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- - Preparing to fly in Thailand

Using the internet for research
January 2007. After reading several articles about flight training and flying in Thailand in aviation magazines, I decided in January 2007 to find out what the possibilities are to fly there myself. After spending a number of days doing research on the internet, it turned out that to fly in Thailand as a foreigner is more challanging than the aviation articles suggested. After contacting the author of the articles, he told me that he did not own a pilot license, but that he took a flying lesson in Thailand. Of course a nice thing to do, but not something I was looking for.

The few flying schools and clubs that recently emerged in Thailand are not able or willing to rent out a plane without an instructor ("safety pilot"). General Aviation is in its infancy in Thailand, and most private flying is done by (former) pilots of Thai Airways or the Thai airforce. There are a few foreigners living in Thailand who fly, and I found someone from Switzerland who could provide further assistance. In order to receive an endorsement on a foreign PPL a letter of recommendation from a local entity is required.
Endorsement papers ready to be send

Maurits sitting on the Tactical Pilotage Charts
Up-to-date charts for Thailand are not available. Pilots are using so called Tactical Pilotage Charts (TPC) from the US military. Though the charts are old -- the charts covering Thailand origin from 1969 with a revision of airspace in 1983 -- the quality is said to be still better than the official, but also outdated, Thai charts. The charts can be ordered from the FAA, and I ordered a set in January. The delivery took a month. The next step is to manually update the charts with airports and airspace.

February 19, 2007. To the FIO at Amsterdam Schiphol.
The Thailand department of civil aviation has a link to an online AIP on its website, but it was "under construction", at least in January and February, 2007. No alternative than to consult the paper AIP, available at the Flight Information Office (FIO) at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. I went there to study the AIP and to copy pages describing procedures, the airspace system and airports.

Updating the TPC charts
On Wednesday, February 21, I started the process to add, modify and delete airports and airspace on the Tactical Pilotage Charts. Airspace in Thailand has changed significantly since the last edition of the TPC charts covering Thailand. Also many new airfields have been opened since then. Most of them are not officialy listed in the AIP. It was explained to me that these airfields have a "temporary" status until they receive an official status.

March 21, 2007. A milestone has been reached. I have added the special airspace (prohibited, restricted and dangerous area's), airports and radio navigation facilities on the six charts that cover Thailand. Included is an example of the area around U Taphao International (VTBU), south-east of Bangkok. The next step is to add CTR's and TMA's to the charts.

March 29, 2007. I have completed the first chart that covers northern Thailand. I have put scans of the chart on-line with functionality to navigate the charts. If flaws are found then feed-back is of course appreciated.

April 6, 2007. Drawing of the charts is completed except for the greater Bangkok area. I expect airspace changes following the opening of Suvarnabhumi airport last november, and I wait for a while until I complete this part.

April 20, 2007. Converted the aerodrome directory from javascript into PHP and put the directory online with direct links from the VFR area charts to the airports.

May 20, 2007. I have done a lot of research the last month on airfields and expanded the aerodrome directory. Many airfields stem from the Vietnam war, or even WW-II. Most are abondoned for a long time and are no longer usable, or even visible anymore. For nowadays flying I added a map where AVGAS is available.

August 2007. NOK Aviation of Chiang Mai has unexpectedly and suddenly cancelled my booking for the Cessna. The money I paid in advance is gone. As it turns out the NOK family is constantly in legal battles with former partners and neighbours. My trip has crashed before it started :-)

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