G.A.S.E. REVIEW AND POTTED HISTORY
PART ONE – THE BEGINNINGS
Well, it’s now 2012 and we at General Aviation Support Egypt (G.A.S.E.) are looking forward to what looks like being a very exciting year for us with many potential customers already in the planning stage to fly to Egypt and October Airport as well as some new and entertaining projects being worked on for the website and Facebook page which will be unveiled in the very near future. But as a new year starts it gives us a chance to look back on one of the most turbulent years ever, not just for G.A.S.E. but for the world and especially Egypt.
Before we talk about the amazing things that happened in 2011 I think a short history lesson is due for all the new fans of G.A.S.E. and for old friends who may have forgotten 😉
It is hard to say when the concept of G.A.S.E. was first thought of, maybe it was already there when as a small lad I watched the world air speed record being broke by Peter Twiss in the Fairy FD2 Delta over the Hampshire Downs in Southern England or maybe it was when Ahmed was introduced to the cockpit of an airliner as a little boy and was given the captains hat to wear. But, although these events fostered a lifelong love of aviation it would take a lot more than that to realise the formation of G.A.S.E.
You could almost ‘blame’ the following people for G.A.S.E. becoming what it is today…The owner of GBM engineering in Warwickshire, Anthea Samman in Cairo but mainly President Obama! If the owner of GBM hadn’t made me redundant in 2008 then I would not have been in Cairo and if I didn’t know Anthea Samman then I would not be in Cairo. But what about Obama? This is where the history lesson starts 🙂
Early 2008 and I am told that I will be made redundant from my engineering job soon because of a drop in orders. This was a blow because my girlfriend, Anthea Samman, was making plans to move back to England from Cairo to be with me, but with no job in England we decided that it would be best for me to move to Cairo. Always up for an adventure I jumped at the chance to move to a foreign country and plans were put into action to do this. At the same time, Barack Obama had just been picked as Democratic Party candidate for the upcoming USA elections.
August 15th 2008 and I arrive in Cairo and settle in to Anthea’s flat in Heliopolis. Being a one bedroomed flat we decided to look for a bigger place and by December had found a new apartment in Mesaken Sheraton, a few hundred yards from the threshold of runway 05 Left at Cairo International airport! At the same time Obama was being elected the 44th president of the USA.
From our new apartment we could see the approaching aircraft landing on 05L and being an avid aviation enthusiast I would spend hours taking photos of the passing aircraft.
2009…Obama is inaugurated and discloses that his first overseas visit will be to Cairo!
On that fateful day, 4th June 2009, both I and Anthea were ready for Obama’s arrival and we were over the moon when we heard on the radio that Airforce One was ‘established localiser 05LEFT’. So I got the camera ready and Anthea had the video cam at the standby. Then it appeared, just a 747 but with a few extra bumps and that amazing colour scheme. Snap, snap and the photos were taken and then Anthea run in from the balcony saying she had got the whole thing on Video.
The video was great and I put it up on YouTube straight away…and that’s when it all started. I started to get comments from people about the video and Airforce One, including one from a local lad called Ahmed who also took photos and videos of aircraft. It seemed that there were other aviation enthusiasts in Egypt besides me…fantastic! We started to chat on Facebook and share photos and in the way it happens, shared friends and contacts via this new thing called social media.
By the end of the year we had become good buddies and it was at this time that a friend of ours in the UK, Peter Kelsey, a ferry pilot, contacted us to see if we could assist a friend of his who was flying a microlight to Australia from England. We were really happy to get the chance to do this and of course said yes, although we were not sure what, where, how or when we would do whatever was expected from us. The pilot was called Martin Bromage and sadly he was drowned after ditching his microlight into the English Channel in fog not far from the French coast. This was a shock for us and our first steps into aircraft handling disappeared before they even started.
But in the spring of 2010 Peter Kelsey contacted us again and asked if we could assist another pilot coming our way. This time it was Norman Surplus and he was flying an autogyro in an attempt to be the first aviator to circumnavigate the globe in one of these weird machines. We jumped at the chance and set about arranging things.
The rest is history, Norman became our first customer…from handling his flight we realised that one of the reasons flyers didn’t come to Egypt was because of the restrictive bureaucracy, exorbitant charges and unnecessary practices at some airports. Norman passed on the word that we did a great job and in no time at all we were getting more contacts from Peter and some that had found us on various aviation forums.
Although we had no more flights that we met at October Airport that year we did co-ordinate and assist with quite a few that were flying over or through Egypt and in December we were able to ‘host’ a friend of Peter Kelsey’s, Steve Owen, a Kitfox pilot from Scotland who was visiting Cairo on a holiday. So we were able to hone our hosting abilities during his weeklong stay and he too was more than satisfied with our efforts.
This brings us to 2011 and what a year for G.A.S.E. that was. The full history of the first full year of G.A.S.E. operations to follow in part two.