Back in Thailand


Currently I'm back to a more heavy training schedule here in Dan Chang Thailand preparing for the long rides ahead 2017/2018. From Chiang Rai / The infamous Golden Triangle, North Thailand to Ubon Ratchathani, Central Thailand a distance of 1800 kms following the Thai/Laos border along the mighty Mekong river.

The focus will be on a ride from Bangkok to Thanzbuyayat in Burma following the Thai Burma Death Railway a distance of 600kms to retrace the steps of my father, uncle and members of F Force POWs who were part of the railway construction at the hands of their Japanese captors 1942 to 1945.

There are lot more training options here with flat surface and rolling hills riding, and huge mountain climbs out to the national park of Phu Toey. I've been training here for many years getting my body ready - long distances with varying terrain can take its toll on the body, so coming back to Dan Chang to train makes sense.

Overall I've been back in the saddle on and off for the last 6 months , but now it's time to get the wheels in motion to build up and peak by the beginning of October.

On reaching Phu Toey national park I was reminded of Lauda Air Flight 004's crash and the terrible news that hit the world back in 1991. Talking to the locals here in Dan Chang, I was told of their awakening to the large explosion of the crash.

Lauda Air Flight 004 was a regularly-scheduled international passenger flight between Bangkok, Thailand and Vienna, Austria. On 26 May 1991 a Boeing 767-300ER operating the flight crashed due to an uncommanded deployment of the thrust reverser on the No.1 engine in mid-flight, killing all 213 passengers and the ten crew members on board. It is the deadliest aviation accident involving a Boeing 767 and the deadliest aviation accident in Thailand. The crash also marked the aircraft type's first fatal incident and first hull loss. Lauda Air was founded and run by the former Formula One world motor 
racing champion Niki Lauda. Lauda was personally involved in the accident investigation.

At 23:08, Pilots Welch and Thurner received a visual warning indicating that a possible system failure would cause the thrust reverser on the number one engine to deploy in flight. Having consulted the aircraft's quick reference handbook, they determined that it was "just an advisory thing" and took no 

At 23:17, the thrust reverser on the number one engine deployed while the plane was over mountainous jungle terrain in the border area between Suphanburi and Uthai Thani provinces in Thailand. Thurner's last recorded words were, "Oh, reverser's deployed". The lift on the aircraft's left side was disrupted 
due to the reverser deployment, and the aircraft was placed in an immediate diving left turn. The aircraft went into a diving speed of Mach 0.99, and may have broken the sound barrier. The aircraft broke up in mid-air at 4,000 feet (1,200 m). Most of the wreckage was scattered over a remote forest area 
roughly 1 km2 in size, at an elevation of 600 m (2,000 ft) above sea level, in what is now Phu Toei National Park, Suphanburi.

None of the 223 passengers and crew aboard the airliner survived. Rescuers found Welch's, the American pilot, body still in the pilot's seat.

The official investigation took about eight months. It did not determine the cause of the thrust reverser deployment. Different possibilities were investigated, including a short circuit in the system. Due in part to the destruction of much of the wiring, no definitive reason for the activation of the thrust reverser could be found.

The passengers and crew included 83 Austrians: 74 Austrian passengers and nine Austrian crew members. 52 Hong Kong residents were on board the aircraft. Other nationalities included Thais (39), Italians (10), Swiss (7), Chinese (6), Germans (4), Portuguese (3), Taiwanese (3), Yugoslavs (3), Hungarians 
(2), Filipinos (2), Britons (2), Americans (2), Australian (1), Brazilian (1), Polish (1), and Turkish (1). In addition, an American was the aircraft's pilot.

Having ridden to the crash site deep in the mountains I can still see many parts of the aircraft fuselage and engine parts laying sprawled amongst the jungle canopy and the huge bamboo thicket . A Buddhist spirit house has been erected close to the crash site to keep evil spirits away. To me, taking photographs of the crash site is disrespectful to the dead - photos seen in this blog were previously taken by others at the site.

A memorial was erected in the town of Suphunburi some 90 kms from the crash site. A large marble wall showing the victims' names etched in stone stands in a small park on the outskirts of town to honour those who died in the worst air crash in Thailand's history.

May they rest in peace.

Truck Sams, training in Thailand.