Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Boarding a plane at SZB...the unconventional way.

0730 HRS. Waiting for the Boss at a Bistro having breakfast with a fellow colleague. The boss arrived, finished the drinks and off we went to board our aircraft. We had no tickets, no boarding pass, just a general declaration form with all the passengers IC numbers. After scanning our bags, off we went to the GA boarding area on the apron. GA stands for General Aviation which usually means small and private propeller or jet planes.

0830 HRS. There she stood on the apron ready for us to board. The Twin Engined Piper Seneca IV, what a beauty. After the control tower has approved of the flight plan, we Taxied off, waited for a diamond twin engined and a Firefly ATR-72 to clear, begun our take-off run and lifted off heading north towards Alor Setar.

If you haven't tried flying in a small propeller aircraft before, the experience is in no way the same as flying in a large 737 jet. This plane was unpressurized which means that it cannot go higher than 10000 feet. Any higher and you might pass out due to thin air. Small planes are more affected by turbulence and you would often be swaying, and rocking at certain altitudes. The plane cruised steadily at 3000 feet but experienced turbulence at 5000 feet.

Flying at a cruising speed of 130 knots, (thats about 240 km/h)we finally reached Kepala Batas at around 1030 HRS. On the way we passed over Sabak Bernam, Lumut, Penang Island. One thing about flying in a GA aircraft is that you cant go to the toilet. So if you felt like you had to go, just hold it in until you touch down or find a bottle :)

It was very windy in Kepala Batas. It was very rocky as we made our decent, the aircraft would sway and you could see the runway up ahead but it was always moving to the left or right. A red master caution alarm buzzed and a red light came on but I wasn't that worried. My eyes were fixated on three green lights indicating that all three landing wheels were down and locked. There was some gust and the pilot landed sideways which was cool.

After a meeting and Lunch in Sg Petani, we headed back to Subang and took off at about 1730 HRS. A beautiful sunset greeted us over Sabak Bernam and we finally touched down at SZB at 1900 HRS.

The experience of boarding a private aircraft was great. In fact I actually felt like I was going on a plane with a columbian drug lord or a weapons tycoon hehehe :P or perhaps maybe its because the Seneca is quite the favourite for smuggling stuffs.

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