PILOTS....WORDS OF CAUTION....AVOID FLYING WHEN YOU ARE UNDER MEDICATION......! YOU ARE NOT ONLY ENDANGERING YOURSELF BUT OTHERS TOO. I HAVE EXPERIENCED IT!
But first, let me put you in the correct perspective about myself. I do not smoke.....I do not consume alcoholic drinks......I excercise.....I lead a clean life, and I simply enjoy flying, OK? Syukur Alhamdulillah, at this age I still manage to pull the trolley for my daily round of golf and, at least for the moment, tax payers don't have to pay for my medical bills.
The experience I would like to share with you took place while I was serving as OC No 5 Squadron, RMAF Labuan - 26 years ago.....how time has passed!
15 April, 1982. The task for the day was a VVIP communication flight from Labuan to Keningau and back. And, of course as expected, who else but yours truly was the pilot. Actually, for once I was not that keen to fly but I had no choice.
The day before the flight, both my Flight Commander and Training Officer were down with fever and the doctor gave them 'attend C' - military term for medical leave. In the afternoon, I too, was not feeling that well. Before closing shop, I informed the Base Commander that I might not be able to fly the VVIP the next day.
'Who else to fly then?'.....was his respond. 'One of the squadron pilots'.....was my reply. I had full faith in my pilots. However, from the way he sounded, I knew he was not happy and I knew that he wanted me to fly the VVIP myself. By the way, I was the only 'VVIP-endorsed' pilot in the squadron then since I was a 'B-cat' pilot. I got this B-cat way back on 13 June, 1978 while at No 3 Squadron. To get a temporary endorsement for the aircraft captain was not a problem at all. I suppose it was an honour to be a VVIP pilot - flying the King, Sultans, PM and all those classified as VVIPs. The difference between fixed-wing VVIP pilots and we, the 'egg-beater' pilots, was that those lucky pilots fly all over the world, while we fly the VVIPs all over the kampungs. You may also have a bright future or ........a disaster. I knew what I am talking about and I am not about to divulge what I had gone through when I was a VVIP pilot at No 3 Squadron........! (It got nothing to do with flight safety aspect).
That night, my fever became severe and I had no choice but to go to RSAT (Rumah Sakit Angkatan Tentera) in the Base. The Medical Orderly (MO) called the doctor at the Officers Mess. He was unable to attend to me because he was busy that night.......watching film show! I think he must have prescribed the medicine to the MO since I was given the medicine. If I am mistaken, it was just panadol. No problem. I took it before sleeping and slept. The next morning, before the flight, again I swallowed 2 panadol and ......up..up and away to Keningau with the VVIP.
The problem came when I was about to land the nuri from the hovering state on reaching Keningau. I lost my sense of judgement....! I did not know whether the undercarriages were on the ground or not.....my head became so light. Anyway, I managed to land safely. Oh man....I was really sweating! When the VVIP and his entourage left the nuri, I slept.....really slept in the nuri. The flight back to Labuan was uneventful. The sleep really helped me.
On reaching home, my wife told me the doctor called the house enquiring my whereabouts. She told him that I had gone flying. I think he was worried. Well, I never called him and neither did he call me. The matter rest there.
Well, pilots, I survived to relate my experience so that, hopefully, you can benefit from it.