Episode 1 - While serving at No 3 Sqn, RMAF Butterworth
In the afternoon of 4 March, 1979, this hero of yours was tasked for SAR (Search And Rescue) mission somewhere in the Straits of Malacca, off Penang island (actually, I was the standby crew that day...he...he). According to the Base Ops Room (BOR), the national SAR agency requested the assistance of the RMAF to search for a boat, 'WHISTLER', which had encountered engine malfuntion. I was given the 'long & lat' based on the last radio call made by the boat. No problem........up....up....and away with the faithful nuri...FM1720. My crew were 2Lt Ng and the late Sgt Hamzah de Souza. The callsign was Cepung 231 Juliet.
I carried out the search using the patterns as stipulated in the SOP (sorry I can't remember the techniques). Well, with only the God-given 'mark ll eyeballs', I managed to locate the Whistler. It was drifting aimlessly. It was something like a leasure boat. I saw two 'palefaces' (Mat Saleh lah) waving at the nuri, however, we were unable to communicate with each other. BOR was informed of the boat's location and requested BOR to give the radio frequency of the boat. I wanted to communicate with the sailors to know what sort of assistance they wanted from me. BOR informed me that they would advise later.
Now, what to do while waiting for the response from the BOR? I read an article about how a chopper pilot assisted a sailor in his boat. Basically, the chopper was used to 'push' the boat. Well, why not experiment it? Who knows, it might work. So, I started to 'blow' the boat from behind using the power of nuri's downwash - not directly over the boat, of course. If I'm not the mistaken, the speed of the downwash was about 60 knots. At this speed, the Whistler would be in Penang in no time.....Right? Wrong.....the boat nearly capsized...... abandoned the experiment.......! If it was a sailing boat, the trick might work, I think. Luckily for me, BOR informed that the sailors contacted the SAR agency telling them that they managed to restart the engine. Or something to that effect. For all you know, my 'pushing' could be the triggering factor for the engine to come back to life. Well, I waved them good bye and flew back to Base. Mission accomplished......
Hours flown for this sortie was 1 hour only.
In memory of the late Sgt Hamzah de Souza....Al-Fatihah.
Episode 2 - While serving at No 5 Sqn, RMAF Labuan
My task was to send water pumps to Terumbu Layang-Layang (TLL) for the RMN. Sorry, I can't remember the date and my crew. You see, one of RMN's ships, KD PAUS*, if I'm not mistaken, went aground at the coral reefs there. For your information, coral reefs submerged during high tide but not deep enough for the naval ships to enter the lagoon. A channel was made using explosives to create an entrance for the ships. I suppose the channel was still not deep and wide enough then when the incident occurred. And it started taking in water.....!
Who else but yours truly went to the rescue.....he...he. On reaching TLL, the naval officers suggested that I pulled the ship. The idea was to tie a cable from the ship to my nuri. Oh....oh....now the nuri taking the role of a bulldozer pulling logs! I told them it was not possible. Imagine, should the cable snapped, it might backlash on the tail rotor or the main rotor blades.....! And another factor was the weight of the ship itself. Futhermore, nuri was never made to perform a such role. However, I told them what I could try was to 'push' the ship....applying the experiment from Episode 1. Even with the downwash speed of about 60 knots, the ship didn't even budge. Sorry RMN....you can have your water pumps to pump out the water from the ship. I don't know how they recover KD PAUS. I am sure it was no big deal for the RMN to recover the ship....just a routine job. Get another ship or a tug-boat to tow it, isn't it?
Nuri pilots, want to share your experiences for the benefit of others....? You're most welcome to comment.
PS. * Reader Hamzah, thank you for correcting the name of the ship. Readers, initially the name written was KD PAUH, however, the actual name was KD PAUS.