After a one hour stopover on the ground, we reboarded the aircraft and we were soon airborne again, Myra was okay on take off this time and I then told her that we would be landing again at RAF Muharraq in Bahrain, and again the second leg to Bahrain went well, but again on the descent I had to explain all of the noises to Myra. I knew Muharraq very well by now, so on the ground I pointed things out for Myra the best that I could, it was dark now and we had landed on time at 21:00, this was a routine daily flight and when I was working at Muharraq, we always referred to this flight as the 'Changi Flyer' because that used to be the ultimate destination, RAF Changi in Singapore.
We took off again about one and a half hours later and headed for RAF Gan in the Maldives. Most of the passengers slept on this leg of the flight and I was pretty sure that most of the crew were asleep too, they had nothing really to do on this leg and I knew that my Flight Systems equipment was flying and navigating the plane for them. We eventually arrived over RAF Gan at sunrise the next day and again on the descent I went through the now usual routine of explaining the aircraft system noises to Myra. I thought that RAF Gan was lovely, it was an island and we were allowed to wander down to the beach there, which was only a short walk away, we had been told that we would have quite a long stay on Gan because some extra maintenance had to be done on the aircraft before we left again. So we had a good break for a couple of hours at Gan, until we were called to reboard the aircraft again, so we quickly boarded and off we went again, next stop Singapore!
On this last leg of the flight I was getting a little bored just sitting there with nothing to look at or do, so I decided to go to the flight deck to chat with the crew there and look at the flight systems equipment in airborne operation. When I arrived on the flight deck, I introduced myself to the captain, the co-pilot and the navigator, having worked on the VC10s for a long time now, we all knew each other quite well, by sight anyway. I just sat on a spare seat that they had in there and chatted about the systems that I worked on, I told the pilot that I knew in theory how all of my equipment operates, but I don't get the chance to see it in operation in the air. The Pilot then stood up walked over to me and ushered me to the captain's seat, so I sat down, he strapped me in and then he just said to me "Do anything that you want to do with your systems, it's all yours!" So I thought about it for a while, then I reached out to the HSI and moved the heading cursor clockwise by ten degrees, the aircraft immediately banked over to starboard and aligned up on the new heading, I then returned the HSI cursor to its correct heading and again the aircraft banked quickly to port and realigned itself onto it's original heading again. That was enough for me then, I had been given the unique opportunity to operate my systems in flight and I knew then that I had been much too course with the curser movements, but that was the way I used to check it on the ground, the crew were smiling at me and to each other, so I just held up both of my hands and said "Thank you, I think that is enough for now" I then stood up and beckoned the pilot back to his seat, shook hands with everyone and then returned to my seat in the passenger section. Myra was staring daggers at me when I sat down and when she spoke to me she just said accusingly "That was you doing that, wasn't it?" So I just sheepishly confirmed her suspicions and said "don't worry, I will not do it again", she smiled then and we just relaxed in the seats for the rest of the flight.
On the descent to Singapore, I was again going through the routine of explaining the noises to Myra until it came to the undercarriage, I had just said to her that the last noise was the undercarriage going down, then there was another noise so I said "that is the undercarriage going up again" , then the same thing happened again three more times. Working on these aircraft for a long time by then, the next time that the undercarriage went down I glanced at the inconspicuous indicator above the seat across the aisle from me and it was green, I then leaned over into the aisle and looked at the indicator above me and it was RED. I then knew that we had a problem, the port undercarriage was not going down, I was not too unduly worried about this, because I knew that they could 'free fall' the undercarriage if required, so I then made the mistake of explaining all of this to Myra, hoping that it would reassure her. The co-pilot then slowly made his way down the aisle and greeting everyone so as not to cause any suspicions, but when he reached my seat his eyes quickly glanced right and left at the indicators and then he quickly returned to the flight deck. About five minutes later, there was a distinct thump on the port side, I knew what this was, so I leaned over and glanced at the indicator above me at it was GREEN now, I was still leaning over, when I saw the co-pilot coming quickly down the aisle this time, so I caught his attention, pointed upwards with the index finger of one hand and gave him the thumbs up signal with the other hand, at which he quickly turned around again and went back to the flight deck.
When the undercarriage is 'free fell', the undercarriage doors stay open rather than retracting again, this causes extra drag on the aircraft and so the pilot has to do a high speed power-in approach to the destination airport runway to compensate and this is exactly what we did, I explained all of this to Myra, but if we hit the runway once, we hit it six times as we bounced down the runway and when the aircraft eventually slowed down and strarted to taxi off the runway, Myra just grabbed a sick bag from the seat pocket in front of her and threw everything up into it. With hindsight now I can see that by explaining everything that was happening to her, rather than it making her relaxed, which was my intention, she had just gotten herself more and more frightened, right up to the point of actually making herself physically sick. None of the other passengers on the flight knew that there had been any problem at all, they only really noticed a bit of a bumpy landing, so everyone else was fine.
Myra was still heaving into the sick bag when the aircraft finally parked near the terminal at RAF Tengah and everyone started to disembark.
'Welcome to Singapore!'
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