Unlike Peninsular Malaysia, there were not much flying activities in Sabah and Sarawak. Imagine, during my 3-year tour in Sabah, my total flying hours were 450 hours only, whereas in 1978 alone, while serving in No 3 Sqn, I flew 650 hours. In fact, Sabah saw more air tasking compared to Sarawak. The Regional Air HQ 11, based in Kuching, on several occasions, decided to send a nuri from No 7 Sqn, RMAF Kuching for detachment at my No 5 Sqn. Well, what could I say.....the directive deprived my aircrew of flying!
If I am not mistaken, on the day in question, 2 nuri were on a resupply mission in the interior of Sabah. One of the nuri was from Kuching. Oh ya.....the detachment crew (DC) were self-authorised for their flights and, as Squadron Commander, I had no operational control over the aircraft or the aircrew.
What happened was that when the nuri landed at the LP in Maligan to off-load the rations, the captain did not realise that the ground was soft due to the rain. Well, one of the undercarriages was embedded in the ground. As a result, the nuri toppled on its side. The crew shut down the aircraft and came out of the nuri safe and sound. Radio call was made to BOR and the other nuri picked and flew them to Labuan.
I flew to Maligan with the engineering crew later that day. But before that, I was directed by the Base Commander (BC) to take the DC for flying once they arrived. The idea was to recover from the traumatic experience that they had gone through. I still remember the AQM was the only one who was reluctant to fly. I flew with the captain as my first pilot. We flew around Labuan.
The problem faced then was....how to make the nuri upright? To upright the nuri, a crane was needed. But Maligan was inaccessible to motor vehicles! And, the nuri was too heavy to be airlifted by another nuri. Unlike one incident, way back in 1980, 1 nuri crashed landed at an LP at about 5000 feet in the thick jungle of Perak. RMAF managed to get the assistance of the RAAF which deployed a Chinook helicopter to airlift the nuri to Butterworth, or was it Ipoh?
Readers......trust those creative and innovative engineers! Under the leadership of the Senior Engineering Officer (SEngO), Maj (U) Khoo, he and his team came out with an improvised crane. Honestly, I am at lost on how to describe the mechanism deployed. Use your imagination based on the photograph........The people of Maligan were really very helpful and the works were made easier with their assisstance.
The upright nuri in the background in August 1983. See the improvised logs used as pulleys
If I am not mistaken, the aircraft was flown back to Labuan some time in August 1983 after successfully undergoing flight tests.
I really salute the ingenuity of the Base engineering personnel. Without their creativity, the RMAF might have to write off one nuri........at the expense of tax payers' money.
To Maj (U) Khoo and your dedicated team, well done.....