It’s been 8 months since I took on the skies of Tamworth in the CT4-B as a hopeful Officer Cadet Pilot Trainee of the RSAF. While I certainly hoped to pass the Course and progress with my next phase of training, I fully understood that given the calibre of the other candidates and the demands of Military Flying, it was best for me to leave this dream of Military Flying behind.
My first time flying was both a mesmerizing and nerve-wrecking experience.
It was mesmerizing as I finally felt what it was like to control a plane in the sky. The feeling to be above the ground was magical. The fact that the aircraft wings generated sufficent lift to overcome the weight of the passengers and the aircraft, the thrust provided by the engines of the wings to propel itself forward. I roughly knew the physics behind it, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around how such a heavy object bounded by the gravity of Earth could move so freely, in thin air.
At the same time, it was quite a nerve-wrecking experience. Like many first-timers, I had the unpleasant feeling of queasiness due to the Negative G-Forces I experienced throughout the rather bumpy flight. To make matters worse, my instructor pulled a surprise “4G Loop” on me. I could feel all the blood rushing away from my head.. Basically from the point of the Loop onwards I was just in a daze, because I was so afraid I would throw up at any moment!
I think the most challenging part for me was the Circuits in Tamworth. It felt like information overload as I had to look for the right positioning away from the runway, multitask by looking at the various instruments all at once. Speed, altitude, attitude. It was critical that I did not overstress the flaps by overspeeding, it was also equally critical that I did not lose my height too quickly.
Anyway, I realised quite quickly by the third sortie that perhaps flying was not for me. I had always thought that with sufficent hard work, perseverance and practice, one would be able to succeed at anything. Well, this was perhaps one of the few things that required more aptitude than attitude. Especially because the RSAF only filters the best for the flying training.
While I failed to qualify as a military pilot in the RSAF, I would say that this experience was one that was unique, and I would never go through National Service in any other way.
Hopefully, one day I will be able to fly the skies again, and share this awesome endeavour with my family and friends.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return”
Callsign: ICEMAN (Harrier 87)