06 November 2013

Rainbows Chasing

The weeks have begun to roll into a borderless mass. I forget where the preceding  month ends and where the one I am in begins. It appears to me that time has passed like flipping pages consisting of flight routes and sector details, local instructions and operations meetings and days off that get consumed in the periodic punctuations of attending mass at church.
The mornings have grown darker. The sun has been veiled in thick clouds that descend to ground, an alarm buzzer that wakes me up to the patter of rain on the driveway and mornings wet from the afternoon before. Cycling is a rare and thereby celebratory event. This hobbit's breakfasts, second breakfasts, elevenses et al have placed upon him a growing girth that would make proud the stoutest grizzly in preparation for a very enduring winter. It is certain that the monsoon has arrived, albeit not it full fury. The certainty that the monsoon has begun its reign, pun inadvertent, is that the captains execute approaches less than half as frequently as copilots, and surely as anything else they like this development less than half as well as they should, seeing that they can gloat about their classic approaches a mere quarter of the time.
This year the monsoon foretold its arrival with frontal rains replete with lightning plunging in bright but noiseless bolts into the darkened sea. I wouldn't know if it was really noiseless or that we can't expect to hear anything above the double jeopardy of the aircraft noise and good insular headsets that carry the noise of radio chatter eclipsing every other sonic nuance in a flight time. Whichever way it went, the sight of lightning is most discomforting as nobody wants one of those on his tail as it heralds the loss of all directional devices such as compasses and radio magnetic indicators, and in the poor visibility which comes with bad weather, not knowing where we are headed.
Along with the gradual change in weather, the management  has done the routine thing by organising the "monsoon brief" which outlines the manner in which we are to conduct our flight operations during this rather testy time. Ticking off currency checklists on precision approaches and special visual arrivals in order to be sure that we can make it home in inclement weather, and if not, select an alternative place to set down, has become the season's in-thing.
It has been three continuous days of departing in bad weather and returning in the same. For now, the nasties sit in the 15-30 mile band offshore, but as I have been witness to, will gradually menace the areas closer to the rigs once they tire of taunting us too close to recovery. But we deal with this year in and year out. The business of drawing black gold out of mother earth is relentless. And right here where we dwell, all the more important it is to drill unabated to buffer our errors in governance.
The offshore theatre has been colourful of late. With the interplay of frontal rains and the sun's track across the meridian, we have often ended up being chased by rainbows. I can't place a smiley here in blogger, right? Last year at this time we were not flying much, with the EC225 being grounded. Today we contend with not just our competitor, but with guest operators from the Middle East.  They were signed up on a contract to fill in where our competitors across the tarmac couldn't in our technical absence. All this makes for a crowded indeed offshore airspace. For instance, it is becoming increasingly common to loiter a mile off from a rig while waiting for our competitors or guest alike to complete their drop-off/pick-up at the rigs of our destination. More mobile rigs and jack-ups have invaded the sea, crowding up the oil rig clusters encircling Kerteh's oil and gas epicentre. I suppose this is why there is always a shortage of helicopter pilots in the oil and gas industry; not just because it's a frenetic industry, but that the drilling points and the operations support barges keep increasing and adding to their existing numbers.
And with that, I believe, I am settled into this job at last.


  1. Fly safe and happy landings ........indeed the north easterlies have arrived.....

  2. Dear Jeevan. it is nice to meet someone out of the blue. I don't believe we have been introduced. I welcome you as a guest and hope you have fun here.

  3. Dear Jeffrey, I stumbled onto your blog about 2 weeks ago. My wife though that I was reading porn as I religiously read your whole blog in 3 nights over deepavali like a story book... indeed it was captivating. I related well to your writing as we share some similarities..1st we both hate water exercises and are both horrible in the water. We both love our food and perhaps an occasional cold one. Because of the love of food an expanding girth is the result, you had BMI issues, I have BMI issues now. You use to ride a big bike, I ride one now, however we both like cycling and procrastinating about exercise. Perhaps our paths would have crossed if I had gotten RMAF instead of RMN in my tri service officer cadet selection. I never joined up as I really wanted to be a pilot and it wasn't going to happen in the navy at that time. So perhaps the most obvious similarity is we both earn our fair wage operating flying machines. My office has 2 engines too albeit with wings and needs ETDO approval to fly over water. I work for the company that belong to our southern neighbours. For three nights you captivated me. If flying wasn't a gift you have, certainly telling stories and writing beautiful English are your gifts. You should really consider writing as the way you tell stories is a strong magnet. 12 years of Malaysian education and the English you write is so much more eloquent than English literature Majors from the National University of Singapore. Please keep up the great work and will always patiently wait for the next instalment. BLUE SIDE UP ALWAYS.

