12 May 2024

Say A Little Prayer

 23 April 2024.

A sad day. During a Royal Malaysian Navy Day parade rehearsal flypass, there was a mid air collision between an Agusta Westland AW139 and an Airbus Helicopters Fennec. There were no survivors.

Aircraft crashes attract a lot of attention. That's a universal fact. Flying machines command awe, in the air and on the ground. And certainly irresistibly draw the mind's eye when they come flailing to earth.

It is always and invariably, a tragedy.

The officers and men involved were too far downstream of my generation for me to have encountered them, but I regard their passing into the next with the same sense of loss and regret as I feel in regard of the many of my friends who have perished in service to the nation.

It is also in such times when the remotest of peoples suddenly remember that I am a pilot but it's not to ask if I am alright.

They text me for comment with an opening salvo of the most unsavoury presumptions.

The abrupt loss of life is a standalone tragedy. But adding insult to the crew's training, their knowledge, skills, aircraft and even straying so far as to insult the navy's hardware by quoting submarines which can't submerge is the hubris of those whose breadwinning is from the shelter of a coccoon. And by the way those submarines are fully operational and have been since their purchase in the early 2000s.

I have nothing to offer to even the curious, let alone the judgemental.

Too many, way too many pass the most brain dead comments such as "obviously human error", from watching a 15-second cellphone video capture of that dreadful mid air collision. If that's all it takes to identify the root cause and probable cause of an air mishap, I should burn my certificates in aircraft incident and accident investigation. Besides, that professional market is obviously saturated judging from the many air accident investigators mushrooming all over my phone display. I'll never be able to pull off a side hustle in this field.

Here's the best you can offer the dead who had to leave not knowing it would be their last sortie: say a prayer if you have one to offer. Do not disseminate the video amongst your group chats. Do not judge. I do believe these take less effort than the kilojoules expended in spreading falsehood and prejudice regarding a profession so fraught with risk even in the highly regulated world of civl aviation, let alone military aviation where the undertaking of risk is inherent with flying an aircraft to its full envelope, because the aircraft is their weapon in war.

I have always held the belief that a pilot involved in an air incident is a true asset to his wing, or his squadron. He has seen and experienced something and carries a learning value which has come at cost. Yes, I have had a few of my own and they are in earlier blogposts from before 2010. And perhaps a few after.

I believe that the deceased in this incident are the same. It is sad that we will not be privileged with learning about flying from their incident directly from their account. I am sure they would want to for the benefit of all other same type operators. On that token, may they find their peace where they are now.

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