Capt Elmo Jayawardena

Hobson’s or “Homben Yana” Choice?–by Capt Elmo Jayawardena Way back in the 16th century there lived a man in Cambridge by the name of Thomas Hobson. He rented and sold horses and was the proud owner of a stable that had 40 stallions of all colours and breeds. Anyone who wanted to rent a horse from him to ride the paddock or journey into the far horizon, paid money and got a horse. There was one condition, the renter was not allowed to select the horse. The ‘wanna be’ rider had only one choice. He had to take the horse that was in the stall nearest to the door. It was a simple matter of either ‘take it or leave it.’  When the word spread about this, it became known among possible horse renters that what they got was ‘Hobson’s Choice’. Yet, they had one guarantee.  The Hobson customer always got ...

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  I see him at dawn, as sunlight touches the far bank and paints the river in subtle shades. Jonathan comes gliding gracefully, six feet of spread wings skimming the bamboo bushes and doing a perfect landing on the water in front of my lawn. That sure shames the pilot in me. Then he floats, his long beak stretched, his splayed feet paddling gracefully as he moves regally like a sail-less galleon and shows off to me how great his life is. That is Jonathan, my pelican friend, splendid in flight, majestic in float, full of sense and sensibilities of life where his script is soft and tender and runs from day to day.   The bird life is great where I live, cranes, cormorants, gulls and eagles and an assortment of fish-feeders linger in the vicinity of my home.  Jonathan undoubtedly is the Head Prefect, broad of wing and bold ...

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Martinair DC-8 4th of December 1974 a DC-8 aircraft belonging to Martinair crashed into the Anjimalai mountain range also known as the Seven Virgins. The accident happened around 1015 PM and the location was in the vicinity of Maskeliya. This was the worst air disaster that had taken place in Sri Lanka. 191 lives were lost with no survivors. That is how the 4th of December became a sad night to remember. Corona curfews give us time to read and in my isolation at home I have been pulling out ‘Bucket-listed’ stories to munch. Most articles I browsed through about the Martinair DC-8 crash had covered all aspects of this horrible disaster. Adequate details were available to re-construct the story and come to reasonable conclusions of what may have happened. We all know the easy way out of most aeroplane crashes has been the first-choice of the hit-parade – PILOT ...

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It looks like when the Silver Bells ring this year and Silent Night takes the air Santa himself will be struggling to do his rounds with possible curfew and lockdowns. Corona has tortured the entire world in absolute mean measures and is now getting ready for the final kill. The pandemic is going to ruin our festive season like never before. It is nobody’s fault but that is how fate had decided to throw the dice. Of course, in many countries the battle against Corona raged yo-yoing between winning and losing. Most preventive actions and Covid 19 treatments were more like Russian Roulette, the medical world was fighting against time to find a cure. The unknown menace was spreading and killing people. That has been the story of the year 2020 for most, a time of trauma and sorrow that completely engulfed the entire planet. Yes, there is hope in ...

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Christmas is special, rather very special.  Everybody looks forward to Christmas. Silent nights and silver bells, mistletoe and pine smells, all wrapped up in wishes and kisses and the hugs and gifts that are so very special at Christmas time.       Looking forward to Christmas is a world wide phenomenon; the mighty and the humble, the rich and the poor, the holy, the unholy and the super unholy, they all await the yuletide. The “haves” revel and the “have-nots” scramble. Yet a celebration is made, no matter how small the purse is or how light the coins jingle in one’s pocket.       I always look forward to Christmas. It’s such a beautiful time. There is always something wonderful about that season. To a point it is imaginary. To be enjoyed more in prospect than in reality. Yet, it is something to look forward to, something to pastel shade the every ...

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Our island was called Lanka in pre King Vijaya times. Valmiki’s immortal Ramayanaya had King Ravana ruling the land from the city of Lankapura . That was almost four thousand years ago. The Arab traders termed it Jaziratul-Yaqut, island of rubies. Some called it Serandip, some Ceilan, from which the Portuguese picked Ceilao and the European map-makers coined Ceylon. Many were the names from the many that came,and they all were collective in their comment in the description of this land. Bar none, everyone agreed and noted in their chronicles that this island was indeed the complete Paradise. We never gained it. Let’s be honest about that part. We simply inherited. The Gods from their celestial dome, in their infinite kindness, gifted this Paradise to us, the beautiful island of Lanka, to the people of Sri Lanka . The privilege of being born and belonging to such a place can ...

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The SIA jumbo turned for the final approach on Plaisance International Airport.  The night was cloudy and listless, the sky was demanding with a stratocumulus overcast.  There was moderate rain over the airfield. My copilot who was flying the aeroplane was an experienced operator and he landed the big Boeing 747 with professional skill that received applause from the passengers.          We taxied and parked in front of the terminal.  It was almost midnight; I’ve arrived in the island of Mauritius, not merely as a pilot but to start another one of my wild goose chases.          This one was a peach.  I was going to look for Ehelepola’s grave. The first Prime Minister of the last King of Kandy, who I read somewhere, was buried in the island of Mauritius. The story of Ehelepola is a tragedy that Lankans are familiar with. King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe beheaded the sons ...

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Published 4 days ago on January 2, 2021 In the Island Newspaper, Sri Lanka   By Capt. Elmo Jayawardena (The writer of the State Literary Award-winning book, The Last Kingdom of Sinhalay, prompted by what he saw in the Mauritius)   The SIA jumbo turned for the final approach on Plaisance International Airport. The night was cloudy and listless, the sky was demanding with a stratocumulus overcast. There was moderate rain over the airfield. My copilot who was flying the aeroplane was an experienced operator and he landed the big Boeing 747 with professional skill that received applause from the passengers. We taxied and parked in front of the terminal. It was almost midnight; I’ve arrived in the island of Mauritius, not merely as a pilot but to start another one of my wild goose chases. This one was a peach. I was going to look for Ehelepola’s grave. The first Prime ...

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Source:Island As for those who flew the sleek, fully aerobatic machine, undoubtedly the most flamboyant was Paulis Appuhamy, the Bus Mudalali from Attanagalle. He obtained his Private Pilot’s Licence, flying in his Palayacart Sarong and pressing rudders with his bare feet. Paulis had his long hair tied in a knot at the back of his head. No, he did not speak any fluent English, barely managed to read the checklist. He needed no short-cuts either, went through the whole flying school rigmarole to obtain a pilot’s licence. If anyone broke the pseudo-sophisticated conceit of flying aeroplanes, it was Paulis Appuhamy. I know of no other person who had such determination to become a pilot and succeeded doing so with flying colours. Recently, I received a gift of a book. The name on the cover said ‘de Havilland Chipmunk’, a comprehensive narration about a popular aeroplane that served 1950s onwards in ...

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  Capt Elmo Jayawardena elmojay1@gmail.com Source:-island.lk A few months ago, I was in Hong Kong, visiting a well-known charity organisation called Crossroads. It was to seek assistance for a project in Sri Lanka. Crossroads has an enormous warehouse filled to the brim with anything and everything; ready to be sent to places where people in need plead. The store surroundings looked familiar. Then I realised I was standing where the old Kai Tak airport was, now pastured and replaced by the glamour of the new Hong Kong International Airport. Yes, I have been here before, many a time at that, bringing jet aeroplanes into land on runway 13, turning at the famous Chequered Board at 600 feet and pointing at the short runway besieged by the sea. The final turn and approach was made between sky-scrapers that stood on either side, like sentinels, and one could spot the flat residents’ ...

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