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Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Kai Tak Remembered

In Airports, Aviation, Aviation History, Civil Aviation, Hong Kong, Uncategorized on 20 July 2011 at 00:49

Hong Kong International Airport at Kai Tak closed for business on July 6 1998 to be replaced by the superb new facility built on reclaimed land at Chek Lap Kok on Lantau Island.

The two airports are like chalk and cheese; one futuristic, the other was long past its sell by date; but there are still plenty who mourn the demise of the old place. Many are pilots who readily recall the adrenalin rush as they guided their aircraft along the instrument guidance system (IGS) just a few hundred feet above densely populated Kowloon tenements towards the infamous orange and white-painted checker board. When this was in view and the aircraft correctly aligned at a height of just 675 feet (206 metres), a sharp 47 degree turn was required that took the aircraft through a sweeping curve before leveling out 150 feet (46 metres) from the runway threshold.

At night, a unique lighting system set precisely at 400-foot intervals on rooftops and specially built gantries guided pilots towards the runway centre line. As final approach was imminent the spacing between the lights decreased to 200 feet. The need to use lights to guide pilots in this way, enforced a ban on flashing neon signs throughout Hong Kong to avoid distracting inbound pilots. The weather was often bad; typhoons, micro-bursts and severe crosswinds added to the workload of pilots and in many respects Kai Tak was a major accident waiting to happen. A few errant aircraft did end in the shallow waters of Kowloon Bay and it was indeed fortuitous that no commercial airliners ever came down on the crammed dwellings of Kowloon or missed the turn to end up ploughing into Lion Rock. This was due mainly to extremely good aviation skills, excellent air traffic control and, more specifically in the early days, an amazing element of luck. The airport certainly had its share of incidents and many aviation enthusiasts will have seen the video on ‘You Tube’ that shows how close a Korean Air Boeing 747 came to disaster during an extreme weather landing in a typhoon. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Your Garden Plagued by Slugs?

In Business, Food & Drink, Gardening on 10 July 2011 at 11:41

While wandering around the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show (the worlds largest) last week I met Mr and Mrs Messina a charming couple who had invented a simple, yet highly effective, device known as the Slug Bell. This is a cheap, low-cost and attractively colourful little gadget that is used to ‘feed’ slugs with deadly pellets to rid them from your garden.

The Slug Bell was designed as a safe, environmentally friendly and efficient way of keeping toxic slug pellets out of reach of animals and children and was devised after Mike Messina had become ill after eating part of a slug pellet that had remained on a lettuce that had been thoroughly washed several times.

With prices ranging from £8.49 to £9.99 the all-metal Slug Bell represents excellent value for money. The product consists of a simple spike that is placed into the ground that contains a small mesh feeder partway up the spike that is used to bait the slugs. Pellets are placed in the bowl and the hungry slugs, attracted by the odour given off from the pellets, have no trouble climbing the spike to devour the bait. A small bell-shaped hood, available in an array of patterns and colours to blend in with your garden, is then placed on top of the spike to hide the slug pellets from prying pets and children and to provide protection from the rain.

Slug Bells are already in use in the gardens at Highgrove and Mike Messina proudly showed me a letter sent to him by a member of HRH Prince Charles’s staff praising the value of the products. Mike has also been interviewed by researchers from the ‘Dragon’s Den‘ programme.

The Slug Bell is available on line at the company’s official website.