Monday, September 20, 2010

Aircrew Flying Experience

Trapped above the clouds

Date logged: April 15, 1979. 
Time: Early morning take-off.  
Itinerary: Butterworth to Kroh.
ETA: 40 minutes.
Aircraft Type: Alouette III-FM1319
Callsign: C45A.
Role: Aircraft Ferry. 
A/C Captain: Lt.(U) T.Malik
Aircrew navigator: Self. 

On that early morning the weather was cool and breezy with slight mist and the air was aromatic fresh as I could feel it, and minutes ago the control tower had declared VMC(Visual Meteorological Conditions). We waited for the weather to clear at least a little while more. I was a "C" Cat. crewman then...well as usual after  carrying out the pre-flight check on the Alouette III then the aircraft was ready. Running or governing the engine at 33,500 rpm the aircraft was cleared for take-off buy the control tower. After 10 minute out, there's low cloud ahead, mind you this mini-car has no radar, and without auto-pilot but had only manual control. To proceed or not and my Captain's decision was to proceed on flying above cloud and I acknowledged. It was beautiful to be above the blanketed-cloud and looks like another platform to heaven. The altimeter indicated 2000 feet above ground. With the port sliding half opened we could feel the fresh air rushing into the aircraft cabin  and it was cooler and fresh but much better than on ground...I swallowed the air. Then closed the sliding door and my navigation continued. The map showed and indicated we are 5 minutes out to abeam  Gunung Pulai, Baling and still no sign of land sighted due to clouds. Damned it!...we are trapped above the cloud and with no reference points and the navigation were made impossible. A little scary with sweats but stayed cool and finally decided to descend the aircraft...suddenly and with God's help... a hole was spotted among the blanketed cloud and it was about to close the ground below ....we gave no chance, dived and submerged into it immediately....still in the cloud, for about 5 seconds...and finally able to viewed the ground terrain  at 300 feet indicated with Gunung Pulai on our 10 o'clock...phew! what a sigh. It was the passage hole among the cloud that saved us that day from uncertainty mishap and we finally proceed safely with low level flying to Kroh now Pengkalan Hulu. Log Closed.
Thanks God for the good day!

Own debrief:
  1. Not to fly above cloud in case of Alouette III helicopter.
  2. Maintain good navigation.
  3. Maintain pilot and aircrew cooperation.
  4. Follow SOP (Standard Operating Procedures).

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