Posts about australia

Goodbye Pearce

Can’t believe that 314 days (that’s 10 months and 2 weeks) just past at the blink of an eye and it’s time to bid goodbye! I will never forget how apprehensive I was back then when I had to leave for basic wings flying training here in Australia, Pearce compared to how I’m feeling right now.

Many of my course mates can’t wait to pack their bags and return home but it’s the reverse for me. Not that I don’t miss home or my family but it’s just that I’ve taken a liking for the environment (especially the chilly weather) and appreciate people whom I’ve met throughout my stay here. To certain extend, life here is somewhat monotonous and boring since shops in the city and shopping malls closes after office hours. Still, the pro of being in this foreign land is that I enjoy the freedom of space and relax lifestyle.

Guess I’ll have a hard time trying to adapt to the humid weather after touchdown back home now that I’ve gotten used to the chilly weather here in shorts and t-shirts! What I’ll definitely miss is the convenience of the gym right at my doorstep as well as the fond memories I’ve experienced throughout my 10 months of stay here.

Not sure if the time will come but I certainly hope to revisit this place again in time to come! For now, it’s time to end this chapter and the start of another.

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Last flight on a jet

I vividly remembered how task saturated I was when I first started the engine of the SIAI Marchetti S211 training jet. This was exactly 10 months ago and it happened during my first simulator flight. This morning, I had command of the jet for one last time — my final handling test on the aircraft I used to struggle with and this marks the end of my flying training in the Basic Wings Course phase.

After 88 flights and slightly more than a hundred hour on this aircraft, I must admit that I’ve become so comfortable in handling the aircraft, not to mention that emotions and feelings have developed for this beautiful and reliable workhorse as well. Gone are the days of flying solo, cursing at 300knots and executing aerobatics manoeuvres. I’ll definitely miss the fun and memorable times I had throughout my training journey.

I wished I could be part of the team that will participate in the closing ceremony of this aircraft. It would be awesome to see the multi ship S211 formation flypast over the aerodrome and the roar of the jet engines!

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Before I leave

In less than a month’s time, I’d completed the Basic Wings Course in Pearce and depart for home. I realized that I’ve not exactly experienced the local culture here in Western Australia. Thus, I’ve decided that I would love to try the following activities before I depart:

  • Horse riding – one of the most common and popular activity here in Australia that you don’t usually see it back home
  • Go Kart – For the thrill of the speed
  • Paint ball shootout – Bet it’ll be fun to experience life of a ‘SWAT’ team and scoring hits on opponents.

Can’t wait for weekends to come!

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Anzac day

I planned to wake up at eight-thirty but ended up sleeping past ten and finally awake to the chirping birds by my window. We were suppose to attend Anzac Day commemoration but the management was kind to excuse us, fearing that we are unable to withstand the cold weather in the early hours.

The weather here has been predictable but erratic, with passing showers and sun shining brightly thereafter, and more showers and chilly winds. This has pretty much disrupted flying operations and slowed down flying progress for the courses, which means either our graduation date will be delayed or we can expect to fly more when the weather is good.

Long weekends like this are hard to come by (this will be the last for many months to come) and it seems that this particular one would be fulfilling. The course has been invited to a few instructors’ house and I guess it would be fun to hang out and relax after a rough week at work.

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How far we have come

I was looking at the calendar earlier and little did it occur to me that I’ve already been here for almost five months. With four casualties and another two of my course mates whom have just completed half the course and left for the Undergrad Pilot Training (UPT) program in the states, the course strength now stands at a healthy figure of 17 — one of the largest course in history.

I remembered counting the days when I first arrived and found it hard to accept the fact that it will be a long course with uncertainties ahead. Looking back, reality came and went at the blink of the eye. I’ve experienced my first solo on a jet plane, flew in the challenging parallel runway operations as well as piloted the plane alone to the training area to perform aerobatics sequence. Never did it occur to me that I would come this far, with another half of the battle to fight before I complete the course.

Needless to say, I’ve had my high and lows throughout my stay thus far. I’ve fallen a couple of times but I’ve been taught what’s important is being able to cushion the fall and pick myself up. My instructor once used the analogy of ¹’new jet, new day’ and taught me how to relate it with my progress in flying. I realized that had I not been able to pick myself up, I would have continued to fall hard and eventually fail the course.

