31 October 2011

Even The Lowly

Certificate Of Test: a generous force-fed serving of Humble Pie which recurs on the basis of its unpalatability.

That's how I view my certificate of test. I am apalled at my dystrophic handling of the EC225 today. I wrestled with her, fought, grunted and struggled. But this bucking bronco would not be busted. I know I stayed up till 0200H this morning going through drills and memorising emergencies. I feel as though I have fallen. Indeed I have fallen. Fair it is then to take note that a hard fall accrues not just to the high and mighty, but can be at unsought for times, the staple of the lowly.

Okay, I am really trying to salvage my self worth. But as I recall my examiner's adjectives, the echo of words like mess, horrible and awful keep coming back.

But I passed. In 6 months I will face this same Sea Of Tea.

Hmmm. Okay that's done. I must stop mourning and move on as the pace is not about to let up.

Ahead of me I have a few sorties of Instrument Flying. Already the crew room is filled with the haggling voices of many aircraft captains with as many interpretations of the minima for departure under instrument meteorologocal conditions. The monsoon seems to have stirred a resurgence in the debate over when pilots may say no to a departure under weather conditions that are not altogether felicitous.

Now, the sight of a cumulonimbus can quail me. My one experience as an aircraft captain, of being trapped in bad weather and the subsequent isolation in the cockpit as my copilot petrified himself remains hardwired in my mind like the instant replay of a drowning incident. In other words, I would avoid bad weather at all costs. I love terra firma in comparison to the azure especially when I already know how things look, cockpit view, in thick black precipitation, with the prospect of the mountain crests gouging out your underbelly as you descend below cloud to avoid the thickest storms. Utterly unsettling.

Twice this week I have been in the jump seat, on operational flights to the barges and platforms, consuming about 3 hours each, and I am supposed to pick up 30 jump seat hours before I am considered qualified to progress to line training. The jump seat is a perch between the two pilots. It provides for a voyeuristic means of learning the inflight procedures for offshore flying so that by the time one is due for line training, he/she would have garnered enough knowledge on the procedures as to carry out copilot duties with minimal error and prompting. The reason why it is called a jump seat is because no sooner than one has strapped into it, the very fetal position it demands encourages the occupant to jump out. No, I really don't know the origins of the term. This is my personal rationalisation of an irrational posture to adopt whist in the process of learning and does not reflect the policy or viewpoint of the organisation.

Anyhow, I am getting used to the idea of being over the deep blue sea for hours on end, considering how I hate the water. I have watched without overwhelming fear as the EC225 consistently pulled passenger and crew alike through towering Cbs, emerging on the sunny side with better composure than a 737 doing the same barging through stormclouds. Yes, finally a helicopter that flies itself  right?

Now that has really got to be uber cool.


  1. LOL I don't know about the helicopter that flies by itself but I do have a question to ask you: do helicopters have ejector seats? You'll have to pardon my ignorance, aviation...not really my forte, heh xD

  2. As a matter of fact, the close air support/battle air interdiction Kamov 50 attack helicopter produced by Russia does have such a seat installed for its solo pilot. Traditional Western helicopters, James Bond's "Goldeneye" Eurocopter Tigre scene notwithstanding, do not have this as their philospohy is that helicopters are manageable for a safe landing under any emergency.

    I would agree except in the case of tail rotor drive failure and main gearbox seizure, where a dual-left handed pilot like me would start hunting at the crotch for the eject handle, really!!!! Those are not the kind of emergencies where I would be inspired to any version of my non existent greater self.

    Taking note that for some emergencies in a fighter aircraft the ejection is mandatory as the aircaft is no longer salvageable to a safe landing, the incorporation of the ejection seat in the Kamov 50, which for most intents and purposes is a fighter aircraft, is no surprise.

    For obvious reasons, the ejection firing sequence starts with detonating the coaxial twin main rotor blades, and only then the seat rockets to hurl the pilot to safety.


  3. Well, the man of steel has got to be afraid of something I suppose. <3

  4. You mean there's Kryptonite in here sumplace?

  5. Wouldn't water be yer Kryptonite?