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No Joke, Captain

24/06/2009

Monday was a rather exhausting day for me, more training in the left seat but essentailly tidying up and revising everything we had gone over in the last 2 months. It was looking like I would be going to Jakarta to do my final check with the Director of Training so it would be my last training flight.

The flight required us to land at a higher skill level aerodrome away from our base so I had to make a flight plan to there but then also get co-ordinates for waypoints that would enable us to track north from there 5 nautical miles to the west of the Papua New Guinea (PNG) border to the coast near Jayapura. The higher skill aerodrome was a short and skinny strip called Senngeh where we did about 6 landings and a number of engine failure and emergency scenarios having done emergency work at high level overhead.

Departing Senggeh I had to program in the waypoints I had come up with into the GPS unit and hope they worked out, which thankfully they did. We then flew along the track to the northern coast of Papua abeam the PNG border. There we did a simulated ditching and the climbed up and headed towards Sentani. Approaching Sentani we joined the VOR hold and then commenced the VOR instrument approach simulating getting visual at the minumum descent altitude (MDA) in this case 690 feet. I then had to do a short-field landing and pull of by a taxiway for the Police helicopters, there we could wait for arrival aircraft to land so as not to get in their way and I could wipe the sheets of sweat from my face.

Once traffic had died down a bit we lined back up onto the runway and took off. At around 1000 feet above the airport the Training Captain pulled the throttle to simulate an engine failure and I had to pull the aircraft around in a sharp bank while maintaining speed and position for a landing on the opposite runway. After that landing we did a simulated aborted take-off where I have to reject the take-off at high speed and come to a stop. After that we were at the other end of the runway and lined up for another take-off. At a lower altitude than before the Training Captain pulled the throttle to simulate and engine failure where you couldn’t turn back, I selected an area to the left that was clear and set myself up to land there. Engine power was restored and we joined the ciruit for the final landing.

After taxiing in and shutting down I was completely drained, I actually felt quite sick and my legs felt like jelly, it had been a very thorough and demanding flight. After getting back to the house I still had a presentation of four systems to prepare so I had to get to work on that after a quick shower.

While working on the presentation I got a phone call from the Director of Training who was checking on where I was at. He said he wouldn’t be able to check me out for another 3 weeks because of the upcoming Ground Course, but they would get me to Jakarta and I could help out with the Ground Course while I waited. My heart absolutely sank, I had already had discussions about not wanting to be involved with Training and was happy to be just a member of the Safety Team. I finished the phone call which was on the Training Captains phone and took it back to him. I wasn’t very happy which I told him but there was little I could do. So I went back and finished the presentation.

Before dinner I went through the presentation with the Training Captain, not feeling the greatest but I got through it. Dinner was soon served and for some reason there was a chair missing where I was going to sit so I sat down the other end. Midway through dinner the Training Captain said he would like to raise a toast to me for finishing my training in Papua and I would now be off the Jakarta to do the check. We raised our glasses and I took a big gulp, at first I thought there was perfume in it, it was pretty awful and then everyone started to laugh. Turned out they had filled my water glass with some locally distilled Vodka. The Training Captain then said “cogratualtions you’re a captain now”, I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it. Turns out everyone in Papua, the Director of Training and the Training Captain in Medan had all been in on it.

Celebratory Cake

Celebratory Cake

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