Entries for March 2006

Heading home

On my way back to Singapore, I saw this interesting signboard at Sydney international airport

Interesting signboard in Sydney International Airport


End of course

I’ve come thus far and today officially mark the end of our air grading course. I must say I’ve learnt and increased my knowledge on what flying is all about during this trip and it had definitely been a memorable and wonderful experience – in terms of both flying as well as social life!

It was a blessing that there wasn’t any major disciplinary issues throughout our stay and apart from this, we were blessed with a good course commander whom is someone really more than an instructor. Though the time spent here isn’t that long, I guess somehow one will feel a little sadness in the air after spending sometime in the environment. But life still has to move on after all.


Air grading final test updates

After committing a critical mistake during yesterday’s sortie, I was determined not to do so during sortie 14 as well as during the actual test. This means that I have sortie 14 to iron out any other outstanding issues I’m facing before my test, which so happen to be on the same day (just 30 minutes apart). Luckily, sortie 14 proved to be a rewarding sortie as I performed up to standard.

Unfortunately, I felt that I did not perform as well during the actual test sortie. It could be due to mental fatigue or even over-confidence and this led to a poor sortie. I missed out a few procedures but the test instructor was kind enough to point it out and get over with. My flying skills were generally alright except that I was constantly reminded to trim the aircraft so that it does not yaw as much due to strong winds and occasional turbulence. Overall, I was graded a low average but he commented that I need to know how to appreciate the situation and this will help to make me a better pilot (thinking pilot)!


Air grading final test

Last week, I was preparing for my test 1. Now, as I’m writing, I’m preparing for my test 2 profile for tomorrow. Every second seems to pass so quickly and pretty soon, all would come to an end for my air grading course. Luckily, I’ve got a few good colleagues who were willing to share their test experiences and assist me in planning my test profile for tomorrow.

Stay tune for my good news!


Tamworth tourist attractions

We decided to head out to sight see some of Tamworth’s most famous tourist attractions. Our journey started with the visit to Tamworth’s Sunday market in Peel Street, which occurs only on every third weekend of the month. Over there, you get to see folks selling all sorts of things such as home-made honey to furniture and knitted clothing.

The main attraction was this place called the Big Golden Guitar. Here, they sell all sorts of country music as well as unique gifts and souvenirs. We spent quite a while at the tourist center as my colleagues seem to have lots to buy. By early afternoon, we were at the lookout point overlooking the whole of Tamworth! You’ll be surprised to find that Tamworth though small in population as compared to Singapore, the size of the town isn’t that small after all!

Big Golden GuitarHosted on Zooomr

Lunch was at a Chinese restaurant called The Dragon Palace. It was definitely welcoming sight for us as we had not taste any Chinese food since arriving in Tamworth. Though it was a half day trip, it was indeed the most memorable and fruitful trip throughout our stay thus far.



Presenting ops brief

Today, I find myself giving a presentation once again in front of so many people. This brought back memories of my polytechnic days where I had to present my project work to my course mates and lecturer.


Air grading test 1 updates

Yes! I’ve successfully cleared my test profile 1 and I can now proceed for phrase 2 of air grading. The sortie went smoothly as pre-planned on mind and I was able to execute the requirements without much difficulty, expect for being unable to keep the constant 30 degrees angle of bank as required for my medium level turn and the “not so confident” circuits.

The tester mentioned that I was too relaxed and hence unable to hold the required pressure on the stick to keep the angle of bank. This was a surprise to me as I’m known to be nervous, especially during tests!

Anyway, the tester rewarded me for the good performance by allowing me to pull some aerobatic maneuver and demonstrating what inverted flight feels like!


Air grading test 1

It seems that not long ago, I’ve just experienced sortie one and here I am today preparing for my test 1 profile for tomorrow. Base on my erratic performance for the past few sorties, I should be able to clear my test tomorrow if I continue to perform like sortie 6. As this is the test week for phrase one, there are bound to have a few who will not be able to continue into phase two. Till date, three of my course mates have been unsuccessful and my course commander emphasize that we should not let our emotions overcome us.

