In the years after I finished my flying career I visited quite a few places that I would not normally have expected to visit on duty. One such visit, which I have never before recorded for security reasons, was to Hong Kong in May/June 1982. I had long wanted to visit Hong Kong and that wish came to fruition on 20 May 1982 when I landed (albeit in a civilian airliner) on the infamous Runway 13 at Kai Tak International Airport. That was the famous approach whereby aircraft had to fly very low over the outskirts of the city, turn right through almost 90 degrees as the aircraft skimmed the rooftops, and only then did the runway came into sight. As Wikipedia puts it: “With numerous skyscrapers and mountains located to the north and its only runway jutting out into Victoria Harbour, landings at the airport were dramatic to experience and technically demanding for pilots. It was ranked as the 6th most dangerous airport in the world.”
I was in Hong Kong with two of my colleagues at the Joint Services Intelligence Centre in Ashford, Kent, where I was the senior RAF officer. We were there to ‘liaise’ with the Royal Hong Kong Police Special Branch. Halfway through the visit I was invited to take a 48 hour trip on a police launch which was on a routine cruise around the many islands close to the Chinese Border reporting on, and sometimes boarding and searching, local vessels for smugglers. I was permitted to take photographs as long as I did not identify any British or Hong Kong personnel – or any potential smugglers we might come across. (As far as I know, we did not come across any smugglers although several boats were stopped and searched.)
Here, therefore, is a selection of my pics – which I deliberately did not have developed for many years and which I have just come across in my archives.
Above: This was my transport for 48 hours. That is mainland China in the background.
Above: When the crew woke me on the second morning just after dawn, we were off the coast of mainland China but they assured me we were still in Hong Kong/British waters.
Above: This was the first boat we stopped and searched. Nothing illegal was found.
Above: We went ashore - I have no idea where. The houses were all closed up and my escorts told me that the owners were all probably living in UK.
Above: I stopped here to change the film in my camera and while I was doing that my escorts quickly moved off on their own and were soon out of sight!!
Above: When I caught up with them I found they were happily watching some villagers playing football - everyone seemed to know each other and it was all very friendly.
Above: This was a small fishing village we called at. I was instructed to remain aboard our own boat.
Above: After my short 'cruise', there was little time for doing normal tourist things but I just had time to go to the top of what was then called Victoria Peak (552 metres - 1,811 ft) and take this view of Victoria Harbour and Kowloon across the water.