|9MSPE Approaching Overhead VKE 3600|
It was an early morning first-wave of flights I had reported in for, a drab grey day with pelting rain and low wintry clouds, except that Kerteh has no winter. Two senior copilots were there in the flight planning room, speaking ponderously with my aircraft captain, in murmurs that ended with a finger pointed sneakily at me and the words, "instrument rated."
I am no more a sunshine pilot!! It's nice having that veil lifted. I can start building up my instrument hours and make this job worth the time it takes from my life. Along with that, so has the mood of the planners with regard to my flight schedule. I seem to be getting more early mornings now, to muster at the flight planning at 0700. Prior to my being instrument rated, there was apprehension over placing me on the earliest flights as just in case weather was below VMC minima and fell to IMC, I would have been an unsuitable copilot as I was still 'sunshine rated'. This would burden the duty captain with having to recall another instrument rated copilot to take my place.
I was on the way back from the rigs in nice sunny weather at 4000 feet when we could hear all aircraft on rejoin to Kerteh requesting for the instrument landing system approach. Staring at the infinitive horizon, a layer of cloud sat on the line where the sea and sky met. That sight, with the content of the radio calls, indicated that the layer of cloud forefronted inclement weather behind it, down to a thousand feet if the ILS was the sudden favourite. I glanced at the captain but he was in his usual sagacious cool vigil, waiting for us to arrive at 20 Distance Measuring Equipment miles from Kerteh when a position report would be necessary for further clearance to enter into the Kerteh control zone. I was tempted to suggest that we track overhead for an instrumented letdown, but he cut me to it and said we would track to overhead at 1000 feet. Well, I sighed to myself, he's the captain.
At the coast, the entire vista was torrential. We could hear the police helicopter's pilot reporting that he was 500 feet above the old coastal road to Paka keeping watch and camera over the Le Tour cyclists, and the helicopters ahead of us attempted talking to him to ascertain his exact location for pilots' separation as they were rejoining from the south of Bukit Labohan. I kept obedient to my captain and tracked for overhead the radio beacon when he prompted me to turn to the northerly heading. As we faced north at 1000 feet, the white carpet of rain beneath our feet turned into a ragged gossamer oval that gave just enough a view of the runway threshold. See the runway, the captain said. Now go and land. And here this offshore pilot readily yielded to air force punch-through-a-hole-in-the-clouds instincts and we made a rapid but smooth descent steeply into the short finals appoach for runway 16 Kerteh.