With instrument flying and a couple of formation and navigation sorties coming up for the next 3 months, life is only going to get harder but it should be quite interesting to learn new things. Hopefully, the seventeen of us would graduate as a course in time to come.

¹ new jet, new day means starting afresh with a new day, new mission and different aircraft. In aviator’s world, every mission and flight is never the same as before as we are bound with uncertainties (weather, emergencies etc.).

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Summer break

I was contemplating on how and what to write on this blog now that I’ve not update it for 3 months. To start off, the last 3 months has been challenging, stressful and fruitful. For one, I’ve been tied up with high intensity of flying training activities coupled with secondary duties, not forgetting the sleep debts accumulated over the weeks. When it first started, I find it hard to adapt into the new environment and the way of life. Fortunately, there were a few good folks and the other 22 of my course mates around to overcome the many obstacles.

To keep things short and save some time, I shall summarize my 3 months of experience in this entry. First and foremost, after 3 attempts, I’ve finally flown my first solo on December 13, 2007 at 1050 hours. I would say it’s one of a kind of experience in my life — the responsibility of being the captain of the aircraft and landing it all by myself *wow*. I didn’t thought that I could survive this far…to be able to go first solo, given that I’ve failed sorties and was low on morale during the circuits phase of training. If not for my instructor’s and fellow course mates’ encouragement, I would not have picked myself and overcome the obstacle.

Life here is not an easy task. There are high and low in this journey and it takes lots of preservation, determination and discipline to lead a pilot training life. Of course, there are times to unwind and enjoyed life. Weekends are usually most looked forward time of the week as it’s the only time where I can catch up on sleep, get out for sight seeing and shopping if time permits as well as prepare for coming week’s flying events. Now that it is summer break here in Australia, there’ll be no flying until the first week of Jan 08, when the routine starts once again.

Hopefully, the next 6 months of my journey here will be smooth sailing and I’ll be able to complete the course in due time. As the internet plan I’m using here is limited to bandwidth, coupled with the high workload expected for the next few months, I’ll not have the capacity to update this blog as often. This means I’ll have to stop posting links to the webscan section for the moment. However, I’ll try to post in the main blog whenever time permits.

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Leaving for Pearce

And so after a month of anticipation and preparation, I’m finally set to depart for my Basic Wings Course flying training in Pearce, Australia tomorrow. The training duration is about 10 months and this will be a test of survival. I guess this will be another phase of my life and I do hope things works out fine.

In any case, I’ll try to drop updates whenever possible or when I get hold of an internet connection. Heard from my other colleague that internet is expensive in Australia and besides this, I doubt I’ll have that much personal time now that my life would be filled with aircraft checks, systems as well as squadron duties!

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Heading home

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

Interesting signboard in Sydney International Airport

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Touchdown

Despite the forty minutes departure delay back in Singapore, our plane still managed to arrive at Sydney International Airport on time. After immigration and customs clearance (which I had to go through all because of a banana cake I’ve brought along), we had to carry along our luggage from the international to the domestic terminal to recheck-in before we are free to roam around the airport.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to step out of the airport while waiting for the transit to Tamworth. This left us with little choice but to kill time by doing some window shopping within the terminal. After nearly an hour of endless walking around the terminal like a lost child, we decided to grab something to eat since we had not had breakfast. Thereafter, the rest of the time was spent waiting at the domestic terminal watching airplane landing and taking off.

The wind were strong outside the terminal when we walked out of the terminal to the twin propeller aircraft parked on the tarmac. It will be another hour of journey before we arrive at our final destination.

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Leaving for Australia, Tamworth

This will be my second trip in less than 1.5 months out of Singapore once again. This time round, I’ll be heading to a little town called Tamworth in the western part of Australia for about 5 weeks. As many have already known, I’m going for my Air Grading Course (AGC) as part of being a Pilot trainee with the air force.

I’ve been waiting for this day – that is to join the air force as a pilot for sometime now and my dream has finally come through. Though this is only the initial step towards my wings, I hope I can take the mental tuning as well as give my best in everything I do. I guess this course would be something similar to that of what I’ve gone through in the Singapore Youth Flying Club 4 years ago.

Unlike when I was in America where I’ve got virtually 24/7 connection to the internet and physical access to a laptop, this time round, I doubt I’ll have such luxury. Thus, I’ll try to keep this weblog updated whenever possible. Until then, do visit this site frequently!

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