A poor carpenter’s son who grew up to become a long-serving pilot talks about his colourful experiences as an aviator. That’s AirAsia’s own Captain Lim Khoy Hing! Read about his journey as a pilot thus far in this issue of Travel 3Sixty°.
Images: Adam Lee
45 Years In The Making
I started learning how to fly about 45 years ago with the Royal Air Force in the UK. Plucked from a poor family after passing my pilot selection assessment, my first overseas flight was on a four-propeller British Eagle Britannia plane from Singapore to London with stops at Colombo, Bahrain and Rome. It was simply amazing.
Unfortunately, when I started my pilot training on the Chipmunk plane, I was afflicted by motion (air) sickness because of the demanding nature of military aviation. My colleague also suffered the same. His affliction was more chronic and the doctors tried hard to cure him with ground-based desensitisation procedures. This is where trainees are gradually exposed to increasing levels of provocative motion on a rotation chair so that their sensitivity to such movement becomes progressively reduced.
Sad to say, it didn’t work on my colleague. Not only was he affected by motion sickness, it was also discovered that his legs were too short to control the rudders effectively. As a result, he was sent home to become a ground air traffic controller, while I was fortunate enough to get over my motion sickness. I received my ‘wings’ and graduated as a pilot in 1968.
High Up In The Sky
From then on, I flew many types of planes. I progressed from flying the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneers to the super modern third generation Boeing 777 and the Airbus A320/330/340. How unbelievable is that!
As a poor school boy, I enjoyed helping my father with his carpentry work, and I used to marvel at planes that flew over my attap (palm thatched roof) house. My father wanted me to follow in his footsteps and become a carpenter. My wise mother decided otherwise and enrolled me into an English medium school that opened doors for me to eventually become a pilot. I am perpetually grateful to my late mother for what I have achieved today.
There were many ups and downs in my life journey as a pilot. You would be surprised to learn that I graduated as a qualified pilot well before I even had my driving licence.
I somehow felt that I was never a ‘born pilot’ and so, I had to struggle and persevere through some stages of my career. Relying on the adage ‘Dare to fail’, I believe that through hard work, I was able to overcome all the obstacles in front of me. It is for this reason that I have a soft spot for aspiring aviators. Wanting to give back to society at large, I made use of my website www.askcaptainlim.com, which I had developed, to help guide, inspire and educate aspirants to succeed in becoming pilots.