So You Wanna be a Pilot?
Yes Sir! I do. I really do. A pilot, that’s what I want to be. A desire to be a pilot, burning so intensely, in my heart! Being part of a select group of people recognized to be intelligent and responsible enough to be entrusted to fly these expensive, sophisticated machines. The excitement of soaring through the skies, seeing places, bringing people together, delivering anxiously or eagerly awaited materials sure makes it a job to be much desired. Man, machine and method working together to satisfy mans needs and knowing that you are the ‘man’ certainly makes it exciting and hugely satisfying. You are an important cog, in a massive transportation network.
As a boy and in my early teens, I enjoyed kite flying. There I was, in control of a flying object, watching and enjoying its graceful movements, manoeuvring the kite to glide with the wind, using my skills to keep the kite up in the sky and gently bringing it down when play time was over. Many a day was spent in this very enjoyable pursuit. I guess my interest in flight and flying objects began during those formative years. As I grew and matured, the fascination with flight and the beauty of flight gained much foothold in me. Wondered how airplanes flew and what skills it took to fly these machines. Maybe it is best phrased as ‘Kite to Flight’. Hah! The Wright brothers should have thought of that one.
In the year 2002, when I was in Lower Six, I had my first experience of flying in a plane. Took part in a global contest organized by Cathay Pacific Airlines under the banner “Cathay Pacific Wilderness Experience”. Participants had to write an essay on “Sustainable Development” and those whose essays were accepted had to undergo a day camp where physical assessment and field test was carried out in a place called Hulu Langat which is located in Selangor. Out of the 43 short listed participants in Malaysia, only three were chosen to represent Malaysia and I was one of them. We were put on board a flight from KL to Hong Kong. Stepping into that plane was like stepping through a portal that leads to my dreams. We spent 2 days in Hong Kong and then we were off to Johannesburg in South Africa. Twelve days in the South African wilderness with participants from all over the globe. We were actually in the jungle and on the plains. We went on safaris. We were able to witness, not only, modern Africa but also its animals in the wild at close range, villages and ways of life unchanged by time. The landscape so beautiful and out of this world but harsh at times too. Above all this, during this wilderness experience, my most exciting experience was when I boarded a helicopter and was taken on a flight over the vast countryside. Sitting next to the pilot and seeing him skilfully pilot the copter down and up sheer steep ravines, over the mountains and low over the plains affirmed in my heart that someday, somehow I am going to be pilot. That ex South African Air Force Pilot was simply magnificent.
After finishing school, circumstances and financial constraints did not permit me to pursue my interest in flying. I was green with envy seeing my friends leave for foreign countries to take up courses in aeronautical engineering and in other related fields. I enrolled in a local university to do a diploma course in Telecommunications Engineering and came off with flying colours. Now I am doing a degree course in the same field. A close friend is doing aeronautical engineering at the prestigious Moscow Aviation Institute. I am in close contact with him and visit him every time he returns home during holidays to share in his experiences.
Well, just could not keep away from the planes. So, what did I do? Made friends with pilots. They are pilots of an aircraft leasing company. This gives me an opportunity to visit an airfield and get to know the various types of planes. My friends fly a Cessena Citation Mustang. It is a twin jet, very light four passenger plane with the cockpit provision for two but is approved for single pilot operation. Will be going on a flight in one of these planes, as soon as approval is obtained, to get a better picture on how the plane is piloted.
Radar, ground control support, runway landing lights, anti collusion lights, auto pilot, computer systems all lend support to ensure a safe take off, flight and landing, but the man at the controls, the pilot, is the most important as when there is a necessity to make a critical decision during an emergency he has to get it right as evident by the Hudson river landing of US Airways Airbus A320 flight 1549. Take off and landings are critical times too and the pilots role is most crucial at these times. I know that I have it in me to be a pilot and a good one at that too. I believe that being a pilot will not only bring me job satisfaction but allow me to contribute towards man’s needs. Other jobs provide for this too but I just want to be a pilot. It is not only a desire but a passion.
The experiments of the Wright brothers towards powered flight lead to the invention of the airplane, motivated and propelled man to develop other gravity defying flying machines which helped put man on the moon and space explorations beyond. These men and their wonderful flying machines belong to an exclusive and elite club. Being a pilot, in some manner, makes you a part of this great fraternity and I want to be part of it.
I like meeting people too. This is a pulsating, living world. The trip to South Africa truly proved this. The world is full of life. Being a pilot will allow for greater exposure and interaction with the various national and international communities and help increase my understanding of the human race. This understanding is necessary, in part, to be able to understand life.
By the way, I stand at 6 feet 2 and always fancied uniforms. Was a King Scout too.
Air Asia is providing an opportunity to make my dream come true and I wish it does.
As the slogan goes “Now Everyone Can Fly” and for this particular competition I would say “Now Everyone Can Try”
Thanks and regards