Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Early Turkish Aviation – and Disaster

Following the successful French-organized staged flights from Paris to Cairo in late 1913 (see posts on this Blog of 31 July and 12 and 13 August 2015), the Turkish military planned their own display of aviation prowess. Military aircraft were to fly from Constantinople to Cairo, across Anatolia, Syria and Palestine. They set off on 8 February 1914. One aircraft crashed on the Golan Heights killing both the crew. The second crashed into the sea off Jaffa killing one of the crew. All were buried in Damascus and a monument was erected near the Sea of Galilee. In Constantinople a second monument was set up - inaugurated in 1916, dedicated to these ‘martyrs’ as they were designated. It is in a park in front of the former City Hall.
Aviators' Monument Istanbul. Photographer: David L. Kennedy. APAAMEG_20160609_DLK-0083.
The broken marble column has two brass plates attached, one with the names of the dead. The second plate depicts an aircraft, a mosque (Suleymaniye?), the monumental entrance to Istanbul University, the nearby Beyazit Tower (then part of the Ministry of War) and the two pyramids in Egypt.

Aviators' Monument Istanbul. Photographer: David L. Kennedy. APAAMEG_20160611_DLK-0066 (Cropped)

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

AAJ May 2016 - Highs, Lows, and Goodbyes to the Hueys

When we are in Jordan we will squeeze in any opportunity to fly, but this year it was particularly important to do a few flights as we have sadly lost the use of the wonderful beast of helicoptering - the Huey, and we had to test our new machines and pilots of the Eurocopters.
Jafr AFB
One of the RJAF Hueys in flight during the 2010 season. Photographer: Don Boyer. APAAME_20101016_DDB-0045.
The Huey has been our principal form of aerial reconnaissance since the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan project started in 1997. The advantages of the Huey were its spacious interior, large opening (once the door was open) and outward facing seats that allowed four photographers to operate together. Given these machines had been in operation during the Vietnam War (see our blog 'I Love the Smell of Nabataea in the Morning'), and one had a bullet hole to prove it, we knew we would have to move on eventually. They had their quirks, like the communication systems being flakey, shaking you about so that you could feel the movement for several hours after landing, and the noise! We felt a pang of grief for the loss of a trusted friend that had transported us over the varied sites and landscapes of Jordan. If anyone has a few million pounds to service a small fleet of Hueys for us, I am sure we could make good use of it!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

FL20160529 - Low clouds over the Kerak Plateau

Aiming for a 7 o’clock take off we left CBRL at 0630, Andrea and I, with the sun rising and some clouds in the west. As we crossed the Hejaz railway en route to Marka we were overtaken by the Squadron Commander, who waved and we followed him; I was wondering which gate to the air base he’d use (as there is more than one). Every year we have gone through a ritual at the gate where the guards don’t have a clue who we are, despite assurances the previous day that the guards have been informed. Today we followed him through a gate we knew existed but have never used; this is the gate where we have been supposed to enter - the gate where the guards have been forewarned each day (by the squadron commanders) prior to arrival. As it was our last day of the season we will not know if we will have “cracked” the gate until September, when we hope to return.

The Madaba Martyrs Church, section of Roman Road and the 'Burnt Palace'. Photographer: Robert Bewley. APAAME_20160529_RHB-0017.