2-hour solo flight in Bell 47G in 1991 with Sempang runaway in the background
Readers, I was not trained by the RMAF but by a private company owned by an American - S.E. A Helicopters (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, located at RMAF Base, Kuala Lumpur. Except for the Advanced Phase, all the instructors were American pilots. Allouette lll was used during the Advanced Phase and the pilot was an ex-RMAF pilot, the late Capt Nasir Ma Lee. For the Instrument Phase, we flew a Bell Jet Ranger 206. So, I can say that I was more or less American-trained lah......he....he.
Hey, don't think that we graduated that easily; only 9 out of 11 made it. To ensure quality control (sounds like SIRIM), we were checked by RMAF examiners from the EU (Examination Unit). They were Sqn Leader Benjamin Lee (I think he migrated to New Zealand) and Flt Lt Abdullah Nasution - retired as the Air Force Chief.....now you know. We were so familiar with Ben Lee's peculiarity, especially when checking us on the Bell 47G! If he put his left leg on the door frame and smoked his 'Gold Leaf' cigarette during the check ride.....you passed. Otherwise.....be prepared for a recheck. We used to tease him by telling that smokers used his brand when answering the call of nature only...he....he. We were able to joke with him freely since we were quite senior then; I was already a captain in rank while the others were lieutenants. Eight of us were from the Army and one from the RMAF.
Oh boy, I really enjoyed this 1-year course. We were more or less on our own - very relaxing. The Base never disturbed us; the Company was not in a position to simply order us beyond the scope of the course syllabus. Once they tried to order us to do errants for the company, we simply said NO. That was the first and the last. The only anxiety was when it was time for the 'AXERS' to check us out. Those days, if you happened to go to EU, the first thing you saw was a vertical log with an axe stuck to it. We never went near the place . I found out later what it symbolised, that all pilots who did not meet the standard set by the RMAF would be grounded. Later on, when I sat for my nuri 'cat' at the EU, I saw that symbol...........really sadistic those examiners....... but not those two!
The course was not without a mishap. The Company lost one Bell 47 when one of my colleagues lost control during his solo 'slope landing' excercise at the mining area in Belakong - now the famous 'The Mines'. If I'm not mistaken, the chopper was written off. He was unharmed.
The course ended on 29 April, 1974 when we received our certificates....
Well, my friends - Lt Col (B) Affendy Mustafa, Lt Col (B) Darby Awin, the late Lt Col (B) Jalil Ghani, Maj (B) Sawaludin Lamin, Maj (B) Thiagarajah, Maj (B) Ismail Malek, Maj (B) James Chong and Maj (B) Zulkifly Kaliwan- wherever you may be, those were the good old flying days........