Yesterday was the day when my school held the certificate presentation day for students who managed to get their aircraft maintenance engineer licenses. The day that I looked forward to the most since I first enrolled for the program. Why? To some it was no big deal, to my batch, it was an uphill battle. We were the 3rd batch and the only avionics (aviation electronics), the rest were/are mechanical or in aviation the airframe (A) and powerplant (C) batches hence the coined term A&C. Up until now, the youngest batch would be nearly the 20th.
We were the only avionics batch because, it was freakin damn hard to get a qualified avionics instructor. I was told that the school had to fork out RM20k+++ for an autopilot instructor from a certain helicopter company for a 2-week class. The instructor himself was not that good at imparting his knowledge (and he admitted that) but he sure was a very knowledgeable guy. You gotta ask to get the info out, if not he would be reading the same passage from the notes that we got.
Early on, in the year 2005, the Malaysian DCA refused to grant approval to my school to conduct the course. We were told not to worry, because they would be fighting for it, and MARA would still grant study loans for us. But the matter was dragged for almost a6 months, and DCA still refused to change their decision. MARA pulled out and the school was at the edge of canceling the program. Until the director, a very ambitious, respectable, father like figure(to me), an ex-surveyor for the DCA, a licensed engineer himself came up with another plan and that was to get study loans from banks. Can you imagine the ruckus it caused when we were called to the meeting to discuss on the issue? It was hectic.
I was on the school’s side. I wanted to be a licensed aircraft engineer so bad, I would do anything. “Korang kalau nak makan pizza, takkan nak bayar harga nasi lemak kot? Faham lah sebab apa yuran sekolah kita mahal!” I told the other party who consisted some of my batch and a few others who wanted the school to reduce its fee (RM60k for 3 years). They were fuming on hearing my remark. They still remember my exact words until now hehe. It was a memorable debate. Fortunately, we made peace after the meeting. They could see the rationale, but they saw the school as a very bad entity trying to suck out the money from their pockets when truth was, the school itself was/is an organism made of men trying to earn honestly and support families of their own. Nobody wanted the school or the program to be closed down.
“You guys have to think far, once you got your license, your salary, the sky will be the limit. This 60k will be petty in the future considering the investment returns”, the director tried to calm the situation down. I believed him and I still believe him and I am glad I believed him.
After 1.5 years, finally DCA gave my school a conditional approval. MARA came back into the scene, and our bank loans were cut into 50%. The other 50% of the cost will be covered by MARA. During that 1.5 years wait, we had to ask our FAMA for pocket money, some of us had to work at KFC, Kenny Rogers, Tuition Centers, part time jobs, giving out flyers, LOL. It was a fight.
We needed money to attend practical training, to attend classes. The fee only covered the class sessions. The school would also arrange for companies that we would be attached to. We had to come up with our own money for On the job training (OJT). So imagine when we had to go to KLIA, back to Subang, back to KLIA again. My God.
We were using bikes, to commute between KLIA and Subang. The Elite Highway is a treacherous path for bikers. There would always be nails, sharp objects, anything that would puncture your tire should you be unlucky enough to run over it. I’ve experienced a few and they were unnerving. Fortunately I was driving a heavy/big bike (Jaguh) so in the event that something burst my tyre, I wouldn’t straightaway loose control. Imagine when you were speeding at 120-130 km/h and suddenly you felt that the rear wheel started to sway left and right. At first I would think it was the cross wind but when you tried to control the rate of swaying then only you realised that it was caused by a punctured tyre >_< . It felt like that sharp object just struck through your motivation, your spirit. And then the weather, the hot, the rain, the dust, the distance, the gossips, the doubts, the fatigue of doing practical. Repeat that for 3 years. Except during the later years, things got better, people knew us as the stubborn ones because we were willing to endure it all.
Man, I really wish I could have attended that ceremony. I miss my batch mates a lot. We discovered each other’s weaknesses and strength and we embraced them. When one was too weak to stand, the other would come and support him/her. I am grateful to have been a part of this batch.
Aero Precision Resources-Aviation Training Center, Batch 3 Avionics, you guys deserved your licenses. Salute.