My apologies for this introduction but I thought it a good idea to set the scene of my first flight to Hong Kong.
At 2330 hours on Sunday 20th October 1957, B.O.A.C.'s Argonaut GALHY Arion (the last one to join the B.O.A.C. fleet in 1949 nad finally scrapped in May 1970) took off for Hong Kong. On board were 40 passengers, all service personnel and one or two families. I was in a group of about twelve young airmen on our way to work at R.A.F. Little Sai Wan in Hong Kong. Flying at a leisurely cruising speed of about 200 m.p.h. and at an altitude of usually 10,000 feet we had splendid views along the way, with the pilot tiltng the plane every so often to give us better views of camel trains and other unimaginable sights. With its limited range, we refuelled at Rome, Brindisi, Istanbul and Ankara before spending the night in the old tents of the transit camp at R.A.F. Habbaniya, just to the North of Baghdad. Early the next morning we were on our way via Bahrain to Karachi, where we stayed at the rather grand Minwalla Grand hotel a few miles to the East of the airport and 'out in the sticks'. On Google Earth I see that it is stil there, surrounded by urban developments and possibly now in use as a religious complex. The following day and night we flew via Delhi, Calcutta and either Rangoon or maybe Bangkok to our destination, the old, pre-reclaimed, airstrip at Kai Tak. The approach was from the West and we were warned by the pilot that we would be descending between some blocks of flats. Sure enough, in the days when flights were still fairly infrequent, people were gathered on their balconies waving at us as we passed close to them. We arrived at about 0830hrs on the morning of Thursday 24th Octobe. Sun, heat, exotic smells, amazing sights and excitement were our greeting, with most being my inspiration for the next ten or so months.