Flying was a passion for my husband, so when it became a career, it was both fun and gratifying for him. All the dangers that came with being a Nuri pilot at that time seemed insignificant compared to the job satisfaction derived. There were no complaints of having to work long gruelling hours almost every day. He would leave at dawn and returned at dusk, weary and hungry but there was never a sigh or a word of grumble. There were also no more talks of switching jobs ( he switched jobs twice before becoming a pilot), much to my relief. BUT, there was something about being a pilot that drove him up the wall……the periodic checks on pilots.
These checks were commonly referred to as “Cat”, short for ” Categorization”. Pilots were categorised based on these checks. Failing these checks would temporarily ground them until they were rechecked and certified fit to fly again. Ample warning would be given prior to the arrival of the examiners. These examiners (also Air Force officers) were feted upon by those sitting for the “Cat” from the moment they arrived until they left. The pilots were a courteous lot EXCEPT for one pilot who felt that there was no necessity to be extra nice to these examiners. And for that glaring misbehaviour, he had no choice but to pass the “Cat”. He was fully aware that he had nothing to fall back on, if he did badly in his “Cat”.
He was a desperate man and like all desperados, he had to make do with whatever that was available to him, to save his skin. He recruited me as his tutor. I was made to study those thick books on “Principles Of Flight” and “Meteorology” and explain the scientific concepts to him in the simplest way possible. I did Chemistry and Biology at UPM not Physics. But I soon learned that the little Physics that I knew was good enough for desperados like him. It was tough getting my students to understand science but I soon discovered that it was tougher getting him to believe what I was trying to explain. AND I was also appointed the drill master, not to drill him in marching but to drill him on the hundreds of Technical questions which required one-word answers. At the end of it all, I was as prepared as he was for the theory part of the “Cat”.
It was difficult the first time I turned tutor but subsequently I became quite good at it. My student, too, improved by leaps and bounds. He went from being a D-Cat to a B-Cat operational pilot and he NEVER failed his “CAT” throughout his entire flying career.
To be continued……..