I woke up at 3:30 am, packed quickly and called for a taxi to the airport. After three days at my fortress like hotel, I was ready to continue flying southeast towards my next stop, Mattala, Sri Lanka. My handler met me at the airport entrance and rushed me through customs and security, which was surprisingly easy since I was designated as the "Captain/Aircraft crew”.
I purchased drinks and snacks before leaving the departure area of the airport and was shuttled to the plane in the pre-dawn light. I flicked on my headlamp for an inspection of the aircraft and discovered the entire plane was covered with a light brown layer of dust/oil. Since I had only a few clean microfiber cloths left, I decided to clean only the windshield and proceeded with the inspection. Later this residue would be washed clean by the rains over India.
Soon the fueling crew arrived with two barrels of Avgas strapped to the back of a trailer. Halfway through fueling the plane from 200 liter barrels, their noisy and dilapidated manual fuel transfer pump broke down. Just my luck. I waited for another 45 minutes while they disassembled and repaired what appeared to be their only AVGAS pump while my departure time slipped. What could be done? There was no benefit to be gained by getting upset.
Once again, I was sandwiched between jumbo jets weighing upwards of 500,000 pounds during taxi to the active runway. I could have easily taxied “May” under the 777 aircraft but kept my distance. I was wary of the powerful General Electric GE90’s, which could have flipped my plane if they gunned the engines. The smell of jet exhaust started to fill the cockpit.
The take-off from Karachi was sluggish since the aircraft was over gross with fuel for the 10 hour flight to Sri Lanka.
I started to feel very ill about 2 hours into the flight well after I crossed over the border to India. I was flying at 9000 ft in the monsoon rain clouds and realized that I could not continue flying for another 8 hours. Considering all the options, I finally declared a medical emergency and requested a vector to Ahmedabad airport. VAAH has a published precision approach and AVGAS, a rare commodity in India.
Not surprisingly, the previous chatty radio traffic fell silent after I declared the medical emergency. ATC provided descents and vectors until I intercepted the final approach to Ahmedabad all while I was retching into a plastic bag. While descending through the layers of clouds to the ground, intense bands of rain pummeled the canopy along with associated turbulence. This was the most difficult approach I have ever flown and showcases the risk of single-pilot instrument flying.
Upon landing at Ahmedabad, I was directed to park right in front of the main terminal of the airport, in full view of all passengers. Once again, I was met by about two dozen people on the tarmac. Military and airport security, a doctor, handlers, and numerous ground crew met me with suspicion as my flight originated from Pakistan. I dragged myself out of the aircraft and continued to heave off to the side of the aircraft. I did not care if I had an audience, just that I was safely on the ground. I would deal with the bureaucracy later.
After determining that I posed no threat to Indian national security, I was asked to re-position the aircraft to the general aircraft area of the busy airport. I was so glad to be back on the ground and not ill in the aircraft in the bumpy monsoon weather.
The newspaper account of events as translated by Google in to English. It seems that I started my trip from Colombia!
Emergency Landing in Pilot of Ahmedabad
- Started World Travel from Colombia from June 2018
John Kohler's health suddenly deteriorated with a single plane
Ahmedabad. July 6, 2018, Friday
John Kohler's flight to travel around the world by private aircraft had to be landed on priority basis at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad today. John Kohler, who had gone on a trip alone with the plane, had asked for permission to land at Ahmedabad Airport.
According to the information received in this regard, a message was received at 12.18pm on the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATC) of Ahmedabad that the International Private Flight N944JK flight is about to be delivered to Ahmedabad Airport. Because John Kohler's health, who is on a single trip with this plane, is unhealthy.
ATC-Ahmedabad has urgently allowed the aircraft for landings. Crash fire tenders, ambulances, medical facilities were also deployed when the aircraft landed at 12:30 pm at the Ahmedabad Airport. The passenger was treated at the airport by a doctor.
According to sources, the passenger did not have to enter the hospital as he had a general health problem. John Kohler started his world tour in Colombia in June 2018. Till now, he has visited Bahrain, UAE and Pakistan. He was currently going to Karachi from Karachi to Multan.
Emergency Landing in Pilot of Ahmedabad
The general aviation tarmac - Ahmedabad, India. The ground staff patiently waited two hours for me to secure the aircraft. I was extremely weak and further affected by the midday heat and humidity. This was the low point of my trip.
After aircraft tie-down, I spent 4 hours waiting to clear customs, probably due to my unorthodox arrival. My customs paperwork contained at least twenty forms, all needing to be signed and stamped with multiple copies distributed to various departments. The Indians love their paperwork and their bureaucracy is formidable.
I spent the next 4 days recovering in my hotel room, but managed to take a few walks near the hotel. Strong odors, noise from honking tuk tuks, the crush of humanity, and ever rising levels of humidity as the monsoon intensifies - visiting urban India can be overwhelming.
Dare to cross a road in India? I hope that you have a life insurance policy.
Local pilots from the Concord, CA EAA branch (chapter 393) tracking my flight progress over breakfast. Ed Neffinger and Maurice Gunderson provided updates to the group.