The loud bang pierce my eardrums with the ferocity of my sister’s workout jams.
The apparent yaw is evident. I ram my right leg into the rudder pedal with enough force to plausibly tear a muscle.
“STOP!” I whoop… in the name of the blaring chimes and flashing bulbs raining down on us like Dataran Merdeka every 31st August.
Instinctively, I twitch a finger muscle, blinked twice, and cursed under my breath. The aircraft miraculously stops on the runway, the ECAM overflowing with more red than a Chinese wedding (1).
“Altruism rules our nation”… Wait…
It’s “attention crew at station” (2). Although the concept of a nation stemmed from selfless inclinations is a pleasant and welcomed concept.
“Red cap 5352, your engines are on fire,” the controller spits urgently. The glaring engine fire indication light nags me into my next course of action: evacuation.
I comply with the “golden words”: find the nipple, 2 buttons left (tips for finding the evacuation button in the dark). A loud horn cracks the tension.
“Okay, end of exercise,” the instructor says.
Phew. One down, a thousand more simulator exercises to go.
Switching fleet translates into a series of relentless simulator sessions, survived on caffeine mode. If the nature of these “torture boxes” isn’t enough to budge one into zombie zone, the ungodly hours seals the deal with a mighty shove.
I’ve flown more raw data (3) in the past two weeks, than I have in 7 years on line. More manual flying hits me per session, than an entire year of actual flying (thank you, luxury of automation). Park the bird and kill the arrow (4), they say. More like, park your attitude and kill the brain cells.
In fact, I’ve experienced so many engine failures, they now gush out of my ears like pee from a full bladder.
Two nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night screaming, “pull up TOGA!”(5). Okay, not really. True story though: my husband once muttered “full up, full down, neutral” in his sleep. I responded: “rudder”. To my absolute amusement, he retorts with “full left, full right, neutral” (6). Oh, a tale as old as time.
Most sessions end on a saturated note, my brain on the verge of a fukushima-like explosion.
To retain sanity, I indulge in the occasional game of kiss, marry, kill. Of the Airbus 320’s 3 hydraulics: green, blue and yellow; I’ll kiss yellow, marry green and kill blue. Yellow is a flirt, his absence break hearts but tolerable. Green is the guy you hate to need, but know you do: landing gear, monopoly of the high lift devices, and like, gazillion other systems. Blue, you hold my emer gen (7), I’m sorry I have to kill your zen.
Game gets trickier when evolved into kill, kill, marry.
I pour over the dual hydraulic failure QRH summary in haste; two killed, married to one. I crank the landing gear gravity extension handle thrice and murmur…
Roger Murtaugh, I hear you…
(1) Truth: nothing miraculous about stopping a metal tube hurling down the runway at excess of 100 nautical miles per hour (think max reversers and crazy braking). Watch these guys pull the stunt.
(2) A cockpit command. Translation: standby, shit might potentially get real.
(3) No GPS, no modern technology- fly like the cavemen did.
(4) The flight path vector, also known as the bird, is a flying reference. The speed trend resembles an arrow when accelerating or decelerating. Sometimes, I wish I can strangle the bird.
(5) Standard call out in response to the ground proximity warning system. “Don’t die! Don’t die!”
(6) Flight control check call outs. Man, I wish I caught him on film!
(7) Emergency generator. I take it back. I need you!