Wednesday, March 28, 2007 


My room is a mess, every time I start studying, I start to leave a swathe of notes all over my room. For each topic, I'd have several different sources and books. After finding a tidbit of info in a book, I'd leave it open and lying nearby, just in case I want to review it again.

At this moment, I have two company policy books, a Jeppesen aviation reference book, my flight charts, my short notes I've typed and printed out, my notes from ground school, and my trusty 555 book for in flight notes. My laptop is surrounded by a sea of paper.

I find this quite soothing since all the information is just an arm's length away. Once I'm done, all the paper notes will go into my flight bag, which is why it's so heavy, and the books back to my small library.

Anyway, fuel policy is very important in flight planning, it'll make sure we fly with a safe margin, and let the company have some profit by not wasting the fuel that we've uplifted. After reading the policy the umpteenth time, I can safely say, the people who thought of these regulations are masters at balancing. So many things have been taken into consideration to not waste fuel, and yet there's still enough margin of fuel left that I feel quite comfortable in the cockpit. Plus, the programs that are used to calculate our fuel usage for a trip are very very accurate that I'd call it magic. So many variables and barring any mishaps, we'll land at the destination within a couple of hundred kgs of fuel from our estimate, not bad when you consider we use seven thousand kgs of fuel per hour.

The more I learn, the more I find commercial aviation to be very safe. The industry depends on it. And I keep on learning to make all my flights as safe and comfortable as possible. It's a pilot's job to make flying look easy.

In the Mausoleum

Oh ya, reason why some pics have frames and others don't, is because the frameless pictures aren't edited at all, except for resizing, or I've taken them from somewhere. Framed pictures probably had some color adjustments done. I only adjust colors, and maybe crop.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007 

Four Threes

Tristar L-1011
2 Engines on wing
1 on tail
MD11 same engine concept as DC10 but with longer body and winglets
2 on wings
1 on tail
3 on tail

Just a reminder of the obvious differences between these three engined aircrafts.

(photos from and wikipedia)



Mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Karachi is a very interesting place. What I find very interesting is that the airport is very well maintained. Outside the airport is another thing. Karachi is kind of...chaotic, in terms of traffic that is. The trip to the hotel from the airport was quite exciting, filled with honks and beeps, and veering here and there in between gaily colored buses. You could see motorcyclists without helmets zooming by blaring their horns, warning everyone that they're there, and to respect their space. Cars were covered with dust but underneath the coating, you could see small square box cars of some bygone era, to new model corollas and accords. Buses were partitioned in the middle to separate the men and women, and if there was no more space inside, there's a ladder at the side to climb on to the roof!

Roads in Karachi are quite well maintained, and the buildings along the main road are brightly lit with neons. Billboards advertising "Coke!" and the latest handset from Sony, littered the skyline. Despite all this, you'd catch glimpses of some back alleys which are run down, and full of debris. Sometimes I'd see a bare area with rubble and I couldn't help think whether it was from an explosion or was it just progress? Once in a while I'd see metal umbrellas with a cement wall built up to just a foot before touching the brim of the umbrella. I'd guess these are in-city bunkers. I'd also see some, what I'd guess surface to air cannons, decorated to be part of the city. Maybe all these things are remnants of a bygone era of Karachi. But, the current state of Karachi is emphasized once we got to the hotel, there was a metal detector and our bags were screened, even outside food is restricted from entering the hotel. A car bomb exploded once in front of a hotel here, so security is more than welcomed.

Alcohol cannot be found in Karachi. Unless you buy local brew from the hotel you stay at, or bring it in yourself (only non-Muslims). I don't drink, but I find this quite amusing, as I followed some people to try and hunt this elusive elixir all over town at night.

Karachi has a few good places to visit, such as the Mausoleum, Et-Tooba Mosque, and Mohatta Palace. Most places are quite cheap to visit, such as the Mohatta palace only cost us ten rupees each. Also, the palace doesn't allow DSLRs in, but small cameras are ok.
Et-Tooba Mosque is a huge dome, with quite good acoustics. The guide brought us into the place, walked quietly to the middle of the dome and gave a dormouse cough, it was heard throughout the inner mosque. I enjoyed that the most.
The mausoleum is located in the middle of a huge expanse, with a garden leading up to several flights of stairs to the monument, it reminded me of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.. Inside and out, were several armed guards. Small girls with flowers to sell followed us everywhere trying to charm us into buying from them. Their monotonous chirping wasn't welcomed by the guide who kept chasing them away.

Et-Tooba Mosque
7000 small mirrors make up the sparkle on the ceiling.

