Till Memory Serves

Command Training B707/720, July Aug 1980

  • 21/7/80, AP-AXL, Shaukat Ali, KHI-KHI, 1600-1645
  • 22/7/80, AP-ATQ, Shaukat Ali, KHI-KHI, 1735-1900

During the command check in the B707 simulator conducted by Capt Idrees Ahmed before flight training, I had on one exercise transferred the horizon below 500 feet to the co-pilot’s side by flicking a switch when he had given me an instrument failure. This is not done below 500 feet AGL, and I was supposed to overshoot on occurrence of the problem. After the check, he briefed me on the mistake. This was overheard by Capt. Shaukat Ali, who was there for an instructor’s mutual exercise after my check with Capt. Idrees. Further ammunition for him to use.

First and second aircraft training session: Captain Shaukat Ali remarked about my divorce as we checked in the Flight Operations for the training flight. There are always some ups and downs in a relationship, but no divorce was contemplated. He had carried this hearsay to the training flight. I was shocked but said nothing. We did three engine ILS (Instrument Landing System) approaches on both days with a lot of bull shitting. On the first 4 engine takeoff, Capt. Shaukat Ali sitting in the right seat pumped the rudder pedals shaking the aircraft with opposing yawing motions just to unnerve me. It was not a pretty picture at night, and you may remember that an Airbus A300 was lost on takeoff by this very action of the First Officer in New York just after 911. Capt Jawed Aleem who was present in the cockpit for his renewal six landings may remember.

  •  23/7/80, AP-BAF, Mansur Mughal, KHI-KHI, 1850-1930

He remarked that I should buck up as we had to complete the syllabus in the allotted time. Gave me a lot of confidence and was an alert and able instructor. He taught me the circling approach, landing from an off-set position, and overshooting from the deck by saying the aircraft could do it. I remember the circling approach over the Drive-in Cinema with a film going on as I was maneuvering at 500 feet in a tight circle for Runway 07L (zero seven left). We also covered the entire syllabus (engine fire and failure on takeoff, 4 engine overshoot with a simultaneous engine loss as you applied power, ILS [instrument Landing System] approaches on 3 engines) by zooming from one exercise to another.

  •  25/7/80, AP-BAF, Mansur Mughal, KHI-KHI, 1630-1730, Command check

During start up of engine #3 (the start sequence is 3,4,2,1, with engine #1 the outboard left viewed from the cockpit, and engine 4, the outboard right, Capt Mughal deliberately tried to distract me by trying to engage me in conversation, and even lighted a match to grab my attention.  In an engine start as you are injecting fuel by moving the start lever to the open position, the EGT (exhaust gas temperature) has to be monitored closely to prevent a hot start. Any inattention can lead to an engine burn out as the temperature climbs. I managed to keep my focus on the meters.

We had a complete hydraulic failure at the end with Flight Engineer Farooq alerting us that it was real. Captain Mughal merely cautioned me that the landing gear doors would not retract now, and I had to be careful on landing with the aircraft attitude.

Initial Route Command Check B707/720, Sajid Quraishi

  • 31/7/80, AP-BAA, KHI-MCT, 1412-1605. This was a scheduled passenger flight, and an entirely new feeling from the left seat in spite of the flight training and simulator undergone. During descent, the captain instructed me to turn off the cockpit dome light which was interfering with forward vision and airport sighting. An ILS approach was carried out. Aircraft had an oleo leak of the right main gear strut and a technical night stop was done. The timings are GMT, so it would be GMT plus 4 at Muscat.
  • 1/8/80, AP-BAA,MCT-KHI, 0930-1115.  On the return sector the next day, the captain switched off the flight director on my side during the VOR approach at Karachi, and a raw data procedure was carried out. I was cleared as captain under supervision after this flight or Capt u/s, or the log book entry, P1 u/s.

