Back in Kuching

My alarm clock rang at exactly 5am yesterday. I rolled in bed weighing my options. I could sleep in and wake up at 1pm and be extremely fresh and spend the day idling around, or I could embark on an adventure and try to get back to Kuching when flights are overbooked. In fact, the Kuching route is so full that even if we put passengers on the wings there still won’t be enough space for everyone. I know because we have this uber secret terminal that we can check to see exactly how many seats are left on a flight.

At 5:26am, I made up my mind to go back. The bus from Subang leaves at 6am so I had 34 minutes to get ready. I made it just on time. Met my shift mates on the bus since they’re working today. The reason why I woke up so early was because the first flight to Kuching was using an Airbus. So there are more chances of people not turning up. But when I got to the standby counter I was told that there was already 14 people on standby. It was then that I realized that I need to take drastic action.

After a brief visit to the ODC, I managed to get the approval to use the jumpseat on that flight. I met the same guys who helped get my jumpseat the last time. Thanks a lot guys, you really made my day!

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Now all I need to do is get my boarding pass and get to the departure gates.

This was my first time on an Airbus jumpseat so I was pretty excited. It’s not as cramped as the 737 jumpseat and it’s a widebody glass cockpit aircraft, flown by two joysticks, not unlike the one I use to fly at home. And after 3 months at ASU I also have a better understanding of the ground movement and the procedures in dispatching the aircraft. All these while I’ve observed and participated on the ground. So now’s my chance to see it from the pilots’ point of view, and fill in the bits and pieces that I would have normally missed out if I’m on the ground.

Airbus A330.

I would say it was a great experience observing the flight crew do their pre-flight. There was something wrong with the APU so a ground pneumatic cart was required to start the engines. Previously I would be on the ground observing the pneumatic ducts being connected, giving clearance for engine starting and watching as the engine spun to life.

Now instead I’m in the cockpit observing the communication between the pilot and the ATC, indicating that they would be starting one engine before pushback, and then communication with the ground crew to pressurize the pneumatic manifolds, followed by engine starting and the subsequent disconnection of the ground pneumatic cart. Everything was happening like clockwork. It was fascinating to be able to experience that in a different perspective.

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Coming in for landing.

I requested permission to take photos during the flight from the Captain but unfortunately I didn’t have my D90 with me. The kind stewardess took it so she can camwhore keep it in a safe place for me. Anyways it was a wonderful flight. The autopilot took care of everything that I had the time to have a discussion with the Captain about navigation related topics. And while coming in to Kuching airport I saw the Captain hand flying the Airbus on to the runway. Now that’s something I was really impressed with.

Well it’s really great to be back. Will post video of the take off and landing soon!

Update: Video of the takeoff here! Continue reading

Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race 2009: Night at Sepang

After dinner at a restaurant just outside my formal college, Inti Nilai, we went to pick up another friend at KLIA and continued watching the race. Shooting at the grandstand at night was boring. You can’t get close enough to the cars and the action at the pits. And under low light with a long lens, you’ll have to shoot at pretty high ISO. So pardon the noise in the photos below. Since I didn’t bring a tripod, some were shot at ISO2000.

Grandstand deserted.

Dark places. Perfect.

Empty Mall Area.

Few people watching the race.

The nice thing about night time at the hairpins is that you can actually see the amount of energy dissipated by the brakes.

The BMW Z4 under hard braking. The disc brakes can be seen glowing.

Another view. When brakes get too hot, they will start to fade and that is known as brake fade.

After the race was over it was time for the prize giving ceremony.

Cars lined up by the starting grid.

Class A1 podium finishers. Can you spot Alex Yoong?

Class O winners.

After the ceremony they had a brief display of fireworks. Regretted not bringing a tripod.

Fireworks accompanied by the song “We are the champions” by Queen.

Got back home at about 1am. No jam whatsoever. Continue reading

Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race 2009: Cars

I went to the Merdeka Millennium Endurance Race (MMER) 2009 at Sepang International Circuit with a few friends last Saturday. It was a 12 hour race where teams compete to finish the most number of laps. The winners for Class O this year completed 306 laps at the end of the 12 hour race.

BMW Z4. This car came in 2nd place in the Class O category. First place was won by the same team, also with a BMW Z4.

Porsche GT3.

Lotus Exige.

Mosler MT900R GT3. This was one of the fastest car around the track, seen consistently overtaking other cars. It holds the best lap time for Class O but took 6th place because it spent a lot of time in the pits.

Aston Martin Vantage GT2.

Mini Cooper. The quietest car of all. The other cars are so loud that ear plugs are needed.

Lotus Elise S1.

Honda Integra DC5.

More photos can be found on my flickr set.

Next: Night at Sepang International Circuit. Continue reading

Yashica Electro 35 GSN Photos

Here are some photos I took using the Yashica Electro 35 GSN (as requested by sli) before I sold it off. These photos were taken during our second FRIM trip. Shot on a roll of Fuji Superia 200.

Pattern created by the leaves in the sky.

Some people were on tour.

Bringing out the tripod.

Roger and Afiq. Two very interesting FRIM trips with them. Thanks for the company!

Overall the Electro 35 GSN is a very nice camera. But I prefer to use SLRs instead of rangefinders which was why I sold it off. I wish I still have it though, so I can see how a roll of Reala will look on a GSN. Continue reading