I hope that I will be able to clear my test easily tomorrow and transit into phrase two smoothly. Till then, time for mental flying ya?


Visit to Aeroclub

After a week of hard work and serious business, pilots will usually hang out at the bar to drink and brat about their amazing flying experiences and dog fighting skills etc. It seems that it has become more of a culture and even the pilot trainees here does that! Last week was the first visit to the aero club at Tamworth airport but not the whole course went. Today, I decided to check it out after being persuaded to join in the fun by my course mates.

Instead of beer, I ordered lemonade. We spent most of the time chatting about this week’s sorties, sharing of one another’s experience as well as cracking jokes. Surprisingly, one can go on and on without realizing how fast time pass. Since it was the start of weekend, some of us would usually start the nonstop DVD marathon after coming back from the club while the others will start continue with their game of mahjong till the wee hours.


A simple gesture

Thanks to everyone who wished me! Though it’s a simple card that was presented to me, it’s the thoughts and scenerity that counts! This would be the second year I’m celebrating my birthday in a foreign land and it’ll be something memorable.


First sortie

After three continuous day of ground school last week, I was finally planned to fly sortie one today! It has been almost five years since I had control on an airplane and there is always this special sense of touch. As usual, I was the nervous type as I walked out to the aircraft together with my instructor, who so happened to be the 1983 cable car incident helicopter pilot who was sent to rescue the tourist trapped in the cable car. Based on what I heard from previous courses, he was famous for being impatient and one who would not hesitate to demoralize or “chop” students if they do not perform up to his standard.

Nonetheless, it was a great sortie as I was generally able to recognize the training area boundaries as well as take the aerobatics maneuver he pulled on purpose to see if I’m prone to airsickness. He emphasized much on flying procedures rather than flying the aircraft itself and I was taught how to prepare for each sortie before hand (mental fly) so as to perform well in subsequent sorties.

Here’s a piece of quote which someone mentioned to me before I left for Air Grading:

As a pilot, you need to stay ahead of your aircraft. If you do not plan well and only start thinking of your next action up in the sky, you’ll always be trying to catch up with your aircraft.


Visit to town

As compared to previous courses, we were lucky as the instructors allowed us to book out and travel to town on our first weekend. However, two students are required to stay in to carry out duties. Since it was the first outing, the course IC and another officer decided to sacrifice and let the rest enjoy the outing. We had to call for two maxi cabs to drive 16 of us downtown and the cab fare weren’t cheap. It cost about AUS $20 for the journey and we were amazed by the taxi meter as it was incrementing 10 cents every two seconds or so.

Sad to say, the town wasn’t as big as we had expected. The shops open for only half a day and the streets will be empty there after. After roaming around the streets looking for a suitable place for lunch, we decided to eat pizza! We then took a short walk from the main streets to Tamworth shopping world which is something similar to Tampines mall. Over there, we met a few instructors as promised because it’s a really small town! Soon after, we decided to head back to base and I thought to myself that I won’t be bothered to book out next weekend.


Settling in

I’m trying to settle into the different environment and overcoming jet-lag. Tamworth is three hours earlier than Singapore which means I’ve to wake up at 0530 hours (0230 hours Singapore time) and sleep earlier than usual (typically, 0930 hours local time).

The accommodation arrangement was excellent. Each of us gets a room (equivalent to three-star hotel rooms) to ourselves and it comes with a toilet with bathtub. I doubt I’ll be soaking myself in the bathtub for god knows the amount of bacteria in it? There is also a common room on level 2 where we can help ourselves to milk or juice, watch DVDs if we are bored or even read up the mass brief slides on the two computers sitting at a corner if you are really hardworking.

As for meals, there’s a wide variety of selection — just like buffet style but there’s a limited selection for myself as I’m a vegetarian. Luckily, the chef was kind enough to cater specially for me. As for lunch, we would have to resort to eating cup noodles and sandwiches as it is not advisable to take heavy meal before a sortie [1].

Guess life would be normal by this weekend once I’ve settled down and get into business proper, which is to learn how to handle an aircraft and pass the flight screening program!

[1] Sortie – A flight of a combat aircraft on a mission.