Under supervision flying of fifty hours

  • 15/8/80, AP-ATQ, KHI-JED-KHI, Sajid Quraishi
  • 21/8/80, AP-AXL, KHI-CMB-KHI, Najam
  • 26/8/80, AP-ATQ, KHI-CMB-KHI, Najam. Captain did not touch the radio, so flying and radio was handled by me.
  • 29/8/80, AP-AXK, KHI-PEW-KHI, Manzoor. Captain had an abrupt manner with me right from the Fokker days where he had trained me as co-pilot, and was talking or discussing something on another channel after departure from Peshawar. He was probably surprised that the aircraft was still on course when he came back to the moment.
  • 31/8/80, AP-AXK, KHI-PEW-KHI, Bashar. His remark was that you should fire the bullet from your shoulder.
  • 2/9/80, AP-ATQ, RWP-IST, Ejaz-ul-Huk, Chief Pilot 707. Captain briefed me on the ATC clearance to be given at Istanbul. The terminology would be Papa Kilo instead of Pakistan by the controller.
  • 3/9/80, AP-ATQ, IST-RWP-KHI, Ejaz-ul-Huk. Thunderstorm encountered on departure from RWP, and the captain instructed me to penetrate by flying into the weaker portion of the cell from the onboard weather radar.
  • 7/9/80, AP-AXM, KHI-MUX-KHI, Ejaz-ul-Huk. The tires were smoking at Multan after landing but the captain paid no heed. The air conditioning van supplying cool air was immediately applied on the wheel assembly. A standard practice there in summer considering the runway length.
  • 8/9/80, AP-AZP, KHI-UET-RWP, Wajid Shah (Quetta is the only airfield where I have felt as if the 707 or 720 is hurtling forward towards the runway. It is probably due to the terrain on the approach).
  • 9/9/80, AP-AZP, RWP-KHI, Wajid Shah

MCT = Muscat; CMB= Colombo; JED = Jeddah; IST = Istanbul; PEW = Peshawar; MUX = Multan; UET = Quetta; RWP = Rawalpindi (Islamabad).

Final Route Command Check

  • PK 274/275, KHI-BOM-KHI, AP-ATQ, Dara, 0203-0345, 0550-0740

It was an early morning departure ex-Karachi (0703 local) with Capt. Dara reminding me of the pitfalls of early morning flights, a slow mind. We have been up from 0430 for this. I recall the steep climb attitude (Flight Director Indicator) to maintain V2 plus ten on the airspeed indicator (ASI) as we turned left after getting airborne from runway 25R (two five right). The routing took us over Ahmedabad, and then south to Bombay (Mumbai now). We crossed into India somewhere beyond Sujawal though at this time the focus is on the clearance into India on HF radio by Ahmedabad, and other instructions they would give.

Near Bombay we are handed over to Bombay Radar by Bombay Control. For a pilot, this is the easy bit because you are now following descent instructions and turn headings given by the controller. Of course flying into terrain is your responsibility until the radar acknowledges by confirming radar contact at distance and level.

On departure from Bombay on the return sector, there were some clouds on our flight path ahead as we got airborne but I did not switch on the weather radar. The captain asked me why this was not done, and I replied that I considered the clouds non-threatening by their look and hence had acted as such.

This is what I remember. We came into the Flight Operations Office and signed out. Captain Dara took out the route check form and started filling it. Capt Pervaiz Saeed, a newly minted 707 captain at that time and present in the office asked Dara if he was clearing me. I don’t know what he replied but then there were congratulations from everybody. But not yet, there was still the first flight to be made for the pay meter to start ticking.

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The first flight in command was two days later on Sept 18, 1980 on KHI-PEW-KHI sector with Munir Akhtar acting as First Officer. Captain Munir Akhtar at the time was a colleague from the Flying Academy days having joined PIA with me and also having shared room 212 in Grand Hotel Malir, Karachi where we had been lodged at PIA’s expense.  In a month’s time he too would fly as captain 707, and later go on to command the Airbus A300 and B747. The Flight Engineer was Shujaat. It was a routine affair with Munir Akhtar doing the return leg. The aircraft was AP-AXM and the flight Pk326

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