Dream Of Flight Has A New Domain !

Friday, November 4, 2011

Journey to Becoming a Pilot - Part 6

One of my most memorable experience was a flight I did with my student Mr F. We were doing our normal flying training at the west of the airfield not too far away from the airport. After about 1/2 hour of flying, the weather suddently became bad. A huge layer of low clouds started approaching the whole airport as well as our position.

I did not feel very comfortable so requested to return back to land. As there was an Airbus 320 on final approach to land as well, we got to wait about 5 mins before it was our turn. I tried holding as close as we can to the airport so that I can still see it. After 5 mins the cloud was getting worst, not only we cant see the airport, we were also covered in cloud.

At that time, I was not trained in instrument flying, I had to keep my composure as the aircraft instruments were the only thing we can rely on to continue flying as there were layers and layers of white candy floss outside the window.

Johor Control Tower was talking to us over the radio asking for our position. I told them we were in the west but lost our position due to the cloud. Luckily they had radar so they could roughly guide us around the airport. They have to divert other aircraft away to avoid any conflicting traffic around us. We were trying very hard to look for the airport but in vain for about 20mins. At the back of our mind we know the airport was just below us or beside us but we just couldn’t see it to make an approach to land.

The experience was really quite scary as fuel was slowly depleting away and our mind just kept wondering about, thinking if we could actually get back on the ground again. I still remembered briefly my student asking should we write a will down or something and I told him do not worry I will make sure we land safely.

Just as I was glancing to the right, I saw an opening in the cloud and could see a small portion of the middle runway, without hesitation, I requested to come in for landing in the middle of the runway. As the runway in Johor is very long we could use 1/3 of the runway to land without problem. I dive the aircraft straight into the cloud opening and landed in the middle of the runway. The feeling was so wonderful and at the same time a scary relieve.

My student thanked me after that for saving his life and to me I felt if I could have been more competent or more knowledgable, I might have done more instead of depending on our luck. This incident not only spurred me to continue upgrading my flying knowledge but also to buy a GPS as I found that was the most important device at that time which I did not have.

So if you were to be flying with me in the future, you can rest assure, I have that with me all the time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Joy Flight Event with Care Haven Johor Bahru

Was very fortunate to be able to hold a joy flight for the youths from Care Haven.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I was supposed to meet Mr Tham and the youths at the Care Haven office to conduct a briefing. Unfortunately, I was caught in the jam to Johor and in the end could only meet them at the airport and I had to conduct the briefing at the club office. Luckily my 2 buddies, Alan and Thomas was there earlier to help me facilitate the group.

Anyway with no delay the briefing was conducted.

Briefing on the basic aerodynamics
After the briefing, we all proceeded to the hangar to meet the 2 Piper Warrior plane that we will be using for the joy flight.

Walking to the plane
I was helping out with last minute explanation of how the wings work while Alan and Thomas prepares the planes for flight.
Explaining how aileron works
Thomas getting ready..

Alan getting ready..
The flight took about 20minutes flying to the East and West training area. When I saw the youths face beaming after the flight, I was very sure they enjoyed the experience. Hope this event could make them want to study harder and for those interested to become a pilot also in the future.

Returning from flight

Special thanks to Mr Tham for believing in our team to conduct this event as well as his patience waiting for many months before this could take place. Also thanking Elite Flying Club for tolerating with our demands and also leasing us 2 beautiful planes.

Group Photo

Hope the next event could take place soon and really looking forward.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Joy Flight to Malacca May 2011

Did a joy flight on May 2011 from Seletar to Malacca. Had the company of Mark, Justin and Taige. The journey to Malacca took about 1 1/2 hrs one way. It was a fun and fulfilling trip to be able to see Malacca again which I had not been for about a year. Also wonderful experience for Mark and Justin I am sure to experience the joy of flying as well as to see Malacca in another perspective.

Below are some photos taken. Enjoy.

Overhead Batu Pahat
Overhead Muar

Malacca Runway
On Final Malacca Runway
Enjoying the Famous Chicken Rice

Lose some weight after chicken rice

Hungry after walking. 2nd round of Laksa! Yummy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Journey to Becoming a Pilot - Part 5

Taking my first student was very exciting for me, I remembered my slot time for that flight was at 9am. So I woke up at 6am, got changed and left home about 630am. Reached the Woodland Checkpoint about 645am and was stuck for about 45mins. Eventually I reached the club about 845am.

Luckily I left home early. I met up with my student Mr C. He was already about 1/2 way through his flying training. So I prepared the lecture slides and gave him a pre flight briefing on what to expect for that lesson. Took me about 20mins to complete the briefing and I looked at my watch it was showing 920am. I told Mr C to go do a pre flight inspection of the aircraft and I will meet him there in 5 mins. I went to collect my gears and in came my senior instructor asking me what I was doing?? My slot time was supposed to be at 9am and now it was already 920am. As he had another flight at 10am. He was a little angry but he helped me pushed back the other slots of the day and from this I slowly learned that time management is very important as an instructor.

