Wednesday, September 28, 2005 


I was scheduled to go for my first solo flight to the area once again. My first attempt I forgot to get my instructor's signature verifying that I'm competent which made the duty instructor change my flight to a circuit flight. My second attempt was crushed by strong gale force winds of 100+ km/hr. Today, the winds were there, the clouds slowly started to rise from one thousand feet to the minimum that I needed to go off for my solo of four thousand feet. My four o'clock flight seemed hopeful. I've been sitting in the ops room since lunch time, lack of appetite made me spend my time tracking the weather.

"How're things up there sir?" I asked an instructor who just came back.
"Crosswinds are rough, there's a considerable sink on finals, and there's slight windshear."
"Do you think I should go up for my first area solo sir?"
He looked at the darkening sky, the clouds were high up, but were dark grey and looming over as if about to topple over.
"It's hard to say, the weather report says it's ok, but be careful of unseen things, it's up to you to judge and the DI might just let you go."

Fifteen minutes to my flight, I cancelled it.
It just felt bad. I'd get a ribbing from my colleagues but I didn't care. I've proven I can fly in bad weather before.

As I was closing my aircraft and preparing it for the night, I saw a rainbow over in the training area. Rain.
Rain is bad for visual flyers like myself. Plus it means the clouds are mature clouds with down force winds. Not really nice to fly underneath them.

I walked back to the dorms accompanied by the patter of rain. Matched my spirit for today.

I'm glad of my decision. It's better to err on safety's side.

Monday, September 19, 2005 


Today I went out for my pre-solo area check.

My instructor and I was doing turning stalls. With a reduced power setting, we are supposed to make a level turn. Because of the low power setting, the plane just wants to fall so as we try to maintain the same height, the plane's speed gradually reduces. Eventually, the plane will lose lift and just drop out of the sky. Now, with a turning stall, the one side of the wing will lose lift first and just suddenly drop. If not handled properly, the plane will go into a spin.

My instructor was demonstrating the stall, the angle of the aircraft was such that when I look at the side window I was just looking at ground. As my instructor was recovering, I suddenly saw a twin engine airplane pass by a few hundred feet below. In my mind I was thinking that if it was me that was recovering from the stall, I might have hit that plane. My instructor recovered within a hundred feet, my average is a couple hundred. The twin should have kept a proper look out. The plane sped away as my instructor glared at it.

My last post was posted when I was mad. "Anger is fleeting insanity", if I recall the quote correctly. I do love my girlfriend and am doing my best for the relationship. I've loved her since I saw her nine years ago.

(shot at the national mosque of Brunei)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

All Kinds of Conditions

Pilots have to fly in all kinds of weather. The higher the rating you have, the more adverse the weather can be that you can fly in. Today the sky was clear, and the winds were blowing. It was a nice breaze. Since the control tower reported weather conditions that are within my rating, I prepped up my plane, measured, calculated, and filled out the weight and balance sheet, and got approval from the instructors for me to go up. Once I was airborne things got weird. I was holding an aimpoint that usually worked for the wind speeds reported but I was still blown to the side slightly. When I came in for my first landing, I was higher than normal.
"Aimpoint, aimpoint, centerline, airspeed."
"ok, being pushed aside, centerline, turn abit, turn abit, centerline achieved, aimpoint, airspeed"
"shit coming in high, airspeed ok, decent rate ok, shit i'm high"
"shit shit shit shit shit, plane wont land, floating. nose up nose up somemore"
"shit being pushed to the side, not on centerline anymore, ailerons, come on, fix it, fix it, fix it, shit still not landing"
I was practically floating above the runway at less than a hundred feet high for more than six hundred meters. The runway is only a thousand three hundred meters. I decided there won't be enough runway for me to take off again if I landed. Full powered and took off again. This happened once more. I did manage to land the plane properly a few times in the one hour alloted to me. Apparently today there was an occasional 10 knots tailwind. The Cessna 172 is only rated to 5 knots. Learned that there wasnt much else I could do in those conditions but be patient and go around.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005 


PFL is short for "Practice Forced Landing". It's how we practice what to do when the engine fails while you're flying. We check to see if the engine could be restarted, and then we find a place to land and glide to our landing site while going through some more checks and alerting other planes and control towers of our plight.

