The Philippine Flight Simmers Group is an online forum of enthusiasts who “fly” all over the world from computer chairs at home. I found PFSG in its early days on the internet, in 2000. That’s where I met Windwalker — online.
In 2000, Manny was out of work. He had been Chief of Flight Operations for Ben Hur Gomez at Soriano Aviation. He had 2,500 hours, mostly turbine — YS-11s, Twin Otters, Do228s, King Air 300s.
We spent evenings at Figaro, drawing holding patterns on paper napkins while trying not to drink too much coffee.
In 2000, I had no idea I would become a pilot myself.
Six years later I was using his neat 3-finger trick for holding entries on real IFR flights.
Manny went much further in those six years.
In 2001, he joined Cebu Pacific as a DC-9 First Officer. He earned Cebu Pacific’s Safety Pilot of the Year Award for two straight years.
I met him for coffee, in the 2004 picture above. We both came from work, though our “offices” weren’t even on the same planet, literally.
That’s my airplane he is holding. I was already a pilot and an aircraft owner by then. So I could appreciate his achievements more.
He was still in uniform, too tired to change. He hadn’t told anyone, but I quickly noticed the four stripes.
Manny flew Cebu Pacific’s last DC-9 flight, to Hong Kong. Ever the perfectionist, he was always tapped for VIP flights.
A Cathay Pacific pilot photographed one of Manny’s landings at Hong Kong, above.
Hong Kong tower once held short a B747 as Manny’s small Douglas taxied by.
“How’d you get here, little fellow,” asked the Brit pilot on ground frequency.
“I dunno, I was headed for Bangkok,” Manny retorted right back.
That DC-9 was a REAL MAN jet. Steam gauges, 1960s systems.
One stormy night, Manny arrived at my apartment. He had just flown an instrument approach into Manila in IMC, and had a hydraulic failure warning horn and light. He was too tense to go home.
I ordered a pizza and fired up Microsoft Flight Simulator. Manny loaded a DC-9 ILS approach to RPLL, weather set to mimimums. To help himself unwind, he killed one engine.
When my scandalously loud door buzzer went off, Manny stiffened and called out, “Hydraulics!”
It was the pizza delivery.
Just two years later he transitioned to the A320 as Captain.
He took me see his new out-of-this-world office 🙂
Last month, Manny aced the Airbus Pilot Instructor Course, the ultimate PhD in Airbus training. But he’ll write about that himself.
Even his bathroom reading is aerodynamics or aircraft systems. During simulator recurrency, he tapes an instrument panel poster on his hotel room wall and spends all his spare time exercising cockpit procedures.
He likes flying on his birthday. When they won’t schedule him, I take him up in my soda can.
He sat in on my instrument course to hear Meynard’s lectures. Never mind that he had thousands of IFR hours logged. I’m not sure who was more nervous, Meynard, Manny or me.
Intense? Obsessed? Well, some people spend lifetimes mastering how to hit little white balls or chase plastic kings across chessboards.
It was Manny who took me to Omni Aviation to start my pilot training. He introduced me to the President, Ben Hur Gomez, who has more energy than all of Charlton Heston’s chariot horses combined.
When Manny was out of earshot, Ben said,
“If ever there was a man born to fly, it’s that guy.”
Windwalker will write some articles for us here in Flying in Crosswinds.
Posted from Bangkok, December 8, 2008.