We are picked up by the mini-bus from the Obsidian Hotel some time round about six, well advance of the plane's arrival. This is in marked contrast to our first visit in 1997 when we arrived at the air head, dropped off our luggage and drove round to the end of the runway watching our plane come in over our heads. Somehow even the remoteness and security of Ascension has been touched by global terrorism and a two hour check-in is necessary no matter how illogical. A cynic might say the terrorists have won if this is the outcome.
It is now 9.20 and there are signs of activity on the runway, and rain clouds gather around us and, out of sight of the picture, Green mountain disappears into the clouds..
This is the first and probably the last time we will ever use steps to climb up into a jumbo, as not long after this the service was handed over from XL airways to Air Atlanta, also using 747's, but the service from October 2007 was handed over to Omni Air International using DC10 -30 aircraft.
The XL airways 747 has landed, turned round at the end of the runway and makes its way back to the main airfield apron.
By now it is nearly 9.50am and the plane taxis to a halt ready to unload new Ascension arrivals from the Falklands and temporarily offload people who have are making the epic long trip from the Falklands back to the UK.
What is not apparent from the picture is that there is some sort of problem with the wing control surfaces so the plane can't make it to it's normal cruising altitude. We will therefore be flying at a lower altitude with a knock-on consequence for fuel consumption so we will be making a short stop in the Canaries to refuel. However, as we are leaving Johnny behind in Ascension, this is one delay that can't be attributed to his being on the flight.
So comes to the end our third trip to Ascension, but whether there will be another is anybody's guess. Much has changed in the world in the last ten years and Ascension is not immune from these changes, but hopefully it will continue to incorporate the best of the new, whilst retaining it's unique, almost verging on quaint, life style and culture that we have come to enjoy and value over our three visits.
Meanwhile it would be nice to think that the accounts of our visits have sparked off an interest, and maybe a desire to visit amongst some of our readers, especially those who knew nothing of Ascension before..
There is no forgetting, of course, a very big thank you to Johnny Hobson, in his various roles as travel agent, hotelier, day trip advisor, supplier of alcohol and ice-cream, and many others, too numerous to mention.