My laptop was stolen in Amsterdam two weeks ago, with all my pictures since 2007. It turns out I had backed up a few photo albums onto my home computer, which is now yielding these hidden treasures.
One of those albums is from December 23, last year. T’was the night before Christmas… .
Meynard gifted us with a flight in his Beech Baron B58, one of the fastest, sexiest piston airplanes in general aviation.
Our first multi-engine operation. I had Manila-to-Subic-to-Clark, night IFR. Carlo would take us back to base, Clark-to-Manila.
The briefing took, uh, 2 days. Emergency procedures, SIDs, approaches, even a crew change briefing.
No, it wasn’t like drinking from the proverbial fire hose.
More like, waterboarding.
Carlo and I kidded around nervously in the hangar, looking for a prop on the nose of the airplane.
The Baron was slightly larger than the Millennium Falcon.
It looked like a WWII medium bomber — a B25 Mitchell, A-26 Invader, or the British Mosquito. The numbers fanned the fantasy — twin Continental IO-520s, 285 horses per side. Over 230 miles per hour, 20,000-foot ceiling. Enough payload for 6 crew plus a bomb load.
We boarded in a misty rain.
That was outside the hanger. Inside my brain, Walter Mitty was having a field day. We were at an airfield in England, for a night bombing raid to Europe.
The best part came at engine start. In the Cessna 152, we always called out, “Clear prop!”
But we had two propellers now. Pump and prime, hand on starter switches, and a pause… .
… because I’d fantasized doing this next part since childhood.
Squinting theatrically out the left window, I put all the authority and timbre of Van Johnson, Gregory Peck and John Wayne into my voice,
“Starting NUMBER ONE!!”
Hehe. 😀 Never had more than one engine before!
I repeated the procedure for the right engine, my face already hurting from excessive grinning. Thankfully we weren’t flying Gregory Peck’s B-17 or John Wayne’s DC-6 — four engines each.
It took a fistful of throttles to get us rolling. The night was dark as ink. Perfect for a night bombing raid.
I was shot down in flames at Subic.
Parallel entry into the hold over the VOR. I botched the intercept, and the airplane drifted west of the inbound leg.
We S-turned to the VOR, fighting a crosswind from the east that had to be a 300-knot tornado.
As the TO/FROM flag flipped, I was reduced to homing to the VOR, the pilot’s equivalent of hitting Ctrl-Alt-Del on the instrument procedure.
I was way behind the airplane.
Subic Approach joined in on the fun. The dialogue is still embarrassingly clear in my memory.
“RP-C826, are you turning right or left to the VOR?”
Approach was watching those S-turns on radar. I was so far outside the hold that it didn’t matter which direction I turned.
826 will be turning left, sir.
“Roger that, sir, will you commence the approach now or would you like to try another hold?”
You could almost hear them snickering over visions of the infamous Meynard skewering another bumbling student.
I’d show them. On the holding side, I put in three times the wind correction angle, just like the books said. I tracked perfectly on the holding leg. After the prescribed 60 seconds, I cranked us over into a perfectly standard rate turn.
But we went wide again, into unprotected airspace outside the hold.
“Sir, malakas talaga ang hangin.” Xavier gave me a face-saving out.
Xavier, a pioneer at Airworks, was leaving for the airlines. This was Xavier’s last joyride in genav before migrating to the aluminum tubes of Cebu Pacific.
I flew the approach. At Decision Height Meynard called “Visual”.
Subic’s localizer is offset 5 degrees off runway 07, to bend the final approach away from 3,068-foot Mt. Silanguin.
You go visual at the VOR on Grande Island, and bank right to line up with the runway 2.3 miles ahead.
It’s not quite Kai Tak, the wild old airport in Hong Kong, but you could pretend it was.
As a sop to my pride, I did fly a good short final… .
We flew SID 18 to Clark. I was determined to vindicate myself with a perfect approach at Clark, 31 miles away.
There, my hold was fine, as was the turn to final and base. I began to weave up and down the glideslope.
“You are LOW on the glideslope, SIR!” Vintage Meynard.
We were one full dot low at 5 miles (the glideslope needle, above, is on the left margin of the HSI). Meynard punished me by calling, “Visual”. Game over.
Like flying a bomb run on Berlin and hitting France.
Yeah, laugh at the video.
Watch Meynard throttle up to recapture the glideslope.
“Ho-ho-ho,” he says without mirth, as he points out our low-and-slow instrument indications with his finger.
Attitude, HSI, vertical speed, HSI, airspeed, attitude, airspeed, attitude.
We back-taxied quickly as a departing airliner positioned on the runway. Holding at H2 off runway 02R, Carlo and I swapped seats without shutting the engines down. The way the WW II pilots did it when they had to pick up the secret agent from the pasture in France secured precariously by the French Maquis.
That totally deflated guy in the back seat is moi.
Then it was Carlo’s turn.
Posted from Singapore , March 22, 2009.
Other night IFR stories here.
Next: Multi-Engine Carlo