Our 1st stop was Beirut/Lebanon, brought back memories. Last time I was there was October 1959 as Flight Engineer on a Douglas Skymaster. We picked up 8 ½ tons of gold for Germany. It took 10 hours in comparison to 3 hours in the Jumbo.
The 2nd leg Beirut – Bangkok – up over the clouds at 35.000 feet. On the Skymaster 10.000 feet, no pressurization, the monsoon rainy season, over India for 8 to 9 hours, constant heavy rain, blasting against the wind-screen. I was always intrigued, how the engines never stopped, how the carburettors accepted the water. Normally it is fuel + air. Sometimes an up-draft whipped the aircraft up 16 or 17.000 feet. In occasions like that, you get very religious. Of course my guardian angel was on my left shoulder.
With two captains, a co-pilot and myself we would go from Hamburg to Tokyo, only stopping for fuel. Two flying and two sleeping. Two days in Tokyo and back to Europe. 120 flight hours, usually we carried 9 tons of freight outbound, remove the passenger-seats from the belly and install them in the cabin. Carry up to 70 passengers, usually ship-crew, to Norway or Netherlands. Sailors are mostly afraid of flying. So we gave them a stiff drink. They were given luncheon-boxes and soft drinks and only being allowed to get off the aircraft in Karachi for a meal in the restaurant and back on board until Europe.
Mike Ryan, Director of Maintenance for Consolidated Press Holdings – C.P.H., (owner: Kerry Packer – the richest man in Australia) and Margot his wife picked us up at Sydney-Airport. We spent 4 enjoyable days with them at Nelsons Bay, a 2 ½ hours drive from Sydney: swimming, sight-seeing, eating excellent fish, wonderful weather.
Returning to Sydney we stayed at Darling Harbour in the Novotel, where our 1st cousins Ann and Agnes joined us for a meal on Thursday 16th of March.
On Saturday 18th Ann invited us to her home. Agnes drove us there. The Dillon’s laid on a wonderful buffet. Seven from ten of our 1st cousins with spouses were there. They are very interested to find out about all the relations. See attached. Dan and Ann drove us around the Olympic stadium, which was pleasant experience and then back to the hotel.
Martin and Rose joined us for a meal in the Casino, a massive building. They invited us to their home and went to a lot of trouble preparing an excellent meal. A very happy team and nice home with a lot of history.
Thomas, Nora and their children Katie, Jason, Aaron and Ellen travelled by train to visit us. We had a meal in the Harbourside across from our Hotel. Thomas had a heavy work-schedule, not to mention Katie training to swim in the Olympics. Thomas will try to make it to the reunion.
It rained like hell for our last 4 days in Sydney. Again Mike and Margot invited us to their home for their daughter’s birthday: Janine. Mike and Margot with their 4 children and 5 grandchildren. The sons prepared a big meal: lamb, wine, anything you wanted. Again committing the sin of gluttony. Nice people, great family, maybe ye will meet them one day. They have Irish roots. We were a bit handicapped, as Roswitha and myself had a nasty cough and cold.
Mike drove us to Sydney airport to start the return-journey.
We stopped 4 days in Abu Dhabi, staying in a suite 140 sq meters at the Khalidia Palace Hotel. Relaxing, swimming etc. Larry Leech, a business acquaintance took us for a tour of the city and invited us for a delicious and expensive meal at the Sheraton Hotel.
That was it: early next morning back to Luxembourg.