Reed in Asia
Getting into a routine
I was still taking all of this in when we arrived at Tengah about twenty minutes later, Singh dropped me off at VASS, wished me a good day and said that he would be back to pick me up at 17:30. I quickly walked into the Ops. room and checked the movements board, not much again today, a Canberra due in at 10:30, the daily VC10 and a Belfast due in for an overnight stop at 16:00. So then I went into the crewroom, made a cup of tea and started chatting to the others about my new home. I was quite interested when the Canberra PR9 arrived later, because I had never seen or worked on one before and it was quite a strange aircraft, the pilot sat in a cockpit on top of the aircraft, but the navigator sat in the nose of the aircraft and the nose had to be opened and hinged to starboard to let him out. We did a quick debrief of the crew on the Pan and there were no problems, but I was interested in looking at the equipment in the very confined navigator's station, most of it was my equipment anyway, compass system, ground position indicator (GPI) and some radar equipment, you certainly couldn't be claustrophobic to be a navigator on one of these, you couldn't move sideways in the slightest when the nose was locked and just two very narrow slits for windows about 12 inches long by four inches deep on the port and starboard sides at just about eye level.
RAF Canberra PR9
The VC10 that I had arrived on was still on the pan, they were still trying to repair it and were now waiting for spare parts from the UK. There were no other aircraft due in until the VC10 at 13:00, so we just sat in the crewroom and played cards until lunchtime. At lunchtime, some people went to the mess for lunch, but I just bought a burger from the NAAFI wagon that went around the base and drank tea in the crewroom. We had a room at the back of the section where we kept a chest freezer and refridgerator, so we had cold drinks in there if anybody wanted one. The daily VC10 arrived on time at 13:00 and everybody went out to meet it, on debriefing the crew, there were no problems with my systems, but then we all helped to clean the aircraft and empty the accumulated rubbish, ready for the new passengers to board and other people were busy refuelling the aircraft. Irrespective of your trade, everyone just helped each other with the turn-around chores.
One hour later, the new aircrew arrived and carried out their pre-flight checks and shortly afterwards the passengers were boarding the aircraft. This time I was on ground headset, which means that I was the one in contact with the pilots through the intercom ready for startup. The Captain would tell me when he was starting the engines and I would give hand signals to the other ground crew to go through the startup routine, when all the engines where running, he would ask me to remove the ground power unit (GPU) and I would give the signal to remove the power to the others, the last thing that would normally happen is the Captain would ask me to remove the wheel chocks and then I would tell him when it was all clear. Then he would usually thank me for the ground crew work, I would wish him a good flight, disconnect the intercom cable, walk to the port side of the aircraft, hold up the headset and cable to show that I was clear, give him the thumbs up and then they were ready to taxi to the runway and fly back to UK.
VC10 on takeoff
For the rest of that day we just had another hour or more to kill before the last aircraft was due in, so again we just sat in the crew room drinking tea and playing cards until the Belfast arrived. The Belfast landed on time and everyone went out to see it in, on the crew debrief, I had no problems with my systems again and I was getting a little bored now, so I just went up to the flight deck, which is on the second level on a Belfast, plugged in the SADIE unit and ran through some autoland simulations. Everything was working fine, so basically that was the end of my work for the day.
RAF Belfast aircraft
I still had an hour before Singh was due to pick me up, so I just started wandering around the pan a little, the next aircraft unit along the pan from ours was the Nimrod section, I had never looked around a Nimrod before so I just walked over there talked to a few of the guys working on the Nimrods and they showed me around one. It was very interesting on the Nimrod, it was packed with electronic systems and many that I had never seen before, I was beginning to wish that I could have been posted on to Nimrods instead of staying on transport aircraft.
RAF Nimrod aircraft
After a quick look around I walked back to my section made a cup of tea and just sat in the crewroom waiting for Singh. One of the guys in the crewroom asked me what I was doing after work, so I just replied that I was going home in my taxi, he then went on to say that a few of them after work usually go to a local Indian stall and have some Indian food and a couple of beers and he asked me to join them that evening. I thought about this, but I would have to talk it over with Singh. When Singh arrived a short while later, I asked him about this and he just said to me "Why not?" , so we all went to the Indian stall outside the base and had some 'keema paratha', which was very good, I really like Indian food and even cooked it myself. I had a couple of beers there, then I said goodbye to the others, jumped in the taxi and Singh took me home.
When I got in the house, Myra asked me how my day went and I just replied that it went quite well, she then asked me if I was hungry and I had to admit to her that I had eaten already with a couple of friends, so then she told me that she had eaten too, Pauline had given her some of their dinner that evening and she said that it was very good. I then went to the fridge, got myself a beer and went to sit outside at the front of the house, the sun was just going down and it was quite a nice evening, Myra sat there with me and we were just chatting about what to do that weekend, when Pauline and her husband next door came and sat outside too. I was introduced to her husband John and he seemed like a nice guy, he was in the army and was a storeman working at Neesoon. We sat there for a long time all getting to know each other properly and it was very pleasant, it was a nice balmy evening and John and I sat chatting to each other about work, Singapore and many different things, we all sat there drinking beer for most of that evening and all of us just generally enjoying each other's company.
'Getting into a routine'
I shall be adding to this site over time, so if anyone is interested then please have a little patience and call back here from time to time. One of my very few pleasures in life these days is beer so I shall be occasionally referring to beer, I just wish that beer was the only reason that I am legless all the time
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