From 1st January 1982 through 31st December 1984 I was posted as OC No 5 Sqn, RMAF Labuan upon completion of 1-year course at Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC), Mirpur Cantonment, Dacca, Bangladesh.
I was a pioneer of sorts - the first RMAF officer attending the course there and the only foreigner amongst 8 students in the Air Wing of DSCSC. The other Malaysian was Major Pakwan Chik Hashim of Malaysian Ranger in the Army Wing. I went there alone and he brought his family along.
For information, it was during this period when the late President Zia Ur Rahman was assassinated and I met the alleged conspirator, Maj Gen Manzur, I think, when the students visited his Division at Chittagong. Hari ini dalam sejarah.....
My first set of No 5 Squadron aircrew in 1982
Now back to Labuan. Well, it was a real shock for me! The flying duties here were so very contrasting to what I was used to. No gunship to straff the area before making the landing, LPs as big as football fields, no wearing of those heavy and smelly fragmentation vest, no weekly detachment and best of all...no CTs taking pot shots at you. Basically, the flights here involved 'communication' flights between towns, eg, from Labuan to Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Sandakan. The only troop lift and/or resupply sorties that I could remember were to Terumbu Layang-Layang (TLL), also known as Station 5, and to Pulau Banggi.
It was cushy flying for these aircrew but for me, they missed the adventures I had gone through.....! My main concerns when operating here were the flight of 1 hour 30 minutes to TLL and the unpredictable weather. A write-up on the flight to TLL to follow later.
As for the weather, I never experienced this natural phenomena while operating in Peninsular Malaysia. From a clear sky, you suddenly see heavy rain and thick clouds especially when flying in the interior. I had experienced it myself. I took off from Labuan at about 1500hr to one location in the interior, Long Pasia, I think, to recover an unserviceable nuri there. The weather was perfect at Labuan and the mainland. However, when I wanted to cross the mountains, suddenly I was caught in the heavy rain and thick cloud. Visiblity was almost zero. The only way to escape from this situation was to execute a spiral climb to about 7000 feet - well cleared of the highest peaks there. Then I requested radar pick-up from Brunei Controller to vector me to Labuan. After about 10 minutes in the IMC condition....what a lovely sight....Labuan island, very clear! The sortie was aborted and the recovery was done the next day. Sometimes, at Labuan Base itself, half of the runway was under heavy rain whilst the other half bright and sunny!
Details of my last flight as a nuri captain:
Date: 22 October, 1984.
Airframe #: M23-37.
Crew: Lt (U) Roslan and Sgt Saifuddin.
Callsign: Harimau 621 Juliet.
Flight: Labuan - Tenom - Kota Kinabalu - Labuan.
Flight Time: 3 hours.
My set of aircrew as on 21 March, 1984
For the services rendered during my tour of duty in Labuan, I was bestowed 2 Sabah state awards - ADK (Ahli Darjah Kinabalu) and BSK (Bintang Setia Kinabalu). And the best of all...the state sponsored my wife and I to perform the Haj in 1983! Syukur Alhamdulillah, what a rezeki .....
In memory of those who had once served under me in 5 Sqn....hanya tinggal dalam kenangan....
Lt (U) Roslan
Lt (U) James Tinggom
Lt (U) Mohd Merejok
Lt (U) E H Tan
Lt (U) Idris Yusof
Good bye Nuri.....the most unforgettable memory!