DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH BORNEO BULLETIN ARCHIVES
|Compiled by Zainul Akmal Zaini|
The sky’s the limit for Wana
SEPTEMBER 26, 2009 – Siti Saffawana binti Haji Suhaili (pic below), or fondly known as Wana, never imagined that her long-time passion for flying would lead her to become Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd’s (BSP) first female pilot and also the first female helicopter pilot in Brunei.
Wana said she never did it to break any gender barrier or change history, but simply because she just loved to fly.
And gaining entry into the pilot training was a significant step, and inevitably she has knocked down barriers, especially for women to realise what types of opportunities are available to them.
In an exclusive interview with the Borneo Bulletin, Wana said she has always dreamt of becoming part of the aviation world and is extremely interested in flying, either the fixed wing planes or helicopters.
Wana said she has always wanted to do something different and the opportunity arose when she saw a BSP advertisement for helicopter pilot trainees in the newspaper.
The position open to male candidates posed a challenge to her. She sent an e-mail to the Human Resource Department to grant her a spot at the assessment centre and her persistence has paid off. Captain Jonathan Phillips, Head of Aircraft Services, said Wana did a courageous thing by challenging the boundaries in her pursuit to undergo the training.
He clarified that while the selection of pilot trainees in the SAV Department was restricted to men in the past, there was no specific policy in place that excludes women. Wana met the selection criteria and proved to be a good candidate for the training. In fact, her successful entry corrects the assumption that the position is designed only for men.
Her journey began when she was shortlisted among 20 people to undergo a one-day assessment with interviews, written and aptitude test.
After succeeding, she spent 54 weeks training at Helicopter Adventures Incorporated in Florida in the United States (US) before returning to Brunei for her contract signing with BSP. The training in Florida was just the basic qualification to acquire the commercial pilot licence.
Wana said she will always remember her first 30-minute solo flight in Florida on August 18, 2005, which she dubbed as the best flight of her life.
“It was an overwhelming experience as you are the commander of the aircraft and get to fly at your own speed. It was indeed an experience that I would not trade even for a million dollars,” she exclaimed.
Wana returned to Brunei before departing for an instrument rating training and flying test at Bond Air Services, Gloucestershire Airport in the United Kingdom (UK) for four months. After passing the test, the pilot trainee began a two-year assignment with Bristow Helicopters Ltd at Aberdeen.
Her training in Bristow required long hours flying offshore workers to and from rigs in the North Sea.
Wana recalled flying through snow, fog, winter rain and pitch black darkness during the night. She views this as a valuable on-the-job experience, especially working in a demanding weather and air traffic environment.
It took her four years of training and experience-building from February 2005 to meet BSP’s rigorous competence requirements. She piloted her first flight in Brunei on July 15 this year with Captain Phil Breeze Lamb during her line training.
Presently, Wana has flown over 1,300 hours, which include 1,000 hours on the heavy aircraft Aerospatiale Super Puma and the Sikorsky S-92.
She currently flies passengers to all BSP offshore platforms and vessels departing either from BSP’s Anduki Aerodrome or Brunei International Airport.
Wana disclosed that undergoing the four-year training programme was not an easy task as it required self-discipline, full focus and also healthy physical wellbeing. A pilot cadet must have determination and be willing, or otherwise you’re in the wrong profession, she underlined.
“Most importantly, you choose the job you love, not to gain fame but because you have a passion for it,” she said.
If Wana is not embarking on this career path, she would have gone into the field of meteorology, or perhaps earn a university degree in Geography or a Science subject.
Wana hopes the trend will continue and women should go for this career path.
“Being a pilot is a fantastic opportunity to make a difference,” Wana concluded.
Schoolgirl with a big heart for kids at RIPAS Hospital
Rohani Hj Abdul Hamid
SEPTEMBER 6, 2009 – Charitable activities are omnipresent amid the holy month of Ramadhan as people are encouraged to help the needy and the poor.
Among them is Sarah Amanda Sturt King, an 11-year-old girl who studies at International School of Brunei (ISB), who donated Hari Raya hampers to children at the paediatric wards of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital yesterday.
Also present to distribute the hampers to the children was Acting Chief Executive Officer of RIPAS Hospital Hajah Siti Mariam binti Haji Jaafar.
Sarah also donated two bath seats for special needs children to promote sharing and caring.
Some BND3,616 in the form of vouchers was also handed over to Hajah Siti Mariam for three families in need.
Toys made of scraps attract children, adults
SEPTEMBER 16, 2009 – Collecting junk from house to house such as metals, tins, bottles, plastics and electrical appliances and selling them off to earn extra cash has become a trend these days.
However, this is not the case for Yong Kah Shyong, who is living at Number 40, Lot 2196 Jalan Nakhoda Manis, Seria.
He is working at a car workshop and collects bits and pieces of materials to make aeroplanes and helicopters.
Due to his passion and creativity, he is able to make some extra earnings from this hobby of his. He first got inspired to build aeroplanes and helicopters as toys for children and displaying them outside his home.
This attracted and fascinated friends and visitors who then offered to purchase them. This was when Yong began to custom-make his toys with attractive designs, mixing various items and materials from time to time.
To date, he has produced a variety of designs as public demand is encouraging. His customer base comprises locals from Miri and Sabah.