I first met Neil almost exactly three years ago, at the 2010 Wings Over Asia Aviators’ Gathering in Singapore. I’ve written about Wings Over Asia – the premiere social network for private pilots and aircraft owners, based in Singapore.
Sentosa, Singapore, February 2010
The 2010 Wings Over Asia event started with dinner at One Degree 15 Marina in Sentosa, serendipitously close to the Singapore apartment I would move to three years later. The next day, the group flew in several aircraft to Pulau Tioman, off the coast of Malaysia. The photo shows Neil, and the surrounding high terrain that makes Tioman an exhilarating approach!
I gave a multi-media presentation at the Asia Aviators’ Gathering gala dinner that night at Keppel Bay Marina. Neil and his wife Amparo, who is from Colombia, were there. Neil was a leading general aviation advocate in Thailand. He owned Pattaya Airpark, with a 570-meter macadam runway just off Jomtien Beach in Pattaya.
At the dinner in Singapore, Neil invited me to fly with him in Thailand. In the five years I had lived in Bangkok, I had never flown in Thailand.
As usual, work got in the way. In August, 2010, I finally visited Pattaya Airpark.
Pattaya, Thailand, August 2010
Pattaya Airpark is Neil’s baby — a residential park with an airport. Aircraft owners would build homes for themselves and hangars for their airplanes. The airpark is two hours drive from Bangkok and just minutes away from some of the best restaurants and beaches in Thailand. It is also a short hop from major airports like Suwarnabhumi International and U-Tapao air base, and general aviation and ultralight airfields in Chonburi and Hua Hin. The Cambodian border is less than an hour’s flying time away.
Neil and Amparo had a charming little home on a hill southeast of the runway, where Amparo served the best Columbian coffee west of Bogota! Outside was a huge ‘Yaang-na’ tree. The ‘helicopter seeds’ of the Yaang-na tree have graceful rotary wings that fly the seeds far and wide – nature’s way of creating space and light in forests.
Last month I moved to Singapore, where I first met Neil three years ago. I still have one of those seeds from Neil’s airfield. I thought it was so cool that his airfield’s trees were seeded in flight and rooted in aviation. Literally.
Posted from San Francisco, February 9, 2013