Triumph in the Skies – An interview translated from Feminine (Mandarin Magazine – January 2014 issue)
Feature on: Captain Lim Khoy Hing
Age: 65 years
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Experience: 45 years of flying
a. Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) (1967 – 1980)
b. Malaysia Airlines System (1981-2006),
c. Air Asia X (2006 – 2011)
Present employment: Air Asia X Flight Simulator Instructor
Author: Life in the Skies, Columnist of Travel 3Sixty Magazine
Type of airplanes flown: Boeing777, Airbus A320, A330, A340
Countries visited: Most of the major countries in the world
Interviewer & Story by Jessie Lim
“I remember what Samuel Tong had said “We must explore ourselves to create our destiny instead of waiting for life to take its course!” Indeed Captain Lim has been striving all this while towards achieving his destiny.
Had he not reinforced his dream, he would have been a carpenter following his late father’s foot step. He only wanted to be a teacher as it was not easy in his youth to secure a good job. To his surprise he has now dedicated nearly more than half of his entire life to the sky, culminating into this so-called Triumph in the Skies.
In his first and latest book, Life in the Skies, he narrated about his 45 years of flying experience where he also logged more than 25,000 flying hours – equivalent to about flying twenty times to the moon and back.
He started his second career on the ground after he had officially retired from flying more than 2 years ago. Presently he is being employed by Air Asia X as a Flight Simulator Instructor. His has finally excelled in his 45 years of flying and appears to be blossoming to further successes.
20 years old – commenced flying training in England
“I started flying since I was 20 years old with the RMAF. It was free then. However, to obtain a commercial pilot license, it is an investment where many average families may not be able to afford. As far as I know, it would cost up to RM300,000 to obtain a full pilot flying license”
Would have been a carpenter
When he left school, he came across an advertisement by the Royal Malaysian Air Force which was recruiting for pilots. Without hesitation he applied for it “At that time, it was indeed difficult to become a pilot. Since the opportunity came along, I decided to give it a go. After a series of interview and leadership tests I was successful and was sent to England for a course of flying training which lasted more than a year.”
After serving the RMAF for more than 12 years, he sat for the commercial Airlines Transport Pilot License (ATPL) and joined Malaysia Airlines which lasted for a further 25 years
Is it true that a lot of people think that it is unsafe to travel or fly in the sky? I asked.
He smiles and says “I have been flying safely for the past 40 years. I believe I’m the living proof to those who are still doubting about the safely of flying in the sky”
As a pilot, the lives of a few hundred passengers are always in his hands whenever he flies. It is indeed a highly responsible occupation.
Storm and Strong Winds
“There was once, because of extremely bad weather, I have decided to delay my flight out of a station. The passengers became very angry and started to complain about the delay. They blamed the pilot for causing the delay since other similar planes were able to take off “
Despite that, Captain Lim insisted on not to depart. Later on, those planes that decided to proceed were forced to return to the gate due to the approaching typhoon and strong winds. The passengers later on realized that Captain Lim’s decision for delaying the flight was justified.
“As a pilot, it is our utmost responsibility to take care of our passengers’ safety and interests. As such, a pilot would always have to make wise judgment on whether to proceed or delay the flight.”
Unfortunately Captain Lim is retired now and is no longer flying. Otherwise I would love to be his passenger and ‘triumph in the sky’ with him
Relation builds on Trust
A pilot is sometimes perceived to be involved with extra marital affairs. A good looking Captain Lim’s early flying life should be very interesting and colorful, “Yes, of course, taking photos with the pretty air stewardesses only” Laughing… Going through his album; I saw photos of him taken with other beautiful air stewardesses.
“I have been married since I was 26 years old with my present wife”. I probed him further as to how he could sustain his relationship with his wife. Well he told me he narrated his views on this in his book, “Relationship is built and based on trust. There are pilots who may have affairs but there are also some pilots who treasured their married life more.”
Now he is a father to a son and a daughter, both are married with 5 cute grandchildren. He often flies to England to visit his daughter and 3 grandchildren who reside there. This is because he can still enjoy his 75% discounted air travel from Malaysia Airlines as a retiree.
Many people think highly about pilots with high income and a glamorous job.
Captain Lim further said. “To be a pilot, you must be physically fit, have good attitude as well as aptitude and undergo various exams. The cost of training is very high. In addition, a qualified pilot is not guaranteed of a flying pilot job as the supply exceeds the demand right now unless he is sponsored by an airline.”
Here are some tips for the aspiring pilots from Captain Lim “You must have good communication skills, able to make good decision under pressure, good at mental calculations and problem solving, lots of self-confidence, physically fit and be good in the English Language.
“As a pilot we must work as a team. If you are a lone ranger, it is not always possible to operate safely. We need team work in case of emergency to fly the plane as safely as we could.”
Here are some of the requirements to progress to a professional pilot status or captain:-
First and foremost, there are 3 types of licenses:
Private Pilot License (PPL)
- Commercial Pilot License with Instrument Rating (CPL/IR)
- Airlines Transport Pilot License (ATPL)
The general requirements for the Cadet Pilot Program in most airlines are:-
Age: From 18-28 years
Qualification: SPM or other similar qualifications with 5 credits including Bahasa Malaysia (BM), English Language, Science and Maths.
Communication: Good in both written and verbal English and BM.
Health and vision: Good health and vision with 6/60 uncorrected
Duration of flying course: About 18 – 24 months
Course fees: ‘Free’ for those who are sponsored by the airlines but have to sign a bond where they have to pay back the loan once they started working. Normally a work contract for a maximum of 15 years would be offered. However, for private students, the course fees is around RM275,000 to RM300,000. Some banks may offer loan for the course.
Remuneration: Basic for new pilots (Second Officers) start around RM4,000 – RM10,000 (exclude allowances).
For captains, their average income can range from RM28,000 – RM40,000 (gross) depending on seniority and work schedule. Those who work abroad (eg Emirates, Etihad, Qatar) can earn up to RM60,000 plus per month.
(NB: Some translated facts are updated)
PS. If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here (http://www.amazon.com/Life-The-Skies-Everything-ebook/dp/B00F0N33GU?cor=AU#reader_B00F0N33GU) and you can purchase a copy here http://tinyurl.com/nzt4jxr. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim (http://twitter.com/CaptKHLim)