My instructor and I went out to the training area, climbed up to four thousand feet.
" Ok, engine failure."
He pulled the throttle so the engine started sputtering and the plane began to pitch forward. Since I was prepared for this, I set the plane to glide and began the procedure for the PFL.
The landing area that was chosen was a farm field, complete with cows. As I was coming in, I saw the cows started "walking briskly away".
" Sir, won't the farmer be mad at us for scaring the cows?"
" That's why we cant go down too close. Ok, go around."
At five hundred feet from the ground I powered up and flew off. We did this several times until my instructor was happy with my performance. Apparently the farmer also has a plane and his own personal airstrip. He let's us practice around his property as long as we don't abuse the privelage.

Should have posted this picture during Merdeka Day. It's a picture from a Merdeka Day event back in Pittsburgh.

Monday, September 12, 2005 


Wednesday, September 07, 2005 

Cold Front

A Cold front is basically a wall of cold air. It's refreshing when it has arrived since the sky is clear, the temperature cool, children come out to play ball, and you can see geese fluttering about in a standard vee formation. On the other hand, when the wall of cold air meets with the warmer wall of air on land, havoc happens. Thunderstorms emerge, winds as fast as a hundred kilometers per hour blows around, and planes practically get pelted by hail stones and lightning. It's a mad, angry, and dark time when these two fronts meet.

That's the reason why I haven't been flying for the past four days and probably for the next couple of days too. I just came back from another cancellation. Winds are breezing about at sixty kilometers, way too fast for a green cadet in a dinky plane.

Anyway, as I said last time, I need a bit of stress to spice my life, I'm too used to having a lot of deadlines, and working long hours when I was an engineer. Before coming over here, we had to prepare for our aviation exams in a short span of time which meant studying from the moment we open our eyes at dawn until we close them again for sleep. Then suddenly here, most of the time, we're left to our own design. Usually it's fine because once we have our license, we fly almost every day. When bad weather comes, then we're stuck, books have been read, sports can't be played, and we can't go out due to policy or really bad weather. I'm stuck in a room. I hate being stuck in a room. "A little bit of stress does increases productivity", Human Performance and Limitations in Aviation, Ron D. Campbell.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 

Slow week

For the past few days the weather has been really bad here, I had to cancel three of my flights. I'm putting myself up for tomorrow and the day after. Hopefully I'll be able to clear those sorties so I can move on. I'd like to try and head back home early next year.

I hate sitting around. I've gone through the library here. We cant really play any sports til past 330 nor can we go out before then. It makes me feel trapped. The gym, which is open 24 hours, is good, I can only do weights now, the rowing machine and elliptical machine hurts the back of my knee (some old injury). I need a bit of stress to spice up my life. Really have to go out tonight.

Sunday, September 04, 2005 








Thursday, September 01, 2005 


Yesterday was 31st of August. Merdeka Day for Malaysia. Independence was achieved. Here in Jandakot, a lot of the Malaysian cadets managed to clear their solo on that day or the day after. I can tell you, passing sortie 109 is a great relief for everyone here. You can see the change in the faces of those who have cleared, brightening up, a wide smile etched on to their faces. While those who have yet to clear seem gloomier as more and more of their colleagues are sent up alone.

My roommate just cleared his today and another good friend cleared it on the same day. He was at his final hour (we are given a certain number of hours to clear solo or we'll be sent packing home) due more to bad luck than skill. I see the relief washing over him. So far, my course is the only course where no one has been sent packing home. I hope we'll all be able to sit behind the control column of a commercial jet one day.

Yesterday, I was given my crosswind rating.It will determine in what kind of conditions I can fly. "So what kind of rating do you think you deserve?" "Well I believe I can land at 12 but to be on the safe side, let me start with 10 and you can award me 12 when you feel I really deserve it." He agreed and gave me 10, maximum a cadet can achieve is 12 knots.

I also flew during the evening sunset. There's a calm peacefulness when you're flying alone and the sky is an orange hue with streaks of light shining through breaks in the clouds. I can't really describe the beauty of it. Sunset on the ground is different than sunset while flying. At that moment I had the same feeling I felt when I went sky diving ages ago during a cold autumn sunset. A calmness, and an awe of the beauty that nature can present. I wish I could've taken a photo of it.