Just after joining Caledonian Airways in February, 1969, I went to Tripoli, Libya, to help handle Caledonian’s Hajj contract, taking passengers to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj Pilgrimage, sub-contracted by KLA Kingdom of Libya Airlines. The contract was over eight weeks: three weeks ferrying Pilgrims outbound, a two-week hiatus while the Pilgrimage took place, and another three weeks for the return. The contract was for two Boeing 707-320C’s and a Bristol Britannia.
Part of the contract with the Britannia was for a 10-day series of flights from Sebha, a small oasis town about 600 miles south of Tripoli in the Libyan Desert. The town’s most prominent feature was a ’˜Beau Geste’ style French Colonial Fort on the edge of the airfield, on the only hill for 200 miles. My hotel was the ’˜Sebha Palace’, not quite what you expect when the word ’˜palace’ is mentioned, but at least the rooms were en-suite. My bathroom had a 360 volt water heater (and a 220 volt supply). The wires were just pushed into the wall socket (no plug) and when it was switched on the lights dimmed and it took all day to heat enough water for a bath. The hotel restaurant only served chicken (well, we were 600 miles from nowhere). I had a bucket of fresh fish flown up from Tripoli on the ferry flight a few times and word soon got around. The restaurant was full on those evenings.