We did some circuits and low level flying and eventually landed at about 1020am. I gave Mr C a debrief on the lesson and told him next lesson we will start 15 mins before the slot time so that we can do a pre flight brief and also take off on time. He was ok with it and slowly I adjusted to the life as an instructor and see myself doing this job over the next 3 years.

As I started off as an Assistant Flying Instructor, I need to be mentored by a Qualified Flying Instructor. The difference between the 2 is that, an AFI cannot clear a student for their First Solo flight and also always will require a supervision of a QFI. So whenever I felt that a student was ready for their first Solo, I will arrange for a QFI to check them. The requirement to be upgraded to a QFI is to have 6 months of instructional time and at least 200 hrs teaching. Also to pass another flight test. I eventually applied for my upgrade after about a year of teaching.

Life as a QFI was not much of a difference, just there won’t be a break in between where you need to find a QFI to clear the first solo stage. I continued to instruct and really enjoyed myself as I got to see many different students from all walks of life. My youngest student was about 17 which is the minimum age to hold a Private Pilot license and my oldest student was over 60. Max age for a pilot holder is about 65 depending on the state.

I remembered I was on a navigation flight with a student and we were on our way back to land in Senai airport. About 20 mins away from the airport, we got a report that the airport was closed due to very bad weather. My student began looking at me and I asked him so what was his plan? He thought for a while and assessed the fuel situation where we have about 30 mins of extra fuel before we need to divert to our alternate airport which was Paya Lebar airbase. So I suggested to him why don’t we do a holding pattern at present position and reassess the situation as we can’t proceed back to Senai. He agreed so we asked to hold over a small town so we wont get lost as the weather was starting to become worst as low clouds were approaching our position. At this time I can see my student was a little lost and scared.

That was when I calmed him down and took over control of the aircraft. I distracted him by asking him to help me with radio calls. Co ordinate with Paya Lebar for the weather and the need to land there if things don’t get better. Also get a constant update from Johor tower if the weather improves. 10mins had past, and now the cloud was covering us and I needed to descend to about 500ft to be visual with ground. As there were obstacles around I requested to fly over the coast where I was sure we can be safe of terrain over the sea. At the same time I was looking for empty fields around our position as possible landing field if we have an engine failure. About 25mins past, only 5 more mins before we had to fly to Paya Lebar, Johor radioed us and say the airfield was open now. These magic lines just bring warmth to our heart. Without fail, we flew as fast as we could towards Senai and landed. This was just one of many experiences I had gone through over the span as an instructor.

There are many more stories both exciting and also scary which I will share with you in my next chapter..

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Joy Flight Event with Singapore Children Society

Was very honored to be able to liaise with Jurong Youth Center to realize 4 youths dream of flying in a light airplane. We took off at Seletar Airport on a Sunday morning, flew to johor, did a change of crew so that each youths can experience flying from the front seat and then back to Seletar.

Thereafter we took turn to have our breakfast at Jalan Kayu Prata shop which serves really good prata. The half day event went very smoothly and really look forward to the next one.

Thank you so much to the organizers perseverance that this event could turn into a reality.

A Diamond 40 on final to land in Seletar

(Apology as other photos could not be loaded due to privacy)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Journey to Becoming a Pilot - Part 4

Driving in my silver Toyota Vios, i took about 4 hours to reach Kuala Lumpur. Checked into this apartment called Holiday Villa. It was a nice apartment like a studio costing about $100 per night. Once I settled myself down, I went to meet my instructor to be Capt Z. He is a nice guy, told me the outline of the syllabus and what I was expected to do.

So basically to be an instructor we were required to complete about 30 hours of flying training a student. At the same time complete some instructional technique briefings to show the competency in holding a class of students.

Everything seems nice but the problem started a few days later when I still had not started any form of training. I tried contacting Capt Z but he was so busy that I kept getting delays from his side. Eventually our schedule was like maybe flying 1 hour a week and sometimes non at all. Life was tough and slow. I had no other options but to tolerate and go with the flow. Soon I could not hold on to the cost of living as my resources were depleting. I went searching for another cheaper accommodation which was the YMCA KL. It was charging about $20 per night which could help me last longer in my stay although the location wasn't really very pleasant.

I spent my idle time studying and reading all the notes. Prepare myself really hard and waiting for the call from my instructor to tell me he was free for flying. Waiting game was really annoying and tested a lot of my patience. Eventually after about 3 months, I completed my course and I was so happy! Test date was to be arranged in Johor with my flying club and the examiner will be Capt A. I drove back to Singapore shack but happy it was over.

