precautionary landing in the jungle. He reports that he worked all day on running repairs and changed the plugs, carried out an oil change and worked on the airframe. He described G-KIRK as a "tired old girl" and, in his fragile state of health, sounded a rather tired old boy himself. M did not really enjoy today's flying. He flew for 9 hours down the Malayan coast and, instead of enjoying the wonderful scenery, simply pointed G-KIRK south and gritted his teeth.

    He felt well enough for a little fun at one stage when he flew over the jungle at 20mph and throttled back and briefly cut the engine to yell to loggers "Hi - I'm on my way to Australia!" They laughed and waved. I can confirm that M fairly regularly uses this method of communication (ie switching off the engine and yelling) with people on the ground - especially with farmers in order to ask permission to land in a field.

    On to Jakarta tomorrow. M reports that he just wants to curl up and die...

    KK (M's wife)

  • Singapore Hangover

    Little to report today. Belinda tells me that G-KIRK's mechanical difficulty has been addressed and so their race should continue as planned (last-ish!). "M is out drinking!" was the only news proffered and so, I imagine, M has had a well deserved rest today and is now sampling the local brew and hospitality. Tomorrow, onward to Singapore (with a headache).

    KK (M's wife)

  • Jungle Bond

    M left Rangoon early this morning and arrived at Phuket (how is that pronounced?) after flying for 11 hours. You won't be surprised to hear that the flight was not without incident. My obsession, the oil leak, caused some problems today. M put down in a jungle area in Thailand when he realised that more oil was leaking, causing G-KIRK's engine to scream and smoke. After landing he inspected the engine and decided that it was OK to carry on - carefully. Meanwhile, "100's of locals turned up on motorbikes, in pickup trucks and on bikes. And do you know? not one of them spoke English" - seems reasonable to me outside England! Undoubtedly M spoke very, very slowly and loudly.

    After hacking down some undergrowth (like James Bond) M and G-KIRK were able to fly out. M only lands when he knows he can fly out again - (except for the day at a vineyard recently....). He tells me that he limped along the coast at very low level (below camel level) for 300 miles. He passed over wonderfully sunny stretches of sand before finding the airport and hotel which are situated along a beach.

    Race competitors encountered some rough weather in the form of cumulonimbus thunder today. Everyone except M and G-KIRK flew around - they flew under at sea level and avoided being bashed about.

    M has met a kindred spirit at Phuket. Tom is flying around the world in a Cessna 180. He has had innumerable adventures including being locked up in Africa for some misunderstanding or another. He likes Phuket so much that he has slowed down and stayed for a few months.

    Tomorrow is a rest day. M is planning to work on G-KIRK to fix the oil leak with a fellow competitor who has offered assistance. So, a whole day of maintenance is planned - I hope that they find some time for sight seeing and relaxation. M's regret on this trip is that he has no time to explore the wonderful places that he is visiting.

    KK (M's wife)

  • Pump Jammed

    Tonight's news was relayed to me over a fairly crackly line by a very sleepy, almost incoherent M. As expected M and G-KIRK got away ahead of most of the field today. M had managed, somewhat dubiously, to refuel her last night. His fuel pump jammed while he was crossing some sea causing him to divert and land briefly at a "beautiful place beside a beach". He was lucky to be near land when this happened. (On the subject of fuel pumps, shortly before he left, M began to worry about relying on a generator and an electrical fuel pump. We agreed that a hand pump was a necessary reserve in case the generator should fail. Then, in the worst case scenario, M would be able to deliver fuel manually and find somewhere to land - this is classed as pre-flight planning in the Kirk household. He obviously has packed some sort of manual pump - though I don't know, if he took up my veterinary suggestion of an enema pump. Although perfect for the task I think that the concensus opinion was that it would be too difficult to explain at each baggage search/customs check.

    Back to his unscheduled stop. He was treated to a very welcome cup of tea and was delighted to talk to an old man who recognised an Auster when M showed him a photo of G-ASEG, our Tugmaster. She could have been a candidate for the race had her engine not given up, possibly as a result of excessive banner towing to advertise M's website. G-ASEG saw active service in Burma in 1944.

    They then flew over jungle and arrived at Rangoon airport at sunset. These tales of arriving over a hill in a pearly pink sunset may lead you to suppose that M is a romantic at heart. Believe none of it - he happens to be flying a very old, very slow, very small aircraft and can only just get there as darkness falls!

    Despite the fact that many race aircraft were unable to leave Calcutta until mid pm most, in fact, nearly all, arrived before G-KIRK and M.

    On to Phuket tomorrow. Oh dear, more water.

    KK (M's wife)

  • Back on course!

