Planes I’ve Been On – Part 1

Because of our recent flurry of travel, and the accompanying explaining of trains, planes and other vehicles to our son, I’ve compiled a list of aircraft I’ve been on, and the airlines who flew the flights. Yes, it does show my age.

Because of our recent flurry of travel, and the accompanying explaining of trains, planes and other vehicles to our son, I’ve compiled a list of aircraft I’ve been on, and the airlines who flew the flights. Yes, it does show my age.

Boeing 737

Carriers: Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines System

B737
First Generation Boeing 737-112: I remember this plane as being my first ever flight – to KL from Singapore. I was about four or five, and I tried to run up the stairs and fell backwards and hit my head. I spent the 50 minute flight crying and nursing a giant baluku.

Boeing 707

Carriers: Singapore Airlines

Boeing 707-320B – Singapore Airlines used these for medium-haul flights. I remember being on one to Taipei.

McDonnell-Douglas DC-Super-8

Carriers: Japan Air Lines, Philippine Airlines

McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 in Japan Air Lines livery. I remember the family vacation in 1977 which featured this plane – and distinctly remember the windows having curtains instead of plastic window shades. The Philippine Airlines flight we were on was more memorable for the fact that it had to go around when attempting to land in Manila.

Boeing 747-200

Carriers: Qantas, Singapore Airlines, CP Air

Boeing 747-200: It was 1980 and my parents were taking us to Melbourne for the first time since they left in 1965. Changi Airport was still a year away from completion. So when I saw this plane from the bus that was taking us to it on the tarmac, I nearly peed myself in excitement. It was my first ‘jumbo-jet’ ride.

Boeing 747-SP

Carrier: Pan Am

The Boeing 747-SP was a shortened version of the 747-100, and ‘SP’ stood for ‘Special Performance’, because this plane was supposed to fly further and faster than other 747s. The flight I took from Los Angeles to Singapore however, took on epic proportions, as we stopped in Honolulu, then unscheduled in Okinawa to refuel, then Hong Kong before coming home. I remember that 23 hours on board, in an era where you weren’t asked to leave an aircraft in transit.

Boeing 727

Carriers: Singapore Airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines, Western Airlines

The Boeing 727 is a tri-jet, with a notable feature – a rear stair-door. This allowed a famous incident where an unknown hijacker opened it midair and parachuted off it to escape.

Lockheed L-1011 Tristar

Carrier: Cathay Pacific

Airbus A300

Carriers: Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways

The A300 was the world’s first wide-bodied commercial jet with only two engines. The most memorable flight for me was in 1989, when the SAF chartered three flights to get us to training in Thailand. We landed in an unknown (to us NSFs) airfield somewhere in Thailand, in the middle of the night. We de-planed with our baggage, and the plane powered up and took off into the night.

Airbus A310

Carrier: Singapore Airlines

Airbus A310 – this aircraft became the SIN-KUL shuttle in the years before low-cost carriers appeared. Both MAS and SIA operated this route which at the time was one of the world’s most lucrative sectors. A return flight could cost around S$300 – and this was in the 1990s.
Of course, one of the SIA A310s was famous for an unsavoury incident – the SQ117 hijack.

My Father And The Melbourne Olympics

One of the many little things in my father's remarkable life
One of the many little things in my father’s remarkable life

I’ve told this story many times before, but as the Olympic Games get under way in Rio, I remember again my father’s stint sixty years ago at the Melbourne Olympics:

In another age altogether, my father scored a temp job at the Melbourne Olympics as a general clerk/intern assisting the accounts department. The Games then were a small affair, unlike the massive logistical behemoth it is now. It would’ve been remarkable enough to be able to tell your kids and grandkids that you once worked at the XVIth Olympiad, but Pa being Pa, had to inadvertently go one further.

There was this boxer from the Japanese team. There was no translator. So they picked the nearest Japanese-looking person to help. No matter that Pa’s knowledge of Japanese was confined to mostly pidgin from the Occupation a little over a decade earlier.

The boxer mentioned something about ‘cutting’ something, and kept gesticulating with his hands, pointing at his waist. He sounded desperate too. Pa put the bits of Japanese words he understood and two and two together and informed Games officials that the boxer had an abdominal problem that needed to be fixed.

They sent the boxer, this time screaming and yelling, to the hospital for immediate medical attention, fearing appendicitis.

A few hours later, the angry Japanese boxer came back to the arena, with real translators, and it seems, all he wanted to tell officials was that he needed to get a skipping rope to cut his excess weight down to that stipulated by his weight division in his event. Pa was sent to the back rooms to be buried under accounting sheets.

(Originally told on this blog in June 2004)

Magna Carta World Tour

I’m excited, not only because this is an 800-year-old literal ‘piece’ of law — one of only four surviving copies– but also because the last time English law came round these parts, they left us with s377 and other such delights of the Penal Code, which we have tweaked just a little bit so that gay sex is now sandwiched between sex with corpses and animals.

Ok, not quite world tour, but the Hereford Magna Carta is touring New York, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, China, and Singapore.

I’m excited, not only because this is an 800-year-old, literal ‘piece’ of law — one of only four surviving copies– but also because the last time English law came round these parts, they left us with s377 and other such delights of the Penal Code, which we have tweaked just a little bit so that gay sex is now sandwiched between sex with corpses and sex with animals.

The Hereford Magna Carta will be displayed at the Supreme Court building some time in November.

The Dance of The Flaming Arseholes: A Royal Australian Navy Tradition

Things would get rowdy, as you would imagine, but the sailors from the RAN took the cake – there are photographs of men on the roof of a public toilet in a Bugis Street alleyway, with something alight sticking out from their naked buttocks.

Back in the day when Singapore was an unruly sailors’ town, Bugis Street was a thriving collection of bars, Zhi Char stalls and transvestites, all vying for the custom of thirsty, hungry, and horny military men on shore leave.

Things would get rowdy, as you would imagine, but sailors from the RAN took the cake – there are photographs of men on the roof of a public toilet in a Bugis Street alleyway, with something alight sticking out from their naked buttocks.

This stunt was practiced in various ports of call, and was called The Dance of The Flamers, or The Dance of The Flaming Arseholes. The steps were simple: The sailors who volunteered to entertain everyone else simply had to strip naked, find a rolled up newspaper and kiap it between their buttock cheeks, and set it alight. Then he simply had to walk from one end of the stage to the other without dropping the buttock torch.

These days, visiting sailors seem much more restrained, while other types of tourists let their children defecate on the floor of cafes in our shiny integrated resorts.

Podium dancing, RAN style
Before hot yoga, there was this workout

I Have Old Stuff From My Dad’s Office Too: Part 1

The picture above is of former Minister of Culture Mr Jek Yuen Thong giving a speech at the opening of the Oriental Development Corporation Limited (Marble And Plastic Factories) in 1972. My father is seated at the extreme left in the photo.

28 October 1972: Check out the hand-painted banner

Since PM Lee Hsien Loong is slowly going through his family’s treasure trove of historical artefacts, I thought I might join in with mine.

The picture above is of former Minister of Culture Mr Jek Yeun Thong giving a speech at the opening of the Oriental Development Corporation Limited (Marble And Plastic Factories) in 1972. My father is seated at the extreme left in the photo.

I was really excited as a three year old when my father told me he was helping to set up a marble factory, and was very, very disappointed to learn that it actually made ornamental marble slabs and vases and not the kind of marbles one could bring to marble battles with the other kids in the neighbourhood, with the other kids protesting, “Wah lao, liddat he sure win one lah, his father open marble factory one leh!”