Spent the 1 month revising as well as waiting for the test. When the day came, I went to fetch the examiner from senai airport in johor. Drove him to the club and started my test. The test consisted of a briefing on the lesson we were supposed to conduct on that day which was Stalling. After the brief, went to the aircraft and did the lesson on Stall treating him like a student all the way till we landed. I thought the lesson was quite ok. During the debrief, he looked at my logbook and told me my flying was ok, but he was not very happy with the 30 hours I accumulated during my training in KL. He was like thinking that 30 hours was minimum and wanted more like maybe 35 hours. So he told me to go back to Capt Z again and clock 5 more hours and I did not make it for the test.

Another failure..it was tough, thinking of going back to KL again made me want to give up. Of course I did not, through the advice from Capt AL (CFI Elite) and a few friends, I went back to KL to continue my 5 hours of training with Capt Z. This time it took me another 1 month to complete. The best part was, at this very moment, the department of civil aviation of malaysia, came out with a new rule that all flying instructor to be must complete 6 subjects of exam before they can apply for the test. Now I must study 6 subjects before I can book a test date. The next month or so I went around asking for materials to study for the exams and preparing for them. When I was ready, booked a test date for the exams and went to KL again to do the exams. When the results came out I was so happy I passed all 6 subjects in the first attempt! I quickly arranged a test date and it was to be in July 2004.

Capt A came down again and we did the same test but this time it was another topic on Effects of Control. After the flight he was satisfied and told me I made it! I was so happy to hear that. Now I am a Flying Instructor and my aviation career finally started. Total training duration (Mar-July).

I took my first student on the 4th of Aug 2004 and the first flight we did was some circuits flying..it was memorable and my life as an instructor in johor began…(To be continued)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Journey to Becoming a Pilot - Part 3

The day had arrived. Dressed in my smart long sleeve shirt with a blue tie and black pants. I went to the SIA Training Center where the interview was held. I remembered the holding room was cold. Saw a few candidates waiting. After i submitted my relevant documents, i joined them in the wait. One by one the candidates left and new one entered. Soon it was my turn. I went into the room, there was a seat for me to sit on and 2 interviewers. After a series of questions lasting about 20 mins, i was done. I left the room thinking i did my best and well 2 days later, i got an email stating to come down for the second interview!

The place was the same just that the room was different now. We had like 10 of us in the group. Started off with some team building exercises constructing lego, planning airport etc. Then after which came the final interview. This time there were like 6 interviewers. Went through a series of questions which were tougher and lasted longer. Then we had the tea party which basically consisted of some finger food, drinks and talking to the panel. We were told to give them a call the next day to find out if we got selected. I went home pondering what could have been done better, thinking what if i couldn't get through etc...it was a long and sleepless night for most of us i guess.

The day of truth arrived, i picked up the phone, dialed the number and i remembered this was the toughest number i had ever dialed in my life. A lady picked up, i told her my name and she said: " Sorry, you did not make it." This simple six words just shattered my dream completely. I felt a heavy stone carrying my heart down to the bottom..it was cruel..but what could i do? I did my best and i just got to get on with life.

I realized from some of my friends that if one had failed the final interview, they will not have any more chance with the cadet scheme again. This further made it worst for me. My only avenue to be a pilot was now gone. I wanted to give up this dream and get a regular job as an IT specialist as that was what i studied in Aus. I just couldn't, the flying thought just kept lingering in my mind. I have to do something to continue to pursue my dream. So off i went to further my research. I found out that with a Private Pilot Licence i could actually become an instructor in Malaysia. So i thought to myself this seems like a good way to earn my flying hours as well as to gain more exposure.

Went down to Johor Malaysia, to enquire about converting my Aus PPL to a Malaysian PPL. The club was very friendly they assisted me in the conversion which i needed to do only an Air law paper and a flight test. Once i had my Malaysian PPL, i spoke to the Chief Flying Instructor of Elite Flying Club in Johor about my intention to become a flying instructor. He is very nice, we met up at a McDonald outlet in AMK and discussed the issue. He told me that this could be done but in Malaysia, they have a ruling that for a PPL holder to go for the instructor rating, they need 150 hrs of solo time. I only had like 10 hrs of solo time as most of the flight time was with an instructor during my training in Aus. Getting 140 hrs of flight time is not cheap. Just a rough estimate an hour on the cheapest light aircraft cost about 200sgd. You can do the math. Capt AL (CFI Elite) was very kind he told me i do not have to folk out a large amount as i can pay as i fly. That made it easier. I only fly when i have the money.

So regularly while working part-time, i will fly from Johor to Malacca or Subang to clock my hours. It was fun time being in the air with all those shitty weather around Malaysia. The furthest i flew on a single day was from Johor to Langkawi. Flight time was about 7 Hrs 30 mins phew...i could had landed myself in Tokyo with that time on a commercial airline :)  After a couple of months, i accumulated the 150 solo hrs, i was introduced to this examiner in Kuala Lumpur who will become my instructor for the instructor rating course. Off i went to KL for the training which was supposed to last for only a month but in the end lasted for 5 months....(To be continued).