As I continue my journey around the world, I have literally flown all the way around the world going West and East!
In November 2016, I took off from San Francisco and went back to the Philippines to pick up the plane. Our medical program in Indonesia was canceled. The reasons are not always clear, but at some point, our hosts could not agree on our program. While in Clark, the FEH Team (Flying Eye Hospital) worked on the plane doing inventory and getting the plane ready for another Good Will Tour in Singapore.
December 5, 2016, we flew the plane from Clark, Philippines to Paya Lebar Airport in Singapore. We had some great press in Singapore, including this FedEx media report. I got to reconnect with Fred Newlin, the FedEx Sr. Manager of Aircraft Maintenance in Singapore. It’s always fun to show off the plane to FedEx employees. They are so proud to see the plane and know that they are helping Orbis.
The Singapore office put on a lovely Gala event and raised lots of money for our cause.
After the tours, the plane stayed in Singapore for our 1st maintenance check since we launched in June. Every 6 months we have a maintenance check due. Each time we rotate through inspections on different parts of the plane. This one included an inspection of the lower bladder fuel cell. This extended our stay. Our check started December 26th and we finished January 14th.
Singapore was decked out for the holidays. There were so many Christmas decorations, but with the heat and humidity, it never really felt like Christmas. On Christmas day, I went out to dinner with some of the girls from the Orbis office, Jasmine and Cynthia.
Spending time in Singapore, brought back many memories from previous visits. I had several occasions where I felt “as if I’d been there before”. The last time I was in Singapore was around 1982 when I took a trip with my mom and dad. Dad was flying the trip and mom and I were tagging along… in First Class on a Pan Am 747… the only way to travel! Mom and I stayed in Singapore a few days while my dad flew to Australia and then back to Singapore where he picked us up, and we back to SFO. We walked all around the city, did lots of shopping and drank Singapore Slings in the Long Bar at the Raffles hotel. Of course the Raffles hotel and the Long Bar were about the only thing that had stayed the same in Singapore.
The first difference I noticed was the Merlion was not in the same place, it had been moved. Turns out, Singapore is one of those places that has filled in the sea and expanded their shores. Yes, that’s true, Singapore has added many miles of landfill to create more area for buildings, shops, and airports. Beach Street is still Beach Street, but it is no longer on the beach! Ocean Street, no longer on the Ocean.
The second difference was the airport. We had flown into Paya Lebar, a military airbase that has an area across the road for the ST Aerospace hangars. One of the Engineers was talking and said he used to work for Pan Am and Flying Tigers, we compared notes and knew a lot of the same people. He most likely knew my dad. He mentioned that Paya Lebar used to be the International airport, and the new International Airport was built in the mid-80s on landfill. So, I had been there before, when I landed there with mom and dad on that Pan Am flight.
The third thing that brought back memories was when I went to buy a camera. A girl from the local Orbis office, Shen, offered to help me in my search for the perfect camera. I told her what I wanted, a Sony RX100 (highly recommended by Pat Chan, often referred to by fellow 99s as our camera guru). Shen did some research and we ended up at a small shopping center downtown. It was one of the few buildings that had not been torn down and modernized. We walked in and the center of the building was open, the escalators were in the center and the camera shop was on the second floor. And there it was, Cathay Photo. As soon as I walked in, I felt I had been there before. I’m sure it is a place I went with my dad. He was always buying cameras and gadgets on his trips.
I celebrated my birthday after a long day getting the plane ready to fly after the maintenance check. The Pilots, Cyndhi and Eric, John, Bruce and the girls from the local office were on hand to help eat cake. On January 14th we flew to Clark Airport in the Philippines and I had another party. The staff at the Quest hotel, new it was my birthday and they all greeted me with birthday wishes.
A quick trip back home and then back to Clark again to continue the journey. This time to Ireland, England and Qatar for Good Will tours. It was this leg that brought me around the world.
San Francisco, Clark, Philippines; Bangkok, Thailand; Dubai, UAE, Dublin Ireland; Stansted, England; Doha, Qatar; Dallas, San Francisco.