Besides, going around to see buildings, I managed to look at carpets. Silk carpets which are amazing in detail. All hand made, and smooth to the touch. They shimmered and changed tones as you walked around it. I was shown one which took five years to make, the size was barely six feet long, but the intricacy was astounding! The price was too, at five thousand US dollars, but you DO pay for quality.

I kind of enjoyed my stay there. Besides the places that I visited, I had great company to wile the time away. I know most trips aren't going to be this enjoyable, but it's been a great experience.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007 

Gone for a bit

Been quite busy lately. I'll be gone for a few days, so there really won't be any updates for at least a week. Haven't even been able to properly check out the pictures that I've taken.

Wish me luck with my flying!

Trying to take my own pic on a train. No edits.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007 

Green Is The Theme

I went home to attend a wedding during the weekend. I decided to take a bus home, since I've always found that long bus rides help me relax. The whole ride was uneventful, with me nodding off as the bus's swaying motion lulled me into sleep. I awoke to a sudden lurch as the bus started slowing down. As I groggily opened my eyes, I saw that some of the other passengers were standing up and looking up ahead.

As we crawled forward, I could see some smoke up ahead by the side window. The smoke got closer and closer and I realized it's actually on the opposite road. A few seconds later, the scene was next to my bus. It was a van on fire! I couldn't believe my eyes. I quickly took out my camera from it's bag, turned it on and snapped away. In a few more seconds, the whole thing was behind us. A few kilometers down the road, a fire truck zoomed by, sirens a-wailing. I looked at my camera's review mode, and noticed that I still had the camera on the setting I used the night to take the mosque pictures. Thankfully, the settings were forgiving enough to get the picture at the bottom. I wouldn't have gotten that picture if I used my previous consumer camera, it wouldn't have started up fast enough, and probably wouldn't have been as clear as with this camera.


My cousin's was a fun affair. She attended the same high school as I did, so there were some old school friends whom I haven't seen for a long time. I did go around and take some photos. What I realized/learned is that wedding photographers have it tough. Good knowledge of customs, guests, and schedule is really important for them to get the right shots. Also, I'm still quite slow in recognizing when a good photo moment is coming up. I missed out on a lot of shots, realizing the moment would've made a good photo after seeing it pass a couple seconds ago. Maybe I should be more trigger happy? She was, kind enough to let me get a couple of posed shots. So, I tried cliche shots. I did try and observe how the pro photographer was doing his job. He was practically everywhere! Learned quite a bit on how they work. Anyways, congratulations to my cousin.


Thursday, March 08, 2007 

Murtabak and a Mosque

Sultan Mosque
Sultan Mosque

The picture up there was taken with my sigma lens. The mosque is quite close to a restaurant that has very nice (and cheap) murtabak. Which is an Indian style pancake that has meat and onions in it. The curry sauce served with it was a bit lacking I'm afraid, but the murtabak itself was deliciously crispy and tender at the right parts.

The Sigma has been a very good travelling lens so far. I ~am~ itching to get a longer lens and try to shoot some photos of planes myself. I'm hoping after a few months of flying, I'll be able to save up for the the 70-200mm f4L USM IS, or maybe the 70-300mm USM IS. In short, these lenses should help me pick the plane out of the sky, well, when they've just taken off from the runway.

I've gone and bought myself another lens! At least it's a cheap lens, a 50mm f1.8 lens. Since my cousin is getting married, I'll have a chance to play around with the lens and see what I can get with it. I also bought a new printer! The printer is mainly for me to print out all my documents and notes, but I bought one that can make good quality photo printouts. So, I'll print out pictures I like and hang them around my room.


Boeing 747-300
(from Wikipedia by Arpingstone)

The other day I was asked what the difference is between a 744 and a 743. Sheepishly I answered "Smaller engine thrust?" This shows how much more I should know! So, apparently, from what I've gathered is, the most obvious feature is that the 743 doesn't have any winglets. According to Wikipedia, the 743 is the first 747 model which has an extended upper deck. Of course this is great for the passenger version, but has no value if it were to be converted to a cargo version. So, this plane never had a cargo version.
Just by posting these plane entries, I've gathered a bit more knowledge from looking it up myself or from comments. Should keep on doing this.

Monday, March 05, 2007 

No Go?

Apparently the seats are fully booked for my trip to Angkor, unfortunately the company I work for only flies there once a day. Going there is not a problem, but coming back is...I looked at the day that I plan to come back, and the day after, each flight was fully booked. The kind lady at staff travel suggested that I just put in a bid, and if something opens up, I might be lucky enough to get it. So, here're my fingers crossed.

In my attempt to become a better pilot, and also since I have an interest in aviation , I've decided to put up photos of planes. Even though the commercial planes look the same, there're some differences.

