At undisclosed location of an airline headquarters:

Me: Hi, Captain G. Long time no see!

Captain G: Oh, Hi! Wow!

Captain G, a gwai lou, looks impressed at my 4 bars. Or maybe I flatter myself, he is actually concealing surprise at the astounding amount of weight I’ve packed since achieving command.

Me: *Noticing his plain clothes* Why are you here, Capt?

Captain G: Paper work. You know, a lot of crap we Mat Salleh have to do to stay in this country.

Me: Ah! The white man tax.

Captain G: Exactly.

Captain G: Where are you going?

Me: Denpasar.

I drag the ‘R’. I don’t know why. I can’t roll my tongue to save my life.

Captain G: Oh. Bali!

*****

Bali airport. Also known as Ngurah Rai International Airport. Now, how do you pronounce that?

Nuu-Ra Rye.

Gurr-Aa Rei.

Nur-Ah Ray.

I think it’s ‘Nge-Ur-Rah Rye‘.

Why do I do this to myself?!

Photo credit: www.airlineblog.in

At Nge-Ur-Rah-Rye International Airport 4 hours later…

The atmosphere is as stable as loose smarties in a swirling salad bowl.

The top left hand corner of my ND spot a series of blinking numbers- the wind indication.

The wind direction is steady- thank God- blasting at us in the form of an angry headwind. But though its bearing is changeless, the wind speed is a very different matter, changing multiple times between every literal blink of an eye.

In fact, the speed doesn’t stay constant for more than 1 second, jumping drastically from an average of 21 to 29 knots. 

Katy Perry: You, change your speed, like a stereotypical girl, changes clothes…

We are on the final approach for Runwary 27.

Now, aircraft always takeoff and land into the wind, or so we try. A headwind is comparatively favourable than a tailwind where performance is concerned. In an ideal universe, this will always be the case. But we live in a flawed and imperfect world. Just like that time I wanted ice-cream for breakfast and my parents said no, we don’t always get what we want, and so we make do. But there’s always a limit. There is only so much tailwind an aircraft (and her pilot) can handle.

But today we are fortunate. The assigned runway is the one into the wind.

Also, today we are unfortunate. Because though the headwind is a blessing, its kooky speeds confirm a certain violent struggle to keep the aircraft on the correct attitude. When resistance vary, so does the pressure required to keep the progress constant. Regular corrections are needed to keep the aircraft on the glide path; and given the vast changes, vast corrections. 

The FOOTD is the pilot flying (PF). He’s fighting. Fighting the currents. Fighting the crazy wind variations. And he’s doing a pretty good job, so I’m not worried at all.

From my peripheral, I see him fishing the control column to yield the plane.

The wind dies slightly as we approach the runway. But only slightly.

FOOTD slowly eases the aircraft nose up as the ground rises to meet us.

Fish. Fish. Fish.

Pweitt. The tyres smooch the solid runway like a gentle first kiss…

Despite those kooky winds.