Yesterday was one of the most frustrating days of my life, having left Trabson in Turkey with limited supplies we made it direct to Tblisi in Geogia by lunchtime. Our refueling went quickly and we had flightplans and handling payments done after a couple of hours, but then the problems started. The storms were rolling up the valley with heavy showers as we twice sat in the planes ready to go, but ATC refused start permission as Azerbaijan had cancelled our overflight permission.
After some frantic phonecalls back to WhiteRose Ops in London, our permission came through but too late to make it across the Caspian Sea in daylight. We had an uncomfortable evening, trying to sleep in the “Burger King-ski” in the terminal building, interspersed with running battles with the authorities trying to get back to the planes on the ramp. We eventually escaped at 8am after a sleepless night.
Despite filing a VFR flightplan, they wanted us at FL90, and once clear of Cbs on the boarder with Baku, the 140Nm Caspian Sea crossing was a non-event.
For the first time on this trip it feels like we are somewhere very foriegn. The terrain on the way in looked more like the surface of the moon with lots of dunes and sandstone cliffs. The city of Turkmenbashi is dwarfed by the oil refinnery complex along side. The locals were out in swarms again on landing, but having only ever seen Soviet helicopters and airliners, the Twister must take some getting used to.
The airshow will be on Monday 12th, so 2 days to find our feet in this strange land.