Tristar L-1011Tristar L-1011
(photo by Adrian Pingstone)

This is a Tristar L-1011 by Lockheed. Now as we know Lockheed, nowadays don't make civilian aircrafts, this is one of the last few models that they made that's still around today. Some of the cool things to note is that this is the first wide body aircraft to recieve CATIIIc certification. Which means, it can land without the pilots being able to see the runway! It's also one of the few planes with three engines such as the DC-10, MD-11, and the 727. Unfortunately, since parts are hard to come by, more and more companies are dropping it from their operations. We probably won't be able to see it in the air anymore in just a few more years.

Saturday, March 03, 2007 

Things to Do

I'm forced to take a week of leave. This is to clear off some of my leave days. During training, everything was rushed, sims after sims. Then there's the stress in between sims trying to consolidate what was taught, smooth over the rough areas, and learn new things for the next sim session. In short, if you don't balance your life properly, you can get burned out quite easily.

Anyway, all of us have been given a week off, relax, study up for line training, or whatever it is that we feel that we need to do. Me, I'll be scratching off one of the to-do items that I' have on my "Things to do before I become a dribbling mess" list. I'm planning to head over to Cambodia and visit Angkor Wat.

I've never really listed down everything I wanted to do before. It's just a list of things in my mind. I guess now is a good time as any to put my thoughts in writing.

  1. See Northern Lights
  2. Visit Mecca
  3. Visit Angkor
  4. Visit Taj Mahal
  5. Visit Machu Picchu
  6. Get diver's license (done)
  7. Go sky diving (done)
  8. Climb Kinabalu
  9. Go Nepal
  10. Visit Everest
  11. Visit every Asian country (been to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand only...sigh)
  12. Visit every Western European country (been to England, Scotland, Italy, France, Austria, Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland)
  13. Drive on Route 66
  14. Sleep in Burj Al-Arab
  15. Visit Las Vegas
  16. Ski on the Alps
  17. Visit Antartica

Hmm, there is actually a whole lot more. Like, visiting most of the tropical islands, like bahamas, maldives, etc, and the list goes on and on...

Maybe I should think of something defining that I would want to do. Maybe that Antartica trip, might be a memorable sight. Ah well, one step at a time eh?

Thursday, March 01, 2007 

Aircraft Training Good News, Laptop Bad News

Finally! I've finally managed to complete my aircraft training. Now I'm considered a Second Officer, endorsed to fly a 777. On the 27th of February, 2007, I completed my aircraft training.

I was actually quite nervous thinking that I'll be flying the actual plane. The two captains who took my friend and I for the training were quite nice, dropping little pointers to help us become better pilots, and to uphold a professional image. Walking to the plane felt a bit weird as I wore my cap but without my jacket and no bars on my shoulder. This is because I wasn't a second officer yet and hadn't earned the right to wear those items. At least I got to wear my wings proudly on my chest!

As we got to the plane, I still couldn't really comprehend that I'll be flying this behemoth of a machine. The safety checks were quickly done with the Captain who pointed out items to take note of. Pre-flight preparations done, and we're off! My friend took the right seat first. He taxied the plane to the runway, and soon after, with clearances, took off! I couldn't imagine what it must have felt like. He flew the plane the short distance to the nearby airport where we'll be doing our circuits.

After an hour of observing him complete his circuits, it was my turn. The captains exchanged seats, then I exchanged seats with my friend. What struck me at first was how light the plane felt. Now, at that time, the plane was around one hundred and seventy five tonnes. Minor adjustments in the controls were all that was needed. Sitting there on the right seat, aware that I was in control of a big chunk of metal hurtling through the air was exhilarating! The sky was clear, the winds were slightly strong, but there wasn't much turbulence. My first landing was a bit rough...with some tips from the captain, I managed to get my landings smoother and smoother. After a few more, I managed to do three good landings back to back, and the captain said that he was satisfied. Clearances were gotten, and he let me fly back to our main base.

At the beginning, it felt daunting, but once I was in the cockpit, especially when I was in the right seat, everything felt fine. This is because of the great training programme that all cadets had to undergo.The simulators helped a lot as the real plane didn't feel all that different from the sims. Looking forward to start flying to proper destinations.


My hard drive is dead. After coming home from watching "Rocky Balboa" (which is an awesome movie!) I switched on my laptop, and having it suddenly hanging and restarting on me. After several failed attempts, I decided to format my partition. This didn't work either as the installer gave me a message stating that it couldn't access the partition. A quick call to a tech savvy friend suggested a hard drive failure. So I replaced my laptop's hard drive with my backup hard drive. This time it worked. Unfortunately, I lost all my recently taken photos, my training notes, my music, and all those favorite websites. This'll teach me to do back-ups more often.