    1. Dear Jeevan Raj
      I must confess that such a broad reply as yours exceeds any of my expectations, and besides that, one studded with generous compliments is a surprise beyond my most self-absorbed hopes.
      As you have likely experienced, it is rewarding at most times to answer some questions the curious pose, where they embellish what you provide with subscripts wrought by their imagination. It is a refreshing angle though, to find your visit bridging our rather diverse fixed-wing to rotary-wing disciplines but common love of the firmament. Therefore I thank you for dropping by, and hope that some of these passages remind you of your own magical moments and fleeting thoughts that belong to those little moments claimed ever since by the troposphere.
      Closer to earth, the meagre pleasures we partake of surely cannot be faulted to weakness, but the exacting taste that comes from knowing exactly what's good for us.
      Yeah, had our paths crossed in the RMAF we would have had loads of mischief brewing in the messes. But yours is still a good path, and I am glad that we have not missed our encounter even if you were not one of the king's men.
      I envy you, utterly, that you are riding. I hope one day we can meet up for a brew or two, and on a sober day, I get the chance to eyeball your bike.
      Your last four lines are moving. But as you and I know, therein lies the spirit of this country. That amidst the gravel laid down on the paths by those who would rule us, we endeavor to have strewn amongst their machinations, our own diamonds.
      Be well sir. I plead for your patience as the next issue gets coughed up.
      Thanks for dropping by. Your company is prized.
      My humblest apologies to your wife. May God reassure her how the truth is so much stranger than fiction.

  4. Dear Jeffrey, Two nights ago as we were flying back from Europe just cutting past the isthmus of Kra to Kota Bahru, we had to take a left of track deviation due to weather. The deviation took us directly over WMKE, to which my younger colleague ask me what airport is that. That's Kerteh ...home of the offshore helo ops. A airfield of tough guys and hard work conditions to which my colleague ask if I knew anybody there. I very proudly answered yes. Indeed a white lie as we haven't meet personally but still felt good to say yes. Which brought me to describe you as a flying writer to my colleague. Allow me this indulgence. When I was 18, I was given a book by an uncle called "Chickenhawk" to which I am sure you have read. I have since read this book several times but after reading the book that first time, I knew I wanted to fly helicopters. That book inspired me to fly put me on that straight and narrow path to a flight deck. Indeed the book was a war book but the stories of flying the UH1 inspired me and to date I would say it is still my aviation inspiration. Now Jeffrey with your story telling skills as well as writing skills you have, I am so sure if you put pen to paper there would be a inspiring book that will inspire a young man or lady to pursue aviation as a choice career in their hour of confusing decisions in life. I am in aviation because of a Bob Mason story, perhaps a young lad or lady will be in aviation because of a Jeffrey Matissa story. And when that book is published maybe we can meet at the book signing...or I never learned to fly a helo so if you ever get you QFI(H), I would like to be your first student..... whichever comes first. Again I end with me looking forward to next the instalment. Happy landings and Fly Safe......

  5. In the words of George Washington (not really :P), I can't tell a lie. I never read a single volume of The Biggles or Chickenhawk. I am not much of a reader, I confess, and you will sympathise in that the flight manuals alone are library enough to keep me on the introduction page for years as a cure for insomnia. Yes, those would be American AFMs. Pick up a French THM or flight manual and then you will be up all night wondering what on earth the Gauls are trying to say.
    But let's not be so scrupulous, Jeevan. There was no white lie, or one of any colour in your claim. You do indeed know someone who operates from VKE, and I am sure in good time we will share a brew.
    I am very glad for you, Jeevan, that you have charted your course to your present station unwaveringly. I know I could have no better conversion pilot than you, but I do not see much chance of that happening in the days ahead as I am entering my twilight. Interestingly, when I was serving in Labuan, the RAF's CFS arrived to run their annual standard checks on the air forces of what once constituted their realm. I was served on a platter to them, almost as a negative test, as my Commanding Officer had for many years preserved a poor opinion of me. As you know, standard checks are to assess if a pilot is retaining his current Category, and I was a C Cat Captain then. My CO took me up for a check ride prior to this incident for upgrade to B, but retained me at C. When the CFS examiners took me up, their post flight report read, NOT suitable for C Cat Captaincy, NOT suitable for B Cat Captain. To progress directly for QHI. And for once, neither my CO nor the rest of the establishment took heed of the RAF's CFS findings. You will understand, it's an epidermal problem.
    But if it comes to it, I shall take what you say about publishing seriously. Eventually all this flirting on the blog will have to arrive at the clergy's feet won't it? Once I have tired of this, I shall make wedding plans and sign my name to a book. Again, I do not see anything near the likes of a book signing, but we can both elect for the more pleasant alternative and head for some Blackthornes. Be well, mate, and enjoy clocking your hours. Till the next post, stay CAVOK.

  6. Hello sir,
    Long time we haven't have coffee together (even though I know you like to brew more he hee). Anyway I just broke my rules coz I wrote something in here. Never mind that since now I already left the 19th floor, MINDEF. Back to sqn as you always dream of. Just to inform you that you are always welcome to "the Rhinos" home. See ya

  7. Enjoy your freedom dear Maj Daud. Please be my guest here, and never forget that you're one of the best equipped to handle a frontliner squadron. I thank you most humbly for your extended membership offer in the only squadron I have never served. Rhinos be proud.