Saturday, January 13, 2007

Life of a Cadet Pilot, Part 1

It all started in February 2005 when I was still a civil/telco engineer. I started to evaluate my achievements and targets in life after having worked for about a year. Seeing the lack of opportunities and bad economic situations in Malaysia made me look to other countries for better ones. I stumbled upon the SIA website and was attracted to this job opening; Cadet Pilot. I used to fantasize piloting the fighter jets when I was a kid. But that was just a dream and I never thought of it as an ambition because one needs to be the Cream of the Crop to fight for that limited place. But my love for flying and traveling was re-ignited after seeing that advert. So I made this big decision to switch my direction and applied for it. I was called up for the 1st interview in April and subsequently the final in May. Before I could catch my breath, I was there for the medical check-up and signed the bond agreement; and my interesting journey began.

I was sent to a 21-day OBS training for physical, mental and leadership in June. That was one helluva tough training for me; physically, as I'm not really an outdoor person. (More stories and pictures in "OBS" post below)

After OBS, I was back in Singapore for ground studies and flying. The programme's duration is 6 months leading to the ATPL exam. I have to study more than 10 subjects, all compressed into the short duration of 6 months. Classes start every weekdays from 8am-5pm with only an hour break for lunch. This was the first time I have studied so hard and so much in my life that not even the combined hours of my secondary and university can match this. The books I need to read; when stacked up on the table can even go higher than my head. Some were so stressed in the class that they started to act "weird". LOL...

Flying was fun but limited hours because it was just introductory and aptitude gauging. I have flown for 9 hours on the Cessna 152. The only thing to worry was the instructors who can be unpredictable just like the weather. But they were just doing their job and they guided me well.

The final 2-week study break was a nightmare. There were just so much to consolidate of what I have been taught and learned for the past 6 months. It was overwhelming. And I studied from morning till 11pm in the night everyday. Sometimes, my brain was so saturated and just went numb. With so much expectations from family and friends, it added up to the existing pressures to pass this exam hurdle. Others were just like me and again, started to do weird things in the house. But most of the time, we took breaks and played LAN gaming of DOTA to release stress.

ATPL exam was over in 3 days on 28th Dec. But I have missed my Christmas because of this. But nevertheless, we made it up by celebrating later; not for the Christmas but for all our countless days of burning midnight oil and sleepless nights have finally come to an end. I really had fun chilling and hanging out around Singapore. These were the days that I really have the time to sight-see and explore the island since the first day I came here.

Now that everything has come to an end here in Singapore. I have secured the frozen ATPL and will move on to Perth, Australia (hopefully end of this month) to commence more flying to obtain the CPL/IR. My journey has actually just begun. The road is still far and the challenges ahead are even steeper. But knowing that I have so much moral support from my family, friends and fellow batchmates; this will push me to work even harder to reach the skies and to realize this once in a lifetime opportunity. Thank you for all those who are behind me all the time. Hopefully when I come back from Perth next time, I can continue with the Part 2 stories.


Sylvia said...

Lovely reflection and sharing, Hoong Ji. It almost moved me to tears, really.

The six months you've had are reminiscent of those survived by Chris Gardner in The Pursuit of Happyness. I just saw the film last night and the main character had six months of internship to become a stock broker. I shan't say more; you should watch the beautiful film yourself.

It's God's beautiful hand that's shaping your life, can't you see? No doubt, it's a rocky road where you've to fall and climb back many times; but it's all these struggles in life that make your ultimate dream taste so sweet. You won't ever appreciate anything fully unless you've strived and sweated and slotted for it.

I'm positive you're going to be very successful and happy pilot in no time.

As for me, I'm getting more and more engrossed into my work day by day. I often work more than 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. What keeps me going is my vision: I'm focusing on the rainbow that I'll see after the storm.

The Protostar said...

Very nice blog.

I have dreams of becoming an airline pilot myself.
Unfortunately, we don't the have the opportunities of obtaining Cadet Pilot sponsorships here in the Philippines.
But of course I won't stop here. I will follow your footsteps Hoong Ji!

Anonymous said...

well done and i am moved to read your journey. keep it coming.
god bless you

Anonymous said...

keep it up...we might be friends and might fly together in a day..i am crew..