Instrument landing at Peshawar

  • Sector KHI-PEW
  • Departure and arrival 1952 Z* and 2200 Z respectively
  • Date: Jan 2, 1981
  • Aircraft, B707-251B; registration AP-BAA
  • Call sign: Pakistan three two six delta.

*Z means GMT.

This flight is remembered because I was a raw captain having flown in command the previous September. The scheduled flight was delayed and was passed to me via phone call from Chief Pilot Training, Capt Zia Mohammad. One of our senior captains on the equipment, Andy Pacheco, had turned down the flight offer, and remarks on meeting me at the flight operations office at the airport check in,

‘that Peshawar is a place to go in daylight only’.

It is pitch black as we depart Karachi for Peshawar with First Officer Fahim and Flight Engineer Ashraf (deceased in Kathmandu A300 crash) this evening. The flight is routine and we have taken the precaution of pre-flighting the on-board weather radar as convective weather could be encountered.  Our routing takes us via Nawabshah and Mianwali to Peshawar. As we descend into Peshawar, we are handed over by Lahore Flight Information Centre (FIC) to Peshawar Tower as Cherat Approach has gone off the air at 1900 local time. We are given the prevailing weather at Peshawar and it seems it is okay but for some medium and  low clouds in the vicinity and over the airfield. Peshawar is obscured.

We report over the radio beacon (NDB) for an instrument let down and make a direct entry in the holding pattern going outbound and starting our timing  for the outbound leg abeam the NDB.  Turning inbound in the holding pattern and crossing overhead the radio beacon (NDB), we start our descent on the outbound leg in the descent pattern.

We are quizzed by the Tower if we would like radar vectors for positioning on final runway 35. I decline, reasoning that he may not have our correct identification owing to terrain. As we turn inbound, the tower again offers help through radar vectors for lining up with the runway. I agree, and the tower obliges. We approach for a landing in a hazy sort of weather, with the lead-in strobe lights of the runway guiding us in.

Going into the aircraft cabin after the passengers have departed, I admire the coolness with which our cabin crew treat every landing and flight.

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