    M did not 'phone me last night. Well, he did, he claims, but the line was engaged each time - probably by my regular round of calls re. where is he now? what has he done this time? It is wonderful that so many people are interested and showing such support for M's true aviator spirit.

    I'm not too clear on how he arrived at Delhi - presumably Delta-Charlie-Tango from Jaipur. He reports having experienced a wonderful view of Jaipur, the "Pink City of Rajastan" as he flew out at sunrise. The city is built from pink stone and seemed unearthly in the sunrise surrounded by morning mists. He then flew over spectacular country to Delhi.

    I stand corrected regarding G-KIRK's endurance - having just been informed that it is 14 hours. All that worry about their having inadequate fuel for contingencies over the sea was nonsense - no more worrying for me (I think not!). Other technical info is that G-KIRK's top speed is 75mph but 60mph when carrying full tanks of fuel.

    I don't know if Lucknow featured in his route to Calcutta. The flight took 9 hours and suffice to say he was in Calcutta when he rang and things might be going his way at last. There has been a problem in getting Avgas to the airport - it hadn't arrived this evening. This means that race aircraft will not be able to leave on time tomorrow morning. M is an old hand at managing such situations - a dubiously acquired skill having landed on so-o-o many fields, beaches and mountains (has he told you the one about Snowdon and his Physics teacher?) His risk assessment and management (ie of not being able to leave in the morning), I am told, involved jerry cans and a service station and, I would guess, a length of hose pipe. If this remains the case M could even lead the race for a minute or two in the morning (or be the first to Sydney if he pedals hard enough!!!). The other snippet of news is that race aircraft must leave Rangoon on time or be held up for 2 days owing to the staging of an air festival or some such.

    The oil leak (sorry if I am becoming boring, but I can't help enquiring each day - it's become an obsession) remains. M continues to pour in oil at each stop and has diagnosed that a "push rod seal has gone" but they are coping fine. Still no photos have arrived here. We will post some of the intrepid pair at home - please ignore the lush, green grass and imagine desert.

    This evening M announced that he would like to fly G-KIRK home but can't face the bureaucracy involved. Hurrah for bureaucracy I say! M's absence and my current work commitments mean that the kids think that they are orphans. Genevieve, the other G-KIRK, is missing M dreadfully.

    KK (M's wife)

  • Down! But out??!

    You may have noticed that no news arrived last night (22/03/01). M had not contacted me by 23.00hrs which I put down to: unable to get to 'phone (?locked up?), didn't try, did try and couldn't get through or doing something more interesting (ref. M the tourist!). I hoped, hoped, that everything was OK.

    M has just telephoned me at 01.00hrs here sounding cheerful and lively. "They thought I was a Welsh U2" he informed me. Who? What?

    M and G-KIRK took off from Karachi this morning (I probably mean yesterday morning) and flew for 9.5hrs. He did not find the tailwinds promised at that morning's briefing and simply did not get to Delhi by dark. Instead, after the said 9.5 hours he landed at Jaipur approx. 120m SW of his destination - verified by his school atlas which has seen more active service since 11 March than it did through two school careers.

    M spoke to an Aussie crew via his radio to keep the race informed of his problems, but on landing at Jaipur was suspected of being a spy plane. Why is this? M looked pretty disreputable at Biggin Hill and I shudder to consider his appearance now! A desperado spy figure as never seen before, I suspect. Karachi had not informed the Indian Authorities of his flight and, since he had arrived from a hostile country, and his flight had taken an unlikely 9.5 hours (cf 3.5 hours average for other racers) it took some time to persuade the Authorities of his friendly intentions. I'm rather glad that this race doesn't take in the US and Russia after today's news. He might not have been released after his aircraft had been searched by 15 soldiers and security police. Once the misunderstanding had been resolved, M and G-KIRK were treated with the utmost courtesy and hospitality. M was provided with a meal and a bed for the night and the soldiers made sure that G-KIRK was tied down properly.

    At the time of his telephone call, M was surrounded by mosquitoes (yes he forgot yo take repellant and is not taking anti-malarial drugs in case an adverse reaction affects his flying) and is intending to push on to Delhi to again catch up with the field on their rest day. As it is only 120 m he says that this will be a "piece of piss" despite the fact that G-KIRK is still leaking some oil. A cunning plot by M, hitherto unrevealed, is that he has had an extra large sump installed ie an extended reservoir to allow for this! He should get by topping up at each stop (sounds optimistic to me but he knows what he's doing....)

    M and G-KIRK are not being allowed to race owing to their low speed - a handicapper's nightmare. You will guess that precision flying is not really their thing. Please, please email the organisers on their website imploring them to allow these two to race, just for a few legs would be fun. They will really go for it.

  • Deteriorating...

    The quality of communication between M and I is deteriorating due, in part, to time difference as he struggles eastwards (I think?) but also because I am spending increasingly long hours at my desk. Our conversations now take place as I drive home - 20.00 hrs for me; midnight for M.

    He informed me that last night's conversation cost 40 quid.

    Last night M told me that he would walk to the airport at Muscat this morning as he could not hail a taxi or flag down a camel at the unearthly time at which he needed to start. I don't know if this is what he did. It may not have been a big deal as presumably the Airport Hotel is at the airport.

    I was rather nervous at the prospect of the stretch of water to be crossed today. I tend to think of the Irish Sea which we cross fairly often as being quite enough water for comfort. I did check the time frequently and try to figure out, when they would be safely on terra firma in Karachi. On the whole this was a pretty futile exercise, as I didn't know when the intrepid pair took off, flying conditions, exact (or even inexact) distances or how much fuel was being carried (more of that later).

    Suffice to say that by 17.00hrs here I had decided that more worry was pointless, as he was either eaten or safe.

    Well he was safe, just. M has obviously read my note of two days ago when I suggested that he may have lost his flair for keeping everyone sitting on the edge of their seats. Today he managed a real spectacular! Some of their flight was at an altitude of 10,000 feet (they're becoming reckless and making a habit of this) and I gather that, while M and G-KIRK were climbing steeply at approx. 7,000ft, the tank fuel level became lower than the carburettor and the engine stopped - not the first time for M (he is the best pilot in the world with whom to have a donkey stop - sheer experience).

    He tells me that he jammed G-KIRK's nose downwards and managed to start her again by 4,000ft. In the meantime he had made a "pan; pan; pan" call on his radio (unusual and fortunate for him to be in radio contact) and two race aircraft diverted to drop a dinghy on his head which was, thankfully, not necessary this time.

    Thank you from me to both crews.

    An aviator friend described "pan" to me as signifying only less of an emergency than "mayday" and we wondered why M had not taken full advantage of the most dramatic call.

    The flight took 5.5 hours and M and G-KIRK arrived at Karachi with 2.5 hours of fuel left - enough for all sorts of contingencies. M and G-KIRK seem to be hitting form - it's time to book my ticket for Oz.

    KK (M's wife)

  • No oil leak today‚Ķ

    Today an enigmatic message to my office at 18.00 hrs relayed by our secretary "Tell my beloved that I'm going to bed and that I'm now known as 'BCL' (Below Camel Level)."

    Well BCL rang later and caught me driving home from work. Another easy day today. Flying over the mountains of Oman was breathtaking - spectacular rather than scary I think. There was time for a little sightseeing by coach - I dare you to imagine BCL as a tourist. My only previous experience of BCL on a coach (in Egypt) was not a happy one.

    It's quite a long leg tomorrow with 500m over the Indian Ocean. Maurice tells me that he will be flying delta - charlie - tango which means no radio contact for 500 miles. As I said yesterday, he would not like to think that I'm not worrying about him.

    No mention of the oil leak today.This means one of three things (i) it's better (unlikely) (ii) he doesn't want to worry me (possible) (iii) he would rather not think about it (quite possible).

    This is the first bit that I am worried about - a lot of water to cross which with G-KIRK's limited endurance which does not give many options. Will report more tomorrow evening when I hear from M (I hope).

    KK (m's wife)

  • Below Camel Level!

    Filed under:

    Maurice telephoned at 20.00hrs our time tonight to assure me that he has not been eaten by sharks in his trip across the sea to Dubai. He flew amongst oilrigs before climbing to 5000ft where he and G-KIRK found a 10 knot tail wind, at 80mph they did not know themselves. This time it was, reports M, wonderfully warm. Perhaps he has fixed the window and the pipes. He is monitoring the oil leak (by the amount of oil on the windscreen! - he's afraid that I will be bored if I have nothing to worry about) and may have to repair (or arrange to have engine stripped later?)

    Today he landed last - again - but his efforts have been appreciated by the race organisers; he features on the "Whats new" page of their website: http://www.airrace.com.au

    So today has been leisurely; a rest, a look around, a barbecue as the guests of the Dubai Flying Club.

    Is M losing his gift of keeping us all on the edges of our seats?

    "B.C.L" is a new acronym which has been developed to describe M's mode of aviation (BELOW CAMEL LEVEL).

    On a serious note, I gather that there is some nervousness regarding the politics of and arrangements for the race flight across India. The race will not, as hoped, fly over/near (or, probably in M's case, below/through) the Taj Mahal. I hope that M will be able to reasonably keep up and will avoid difficulties should he fall behind.

    That's all for now - tomorrow is one short leg of 190 miles before cocktails beside the pool - and he tells me that it's hard work!

    KK (M's wife)

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